Introducing the Symbols Feature in Thrive Architect

Author
Shane Melaugh   217

Ever since we first announced Thrive Architect, we've been hinting at a "master plan" that we've been working towards. Today, we introduce the Symbols feature to Thrive Architect and it is an important step towards our master plan.

Watch the video to discover how Symbols work and why they're so awesome.

More...

What Are Symbols?

In a nutshell, a Symbol is a design component that has multiple, synchronized instances.

Okay, so what the hell does that mean?

You design a thing. You place that thing on many pages of your website. When you update it in one place, it updates everywhere.

In Thrive Architect, you can turn anything into a Symbol. Any individual element or any container element with other elements inside it can become a symbol. All you have to do is click the little save icon on the frame, to get started:

How Are They Different From Content Templates?

That's an important question. Content templates and Symbols have similarities and they're both very useful, but it's important to know the difference.

In short, Symbols are synchronized (change one and they all change) while templates are not synchronized.

Check out this post for more details on how to use content templates in Thrive Architect.

Why Are They Called Symbols?

"Symbol" might sound like a strange term for this feature, at first. Perhaps icons or hieroglyphs come to mind.

Symbols?

The "marketing thing" to do would be to come up with our own, branded term for this feature, pretend that we invented the entire concept and hope our own brand name catches on.

Instead, we chose to go with "Symbols" because it's an established term in web design. If you talk to a web designer, they'll be familiar with this term. If you pick up a professional UI design tool, you'll almost certainly find a "symbols" feature that does more or less what Symbols in Thrive Architect do.

What Will You Build?

Now that you've seen how the Symbols feature works and what it can do, what will you use it for?

We'd love to hear your ideas and see your examples, so leave a comment below!

If you need some inspiration to get started, check out these examples and use cases where symbols are the perfect solution.

Shane

by Shane Melaugh  May 25, 2018

217

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  • Ahhhhhh finally! A SUPER awesome addition…. nailed the simplicity of implementation, now the mouthwatering starts for when you can assign that “Symbol” as a replacement to the header and footer across the site…. along with more global positions/elements…..

    I can feel a new “theme” coming….

  • Hahahahah!! This is amazing, Shane!

    I’ve been using a system where I update links with a “pretty link” kind of plugin whenever things like this change.

    This is brilliant.

    On this note, is there something at Thrive in the works with regards to redirects links?

    • Thank you, Michael!

      Regarding links: it comes up again and again. We do want to make link clicks trackable and testable for Thrive Optimize and Thrive Leads. But what form that will take isn’t clear yet.

  • This is excellent. Really. Will save tons of work.

    Though symbols is a weird name – not heard it before – would have thought synchronised content templates would have been clearer for us non-geeks 🙂

    • Thank you, Ian.

      Yes, “Symbols” takes a bit of getting used to. But because it’s already an established term, I thought it would be better to use it.

  • Another great idea brought to us by the incredible THRIVE team!!
    I like this & can see several applications for using it.

    On another note, I have a feature REQUEST (forgive me for putting it here)…
    Please update/enhance the MENUS that we can use!
    Would be great if you can give us more styles & features to use in the menus, specifically – COLLAPSIBLE MENUS (like those found in Clickfunnels membership menus).
    Please consider that request…(and again, forgive me for hijacking this thread!)

    • Hello Tony,

      We’re way ahead of you. We’ve been working on a new menu feature for a while now and we’ll have some news on that soon. 🙂

    • Haha, you’re welcome. We’re happy to talk about, think about and work on something that isn’t related to GDPR as well.

  • This is an absolute God-send! I copy and paste links at the bottom of some of my posts referring people to my program or podcast etc and I find this a bind, every time – when I do them. 🙂 Now This!! Thank you Shane and Co!

    • Thank you for your comment, Trish! I’m happy to see this is a useful feature for you. 🙂

  • Ok, this is officially the best builder on the market (not that it wasn’t already before)! Thanks Shane and team!

      • Hey Shane, I’m having some trouble utilizing Thrive Symbols in conjunction with AccessAlly shortcodes. When I create the symbol, whether through the Thrive Global Elements CP or as a content block within a Thrive page editor and then save as a symbol, the AccessAlly shortcodes either disappear or are no longer editable within the content box they occupy.

        Since I utilize Thrive through an agency license, I’m not sure if you’d be willing to investigate this bug, but thought it should be reported all the same. Thanks for any guidance you may be able to offer.

  • So will this synchronize deletion of elements? If I save a timer as a symbol, add it to multiple sales pages in a funnel, then delete the timer on one page at some point, will it delete the timer across all funnel pages?

    If so (or even if not), will it also synchronize changing of time for timers across all pages?

    Thanks!

    Joan

    • Hello Joan. That’s a good question!

      When you delete a Symbol on a page, it is removed from that page, but remains everywhere else. When you delete a Symbol from your Templates & Symbols dashboard in the WordPress admin area, that Symbol disappears from everywhere it was used.

      Regarding timers: yes, if you put a timer in a Symbol and update it, it will update everywhere.

      • I’ve used this twice already and it helped me quickly make changes that increased my sales. My favorite feature of Thrive Architect. Very useful. 🙂

  • This is great! The Podcast application is exactly what I needed. And just in time before I got in too deep with individual elements. I could see this being really great for calls to action on posts that you can update as your product or offer changes. And any element that spans across multiple pages, in my case an opt-in form that I have on my homepage, about page, and blog page… in the past I’ve had to update each one individually, but having the ability to do one and have it live update across the site is pretty amazing. The ThriveThemes products just keep getting better and better!

    • Thanks for your comment, Alex! I’m happy to see that this is a feature you can make use of right away. 🙂

  • Is there any advantage to using this vs using a thrive lead box in each post (removing the opt-in element)?

    Looks like just a different way to organize it.

    • Hi Cory,

      You can use Symbols in such a way, but for lead generation specifically, Thrive Leads is much better suited. Mainly for two reasons.

      First, with Thrive Leads, you can create a form and have it automatically inserted at the bottom or inside every blog post. With Symbols, you have to add them manually. Second, you can A/B test your Thrive Leads forms and improve the conversions over time.

    • Hello Rodrigo,

      You can use Symbols for this, yes. However, if you use Thrive Leads, you can do the same thing, plus a lot more and it’s easier to manage for lead generation specifically. 🙂

  • Cool stuff Shane.

    The one way that came to mind was a content box laid out like a banner ad to promote your services / affiliate offers etc that could be changed based on the seasons, monthly specials, etc.

    I’m curious to know what kinds of elements others will be using this feature for.

  • This demo and the Content Templates demo opened my eyes to many new ideas. It did raise a question that your input can be helpful to me and others. The question is –

    What is the impact of using Thrive Architect for my blog posts? Are there tradeoffs between using the WP Editor or Thrive Architect? Can I still use Yoast for my SEO on the post? Featured Image? You get the idea.

    I have always defaulted to WP Editer for my blog posts. I use Thrive Architect daily for pages and love the flexibility and speed, so your input on using it for blog posts would clear up my questions.

    • Hi Miles,

      I’ve been using Thrive Architect for all blog posts I create, for a long time now. Regarding SEO, there’s no downside. Google doesn’t care what editor you used to create the content on a page. In terms of getting shares and traffic, using Thrive Architect can be a huge advantage, as outlined in this post.

      Yoast SEO works with Thrive Architect content as well. And the featured image of your post will still be handled in the default editor.

      • Hello Shane

        I am looking to set up Yoast SEO regarding indexing … not quite clear what to do with symbols – should they be excluded from indexing or just the opposite ? danger for duplicate content ? Looking forward to your answer.

  • So helpful, thanks Shane and team! I remember updating the same spots on 37 different pages, now I can use symbols! I was thinking last week how useful something like this would be. Kudos yet again!! 🙂

    • No. We considered this, but it would introduce too many complications and potential problems.

  • Hallelujah! This is a feature I’ve been pining for, Shane. Thanks tons!

    I once heard a line in a show on the telly, “There are very few things in life that are worth repeating.” This is in that spirit, since Symbols will be such a great time-saver.

    I also love the new Symbols & Templates area within the Thrive Dashboard. So much easier to get a birds-eye view of our object libraries. Thanks again for all your continued great work.

    • Haha, nice quote! Indeed, no one likes to do the same thing over and over again and the Symbols help eliminate the need to.

  • This is so sick dude you are the MAN! I’m using Focus Theme on my newish site and I’ve already got a ton of ideas of how to use this. I use global elements all over like affiliate disclosures and resources at the bottom of posts and this is perfect! 🙂

  • Excellent !
    I dont use my theme template at all. All my pages are built as separate landing pages, including homepage, about me, terms and so on.
    The symbols solution will allow me the modify all the headers and footers in once if I have something to change. It’a s real game changer for me, thanks a lot.

  • Another amazing update. Lots of practical applications for the new Symbols. Keep up the great work!!

  • This is incredible!

    I’ve been hoping for a long time there would be something that did across the site update to single elements or content boxes.

    Amazing work from the Thrive Themes team as per usual!

  • You are AWESOME! I love your constant upgrades and this feature is amazing. Thank you for continuing to innovate – we really appreciate the hard work and care you put into your products. I love paying you every year!

  • Fantastic news Shane, this will really help with so many sitewide element changes. I was expecting a name like “global elements” but the name isn’t important. I’ll get used to Symbols 🙂

    I can see this being helpful for keeping elements consistent across the website, just off the top of my head:

    • CTAs
    • pricing tables
    • in-page disclaimers
    • in-page announcements
    • mini-menus and table of contents containing links to multiple resources

    How does CSS work with symbols?

    Does the page CSS affect the symbol? Or is the symbol’s CSS all tagged with !important to prevent unwanted overriding?

    • Those are some great ideas!

      Regarding the CSS: Symbols are CSS independent except for elements that inherit a style. For example, if you put an H1 heading in a Symbol and you leave the font family to “inherit”, then that heading will change. On a theme page, it will use your theme’s H1 style, on a landing page, it will use that landing page set’s H1 style. You can override this by simply defining all the font styles specifically instead of leaving them to inherit. !important is not needed for this.

  • I recently noticed this upgraded feature in Thrive Architect but had no idea how awesome it is! There is a content box that I have inserted in several places on my website. Just yesterday I was thinking I want to change it, but felt a lot of psychological resistance on my part because I knew if I changed it in one spot, I would need to change it in all of the spots. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I feel like someone who has had a couch for years and just found out that it reclines!

    • Haha, nice analogy!

      Yes, I’ve had this problem as well. Having to go back to several pages and do “double work” is annoying. Symbols is only one of several ways in which we are working on eliminating such double work for our customers. Stay tuned for more. 😉

  • Shane,

    this is amazing!
    And I just want to say thank you.

    I love the clarity, the clear focus and the incredible value that you and your team provides. Since around 2 years I use Thrive products and can’t put into words how much it simplified my life and how much of stress relief (using complicated systems) it brought me.

    Besides your brilliant blog posts and awesome products, I love the inspiration that I get from simply watching what you guys do.

    Don’t know how many times I advised friends to check out your products with a lot of enthusiasm..

    It’s amazing to see the how effective it is to simply serve your customers. Thank you again, and I wish you and your team all the best!

    Thomas
    (Germany)

    • Thank you very much, Thomas!

      This feedback is very encouraging and it means a lot to me and the team.

  • Excellent feature. Super. Tnx.
    First of all I will implement it as a footer – where you among other information will have acces to my Privacy Policy …..

    • Thanks!

      This is one of the things I’ve used it for as well. I have an upcoming case study where I built a mini-site using only Thrive Architect and the Symbols feature. 🙂

    • Thank you, Robert. We put a lot of effort into making this feature as flexible as it is. We wanted this to be truly unlimited, so you can save anything, including groups of elements and nested elements.

  • I think this is an important update Shane. I think of creating Affiliate boxes to use on different related pages.

    Thanks for constantly working to make this gem more awesome

  • Shane, I love this feature. I just started a new online magazine/publication and I am working if this can be used for advertisements or affiliate links or sponsor links for specific content pages? Sort of a pseudo ad-manager on a blog post for example?

    • Yes, you can definitely use it for this. For example, if you have a sponsor deal for a certain time period, you could insert Symbols advertising the sponsor and then switch it out with a new sponsor when the period is up.

  • This is great. I will use it to ensure my lists and tables of “Top 5” recommended products and services are always consistent and aligned throughout my affiliate-driven website. Thanks!

  • I’m excited to try this out. Thanks for coming up with new features, they’re always awesome.

  • Shane … This is brilliant! Super powerful and indeed extremely useful. Thanks to you and your team for pushing the enveloped with your constant improvements. I’ll start using this right away and I can see how much time it will save me. I used to use a crappy plugin to create this functionality, but now it’s baked right into Thrive. Love it! Keep up the great work!

  • Looks pretty powerful, though I’d definitely like to hear some more use-case examples. I’ll be monitoring the comments! 🙂

    • Some interesting suggestions have come in, in the meantime. 🙂

      We may also publish a post with more use case examples in the future.

  • I think this is a great tool to use the Opt-in or Opt-Out buttons on the bottom of posts, and pages. Just insert and adjust once and carried through globally through all Symbol boxes for that particular Symbol Category. Very Nice. My website is still under construction so this is perfect timing along with some of the other tools you have introduced.

    • Yes, you can use Symbols for this. Although keep in mind that if you use Thrive Leads, any form you create there and add to your posts basically already acts like a Symbol.

  • Awesome feature! My first thought about how this could be useful is if you are designing your own custom menu. Instead of having to figure out css or being limited in to how you can make your menu look, you can customize the design, maybe have secondary menus that look nicer as well. Save it as a symbol. Don’t have to remember to insert it on every page or go back and change previous pages/posts you already have published.

    • Right now, you can use text or buttons to construct your own menu in Thrive Architect. It works, but it’s not great. We are working on a new and improved custom menu element, which will be exactly what you’re looking for, though.

  • This will be perfect for putting in affiliate disclaimers on top of each post. I was just about to do this as a template for each page but this makes it so much simpler.

  • I’ve been waiting for this for months! This will save me many hours of editing work on my website.

  • Sweet! Excellent idea, Shane. Now I can do a content upgrade within my post and not have to “reinvent the wheel” each time. Just another reason to be a Thrive Themes member.

    • Thanks for your comment, Matt!

      Yes, that’s a possible use. Although if you have different content upgrades for different posts, a content template would be more suitable than a Symbol.

  • Great invention! That saves a lot of time if you need to change recurring elements later. I will think of ways how to use this 🙂 great job!

  • Thank you!

    I’m surprised you didn’t show this feature when making universal headers and footers. Is there a different feature coming in the future for those or is this the best way?

    You had mentioned a while back you would address this in an update is why I ask.

    In the past I had used gantry framework to manage my own custom WordPress themes so I could have inheritances / share sections between pages. I would make sections discussing all the services I offered and calls to action I wanted to share. But now I can do this with Thrive Architect.

    I love how you are evolving from just a landing page software to a whole WordPress theme manager.

    • Yep, you got it. We are working on a separate feature for headers and footers. In many ways, headers and footers are Symbols. But especially for headers, we are adding some additional functionality that really only makes sense for a header and not of other kinds of Symbols.

      • Yay! THIS is exactly what I need 🙂 (My home page on roymarriott.com is a landing page and I want to add a header… that I can control. What you describe is spot on)

  • Seems to be an interesting Thrive widget & I would even name it Thrive widget. It can be used as any site wide widget, such as new offers, affiliate offers, or even just for simple author box, contact us/helpdesk, etc. Very nice new feature. Thanks for adding it.

    • Thanks, Ahrale! Yes, you could say that a Symbol acts a bit like a widget. Didn’t want to use a term that’s already “occupied” in the WordPress system, though. 🙂

  • Nice feature! I will use it for CTA’s at the bottom of pages.

    Will it also work with Thrive Leads? When I have a lead magnet, I create a lightbox, thrive box and sometimes also a shortcode that are exactly the same. It would be nice to use symbols for that.

    • You can use Symbols in Thrive Leads forms as well, yes. I’m not sure if it will work exactly for your use case, but give it a try.

  • Absolutely ingenious. Create one button as a symbol and link to an optin and just drag and drop. Wanna change the link on every instance without searching every post and page; just edit the symbol.

    • Yeah, the term didn’t make any sense to me either when I first learned about it. But I got used to it quickly, so I figured there’s no point reinventing the wheel here. 🙂

  • This is awesome, it solves a marginal but still time-consuming problem.

    I would use it for a global footer for TA landing pages to “simulate” the theme footer, and perhaps social buttons a the top of the posts. Will that work, I mean every button sharing the post it’s published on, even though it’s effectively ONE element replicated different posts?

    I’ll give it a try.

    It’s really good to see you guys are back on track after that damn GDPR thing slowed us all down.
    Can we expect an update on the new theme any time soon? Pretty please? 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Lorenzo!

      Yes, that will work with the social buttons. By default, they are set to share the “current page”, so whatever page you’re on when you click the button.

      We’ll have some news about the theme coming soon as well, yes.

      • Can’t wait for the new theme stuff! Love this new symbols – it is possible for Thrive to make symbols of all the various design pieces from all the ‘no photoshop’ etc pages – import into page, modify, publish! As it is now you need to find the template, find the page section you wish to use and then save as template.
        Keep up the great work!

      • Technically, this is possible, yes. But creating so many templates could potentially cause a new problem: too many templates/building blocks to search through.

        We’re working on a solution to the problem you describe that will be more user friendly.

  • I’m excited to be seeing this join the Thrive Themes world.

    So happy I can create ‘phone number’ and ‘address’ symbols to help clients update their website simply and quickly should they ever move location.

    – Great work, Fiona

    • You can create a header that you use at the top of your landing pages. We don’t have a feature for replacing your theme’s header yet (but we may add this in the future).

  • OMFG! Mind blown! I have been wanting this functionality for ages. Soooooo many possibilities and time savings. Love the Thrive Themes team.

    • Thank you, Julian! It’s great to see that you’re as excited about this as we are. 🙂

  • Oh, my goodness this is exciting!

    As an author, I add the same set of links to many posts, whether promoting books, blogging, or building book pages on my website.

    Symbols are going to be invaluable to me.

  • The very feature I most wanted! In my case it will be very useful for top menus in my pages as well as footers. THANK YOU!

  • I’ve been using Thrive Leads to do this, and am glad to see it finally incorporated in TA. Love it.

  • I think this is a terrific addition to Architect. In fact, I recently read a post on your site that I found on Google that talked about this feature but was sad to see that it didn’t exist. I figured that it was a part of the predecessor to Architect that didn’t make it into the new version. I’m glad that it is now available.

    What would take this to an entirely new level would be to employ something similar to the coding concept of subclassing. Basically, you could create a symbol, but it could include one or more elements that are unique to the individual instance of that symbol.

    So, for example, you could create a symbol that contains all the elements of your individual product review box (the class). And if you make changes to an instance of the review box it would propagate to all other instances. But you could also make changes to the product description and other contents that would remain specific to that instance (the subclass).

    In this way, you can display unique product content in each instance, but you can also make changes to the general appearance of the review box that would propagate to all instances.

    I hope I expressed my idea clearly. Anyway, thanks for this update.

    • Thank you for your comment and feedback, Scott!

      What you describe is something that’s been on my mind for a long time. Personally, I love the flexibility that classes and sub-classes in CSS provide. However, it’s also a whole can of worms in terms of complexity and I don’t want to introduce features in Thrive Architect that take away from its user friendliness.

      We have some existing features already that go in this direction, namely templates, Symbols and group editing (for the list elements). We are in addition working on synchronized colors and the group editing principle will be applied to more elements and on a wider scale as well.

      The end result, I hope, will be that you can do much of the same as you can with CSS, but without having to understand the intricacies of how classes work.

      • YES! Synchronised editing of colors etc would be brilliant. (I’m currently trying to use CSS Hero….)

        FYI, I tried to use “Symbol” for a testimonial, but then realised I couldn’t change the picture while keeping it linked. Would be great to have Symbols which have some bits you can change (e.g. the photo in a testimonial) while keeping it linked.

  • Love the addition. The term ‘Symbol’ being used for this, not so much.

    Can you share your thoughts about why you called it that? I know that will be the first question I’m asked by clients. The overall concept is understandable, but the term symbol is something used for a hashtag, or a heart. Not a globally editable element.

    Not complaining. Just confused.

    It is a great feature in any case. You’re always improving and that is awesome. <3

    • Hello Corey,

      I described our reason for the naming in the post: “The ‘marketing thing’ to do would be to come up with our own, branded term for this feature, pretend that we invented the entire concept and hope our own brand name catches on.

      Instead, we chose to go with ‘Symbols’ because it’s an established term in web design. If you talk to a web designer, they’ll be familiar with this term. If pick up a professional UI design tool, you’ll almost certainly find a ‘symbols’ feature that does more or less what Symbols in Thrive Architect do.”

  • What a great idea. It can be used to update upcoming Webinars on pages and posts, an incredible timesaver and very very practical. Well dine Thrive Themes Team!

  • This is a great addition and makes building sites with Thrive Architect more powerful. Thanks for keeping innovating.

    Question 1: I would like to have e feature to sync symbols between sites. This would be great and see em a lot of time when I have to update my GDPR privacy statement and disclaimer. Are you considering such a feature?

    Question 2: A bit of topic, but in the line of the new menu feature. Last year there was talk about a completely new theme. Any word of it?

    I like the current themes, however when I want to change colours of menu or header, there are only like five presets, which just doesn’t cut it in many situations. And I have to hack my own colors and header layout with CSS.

    • Hello Bart.

      1) No, we can’t make Symbols synchronize between different websites. Sorry.

      2) We’re working on a header feature and menu feature and both of those will be important in the theme builder. We’ll have a preview of the current state of the theme builder coming out in the next couple of weeks.

      • Hey Shane,

        Thanks.

        1) Was already thinking about a solution in which content can be imported via a WP Plugin from one central file. (Not necessarily a WP page.)

        2) Really looking forward to the Theme builder preview 🙂

        Keep up the good work!

  • Can this work as a short code inside a normal WordPress post? I only use Thrive Architect for some of the pages where extra formatting is required. This would come in handy though for all the pages.

    • Thanks for your comment, Adrian.

      The Symbols only work within pages where Thrive Architect is in use. Trying to make Symbols available outside Thrive Architect would potentially introduce more complications than it’s worth.