If you are looking for the best WordPress theme on Google, there is a high chance that you have come across the Astra theme. It is a lightweight theme released by Brainstorm Force in 2017 and is one of the most used WordPress themes in the market, with over 1 million active installations to date.
In 2020, another theme called Kadence Theme was launched by Kadence WP and has been referred to as a new thing in the WordPress theme marketplace. It relies primarily on its new block editor and has reached over 200k website installations within a short time stay. In 2021, the Kadence Theme was given the award as the best free WordPress theme in the market.
There are tons of people that are raving and using the Astra theme, but a ton of people are also talking about and using the Kadence theme. But what is the best WordPress theme to design your website?
I checked Google to find the answer to this dilemma that I was having, but I couldn’t find the right information giving a difference between Astra and Kadence themes, so I decided to do it myself. In this article, I have created an in-depth review explaining the difference between these theme shops.
Astra vs Kadence Themes Reddit
u/Bluesky4meandu- “I would go with Astra Pro. It presents the least number of problems and is compatible with most plugins, and their support is amazing, and it is also faster than Kadence”.
U/pivotpixels- “If I had to pick, I would go for Astra pro. But the way I build my site, I don’t need the pro version. I wouldn’t prefer Kadence to Astra plus template library, which is slightly limited if you are into that”.
Astra vs Kadence
1. Ease of use
The ease of creating and running themes on your website is an important step when selecting a theme shop. Both Astra and Kadence themes are easy to use, and even beginners can get started with them without requiring much technical expertise. But which theme is more easier to use?
To find about this, I have considered 3 tasks that website builders would have to go through and checked how long it will take for users to figure it out. The website tasks I measured on both these theme shops are listed below.
1. Header Builder
Building your website header is the first task that you will have to tackle when you are building a new website. Let us start with the header features that come with the Kadence theme. In this theme, you can easily add a logo, main navigation buttons, search icons, and social icons to link your social pages directly to the header.
The drag and drop header builder lets you build the page header within a matter of 10 minutes. Even the free version of the theme shop has every element that you want to build a reliable website header. You can customize every aspect of the header and get the colors to match up with your site easily.
Astra which is a super popular theme, so let’s see if it holds up to the challenge posed by Kadence. Astra has a drag and drop builder that makes building headers easier, but the Kadence builder is leaps and bounds better than this. The builder doesn’t give you the option to add social icons to the Astra header in the WordPress customizer. To add it, you will have to make use of an Astra Widgets plugin. Adding a plugin is a whole different headache, as you will have to figure out its installation process, which is not ideal for beginners.
There is another issue with Astra where you are not able to add your social icons, a button, or a search icon together in the header using Astra. In fact, you can only use one of these items there, which means that you don’t have the level of customizability. However, it looks more professional when compared to the clogged header offered by Kadence.
You can use Elementor or other page builders to create a versatile header with Astra. But this will bloat your website. However, if you are experienced personnel, then you can code your website to get the desired effect which is not ideal for beginners.
2. Layout Customization
Layout customization is an important feature that allows you to change the layout of your site to be whatever it needs to be for a WordPress theme. The more layout customization options you have your building process is faster and more efficient.
Let us take a layout needed for creating a typical blog layout having an attractive header to showcase your post title and information. The content area has to be around 800px with a sidebar of exactly 300px wide at all times so that it is able to comply with Google AdSense and other ad management companies.
Let’s jump and see how both these themes compare in this parameter.
The options that Astra offers are bare bones and not a lot. However, it has several options that allow you the structure the blog post layout, but switching the order requires you to use a drag and drop builder to perform this function.
The Kadence theme is fitted with a plethora of options, which you can see from the get-go. You have access to a wide range of attractive layout options in its library. It has the same drag and drop functionality for meta info with the ability to hide or show each element. I will expand each element a little further to help you better understand it.
The header-building capability of Kadence is very good, but it doesn’t look as professional as with the Astra theme. And you can say the same about the sidebar of both these theme shops. A sidebar is a powerful tool when paired with your block content. It can hold About us, signups, sections, blog categories, and much more.
The sidebar is an important criterion if you want to comply with AdSense and other ad management policies. Generally, a 300px wide sidebar is important to comply with these requirements. Kadence offers several ways in which you can choose the width of the sidebar and even directly drop down to 300px.
This allows ads to run perfectly. One issue that you would have with Astra is that you can specify what percentage you want the sidebar to take up. However, there is no fixed width for the sidebar in Astra. You will require to use advanced custom CSS that you will have to write by yourself. Only after you manage to figure it out; you will be able to run ads. This is not really ideal for beginners who just want to start creating websites efficiently.
Kadence theme doesn’t significantly have more layout options than Astra, but it is very easy to figure out and use. Here, you can achieve blog posts layout similar to those built using page builders quickly and efficiently. Astra, on the contrary, struggles to keep up with Kadence and may require a page builder to work more optimally. It is important to note that when powered with Elementor or other page builders, the functionality of Astra far exceeds that of Kadence.
3. Color Customization
The final test in the ease of website building is making use of the color customization test. You have to first determine a color scheme that will match your brand identity or your company’s colors.
Once you have established the color scheme or color palette, you can start applying colors throughout different sections of your website. But between Astra and Kadence, which is much easier to customize when applied to your site.
Astra and Kadence handle colors pretty differently from each other. Astra handles colors similar to that of other WordPress themes. Here, you can get an array of theme colors, link colors, link any hover color, and much more.
The Kadence theme has a completely different approach to color schemes on your website. The theme shop offers a global palette where you can specify different colors and any global colors that are linked throughout your theme. If you learn and master its global color palette, you are sure to supercharge your website to suit your brand identity. Here, you can specify colors for themes, text, and background. If a color is linked to this global color palette, then when you make changes to the color, it will apply to all the linked areas saving you a lot of time. It is important to note that themes don’t need to be globally linked, and you can edit them individually.
The color customization feature of Astra is similar to most other WordPress themes. Kadence, on the other hand, stands out with its global palette that automates most of the tasks for website creation and maintenance in the long run.
Recently, Astra has introduced its Global colors feature, thereby matching the features offered by the Kadence theme to its users. You also can link color, hover color, and change the background color of the website more efficiently.
When building a site using Astra and Kadence, you can state that Kadence is more simple and easy to use compared to Astra. The Kadence shop lets you get going within 10 mins that makes it a reliable choice for beginners. However, if you are planning to create professional websites, then Astra seems a very good shout.
Astra and Kadence are packed with features across both free and premium versions that allow you to cover most of the site’s needs in terms of its functionality and appearance. The most common features of the Astra theme are:
- Header and footer builder
- Boxed, full-width, fluid layouts
- Grid, list, masonry blog layout
- Google fonts and custom fonts
- Colors and typography management
- Custom sidebar
- Custom header/footer
- WooCommerce ready
- Display conditions
- Infinite loading
- Mega menu
- Mobile header designs
- Optimized for SEO & Speed
- Above & below header content
- Custom page headers (pro)
- White label (pro)
- Hooks & filters (pro)
- Custom layouts (pro)
- Sticky headers (pro)
The custom layouts are available in the pro version and help you add custom elements in different areas of your website. This gives you a lot of new design possibilities in terms of design.
The most advanced option is Hooks which allows you to create and place custom elements on your website and even add a custom code. It will take time to learn how to manipulate a design using custom code, but it is worth it giving you excellent customizability. I like that Astra is extremely versatile and provides lesser-known tools that make your website unique in the market.
Kadence theme is one of the first themes that provided a built-in header and footer builder. It is a game changer at that time in the WordPress market. More theme providers have followed the concept and offer the same functionality today. The theme shop is packed with impressive features even on its free version. The list of options available with Kadence are:
- Header/footer builder
- Advanced typography features
- Advanced layout features
- Custom blog layouts
- Social media links and icons
- Sticky header
- Responsive design controls
- Speed and SEO optimized
- Responsive controls
- Global colors and palettes
- Global button settings
- Scroll to top
- Custom post-type support
- Header/footer scripts (pro)
- WooCommerce addon (pro)
- Hooked elements (pro)
- Ultimate menus (pro)
The Kadence theme is very customizable as you like. It comes with some granular options that are not available with other themes. The powerful features available with the Pro version are Hooked elements and offer tons of customization options. Kadence doesn’t allow you to replicate any layout, and for a more complex layout, you will need to use the Kadence block plugin or use a page builder like Elementor.
Astra has better performance and features from being in the market for such a long time. It also comes with better integrations that allow it to stand out in the WordPress theme marketplace.
3. Speed and SEO
Speed is the most important aspect of a WordPress theme, and it plays an important role in the overall SEO of your website. Both Astra and Kadence are super fast and are built with performance and SEO in mind.
According to Web page tests, the Astra theme has a web page size of 50kb, while the Kadence theme has a smaller page size of 43kb but has more requests out of the box. This gives the Kadence theme shop a slight edge when it comes to loading time and speed.
In the GTMetrix page speed tests, the results are the same, with Astra having a total loading time of seconds while Kadence loads in 0.6 seconds. This makes Kadence have a faster loading time compared to the Astra theme.
For mobile pages, we put them through the Google PageSpeed insight tests. Both the theme shops have a good score, but the interactive time of Kadence is better than Astra.
These tests prove that Kadence is the unanimous winner across all the 3-page speed tests. However, you have to understand that if you add any plugins to the Kadence theme, it will bloat and will slow down the overall speed of your website.
The Kadence theme is compatible with Google AMP, but the Gutenberg block plugins are not fully compatible with it. To make it work with AMP, you will have to get a dedicated plugin, which is likely to slow down your website due to added resources to support your requirements. This is one of the many plugins that you may have to add to make the site come close to the functionality offered by Astra.
4. Starter Templates
Templates are a critical part of simplifying the creation of different pages on your website. Pre-made templates are very important that help you to import different designs on your website.
Astra has over 240 starter templates that are suited to meet the requirements of agencies, web portfolios, online stores, restaurants, law firms, etc. This is an impressive number of layouts that covers lots of possible use cases. All these templates are ready-made and can be easily imported and customized to give your website a clean and modern design.
To import any built-in templates, you will have to install their Starter Templates plugin. You can go to the WP admin- appearance- Starter Templates and import it to complete your site or just a page template.
If you are planning to go for their Agency plan, you will get access to its ultimate add-ons for Beaver Builder and Elementor. Here you will set predefined widgets to enhance your website further. The themes have a set of wireframes, so you can create your layouts faster and preview how your website looks before building and publishing the pages. To benefit from its wireframe, you’ll need to install the Astra Starter templates plugin and access the blocks from a dedicated area.
Kadence has only 80 starter templates, which is a stark difference from those offered by Astra. Its design is modern and clean, which allows you to host business, eCommerce, personal learning, and other websites. You will have to install Kadence Starter Templates plugin to get started. Follow this by going to the WP admin- Appearance- Starter Templates. Here, you have the ability to import a whole site or a single-page template.
You can import different templates with Kadence and choose a specific color palette and font. The theme shop lets you preview the design before publishing it on the internet. Kadence comes with wireframe blocks that allow you to build raw layouts and structure your page design. The feature is only available using the Kadence Block plugin or premium membership. If you are a free subscriber, then you can subscribe to their newsletter to get started.
Astra provides more starter templates and functionality than Kadence. If you don’t want to build from scratch, then Astra is something that you should go for.
5. Page Builders
A page builder helps enhance the overall performance of your website. With these builders, you can create professional-looking websites within minutes that allow you to customize and build your site based on your needs. Astra and Kadence are compatible with common and popular page builders or editors, which are listed below.
- Beaver Builder
- Brizy and Gutenberg
Astra works well with all these builders, especially Elementor. This combination is great for users that don’t like creating websites using the default WordPress editor Gutenberg.
The starter templates for Kadence are only available for Gutenberg and Elementor at the moment. But the Kadence theme uses the Kadence Blocks to form a powerful combination when used together. This makes it superior to the default Gutenberg blocks.
6. WooCommerce Integration
If you are running a WordPress website having WooCommerce integration, then you should be wondering whether Kadence or Astra theme has better integrations with the WooCommerce plugin. Astra is WooCommerce ready even on its free plan; however, with Kadence, you have to get access to its paid plan to get access to the WooCommerce addon.
Kadence is designed with better product descriptions and layout specifications compared to Astra. This helps simplify the website creation process for beginners. All the features help in adding additional customization goodies.
The page layout of Astra is simple and very intuitive if you like a simplistic layout. The Kadence theme looks incomplete and slightly filled with more information than required. The theme shop has a dedicated plugin for WooCommerce-Kadence Shop Kit, which gives you features like product galleries, cart notices, checkout management, and much more. The theme shop includes icons and messaging for satisfaction guarantees and payment gateways. Further, Kadence has a Guaranteed Safe Checkout box with SVG images.
All the items in the WooCommerce section of both theme shops can be customized to suit your project requirement. The Kadence theme is slightly limited in this aspect compared to the Astra theme. Here, you don’t have the option to enable two-step checkout, add coupon fields, or order notes, which is available with Astra.
Astra is optimized to achieve more conversions for your shop and generate more sales. The shop will also load faster as it comes directly with the theme shop, and you don’t have to require an addon to add it to your site.
Kadence and Astra both come with add-ons that help enhance the functionality of your website further. I have listed some of the important add-ons that come with both theme shops.
- Kadence Blocks
Kadence Block is a free plugin that comes with the free version and can be extended over to the pro version. The block gives you complete control over the different aspects of your website. These blocks open a wider world for more customization options. Kadence recently launched Blocks 3.0, which has allowed users to get better features and updated options to enhance the overall building experience.
- Kadence Cloud
Kadence Cloud is a game changer and gives you access to all its design assets in one place, which can be reused across multiple sites. To have access to this feature, you will need to have the Kadence Block plugin installed. With this add-on, you can save all your favorite designs and templates across multiple sites just by connecting them to your sites. Kadence lets you easily manage every aspect of cloud items and cloud access.
- Kadence Conversions
Conversions are very important to get more customers hooked to become paid subscribers. Kadence conversion addon eliminates the need for a lead generation plugin that you would otherwise require to do the same tasks. It comes with three popup types, limited animations, templates, and triggers. You have the ability to schedule popups at the right time to suit your requirements.
- Astra Addon
Astra comes with ultimate add-ons, and the plugin is available for free with Gutenberg and paid using Elementor and Beaver Builder. Further, it also has free add-ons that help extend your design options, which include
- Import / Export Customizer Settings:
- Astra Customizer Reset
- Customizer Search
- Astra Bulk Edit
- Astra Widgets
- Custom Fonts
- Sidebar Manager
The bulk editor and customizer search option save you a lot of time that you would otherwise have to spend designing your sites.
Astra and Kadence have a good number of integrations to help you get going. The Kadence theme integrates easily with Elementor, Beaver Builder, LearnDash, LifterLms, RestrictContentPro, etc. Astra integrates with Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, LearnDash, Easy Digital Downloads, LifterLms, etc.
Both theme shops integrate with WooCommerce and work very well with their extensions and plugins.
9. White Labeling
White labeling your website gives you the ability to rename and present a plugin or a product of your own. This is very helpful as it hides the actual identity of the theme and plugin and lets you use your brand name instead. However, you should note that you cannot change the folder name.
The white labeling feature is available using the Astra Pro addon plugin. To use the Pro features, you need to have access to the Astra theme alongside the Astra Pro addon installed on your website. Here, you can change almost every field to prove the product is yours and that you are its whole and sole developer that is working on your website. The white labeling feature is not available with the Kadence theme, which is one of the biggest disadvantages that comes with it over the Astra theme.
10. Free features
There is no comparison between the free plan offered by Kadence and Astra. With the free Kadence version, you get access to a sticky header, sticky sidebar, transparent header, page layouts, typography, footer widgets, navigation widgets, CSS pre-load, and much more. Astra has beefed up its free plan and has introduced global colors and other features to the free plan to get it up and running.
The pricing offered by Astra and Kadence are in close proximity, but one of them is cheaper than the other.
Astra comes with three plans which are
- Astra pro- $47 per year or $227 for lifetime access
- Essential Bundle- $137 per year or $677 for lifetime access
- Growth Bundle- $187 per year or $937 for lifetime access
Astra has a 14-day money-back guarantee across all its plans, no question asked.
Kadence has 2 standard plans, but you have the option to purchase a Kadence Pro addon for $59 per year. Its other 2 plans include:
- Essential Bundle- $129 per year
- Full Bundle- $219 per year
It also has a lifetime bundle priced at $699, which gives you access to all the features from the full bundle for a lifetime. Kadence has a 30-day money-back guarantee across all its plans, no question asked.
As you can see, both of them have nearly identical pricing, but Astra is slightly cheaper on some of the plans. Also, with Astra, you can select a lifetime plan across all its 3 plans, so you can be assured that you don’t overspend unnecessarily. This is something that is missing with the Kadence theme as it has an all-in-one lifetime plan that is available with its lifetime bundle plan.
12. Support and documentation
A WordPress theme wouldn’t be successful without good support and documentation. Well, in the case of Astra and Kadence, support is a place that both the themes need to make improvements gravely.
Astra has been in business for a longer time, and you have access to comprehensive guides. The community of users using the theme is huge, and you can easily find any tips and tricks that are shared by other users. Astra offers support using the following options:
- Comprehensive documentation
- Email support using a ticket system
- Video tutorials
- Private Facebook group
Kadence has decent support options; however, if you want a specific option, then you might have to spend some time to find the answer. I consider that their help resources are somehow dispersed. It provides the following support options:
- Comprehensive knowledge base
- Email support using a ticket system
- Support forums
- Video tutorials
- Private Facebook group
Astra Vs Kadence Theme: Which Theme Should You Use?
When it comes to Astra and Kadence theme, there is no evident winner. I can say that both these themes are good in their own department and are suited for people with different requirements. If you are looking for a free theme, then Kadence used to have an edge sometime back, but today Astra has drastically improved its customization options and goes toe to toe with Kadence.
In terms of premium themes, the Kadence theme, powered by its new Element templates, has a slight edge compared to the Custom layouts offered by Astra.
Go with Astra:
If you are planning to go with Astra, then base your decision on the following features:
- Want more starter templates to build your website.
- You run an agency and require a white labeling feature.
- Require some free add-ons, like the Bulk editor, custom fonts, and customizer search, to increase the design flexibility.
- If you want to use page builders to build your website.
- Your budget as Astra Pro is more affordable than the Kadence package.
- Integrations with 30+ industry-leading tools.
- You require WooCommerce features like two-step checkout, coupon fields, and more.
Go with Kadence
If you are planning to go with Kadence, then base your decision on the following features:
- If you need more design freedom and customization options.
- Need unlimited site usage without requiring white labeling.
- Don’t have CSS knowledge or a beginner who is solely dependent on the theme and its features
- You require a shop kit and the Kadence Cloud plugin, which is available with their full bundle.
- Want features like a color switch addon, the ability to add social profile links, 404 pages, design options, etc.
Astra vs Kadence Themes FAQs
1. Is Astra faster than Kadence?
No, both the themes are super fast in loading and performance. There are multiple speed comparisons on the internet, but the plugins that are added to each of them influence the speed and bloat in your website.
2. Do I need to use a page builder with Astra or Kadence?
You don’t necessarily require a page builder to work with them. However, you can use popular WordPress page builders to successfully use them with your WordPress editor.
3. Is Kadence better than Astra?
I would like to disagree as both themes are equally good and well-rounded. The Astra theme is robust and has more starter templates, and is fast with extensive documentation. Kadence, on the other hand, has good features, including header and sidebar builder with great Kadence blocks features.