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What’s New in Thrive Themes – March 2023

Welcome to the first major Thrive Themes release of 2023!

This one is starting us off with a bang.

We are super excited to share with you today 4 new features...

  1. 1
    One which has been highly requested for over a year,
  2. 2
    Another which we've been working towards for months (we began laying the groundwork for it over a year ago),
  3. 3
    Yet another that will make your design-life easier, and
  4. 4
    A quality-of-life improvement that sets us up for our next major release.

Come on... you didn't think we were slowing down, did you?

Read on to learn what's new for Thrive Themes users!

More...

1. Protected Files for Thrive Apprentice

In December 2021, we announced Thrive Apprentice 4.0, a major update that meant you could now protect any page, post or block of content on your website under a membership level.

That update turned Thrive Apprentice from a powerful online course platform into a mega-powerful and fully-capable membership tool.

But... we heard some comments that you wanted to protect your precious downloadable files as well. Things like PDFs, worksheets, eBooks, and more

The concern was fair: you could embed download links on your protected pages, but once clicked, the direct link to the file hosted in your WordPress media library would be exposed, and could easily be shared online. In fact, anyone from anywhere online could just link to the file directly.

Given that worksheets, eBooks and other downloadable files are part of your intellectual property, you want to gate access to them.

Now you can. Introducing: Protected Files for Thrive Apprentice.

Look for the new icon in Thrive Apprentice

Next time you open Thrive Apprentice, you'll see a new tab on the left hand side. We hope it's self explanatory.

Instead of uploading protected files to your WP Media Library, where the URL will be exposed, you'll want to upload them here.

Any files added here will be safely hidden from direct linking.

Drag and drop your files, and a lightbox will pop open, letting you name the file and optionally assign it to a Thrive Apprentice Product.

Remember, a product is like an access pass. Whatever content is protected by a product— be it your courses, membership tiers, categories, pages, posts or now files— will be safely protected until a user is granted access to that product, usually by purchase, of course.

Choose a Thrive Apprentice product that will protect access to your file— it's that easy.

Once you have uploaded your file, you'll have options to edit meta data and information about how to link to it. You'll also see how many times it has been downloaded by your visitors, so you can be sure that things aren't getting out of control.

Once your file is uploaded, you'll see it listed here for easy access.

How to link to your protected file

Completed the above step? Great! Now it's time to link to the protected file.

There are 2 ways to do this.

Option 1: Adding a protected file to your online course resources list

Thrive Apprentice has a Lesson Resources feature, which makes it easy for you to provide a list of resource links available on any lesson. They can be downloadable files, links to local website pages, or other externally hosted pages.

The resources area is dynamic, meaning if you add a resource, it'll show up in a beautifully structured list on the bottom of a lesson. But if you don't, the resources list will remain hidden.

To add a resource, navigate to the content area in Thrive Apprentice, and on a specific lesson click Edit > Add Resources.

You can easily add resources to any lessons in Thrive Apprentice

Now a lightbox will open, letting you add 1 or more resources. You'll notice that 'protected file' is a new option, and will display your recently added file.

Add a bit of accompanying info, and you're done!

Look for the new 'Protected file' option in the Lesson Resources editor.

Now, on the front-end of your lesson, students who have access to your course will see a beautifully styled resources area with an easy-to-access download link.

This area is designer-friendly and created as part of your Thrive Apprentice course templates, so it'll inherit your fonts, colors and preferred styles.

Your new protected file will appear in the Lesson Resources of your school templates.

Option 2: Adding Protected Files to pages or posts

The second way to offer your protected files is to provide a direct access link on any page or post.

Perhaps you want to create a landing page or members area on your website that is not a part of a specific course, and you want to provide clickable links that access the protected file.

Easy!

Open a page or post in Thrive Architect, create your hyperlink text, and from the typography bar, click the Insert Link icon > Dynamic link > then choose 'protected file'.

Protected Files will appear as dynamic hyperlinks.

The link will be added to your page.

What happens when the link is clicked?

This is where the magic happens. Whether your protected file is linked from the Resources area in Thrive Apprentice, or a direct link in Thrive Architect, the file URL won't be exposed.

Instead, a safe link will show. When clicked, Thrive Apprentice will check if the logged-in user has access rights. If they do, it'll immediately download from the browser window. On Google Chrome, you'll see the file show up in the downloads folder.

But, if a user clicks that link and they don't have permissions, they'll be redirected to your No Access template, as defined in the access settings of Thrive Apprentice.

That means you can show a default message, or redirect a user straight to the sales page where they can buy access. Of course, that no-access design is visually editable too, and in my example, I made it look just like this:

Visually edit the appearance and text of the 'no access' page your visitors see when trying to access the file without permission.

With the new Protected Files feature, you can protect anything:

PDFs, Jpegs, PNGs, xls, doc, csv, zip, mp3... the list goes on. And in case you were wondering, this feature way outdoes what other online course platforms have ever offered. Can you tell we're proud?

2. New Carousel Display Type for Both the Post List... and the Course List

You know our Post List element, right?

...the insanely-overpowered, template-driven, designer friendly way to display ANY posts, pages or custom post types on your Thrive-made website?

When you look at it, it's hard to imagine how to make it better, isn't it?

Well, we found a way.

Next time you open the Post List element, you'll see that alongside the Grid, List and Masonry display types, there's now a fourth type:

Carousel.

A new fourth display type!

We first introduced our Carousel technology with the Image Gallery element, allowing you to display beautiful image libraries that your visitors can scroll through.

But see, we were testing the waters. The end goal was to introduce it to the Post List and the Course List in Thrive Apprentice. 

The result? An interactive, side-scrolling list of any filterable pages, posts or content from your website.

WordPress websites can get big. It's not uncommon to have hundreds of blog posts. But if you want to show those posts to your visitors, it'll take up a lot of digital real estate, won't it?

To account for this, over the years we've added pagination, smart back-end filters, and interactive front-end filters.

But a carousel takes it one step further. 20 or 30 posts can now be side-scrollable. Rather than forcing your visitors to scroll down a page length after page length, you can now give them options to scroll left and right if they want to browse your content.

Take a look at the new Carousel Options panel that appears once you've enabled it:

Find all your Carousel Options in their own dedicated sidebar panel.

In that option panel, you'll see you can easily add or remove arrows, navigation dots, or enable infinite sliding and drag-to-scroll. 

Arrows and dots are visually editable too. Pick a new icon from the icon library, and change whatever settings you please.

Even the arrows can be styled just to your liking!

You can enable autoplay if you want your posts to rotate on their own, and you can set your posts to uniform slide height, meaning that as your visitors navigate left and right, the size of the container won't bounce around between long and short posts.

There's even an option to make a single slide fader, with a fade transition between your posts.

Course creators, you haven't been forgotten!

The Post List technology also drives the Thrive Apprentice Course List element. Creating courses is only one half of the challenge: displaying and marketing them so your visitors want to buy them is the second half.

This element allows you to create visually editable and utterly stunning lists of the courses you are selling from you website, that can be filtered by topic, restriction labels, teacher and whether or not the student has purchased them or not.

Thrive Apprentice users will be familiar with the Course List element

Choose the Carousel option for the Course List, and look at what you can create! A beautiful side-scrolling list of courses.

In this example below, I've enabled 'Overlap end items', and you'll see that a portion of the courses to the left and the right of the carousel are displayed, hinting to the visitor that there is more to see.

What a beautiful way to display a side-scrolling list of your courses!

One of the reasons this is such a great feature is that it's perfect for mobile visitors. Add the Course List Carousel to a full-width background section and let the courses overlap on the left and right, and mobile visitors can easily navigate with a swipe of their thumb:

3. Typography Control in Smart Landing Pages

Thrive Architect comes with nearly 100 gorgeous, marketing-focused, responsive landing page designs compatible with smart colors and page block technology. And if you have Thrive Theme Builder, you'll get access to another 86 theme-compatible pages too.

There's a lot to love.

But see, sometimes you want to mix and match, don't you?

Sometimes you want to use landing pages that look exactly like the rest of your site— borrowing their color, typography and style— whereas other times, you want to build a unique landing page, sales page or lead generation funnel that has it's own style.

Take for example these two sets below. What if you have Ommi theme installed, but you fall in love with a landing page from the Kwik Theme?

Smart landing page sets are built around a core set of shared typography.

Well, these pages are already compatible with smart colors, meaning they'll pick up your central theme color and apply it intelligently to the design component.

But so much of the look of a design is dictated by it's typography.

And given that we know you want options, we've just added a new feature to the Thrive Architect style panel, that lets you easily swap between your active Theme fonts OR uniquely inherit (and edit) the default landing page fonts.

Look for the new 'Fonts' option in the Style Panel.

That means you can apply any landing page from any set, and with the click of a button, your fonts will be replaced with the main Theme typography set— a set you can configure easily in Thrive Theme Builder:

Thrive Theme Builder makes updating your global theme typography just stupidly easy

The result? Look at the two images below. The first is using a page from the Shapeshift landing page set, which has serif fonts and a more sophisticated look.

The second is inheriting Ommi theme's sans-serif fonts, for a more modern and friendly feeling. 

Shapeshift Landing Page with Shapeshift fonts

Shapeshift Landing Page... but now inheriting Ommi fonts

And all it took was one click.

4. Email Address No Longer a Required Field for a Form to be Submitted

This one might seem a little odd, until you understand the key use-case.

For many years, our Lead Generations form element— which, like everything else, is super flexible and designer friendly— had a mandatory email address field that couldn't be removed.

That makes sense because, well... how else are you adding a lead to your mailing list?

Now, we've made it possible to delete this field.

The Email Address field can be removed if you need.

"But why, Brad, that doesn't make sense?!"

Ah, but it does! 

What if your customer base prefer to be contacted via phone? What if they don't want to join a mailing list, but they do want you to message them?

An example would be a car mechanic. You don't want to join a mailing list just to get your car serviced— you just want to submit a form and get a phonecall from the mechanic to book you in.

So your contact form might look more like this:

An example form without an email address field.

Then what? Well, if you add an 'email' connection, you can configure it to send an email to yourself or someone on your team whenever the form is submitted.

Note, that this isn't sending an email to the visitor— only to you, since you haven't got their email address.

Set your form submit to send yourself an email.

With this connection type, you can configure the automated email to be sent to your inbox. Then, when it arrives, you'll have the customer's name, phone number and message in the body of the email, making it super easy for you to give them a call or shoot them a text.

Easily edit the email sent by your website to include the form submit data.

However, if you add a mailing list as a connection, the Email Address field will be added back in to your form and will become mandatory again.

Connecting to an email list? Now you will require an email address.

The real reason we're making this change will become evident in our next major release. But in the meantime, those of you that aren't using a mailing list can make use of it right now.

But for what it's worth, why wouldn't you? Emailing marketing is still super effective.

What Else is Coming in 2023?

It's a red-hot roadmap we're working on, with no slowing down at all. We have the same product team and developers still hard at work to bring you some next-level features and software updates.

But for now, we'd love to know what you think of these latest features! Drop us a comment below.

About the Author Bradley Stevens


Brad is the CEO at Thrive Themes, and a serious marketing nerd. He’s been a videographer on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a drummer in a rock band, an actor in independent films, and he’s created and sold his own online courses.

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