Kadence Review: Versatile, Lightweight and Easy-to-Use

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.

Pros

  • Extremely flexible
  • Free version is insanely generous
  • Get near-perfect PageSpeed scores with ease
  • Ideal for non-coders and beginners
  • Lightweight and SEO-friendly
  • Suitable for affiliate marketers, web shop owners and agencies
  • Support goes above and beyond
  • Active and supportive online community

Cons

  • Lifetime deal is pricey for beginners
  • Due to stagnation in the Gutenberg project, UX can feel a bit clunky


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.

Kadence 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.

Are you an (aspiring) affiliate marketer? Then check out the child themes we’ve built on top of the Kadence framework.

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.

Kadence color palette
Kadence color palette changed

Looking to completely shake up the layout of your blog posts? Easy-peasy.

Changing post layout with Kadence

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.

Changing Kadence header design

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.

Kadence footer settings

Editing the content of these various sections is a breeze, too.

Editing a Kadence footer element

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.

Kadence Blocks

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.

Affiliate disclaimer on a website using Kadence hooks

But you can also use them for more ambitious stuff, like replacing the default WordPress category feed with your own designs.

Custom category page WordPress

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.

Kadence mega menu

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.

Pro blocks

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 filter articles

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.

You shouldn’t have a hard time getting mobile PageSpeed scores of 90+ – even on shared hosting of less than 10 bucks a month with providers like Cloud86 or Hostinger.

This is on a hosting plan of less than 3 bucks per mont

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.

Kadence monthly plans

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.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *