Over the years I’ve worked with a dozen or so WordPress themes.
Early 2021 I hauled all of my websites over to Kadence and I haven’t looked back since.
I especially like that the theme lets a non-coder like myself develop pretty much any website I can imagine and that it’s ridiculously fast (especially important if you’re in ecommerce or affiliate marketing).
Kadence isn’t the perfect theme, but it comes close. This Kadence review tells you everything you need to know to figure out if it’s the best WordPress theme for you as well.
The free version of Kadence blows most paid themes out of the water
Honestly, the free version of Kadence makes most paid themes look kind of silly.
Beautiful, free starter templates
If the idea of building an entire website from scratch is daunting to you, you can use one of Kadence’s many free starter templates.
The Kadence team has stepped up the pace in releasing new templates over the past years massively. By now, they’ve got most website major website categories covered.
1-click site-wide changes with the WordPress Customizer
With Kadence you can change the look and feel of a website in just a couple of clicks.
Want to alter the entire color scheme of your website? No problem.
Looking to completely shake up the layout of your blog posts? Easy-peasy.
Want to change up the design of your header? Unlike many other themes, this functionality isn’t hidden away in the deepest depths of your website settings but is right there in the WordPress Customizer.
Easy to make headers and footers
Managing and making headers and footers is another thing that many WordPress themes make way more complicated than it should be.
With Kadence, you can easily drag-and-drop various sections to create great-looking headers and footers in no-time.
Editing the content of these various sections is a breeze, too.
Kadence Blocks for building beautiful posts and web pages
The free Kadence Blocks plugin is an extension to the standard WordPress Gutenberg Editor.
It takes the WordPress core and turns it into a page builder which in my view surpasses the likes of Elementor and Divi, but without adding any of the code bloat.
What this means in practice is that you get to design beautiful posts and pages without any performance sacrifices.
There are many blocks you can choose from: row layouts, post feeds, forms, icon lists – you name it. More than enough to create a professional, great-looking website.
Kadence Pro levels the playing field between you and $100k custom-made websites
The free version of Kadence of great but the Pro version really makes your website shine. If you’re generating a meaningful income from affiliate marketing, ecommerce of web design I recommend you always upgrade to Kadence Pro.
Kadence hooked elements
For me Kadence Element Hooks are one of the biggest reasons to go for Kadence Pro.
What are hooks? Think of them as pieces of code that show up on certain parts of your website (certain pages or posts, and specific locations on these pages) which you specify.
For instance, if you’re an affiliate marketer you can use a hook to place an affiliate disclaimer above your header.
But you can also use them for more ambitious stuff, like replacing the default WordPress category feed with your own designs.
The possibilities here are endless.
Mega Menu for screen-wide, custom menu’s
Mega menus are something that can make your site stand out.
I use them for websites with a lot of content.
Now, I tend to keep mine modest. But you can go all out if you want and add images, different background colors and much more.
Kadence Pro comes with a bunch of blocks you won’t find in the free version of Kadence. The most impressive of these are in my opinion the Post Grid/Carousel and Advanced Form.
With the Post Grid/Carousel you can easily individually select posts to be shown in a feed. Pretty great for content-heavy websites which for instance want to showcase specific articles in a featured posts section.
What’s also really neat is that it lets you add a filter on top of your blog posts, something I do on the blog page sections of my websites.
Kadence is blazing fast
I’ve mentioned already a couple of times that Kadence is lightweight, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it bears emphasizing: Kadence is fast.
If you hate endless tinkering just to get your site to pass Google’s Core Web Vitals as much as I do, then this is another massive feather in Kadence’s cap.
The paid version of Kadence is on the pricey side – but it’s worth it
You can get the Pro version of Kadence either by paying yearly or by shelling out a 1-time sum for lifetime access.
Their Essential Bundle works great for most people. The Full Bundle is what I use but that’s mainly because I develop my own Kadence child themes and because I sell access to my cloud.
You can also pay a one-time fee for their Lifetime Full Bundle. I’m not going to beat around the bush here: $799 is a hefty sum in comparison with what many competitors charge. But if you loathe subscriptions with a passion (I do) and are convinced that Kadence is the way forward for your website(s), then getting the lifetime deal makes sense.
Not Kadence’s fault, but thanks to Gutenberg and the WordPress core team some of the UX feels clunky
As it’s been almost all praise in this Kadence review so far, I think it’s fair to highlight some downsides of using Kadence.
But to be clear, what I’ll be discussing here is by no means Kadence’s fault.
So basically, WordPress radically altered its course several years ago by ditching the Classic Editor and launching Gutenberg, their very own block-based editor.
Like many other modern WordPress themes, Kadence is built around Gutenberg – working seamlessly with it.
Though Gutenberg has been catching a lot of flak over the years, I personally always embraced and promoted it given the world of possibilities it opens. Not to mention how fast it makes your site. Sure, Gutenberg wasn’t without it faults, but it seems to be getting better and better at a steady clip.
However, in recent times I feel the WordPress core team has lost the plot a little, pursuing vanity projects (like full-site editing) and making the Gutenberg UX harder instead of easier in a number of ways. All the while ignoring real grievances from the WordPress user base.
An example is that in order to make a link open in a new tab, you now have to click 5 times instead of just once (I’m not kidding).
Again, this is by no means the fault of the Kadence team, but it can make working with Kadence feel a bit more clunky at times than it should be.
All in all, I’ve got enough confidence in the ability of the WordPress community to hurl s%*t towards the WordPress core team to such a degree that stuff like this eventually gets fixed. Still, I thought it is only fair to mention this in this review.
Kadence vs. GeneratePress
GeneratePress is a super solid WordPress theme that probably works best for you if you’re a developer or have a dev on your team.
It is as fast as Kadence, and you can build some really cool stuff with it. But the bottom line is that it has a much steeper learning curve. It can be worth checking out if you’re more of DIY kind of person.
But for the vast majority of website owners I recommend Kadence.
Wrapping things up: who should choose Kadence?
Kadence is a force of nature.
It’s easily one of the best themes for affiliate marketing, while also giving agency and web shop owners a massive range of powerful tools.
In a world with thousands of WordPress themes, Kadence reigns supreme because it mixes complete flexibility, great designs, versatility and speed.
The free version of Kadence impresses, but for experienced users I recommend Kadence Pro every time.
I don’t do star ratings on this blog, but I did, Kadence would get 5/5 stars.