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Kadence Theme Review: Is It The Best WordPress Theme For You?

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Updated May 31, 2024

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Have you heard about the Kadence Theme and want to know if it’s the right WordPress theme for you

KadenceWP has been making big waves in the world of WordPress themes. If you’ve been looking for an SEO-friendly WordPress theme that’s user-friendly, super customizable, and optimized for top-notch performance, Kadence is worth checking out.

Over the last few years, I’ve used the Kadence Theme for my websites and on countless client website design projects. I’m finally ready to share my honest thoughts for a full Kadence Theme review. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the Kadence theme’s unique features, perks, and even a few pain points. By the end, you’ll have all the info you need to decide if it’s the perfect match for your WordPress website. 

Let’s get started.

Want the condensed version? Click here to see my official Kadence Theme rating and list of pros and cons.

What is the Kadence Theme?

The Kadence Theme is a modern, lightweight, multipurpose theme that makes creating and customizing professionally designed websites in WordPress easier than ever. It’s jam-packed with features that make it easy to build a responsive website with virtually no coding skills required.

Like many WordPress themes, the Kadence theme offers both a free and a pro version. While the free version provides a solid foundation with essential features suitable for many users, the pro version expands on this foundation with advanced functionalities and customization options.

In addition to the Kadence theme, their developers also offer an assortment of WordPress plugins, such as the:

  • Kadence Blocks plugin
  • Kadence Starter Templates plugin
  • Kadence Conversions
  • Kadence Shop Kit

All of these plugins are designed to extend your website’s functionality and make building it easier. Some plugins are available for free, while others are only accessible when you purchase a Kadence Bundle.

I know this post is specifically about reviewing the Kadence Theme, but we’ll look at each of these plugins in more detail shortly because they pair so well with the Kadence Theme.

Who is the Kadence Theme Best For?

Kadence is a multipurpose theme that can work for literally anyone who wants to build a website on WordPress. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting as a new blogger or are an experienced web developer with years of website-building experience. You can create a simple one-page website or a more complex site with hundreds of pages and advanced functionality.

My team and I have personally used the Kadence Theme to design food blogs, news/magazine-style sites, coaching and consulting websites, personally branded websites, mommy blogs, local business websites, directory-style sites, and more. Check out our client showcase

Before we get too deep into the review, let’s address the elephant in the room…

Is Kadence a full-site editing theme?

Full site editing (FSE) was a new feature introduced to WordPress with the release of WordPress 5.9 in January 2022. FSE allows users to edit and design their entire website, including headers, footers, and other global elements, using the block editor, which was previously limited to content areas such as posts and pages.

Many early adopters have been claiming that FSE is the future of WordPress themes, but in my opinion, FSE still has a long way to go before it reaches the same level of customization and ease of use as traditional themes.

Technically, the Kadence Theme does not currently support Full Site Editing (FSE). However, Kadence does offer a suite of features that emulate FSE capabilities. These include a dynamic Header and Footer builder, versatile custom layout options such as sidebars and full-width settings, comprehensive global styling controls, and more.

If you think you want an FSE theme because it will give you greater control, I encourage you to read THIS article before deciding. I think you’ll find that Kadence, especially with the Pro Version, can be a great alternative to a full-site editing theme and give you the level of control you desire.

Ok, moving on. Next, let’s talk about…

What are the best Kadence Theme features?

We won’t be able to cover every single feature because this post would get way too long, but I’ll cover my favorite features.

1. Kadence is built for speed

When I started designing websites for clients, I built everything with Elementor, a popular page builder plugin, because it was easy to hand the website over to my not-so-tech-savvy clients after the project.

However, I was constantly frustrated by how bloated the tool made my sites. It felt like an act of Congress to move the page speed scores even a little in the optimization process. So, after doing some research, I eventually decided to switch to Kadence because it:

  • Is built with clean, optimized code, ensuring fast load times and efficient performance.
  • Uses a modular approach, allowing you to enable only the features you need. This reduces the bloat and ensures that the website runs smoothly.
  • Intelligently loads assets such as CSS and JavaScript files only when needed. This reduces unnecessary HTTP requests and improves page load times.
  • Includes performance-optimized features like lazy loading for images, performance-focused typography settings, and global color settings that minimize the need for additional plugins.
  • Is designed to work seamlessly with popular caching plugins like WProcket, Perfmatters, and FlyingPress, further enhancing performance by reducing server load and improving page speed.

When I decided to switch, I found I could achieve almost the exact same design with the Kadence Theme and Kadence Blocks plugin and get significantly higher page speed scores than the site built with Elementor.

Today, our team at DIY Dream Site consistently gets high page speed scores for our custom client projects.

If performance is a major consideration for your website design project, the Kadence Theme is definitely worth exploring.

Just keep in mind there other factors that contribute to site speed, such as using a reliable hosting company, using reputable caching plugins as mentioned above, and compressing your images with a tool like ShortPixel, just to name a few.

2. The Kadence Theme uses global styles

If you’ve ever had to manually update colors, fonts, or even buttons on every single post or page you create, you know it can be a struggle to keep your site’s design looking consistent. Thankfully, Kadence has global colors, global typography (fonts), and global button styles in the free version of the theme.

  • Global Colors: In the theme customizer, you can set your brand’s colors, which will automatically apply to your entire site.

Read: Customizing The Kadence Theme Color Palette? Don’t Make This Mistake!

  • Global Typography: Inside the customizer, you can set the typography settings for your base font, h1-h6 heading styles, titles, and breadcrumbs. The styles you select will automatically apply to every text or heading element.
  • Global Buttons: You can also set your button style in the customizer. You can customize everything from the text colors, background and border colors, border and border radius, font selection, button padding, and shadows.

These global styles will help you save a ton of time and ensure your website always looks cohesive and professional without much extra effort.

3. Drag-and-Drop Header and Footer Builder

Kadence provides an intuitive drag-and-drop editor in the Theme customizer, allowing you to easily edit your site-wide header (also referred to as your navigation bar) and footer.

Here’s what’s included in the free version of the header builder:

  • Basic header elements: You’ll find essential elements to add, including a logo, primary and secondary navigation menus, a button, an HTML area, a search icon, and social icons.
  • Transparent header: In the free version, you can also enable the transparent header option if you want your navigation bar to sit seamlessly on top of a photo or background. You can also enable or disable the transparent header page by page for full control over each web page. You can even set a different logo for your transparent header.
  • Sticky header: You can adjust the settings to keep the header at the top of your web page as the user scrolls.

If you want to upgrade to a Bundle, you can also gain access to these exclusive features:

  • Advanced header elements: The pro version provides additional elements, including a search bar, additional navigation menus, contact information, extra buttons, extra HTML areas, dividers, a toggle with the slide-out panel, and a shopping cart icon if you have WooCommerce. This allows you to create more functional and visually appealing headers and footers.
  • Ultimate Menu/ Mega Menus – You can customize your nav bar to include mega menus, multiple dropdown levels, and the ability to add icons, images, and custom content to your menu items.
  • Conditional Headers – You can also offer a personalized browsing experience for your visitors by setting different headers to appear on various pages, posts, or categories. You can even tailor them for logged-in users or those accessing your site from mobile devices. I love this feature because you can really enhance your site’s usability and engagement by delivering relevant content exactly where and when it’s needed. We use this feature for our site when customers are logged in vs. logged out!

I know that the header builder feature alone was a lot to cover, so here’s a quick breakdown of the features of the Kadence header builder in the free and pro plans.

Free Header Builder Elements

Basic Elements include:

  • Logo
  • Primary Navigation
  • Secondary Navigation
  • Search (Icon with Modal Pop-up)
  • Button
  • Social Icons
  • HTML area
  • Transparent header
  • Sticky header
Pro Header Builder Features

Everything in free, plus:

  • Account
  • Third Navigation
  • Fourth Navigation
  • Search Bar
  • Button 2
  • Dividers (1, 2, 3)
  • HTML Area 2
  • Contact
  • Toggle widget area (off-canvas/ slide-out)
  • Ultimate Menus
  • Conditional Headers

The footer builder functions similarly to the header builder. Simply use the flexible, drag-and-drop interface to design your site-wide footer easily. You’ll find footer elements, including a footer navigation menu, social media icons, and up to 6 widgets where each widget area can be customized using the Kadence Blocks plugin in your widgets area.

If you want to build more complex footers, you can use the Element Hooks feature (available in the Kadence Theme Pro add-on) to replace the footer on a specific page or the entire site.

How is the support?

In my experience, the Kadence support team has been extremely helpful.

  • I’ve emailed support several times asking if something custom was possible. Instead of saying, “This is only available with custom code, which is outside the scope of our support,” they would reply and share the code snippet or line of CSS I needed. 🤯
  • If I’ve ever reported a bug, the developers are always so quick to release a fix.
  • As a customer, I also feel that the development team is in tune with what customers are asking for and is constantly working to improve the UI and product overall.
  • I also love that I can ask questions in the Kadence Facebook group and get feedback on projects I’m working on. Everyone in the group is positive and encouraging. Sometimes, I can get my questions answered there before even having to reach out to the support team.

If I had to critique their support, I just wish the team would respond a little quicker.

They don’t have support over the weekends, so if I’m working on a site on a Friday afternoon, it’ll be a few days before I hear back from them. (Honestly, I don’t typically work on weekends either so it’s really not that big of a deal for me, but it could be for some weekend warriors.)

It would also be really cool to see the Kadence team implement a chat feature like my hosting company, Siteground‘s support team offers. Sometimes it can be hard going back and forth over the course of a few days trying to solve an issue; chatting with a support person would be able to expedite that process significantly.

Examples of sites built with Kadence

If you’re looking for some inspiration or examples of sites built with Kadence in your industry, here are a few options:

  • You can browse our Customer Showcase for dozens of websites we’ve built with Kadence. Here are some of our favorite projects:
  • In this post, you can look to other Kadence Child Theme or Block Collection creators: Where To Find The Best Kadence Child Themes & Kadence Block Templates. Many of those creators also have customer showcases if you click through to their sites.
  • Lastly, you can check out the Web Creator Community (Kadence’s free Facebook group). People often post their website URLs and ask for examples all of the time. It’s free to join and you can get inspired by what others are creating with Kadence.

How much does Kadence cost?

Kadence Free Plan

You can download the Kadence Theme, Kadence Blocks Plugin, and Kadence Starter Templates directly from the WordPress repository and start building a beautiful website for free. Even with the free tools, you can build a really beautiful website! Just remember, this only work with self-hosted WordPress websites, so you’ll just need to have your own web host.

Read: How To Choose The Best WordPress Web Host (For Bloggers + Online Businesses)

If you want to upgrade, you’ll need to sign up for a Kadence Bundle, an annual subscription that grants you access to additional plugins that will unlock advanced website-building features.

Kadence Essential Bundle

The Essential Bundle includes access to the Kadence Blocks Pro, Kadence Theme Pro, Pro Starter Templates, and Kadence Custom Fonts plugins. It comes with one year of support and updates, a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and can be used on unlimited websites. 

You get all of this for just $129 for the first year. Each subsequent year renews for $149. That averages out to be just over $10 per month! 

Kadence Full Bundle

The Full Bundle includes everything that comes in the Essential Bundle (Kadence Blocks Pro, Kadence Theme Pro, Pro Starter Templates, and Kadence Custom Fonts plugins)… 

…Plus access to the Kadence Cloud, Kadence Conversions, Kadence WooCommerce Shop Kit, Child Theme Builder, Kadence Recaptcha, Kadence Reading Time, Kadence Related Content, and Kadence Simple Share plugins.

Like the Essential Bundle, the Full Bundle includes one year of support and updates, a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and unlimited website use! 

You get all of this for just $199 for the first year when you use our link: diydreamsite.com/get/kadence. Each subsequent year renews at $219. That averages out to be just over $16 per month! 

Lifetime Deal

Lastly, if you plan on using Kadence for several years, you can also purchase a lifetime deal that includes everything in the Kadence Full Bundle. 

So, instead of paying annually, you’ll pay one larger upfront payment to get lifetime support, updates, and all future products.

The current lifetime price is $799, which pays for itself after just 4 years! If you want to go all-in on Kadence, you can definitely save money in the long run. (This is the plan that I subscribed to!)

Kadence Theme FAQs

Is Kadence better than Elementor?

This is a popular question we get asked all the time. We actually wrote a separate article all about comparing Kadence vs. Elementor. If you want the TLDR version:

  • We recommend Kadence if you enjoy using the default WordPress editor. Your top considerations are website speed, SEO, design excellence, and reliable support.
  • We’d recommend Elementor if you are comfortable with a bit of a trade-off in site speed for the ease of a drag-and-drop editor and need a more extensive set of features and integrations.

Do I need a child theme with Kadence?

Technically, you don’t need a child theme with Kadence since the theme has been expertly developed to be customizable through the WordPress Customizer settings alone. 

However, you may want to use a child theme to get a fully designed website for a more custom-looking site without building it all from scratch yourself. It’s a great way to save time and launch quickly. We have a handful of Child Themes we’ve designed – shop here! Otherwise, you can browse through this list of the best Kadence Child Themes and Block Collections before making your decision!

Is Kadence free good enough or do I really need Kadence Pro?

If you’re on a budget and are wondering if you really need the pro version, I would say it depends on what kind of blog or website you’re creating. 

If you’re on a tight budget or want to build a basic site, you can get away with the free version of the Kadence theme and the free Kadence blocks plugin.

If you want to customize your theme and take the design and functionality to the next level, a Kadence Bundle is necessary! I always use the Kadence Pro theme features. The Post/Grid Carousel Block and the Element Hooks feature alone are worth the investment, and the extra features, such as the additional plugins, make it more than worth it to me.

Typically, the essential bundle is enough for most people. However, if you want to use pop-ups on your website to convert visitors into subscribers or customers, need advanced features for your WooCommerce shop, or plan to sell Kadence Child Themes or Cloud Libraries, you would need to get the Full Bundle.

If you’re not quite sure which is best, you can always start with the Essential Bundle and upgrade later if you feel like you want to take advantage of the plugins in the Full Bundle.

If you are ready to get started with Kadence, there are a few options to choose from. 

The Kadence Theme sounds good so far, but you still have some questions. We’ve got you covered.

Can I just purchase a specific plugin without the full Kadence bundle?

Technically, yes! If you don’t need a Kadence bundle, you can purchase any of the Kadence Plugins as a standalone product. For instance: 

  • If you want the Kadence Blocks Addon Plugin, it costs $89 per year. 
  • If you just want the Kadence Shop Kit, you can get it for $99 per year.
  • If you just want the Kadence Conversions plugin, you can get it for $89 per year.

I don’t personally think this is the most cost-effective way to access the plugins, especially if you plan on investing in more than one plugin, but it is possible to purchase an individual Kadence plugin. You can see the full plugin list and individual pricing HERE.

So, Is The Kadence Theme Worth It?

I can’t say for certain if the KadenceWP Theme is right for your specific needs, but I’ve been very impressed with it and it’s the tool my team and I use to build all of our custom website designs.

Kadence Theme Rating

0 out of 5

Based on the Kadence theme features, high performance scores, excellent support team, and my 3+ years of experience building websites exclusively with Kadence, we believe Kadence is definitely worth every penny! Try Kadence Today!

Features

0 out of 5.0

Ease of Use

0 out of 5.0

Price/ Value

0 out of 5.0

Support

0 out of 5.0

Pros

  • Lightweight & easy to get high page speed scores even with custom content
  • Use Kadence Blocks to turn the core editor into a visual website builder without the bloat
  • Generous features available in free version with more advanced features, like dynamic content in Pro
  • Variety of starter templates with 700+ patterns/ templates in the design library
  • Built-in AI tools speed up the design process
  • The Element Hooks feature in Pro allows for deep customization, making the theme comparable to FSE themes
  • Integrates well with leading plugins and tools
  • Customize WooCommerce with ease using the Kadence Shop Kit plugin
  • The support team is helpful and the community is welcoming

Cons

  • Limited documentation in some areas
  • From a designer's perspective, starter templates (out of the box) require a bit of customization
  • Not 100% code-free -- some CSS or code snippets may be required to customize certain parts of the site for more advanced designs
Get Started With Kadence

It's a highly versatile and dynamic WordPress theme that's affordable, easy to use, and has superior speed performance! I love that I can customize virtually every aspect of the site's appearance without having to do hardly any coding.

If you want to try the Kadence Theme, you can try the free version, which is pretty awesome on its own. If you ever feel like diving into the premium features, like the beloved Element Hooks feature, the pro version is always there for you!

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About the Author

Katy Boykin is a WordPress website designer, marketing strategist and CEO of DIY Dream Site. She and her team have helped hundreds of business owners launch scroll-stopping websites, rank on the first page of Google for targeted keywords, grow engaged email lists on autopilot, create digital products that sell like hotcakes, and book dream clients! Want to create these same results? Shop now or hire us.