If you’re not familiar with Kadence WP, you might wonder why I’ve chosen to design all my WordPress themes for sale as Kadence child themes. While Kadence doesn’t have the following of WordPress builders like Divi and Elementor (yet), I’ve become a huge fan over the past year of using it on my own websites.
If you purchase Kadence from any of the links in this post, I earn a small percentage at no extra cost to you, but I would not recommend Kadence if I didn’t also use it on all my own websites.
What is Kadence WP?
Kadence is both a WordPress theme and a block builder, and works best when you combine both. Unlike drag-and-drop page builders like Divi and Elementor (and ProPhoto, for any photographers reading this), Kadence uses the built-in WordPress editor known as Gutenberg for editing both pages and blog posts. Not only does this avoid bloated code and slow loading times, but it also helps future proof your site so that if you ever move off Kadence, you don’t have to design everything from scratch.
The Kadence theme is easy to use, with most settings you need to change the design found right in the WP Appearance Customizer panel, including a drag-and-drop header and footer builder. I’m especially impressed with how far you can customize the layout of single blog posts, archives, and pages all with a few clicks.
The free Kadence theme is lightning fast right out of the box, and can be made even faster when you add performance, caching, and image optimization plugins to your site. The theme is built to only load the resources needed for any given page, which is a big improvement over older themes.
The Premium version of the Kadence Theme is not strictly necessary, since you can do so much with the free theme, but there’s one premium feature that I find invaluable, and use on all my sites: Hooked Elements. Hooked Elements lets you build a custom 404 page, design more advanced header and footer layouts, add a banner above your header on certain pages, display a custom message at the top or bottom of every blog post, and so much more.
Kadence Blocks is a free WordPress plugin that you can use on any WP site, but it works best in combination with the Kadence theme. You insert Kadence blocks into posts and pages the same way you use the default Gutenberg blocks in WordPress, and they can of course be used interchangeably. You can see all the included blocks here.
Kadence Blocks Pro is an extension of the free blocks, and includes extra blocks like Image Overlay, Post Grid (my favorite for laying out a blog or category page), Split Content, Advanced Slider, Gallery Extras, and more. The variety of blocks gives you more options when designing, and while you can build a site without these, there are many that I could not do without.
One of my favorite hidden features of Blocks Pro is that you can set your contact form to save all entries in the database, so you can easily see them all from your WordPress dashboard. This is huge for anyone who’s ever lost an important client inquiry because of an email that didn’t make it through!
Is the Kadence Membership worth it?
One of the questions I see most often is whether the Kadence Membership is worth paying for, so let me break that down for you. There are three different ways that you can use Kadence:
- You can download the free Kadence theme and Kadence Blocks plugin directly through the WordPress theme and plugin directories.
- You can purchase the Kadence Theme Premium and Kadence Blocks Pro from the Kadence website.
- You can subscribe to the Kadence Membership, for either an annual or lifetime subscription.
The Kadence Membership includes the Premium Theme, Blocks Pro, four other themes, fifteen plugins, and of course support and updates. Out of the fifteen plugins, the ones I personally find worth the membership price are:
- Kadence AMP — the best way to add AMP support for your Kadence site.
- Kadence Woo Extras — a must for anyone with an e-commerce site.
- Kadence Related Content — lets you choose which posts appear in the Related Content section below your blog posts, and gives you more design options.
- Kadence Custom Fonts — lets you upload and host fonts locally, but still easily select them from the typography settings when designing your site.
- Child Theme Builder — if you have any interest in designing Kadence child themes for sale, or even if you just want to easily transfer a full design to another site, this plugin is gold.
If you’re already going to pay $79 + $59 = $138/year for the Premium theme and Blocks Pro, I think the extra $31 to get the full membership with all the extra plugins is well worth it. I do prefer the annual subscription over lifetime, because as much as I hope that Kadence will still be the best option five years from now, I can’t guarantee that, so I’d rather pay as I go.
Unlike many WordPress themes, Kadence gives you a full license to use their theme on as many websites as you want, both for the free theme, the Pro version, and with the membership. This is huge for those of us who run multiple websites and want to use the same theme on all of them without multiplying our expenses.
Kadence also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you give their theme a try and decide you don’t like it, just email them within 30 days for a refund.
Is Kadence right for me?
If you are looking for a clean, fast WordPress theme that lets you build pages with blocks in the WP editor instead of through a separate drag-and-drop page builder, you can’t go wrong with Kadence. Both the theme and blocks are intuitive and easy to learn, and once you understand how things work, there’s very little you can’t design in Kadence.
Anyone who nerds out even a little over building sites on WordPress will have a lot of fun learning all the possibilities of Kadence — and enjoy the performance benefits that comes with it. But even if you find WordPress overwhelming, and you just want a simple theme that’s easy to use, Kadence is that theme.
I don’t recommend Kadence for website owners who are looking for the most beautifully designed theme possible straight out of the box, where they just need to input their own content and branding without ever changing anything else. Kadence does not have many starter templates / child themes yet, so the design options can feel overwhelming if you’re starting from scratch. Since Kadence only released the child theme builder in the spring of 2021, I’m willing to bet there will be a much bigger market by the end of this year!
I’m working on building up a variety of child themes for Kadence, so check those out in my shop and see if you find one to your liking.