WordPress Themes vs Theme Builders vs Page Builders: Here’s the Difference
If you’re building a conversion focused website on WordPress, then you know there’s a ton of content you need to create.
Blog posts, a homepage, lead generation pages, an about page, sales funnel pages… just to name a few!
On top of that, there’s all the little — but critically important — details you don’t want to forget to take care of including your headers, footers, author boxes, and more.
Writing all the copy for these different types of content is difficult enough on its own...
...but then having to overcome the technical hurdles to get everything to look right is even harder!
That’s because there’s two powerful WordPress tools available for online creators like you, developed to help you make your content AND manage all the technical intricacies:
Theme Builders (like Thrive Theme Builder) and Page Builders (like Thrive Architect).
What’s the difference between these two types of builders and how can you use them to create and manage all the different types of content on your WordPress website?
Read on to find out...
Sooo… What Does Your WordPress Theme Actually Do?
If you want to understand the difference between a theme builder and a page builder, it’s vitally important to know what a WordPress theme is and what it actually controls on your website.
To begin, know that every WordPress website MUST have a theme installed to function:
Themes manage a long list of display settings that work together to create the overall look, feel and layout of your website. This includes controlling how and when the following sections of your website are displayed:
- Top section
- Bottom Section
Themes also control the default designs of important templates on your website we call your “One template, many pages” type of content. In other words, these are pages that use a single design template to dynamically populate multiple pages with unique content, such as your:
- Default pages
- Blog list pages
- Blog archive pages (like your category pages)
- 404 page
On top of all that, your WordPress theme also controls how certain templatized content elements appear on your site.
These are content elements that can be displayed within the posts and pages of your site, but dynamically populate with unique text or images, such as your:
- Author box (or boxes if you have multiple authors)
- Comments section
- Blog post metadata (e.g. the publish date of a post)
- Related posts
- Social sharing options
- and more...
And finally, when we say your theme controls the “look, feel and layout” of all this content, we’re referring to how it displays:
- Font types, sizes, heights, colors, and hover behaviors for:
- Heading text (H1-H6)
- Paragraph text
- Hyperlink text
- Plain text
- Content area and section widths
- Content positioning
- How images get displayed (e.g. circle, square or rectangular featured images)
- Background colors and patterns
To show you exactly what we mean by this, let’s look at some Blog list page examples.
The look, feel and layout of your Blog list page (a “one template, many pages” type of content) is completely dependent on your WordPress theme’s settings. And it’s those theme settings that determine exactly how all of the dynamically populated content gets displayed.
For example, your WordPress theme might show your featured images as circles above post titles with brief excerpts... in columns of three... on a white background:
By contrast, the exact same website with a different theme activated will load the same blog post content, but with very different display settings.
Instead of showing your featured images as circles, it might display them as rectangles.
Instead of just showcasing a menu header, blog post list and simple footer, it can display an engaging top section and advanced footer with a prompt to subscribe.
Even the font settings are completely different:
Or what about this next Blog list page example?
Here, a single blog post is featured at full screen width with the title overlain on its marquee image. The posts that follow it are displayed in a less eye-catching fashion.
You get the idea.
Across each Blog list page example, the exact same content is being loaded, just presented with different visual styles.
This is your theme at work.
What Content Is Not Controlled By Your Theme?
Like it or not, your WordPress theme actually controls the display settings for every Post and Page published on your website.
However, custom modifications can be made to WordPress Pages to ignore your theme settings.
But if you don’t know how to code these custom modifications yourself, you’ll need a Page Builder plugin (like Thrive Architect) to craft those specialty pages for you.
With Thrive Architect, you gain the ability to visually build all the custom single-instance pages needed on your website — no coding necessary.
Just drag & drop content elements with your mouse into the Thrive Editor and then customize each element directly using the left sidebar options — exactly as your visitors will see it:
Thrive Architect is powerful because it eliminates the need to frustratingly build your content in the backend, native WordPress editor. That means you can avoid having to guess what your post will look like on the frontend (visitor side of your site) whenever you make changes on the backend dashboard (admin side of your site).
On top of that, you never have to build any of your single-instance pages from scratch!
That’s because Thrive Architect gives you instant access to HUNDREDS of conversion focused landing page templates you can quickly load, customize and publish.
That library of professionally designed single-instance page templates includes a wide-range of:
- Lead generation pages
- Sales funnel pages
- Webinar funnel pages
- One page websites
Check out the entire Thrive Architect landing page library by clicking here.
Where Else Can You Use a Page Builder Plugin?
You can also use your page builder plugin to populate the content of your blog posts and general website pages — like your About page or Contact page.
In other words, pages where you want to display theme controlled features (such as the header, footer and sidebar), but still need to customize the in-page content.
By using the power of Thrive Architect to create this content, you not only make the building of new blog posts and general pages quick and easy, but you ensure it looks professional and visually engaging each time you press publish.
Here's an example of a contact page where the non theme content was created with the Thrive Architect page builder:
Again, your page builder plugin CAN’T be used to alter theme dependent elements (like your header, footer and sidebar) on blog posts and general pages, but you can edit each and every detail that will populate their content sections.
And once you get used to building your blog posts this way — we guarantee you’ll never want to go back to using the lackluster WordPress editor to get the job done.
So now that you understand what your WordPress theme actually does, as well as how and where you should use a page builder to create content on your site...
...how does Thrive Theme Builder fit into this story?
Keep reading to find out.
Thrive Theme Builder vs. Themes vs. "Theme Builder" Plugins
Listen up, because this is important...
The biggest reason why you might want to use a Theme Builder on your WordPress website instead of a pre-designed theme can be stated in a word: flexibility.
Of course you want the flexibility to customize every little detail and piece of content on your site so you can make sure it meets your unique online business needs.
But for any WordPress tool on the market claiming to be a “theme builder”, to actually WORK as a fully functioning theme builder…
...it MUST be developed as a WordPress theme — NOT a plugin.
Think about it.
If a “theme builder” tool can’t be installed and activated as your actual theme, how is it supposed to manage all of your theme dependent features?
The truth is that “Theme Builder” plugins CAN'T.
They usually require fragile, multiple-instance workarounds that don't apply themselves universally across your site. If you then want to change a theme feature, you'll have to modify all these different instances — which becomes a website maintenance nightmare!
That’s why the only true WordPress theme builder is Thrive Theme Builder.
It is an actual WordPress theme (installed in the Themes section of your WordPress site) that gives you the power to customize ALL your theme features — down to the last crucial detail — with a visual, drag & drop editor.
And as luck would have it, if you’re already familiar with Thrive Architect’s visual drag & drop page builder, Thrive Theme Builder’s user interface is exactly the same (with a few extra theme crucial features).
In fact, you can swap between modifying your theme content (in Thrive Theme Builder) and then modifying your non-theme content (in Thrive Architect) with just a single click:
And if you're in the middle of editing your Thrive Architect page builder content, the reverse is also true. You can switch to editing your theme based content with the click of a button:
Here’s What TOTAL Theme Flexibility Actually Means
Having TOTAL flexibility over your website means that you can make your default header and footer look just the way you want them. Of course, it's always nice to have some pro-designed templates to begin that customization process with, and that's exactly what you get with Thrive Theme Builder:
And after loading and customizing your header, you can then do the exact same thing when it comes to your footer:
Notice also that any Thrive Theme Builder templates you choose honor the global settings you set (like colors and logos) and are automatically inserted when your header or footer templates are loaded!
But TOTAL theme flexibility doesn't stop there. It also means being able to place and customize elements like your Author Box wherever you want to in your content. Need your Author box to appear at the top of your content in a sidebar? That's no problem:
Or how about placing your Author box at the bottom of your content before the comment section, because you don't want to display a sidebar? That's no problem either:
Maybe you don't want to always show the same blog post template for every article on your site. For example, you may have articles that you want to showcase a featured image on, and articles where you don't.
With Thrive Theme Builder, you can create multiple templates for those different content needs... and switching between them only takes a few clicks:
Are you starting to see just how intuitive, quick and easy Thrive Theme Builder makes designing and customizing your WordPress theme controlled content?
Wait Just a Sec… Do I Still Need the Thrive Architect Page Builder if Start Using Thrive Theme Builder?
Remember when we said that the Thrive Architect page builder is a plugin and Thrive Theme Builder is a theme?
Well, that means Thrive Theme Builder and Thrive Architect are designed to work together in order to give you total design control over your entire website.
Of course, Thrive Architect’s page building features work just fine with any other WordPress theme.
And you can even use Thrive Theme Builder as your WordPress theme without the Thrive Architect plugin installed.
But if you want to gain the power of visually customizing every detail of your WordPress theme while also being able to create landing pages (as well and blog post content) with speed and design appeal, you’ll need both installed:
Time to Start Building!
So now that you know the difference between themes, theme builders, and page builders, as well as exactly what each does on your website…
...it’s time for you to start building!
If you’re not a Thrive Suite user yet, make sure to sign up now so you don’t miss out.
Finally, if you still have any questions about WordPress themes, theme builders and page builders, feel free to get them answered in the comments section below!