Recent days WordPress theme repository is flooded with lightweight themes like GeneratePress, Astra, OceanWP, etc. Kadence is one such lightweight theme similar to Astra theme in terms of features. However, it offers elegant blocks and customization options to create a wonderful fast loading WordPress site without the need of any premium purchases. If you are looking for using Kadence theme or switching your current theme to Kadence, here is what you should understand before starting.
Kadence Theme Background
Kadence is one of the themes from the company StellarWP and developed by Ben Ritner. There are also few other popular free themes like Virtue, Ascend and Pinnacle developed by the same developer.
The free version of the theme has more than 100K active installations with almost 5 star rating. However, it is not actively supported as with many free themes and only due to this reason you may need to go for a premium version.
You can download the free version of Kadence theme from WordPress.org theme repository and install the theme directly from your WordPress admin panel like any other free theme.
Kadence theme does not offer custom theme panel and all customizations are available with default WordPress customizer. After activating the theme, you can go to “Appearance > Customize” section and start setting up your theme from scratch. However, the easy way is to start with a starter template and customize the features to finish the setup quickly without spending too much time.
Importing Free Starter Templates
After activating, you will land on a dashboard showing features to customize the theme. You can also navigate to “Appearance > Kadence” section to view the theme details. Go to “Starter Templates” tab and click “Install Kadence Starter Templates” button.
This will install the plugin and you will see the list of available demos to import on your site. Unlike Astra theme, there are limited number of demos for Gutenberg and Elementor.
Click on the template you like to view the details. You can change the color scheme, font family and check the required plugins to import the demo template. Most of the templates need Kadence Blocks plugin which is a free plugin for enhancing Gutenberg blocks with additional patterns.
Instead of entire demo site, you can only install single page template part of the demo. If you want to do this, click on “Single Page” button which will show you the list of page templates available for that demo.
For this article, we will install the entire demo site which has three steps:
- Import Details – check this for the required plugin, importing the demo will install the required plugin.
- Advanced Settings – you have options to import customizer settings and content. Make sure to disable the “Import Content” option if you are importing a demo on a live site with existing content.
- Subscribe – you can subscribe with email or click “Skip, Start Importing” link.
You will see the demo import progress and the process may take few minutes to install all required content.
Finally, you will see the success message and click on “Finished! View your site” button to open your site.
Kadence Blocks Plugin
As mentioned, you need to install free Kadence Blocks plugin to use most of the demo templates. This plugin also has a pro version which we will not cover in this article. You can use prebuilt sections, starter packs and wireframe and build professional looking pages without any additional page builders. You can click on “Design Library” button showing when editing content with Gutenberg editor and import the required blocks within the editor.
Customizing Kadence Theme
The customizer section of Kadence theme will resemble popular theme settings like Astra and GeneratePress. However, you will have complete control of all elements with free theme and do not need pro version for using any feature. This means you will not see an intrusive message showing on top of settings to purchase pro add-on.
You will find “General” and “Design” settings for each section to adjust typography, colors and style.
You can toggle desktop, tablet and mobile view to adjust the settings for different devices if required.
Creating Page and Post Layouts
You can select the global layout options for pages, posts, custom post types and for WooCommerce products. You have so many options to adjust the title and meta data, select sidebars and content style.
If you have imported the demo site, we recommend using the imported settings instead of customizing everything again. Otherwise, you should customize the theme from the scratch without importing the demo settings. Being said that you can also adjust individual post or page when editing the content. Click on the “Post Settings” icon and select the layout and other options to customize only the current post you are editing.
The Kadence Blocks plugin also offers controls which you can use for customizing the visibility of each block for different user roles on your site.
Good part is that you can unpin the buttons showing on the top bar to work without clutter while creating or editing your content.
Notable Free Theme Features
As you can see the theme does not any additional plugin or premium version to launch your site which is the biggest advantage of Kadence theme. In addition, you will get the following notable features with the free theme.
- Elegant looking related posts showing below each article.
- Author box and previous/next post navigational links.
- Support for all available custom post types on your site including WooCommerce product pages.
- You will get two sidebars to select based on post type.
- Six footer widget area along with copyright section where you can add legal menu items.
- Header and footer builder to customize the elements available on the corresponding sections.
- Complete control over typography, spacing and colors.
- Use theme’s breadcrumb or integrate plugin’s like Yoast SEO, Rank Math or SEOPress without editing theme’s file.
- Hundreds of free blocks with Kadence Blocks plugin which will eliminate the need of page builder plugin.
- Free starter templates to save huge time spend on designing your layouts from scratch.
- Global layout setup with an option to control the appearance of single post.
- Lightweight and fast loading theme good for Google Core Web Vitals.
In summary, you will all premium features needed for creating a beautiful site with Kadence theme.
Pro Theme Features and Pricing
Now that you may wonder what you will get with the premium version Kadence theme. Go to “Appearance > Kadence” menu and then scroll down on the “Dashboard” section to find the pro addon features. This is the only place we could see the list of pro features without any other promotional banners.
Pro addon will cost you $79 and you will get the followings with one year support and free updates:
- Few additional pro starter templates.
- Additional header elements like icons, dividers, buttons, etc.
- Hook to insert custom content and code anywhere on the site. For example, you can create pre-footer layout to showcase a site wide notice or insert advertisement code below title area.
- Fixed elements to have fixed footer and banners and adjust the device based visibility.
- Mega menu with icons and other options.
- Insert footer in header and footer area which you can use to insert Google Analytics in the header.
- Few WooCommerce addons like custom shop page with blocks.
- Host gravatar images locally to speed up your page loading speed.
You can get almost all of these features with other free plugins. However, if you like Kadence theme we recommend purchasing pro addon which is normally available with discounted price of $59 for unlimited site usage.
Support and Documentation
Kadence support theme do not actively support queries in free WordPress.org support forum. Since the theme is easy to setup and customize, you may not need special support at all. However, you can refer their documentation, post on Kadence support forum, join Facebook group or raise a ticket by creating an account on their site. Viewing their forum responses is also restricted to only members indicating the support is primarily meant for premium users.
After testing the theme’s feature, we can recommend using the Kadence theme as it offers all required features. Though you do not additional page builder plugin, you may need Kadence Blocks and Starter Templates plugins to create custom page layouts and save huge time.