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Kadence: My Favorite WordPress Theme (2021)

Choosing the Kadence Theme

There are tons of WordPress themes to choose from. It can be overwhelming to choose just one — especially if you are sure what to look for. As with anything, some are better than others. Mostly having to do with several basic criteria.

What to Look for in a WordPress Premium Theme

  • Support: Is support prompt and available when needed?
  • Updates: When bugs are discovered, or WordPress requires an update, are the developers ahead of the curve?
  • Performance Metrics: Does the theme pop, or does it ding your site's loading time?
  • Features: Does the theme offer the ability to add features and widgets as needed to have a site that allows you to cater to your site visitors.
  • Ease of Use: How easy is it for the site owner to make their custom site what they need?

Of course, priorities also vary based on the type of website you want to have. But the above are the basics that I look at when making choices for my sites and those of my clients. For more, I wrote about the considerations you need to look at before choosing your theme in my article Choosing the Right WordPress Theme.

Today I'm going to dive into why I'm using Kadence. I was a happy camper using the combo of the StudioPress Genesis Framework with a child theme. Of course, Genesis and a child theme is still a viable choice — but now it's moved down a notch once I discovered Kadence. You can read about why I even looked at Kadence in my article WordPress Full Site Editing & Your StudioPress Theme.

Kadence WordPress theme Dashboard
Kadence Dashboard

What makes Kadence different?

Performance and features. Kadence is zippy, responsive, and mobile out of the box.

Header/Footer Builder – Unlike other themes, the Kadence Theme comes with a drag and drop header/footer builder. This allows unlimited design possibilities.

Globally Linked Color Palette (aff) – The color of the element on your website is linked to a global color palette. Want to change color? Change it in one place, and the color changes across your entire website.

Globally Linked Fonts – Like with the color system, the same goes for your font choices. Want to change a font? Change it in one place, and the font changes across your entire website.

WooCommerce (aff) Integration – The Kadence Theme features the most advanced WooCommerce integration to allow you to: customize your WooCommerce product pages, has a flyout cart, cart icon in the header, product page bullet points, my account page customizations, and more.

Kadence's Plugins: More on that below…

When I made the switch, my performance metrics improved immediately. And that's with already pretty great metrics with Genesis/Child — another reason I stuck with them for so long. Performance is a big deal.

What stood out next was the wide range of customization features, combined with the ability to use blocks and modify them much more than any other theme I've tried. Add to that all the customization is in the Appearance > Customize area and on the block level by simply ticking boxes and choosing options.

So we have outstanding performance and the ability to tweak and customize like crazy using blocks. These are two things that are most important to a website — and what website owners want.

Is Kadence a “Builder”?

In essence, Kadence is its own “builder.” I've been asked, “what about builders like Divi, Beaver, WPBakery, and Elementor?” (I wrote about builders here: Quick Review: WordPress vs. “Website Builders.“) In this case, we are not talking apples to apples.

When you switch themes, shortcodes need to be removed or modified and tweaked from the previous theme. Builders make that a much more complicated process and are not easy for non-devs and non-coders to embrace. Builders tend to have a huge learning curve in general, let alone when you move away from one.

That said, Kadence plays well with Elementor, for example, if you feel the need to customize your website further. However, in all my years working on websites, I've tried them all, and the cons outweigh the pros. So review my linked-to article before taking that step.

Kadence allows you to create the site you envision without relying on builder inserted shortcodes. More importantly, without having to take a ding on your performance metrics.

Kadence Costs and Pricing

The Kadence theme is free. However, as with most things WordPress, you'll want to upgrade if you want all the features and available functionality and, just as important, support. Kadence has two membership suites (right now):

YEARLY ACCESS $169/year

  •  Use on Unlimited Websites.
  •  One year support and updates.
  •  Includes all our themes and plugins.
  •  Access to all future themes and plugins.
  •  30 day satisfaction guarantee.

LIFETIME ACCESS $599

  •  Use on Unlimited Websites.
  •  Lifetime support and updates.
  •  Includes all our themes and plugins.
  •  Access to all future themes and plugins.
  •  30 day satisfaction guarantee.

Lifetime Access may be the way to go if you are a developer or just an average user who plans to have their website for more than 3.5 years which at that point the Lifetime Access will pay itself off.

And, based on experience, getting in on something new from the start with a Lifetime license gets you grandfathered into any program or membership changes that inevitably come down the road due to market changes.

Kadence Templates

The free theme is basically a skeleton in place for you to build out a website exactly the way you want.

But with Kadence, you also have the option to choose from a bunch of templates that are performance-optimized. Each has page templates with pre-created content to import, so you have a running start for your new design.

Choose the prebuilt website and click to import. Then do your thing.

Kadence Plugins

Kadence has its own stable of plugins developed to work with the Kadence theme:

  • AMP: Adds Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for WordPress and works with Woocommerce Products.
  • Shop Kit: Variation Swatches, Product gallery sliders, Size charts, and more.
  • Cloud: Drop your favorite design elements into any website.
  • Child Theme Builder (aff): Generate Kadence Child Themes that you can sell and even include a starter template.
  • reCAPTCHA: Prevent spam, Add reCAPTCHA to comments, login, contact forms.
  • Galleries: Create standout galleries that are filterable and beautifully responsive.
  • Pricing Table: Create beautiful pricing tables that stand out and increase your sales.
  • Widget Dock: A powerful, clean, and elegant way to place content or marketing offers in front of your users in an non-intrusive manner.
  • Related Content: Select, order and define the exact content that you want to entice your readers with to further investigate or connect with your site.
  • Woo Template Builder: Create completely custom Woocommerce product, archive and checkout pages using Page Builder.
  • Simple Share: Link products to your blog posts and show in a carousel to upsell and further engage your readers.
  • Page Transitions: An elegant way to add animation transitions to page navigation.
  • Slider Pro: A fast and powerful slider with individual layer control.
  • Fullpane Vertical Slider: Beautiful full page slider that flows natually with native scroll and allows for any type of content. Build inside pagebuilder.
  • Reading Time: Let’s you easily add an estimated reading time to your WordPress posts.
  • Custom Fonts: Easily add custom fonts to your site and assign them through the theme options panel.
  • Woocommerce Elementor: Build custom layouts for your products in WooCommerce using the Elementor page building experience

Kadence is a “Goldilocks Theme”

What do I mean by “Goldilocks Theme?” It's just right.

  • All the features you need to customize your presentation.
  • Lightweight and fast so you have great performance metrics.
  • You don't need to be a web developer and “know code” to use it.

I've worked with a ton of themes and builders. All have varying degrees of a learning curve. Kadence was surprisingly feature-rich while still being intuitively easy to use.

I now have three sites running Kadence, including this one, and have had no issues or conflicts. The fact is I haven't been this enthused and excited to work with a specific theme in well over a decade.

You are probably due for a redesign anyway. Especially with WordPress Full Site Editing coming down the pike. Why not be ahead of the curve for a change?

Judith: WordPress Consultant and Business Coach