Which Is The Better Theme For Your Site In 2022
If you’ve been working with WordPress for any length of time, you’ve probably used, or at the very least heard about, the Astra theme. It’s become one of the most popular themes ever. However, Kadence, with its native block builder, provides a solid alternative. To help you decide between Astra vs Kadence, here is a comprehensive breakdown of the two.
Astra vs Kadence – Which WordPress Theme is Better?
Both Astra and Kadence do certain things very well and can be highly beneficial to different users. Astra, for example, is incredibly versatile in how well it works with different page builders, especially Elementor.
With Kadence, one of the main advantages is that you have the Kadence Block Builder, which can make styling pages incredibly fast and easy. It also integrates well with WordPress, without issues such as code bloat that Astra and Elementor can leave behind.
Both are great themes, and both can be incredibly powerful and useful. So, a quick overview of each theme should help to understand better what each one is about.
Astra WordPress Theme Overview
Astra came on the scene in 2017, the brainchild of the development company Brainstorm Force. The company is responsible for other popular plugins such as Schema Pro, Ultimate Add-ons, Convert Pro, and many others.
One of the things that Astra quickly became known for was being incredibly lightweight and fast. At the time, with mobile-first becoming the predominant theme of the digital world, the theme was highly regarded.
Some of the features that make Astra so powerful include:
Well-optimized code, Self-hosted Google fonts that help to minimize HTTP requests, Tons of design options, Multiple site layout options, Robust typography and color options, And a wide selection of well-designed blog layouts.
Astra’s Pros and Cons
Over 230 ready-to-import starter templates
Loads in half a second out of the box
Works well with page-builders
The theme is updated quite often
Limited free version
Kadence WordPress Theme & Builder Overview
Kadence is a theme and block builder created by Stellar WP, the team behind projects such as iThemes, LearnDash, GiveWP, and others. The team launched Kadence in early 2020 as a clean and professional-looking theme that was both fast and lightweight.
One of the things that makes Kadence WP a superior theme is that it works through an intuitive block builder. This helps simplify the design process for beginner users without all the code bloat and compatibility issues you face using page builders like Oxygen and Elementor.
You will also find that, while Kadence doesn’t come with as many starter themes as Astra, but the ones they do offer are extremely well designed and easy to customize based on your needs.
Kadence’s Pros and Cons
Easy to style through Kadence blocks
Robust free starter version available
Over 70 no-code starter templates and counting
The paid version can be expensive
Fewer starter templates than some themes
Astra vs Kadence: Pricing
Both Astra and Kadence have free versions that are great for basic users.
With that said, eventually, most people find they will need to purchase the pro versions of each respective plugin.
Astra offers a few options to pay for their pro version, either as an annual subscription or a lifetime purchase. There are three plans in total, the Astra Pro, Essential, and Growth plan options.
Unlike many other themes with plans based on the number of licenses you need, with Astra, each plan offers greater features and extras.
Astra Pro Annual Plan Options
Astra Pro Lifetime Plan Options
Kadence is similar to Astra in that they offer a generous free version that can help you create most basic websites. However, like Astra, you will need to upgrade to the pro version for more advanced websites.
With Kadence, you have four options, their free version, an essential bundle, full bundle, and the lifetime bundle for their full version.
Kadence Annual Plans
Kadence Lifetime Bundle
Astra vs Kadence: Ease of Use
Ease of use for our purposes refers to how easy it is for beginner users who may or may not be super familiar with WordPress to get started using the theme.
For this, there should be no-code options for styling the theme and plenty of starter templates that are easy to customize.
Astra is the more challenging of the two themes regarding the learning curve. This is primarily because there are so many styling options and features that it can be challenging to start out as a beginner WordPress user.
That said, many other resources are available to help you learn to use the theme properly. The upside of being one of WordPress’ most popular themes means that, besides the help documentation from the theme creators, countless third-party guides and tutorials exist to help users of the theme.
So, while the theme does have a somewhat higher learning curve, this shouldn’t create a major challenge for newer Astra users to get started with the theme.
Kadence, from my personal experience using it, is quite easy to get set up and started with. And even better, if you purchase the Pro version of the theme, it comes with Kadence Blocks, which makes it extremely easy to work with to get the exact designs you want.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because Kadence is easier to use, it is somehow inferior to Astra. There are plenty of options for customizing your website, giving you full control over the design.
For both new and experienced WordPress users, Kadence is a great theme with solid documentation and an easy-to-use interface that makes the learning curve much more manageable.
Astra vs Kadence: User Interface
The user interface ties in heavily to the ease of use and how you accomplish specific design tasks. Astra and Kadence’s interface is incredibly intuitive and, most importantly, easy to use and find what you need.
Astra has a simple interface that is easy to access and straightforward to use through the backend. The user interface has everything cleanly labeled, making it easy to make minor and complex changes to your global styling and any other features.
Everything is centrally located on a single page, so you don’t need to go through different screens to find all of the settings. You also can add extra plugins and add-ons from the Astra creators on the Options menu page, so you don’t need to add them manually.
Overall, the Astra interface is incredibly clean and intuitively laid out so that even beginner users can find the settings they need. It displays well and makes it easy to find the exact setting you are looking for without needing to hunt too hard.
The Kadence interface is slightly different than Astra but is still quite intuitive and made for both beginner and advanced users to easily find what they need. One difference is that the Kadence interface relies more on tabs, whereas Astra’s interface is a straightforward list you scroll through.
Don’t worry though, with Kadence, everything you need is clearly labeled with descriptions, so even if you are a beginner, you won’t struggle to understand each option. Like Astra, everything is concentrated in a single area, so you don’t need to move around the backend to find different theme settings.
The exception is if you are working with other Kadence products, such as Kadence Blocks. Those settings will be under the respective plugin settings area.
Astra vs Kadence: Design and Customization
Both Astra and Kadence provide plenty of options for designing and customizing your website to get the exact site for your needs.
That said, Kadence has a leg up in this department because of Kadence Blocks, which make customizing pages or changing templates much easier.
Astra, though, is no slouch in the design and customization department. The theme works incredibly well with third-party page and theme builders. And it offers plugins by way of Ultimate Add-Ons that can greatly expand the functionality of builders like Elementor.
Astra provides tons of choices regarding your global styling and design customization options. You can easily access these helpful options from the WordPress theme customizer screen.
With the free version of Astra, you are limited in what you can do without needing third-party plugins or custom coding. However, the pro version gives you complete control over how your theme is styled and what the end result looks like.
One thing to note is that some customization options must be accessed through the Astra Options panel on the back end. This includes things like header and footer design and the installation of certain add-ons that provide more design options.
Kadence offers a bit more out of the box in the way of customization options with the ability to edit things like the header and footer without needing to download add-ons. As with Astra, these options are easily available from the WordPress customization screen.
You can change everything from the color and typography to the header, footer, site identity, and menus, and even add custom CSS for greater control over the styling. All of this is easily customized through a clean interface, allowing you to control better how your website’s global styling turns out.
Astra vs Kadence: Free Features
One area where both Astra and Kadence greatly excel is their free plans and how much value and free features they offer in their free themes. This makes it possible to create very basic websites, including basic niche and authority websites, using only the free plan of each respective theme.
Astra offers a full range of starter features for free for styling your theme and the handy ability to install add-on plugins from the theme creators that expand the functionality of the free version of the theme.
Some out-of-the-box features you get with the free version of Astra, which can help with different functions such as design options and customization, include:
Global stylingLayout optionsSpectra – WordPress Gutenberg BlocksAstra widgetsCustom FontsBulk edit featuresFont customizationOver 180 starter templates
These are just a few of the many free features that come with Astra. There are also tons of free third-party apps that can be used to expand functionality without needing to switch to pro.
Kadence also offers tons of functionality with the free version, making it easy to create basic websites without updating to pro. That said, it’s worth it to update for some of the more powerful features, which we’ll get into next.
With Kadence, the free features you get make it easy to design and manage basic websites like niche and authority sites. Some of these free features include:
Starter templatesKadence themeKadence blocksGlobal colors and typographyBrandingHeader layoutFooter layoutPage layout
As noted, the pro version of Kadence greatly increases functionality and is worth the price, especially as you can get a lifetime license for the theme and other Kadence plugins.
Astra vs Kadence: Premium Features
Both Kadence and Astra offer a pro version that can be purchased to enhance functionality and increase the types of websites that can be built. The critical thing to consider is that both themes have a tiered pricing system with different features available at different price points.
You will need to check what features are needed and evaluate these with the different bundles to ensure you get what’s necessary for your website.
Astra offers many different features on their various premium packages. You get almost all of the features needed on their mid-level Essential Bundle for typical website building. Most other features on the upper tier include plugins that you can easily substitute with free alternatives.
Some of the many features you get with the Pro and Essential Bundles include:
Advance Blog LayoutsSticky HeaderAdvance header builderGlobal Color PalettesMega MenuCustom Layouts & HooksAdvance TypographyAdvance Colors OptionsWooCommerce Controls
Essential features that you get with the Astra Essential Bundle include:
180+ Premium Starter TemplatesWP Portfolio PluginChoice of Ultimate Add-ons for Elementor or Beaver Builder
Kadence, like Astra, also offers many extremely helpful features with its pro bundles that can help you get the exact website you want. Kadence Pro really shines with their Kadence blocks pro and pro starter templates that make designing websites much easier.
Some of the features that you can get with the Kadence Pro bundle include:
The full bundle for Kadence, which is the top-level plan, includes even more great features. Even better, it can be purchased as a lifetime bundle, so you don’t need to worry about renewing a license yearly.
Features of the Kadence full bundle include:
Kadence Blocks ProKadence Theme ProPro Starter TemplatesCustom FontsKadence CloudKadence ConversionsWooCommerce Shop KitChild Theme BuilderKadence RecaptchaAccess to all pluginsExclusive access to all future products
Out of the box, both plugins are incredibly fast. To better test how they would perform after building a website, I’ve set up one of the starter templates for both Kadence and Astra.
The template I chose for Kadence is the Greenthumb starter template built on Kadence Blocks. I used the full website import rather than a single page to more accurately emulate what a full niche or authority website would be like. For Astra, I chose the Organic Store template built on Elementor.
No other plugins were installed for either test. This includes caching, performance, or design plugins beyond Elementor for Astra and Kadence Blocks for the Kadence theme.
Astra vs Kadence: GTmetrix Speed Test
GTmetrix is one of the top alternatives to Google Page Speed for testing website speed and performance. I highly recommend you test out your website using the tool to get a more accurate understanding of its performance.
Astra performs well on GTmetrix using a chrome desktop testing tool. It should be noted that the structure is lower than what Kadence shows below. This is likely due to a bit of code bloat and is one drawback to using Astra with Elementor vs Gutenberg block builder.
Using GTmetrix, Kadence gets a perfect score in terms of performance. Again, this excludes any caching plugins or anything else to help optimize performance and improve speeds.
Keep in mind this is a test performed using a desktop. As you will see below, mobile speeds are not as perfect with the page speed insights.
Astra vs Kadence: PageSpeed Insights Test
PageSpeed Insights is the gold standard for measuring how well your web pages are constructed and how they will perform on various devices.
It’s a good idea to run your web pages through the tool to understand how Google views your website in terms of performance.
With Astra, the page speed report isn’t always perfect. When you use the desktop test, the performance usually ends up on the lower side of the 90s.
However, with the mobile test, the performance can often be flat-out poor.
Performance on mobile was quite poor using the Astra template. Note that the templates for Kadence and Astra I used were eCommerce templates with all of the necessary plugins and excluding any optimizations to speed it up.
The main concern with Astra is the bad mobile performance. This is taking into consideration Google switching to mobile-first indexing. While the mobile performance can be improved upon, it’s best if the starting point is already in the green.
Kadence performs just as well using the page speed insights desktop test. The speeds come out nearly perfect, only slightly less than GTmetrix.
For mobile performance, the score is a bit less for page speed insights. But keep in mind that with a few optimizations and tweaks, this can easily get to a near-perfect score.
Winner: Kadence (similar desktop, better mobile)
Astra vs Kadence: SEO Friendliness
For niche and authority websites, especially, having a WordPress theme that is SEO friendly is critical. The last thing you want is a poorly coded theme with tons of code bloat that is poorly structured and not easy to crawl.
Thankfully, both Kadence and Astra are SEO-friendly with clean code and best practices implementation.
The developers at Brainstorm Force have gone out of their way to create an SEO-friendly theme that follows all of the best practices to ensure your rankings aren’t affected by bad code or other issues.
Each of the provided starter templates designed for Astra are coded well and structured so search engine crawlers can more easily move through the pages and properly index on-page elements.
There are also some helpful features with the pro version of Astra, including Schema pro, to help you enhance your SEO efforts. Astra is a solid choice if search engine optimization is at the top of your mind when you design your website.
Kadence is also extremely well constructed and coded using SEO best practices to ensure search engine crawlers can easily move through and index all elements on the page.
Another benefit that Kadence provides in terms of search engine optimization is breadcrumbs that can help crawlers better map out the structure of your website.
Other SEO-friendly features include easy schema implementation and SEO-friendly starter templates that make getting started with the website you want easy.
Overall, Astra and Kadence are necks in the neck regarding SEO friendliness. The only area where Kadence has a slight advantage is out-of-the-box performance, as demonstrated in the above speed test. However, this can easily be overcome.
Astra vs Kadence: Page Builder Compatibility
While both Astra and Kadence are compatible with all major page builders currently on the market, each has unique advantages regarding how each one works with builders.
Astra, for example, is built to work well with popular page and theme builders such as Elementor and Beaver Builder. Kadence, on the other hand, is made to work well with Gutenberg and the Kadence Block Builder.
Astra is an awesome choice if you want to work with page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, or even Divi. The Astra creators have developed a few excellent plugins, Ultimate Add-Ons for Elementor and Ultimate Add-Ons for Beaver Builder, which can greatly expand the functionality of both WordPress page builders.
All of the included templates for Astra work well with each of the builders. Astra has even made it simple to set up the template you want with your preferred page builder. They provide an intuitive set-up wizard that allows you to select which builder you would like the template to be set-up under.
Kadence is a bit different than Astra regarding its compatibility with page builders. This isn’t to say that the Kadence Theme doesn’t work well with page builders like Elementor Beaver Builder or others. Instead, Kadence was built to work with Kadence Blocks.
The Kadence Blocks plugin makes it easy to build pages that work with WordPress’s Gutenberg builder. This has the added benefit of minimizing code bloat from page builders and ensuring that everything works seamlessly.
Both Kadence Theme and Kadence Blocks have a free version. However, the pro version is recommended to get the full potential out of both. When you purchase a Kadence Theme license, the builder’s pro version is included.
Astra vs Kadence: WooCommerce Integration
For niche and authority websites, having WooCommerce isn’t necessarily a make-or-break issue. However, if you have aspirations of expanding into eCommerce, then knowing that the theme you choose can be converted easily into a WooCommerce website is important.
Both Kadence and Astra work well with WooCommerce, each having integrations and add-ons that help to improve eCommerce functionality.
Astra has a complete solution for using WooCommerce features included with the theme, which makes building an eCommerce site much easier. Some of these features include:
eCommerce starter templatesCompatible with many WooCommerce pluginsCode free customizationsDropdown shopping cartCheckout optionsSales bubble customizationProduct catalogs
One of the other benefits of the theme with creating eCommerce sites is the optimization of mobile-based sales. This can help ensure you convert mobile traffic, which accounts for as much as 50% and even more of the traffic for many websites.
The Kadence Theme also has many benefits making it a great choice for setting up WooCommerce websites. However, in this regard, it isn’t quite as robust a choice as Astra, but that is changing as the theme and block builder become more mature.
Some of the features that Kadence Theme offers users looking to set up an eCommerce website include:
Auto open side cartsShop toggle widget areaStarter templates for eCommerceCustom shop pageAjax add to cart
To further help create an eCommerce website, Kadence has a shop kit extension to improve functionality. This extension makes creating custom shop pages easier and optimizes your checkout flow.
Winner: Astra (Kadence is close)
Astra vs Kadence: Customer Service
With anything surrounding WordPress, having an easy way to get in touch with the company and troubleshoot problems is critical. You’re stuck with poor or non-existent customer service with many plugins and have to rely on forums or boards to try and fix issues.
Kadence and Astra offer multiple ways to get in touch with customer service and resolve issues. Each one also has an extra level of service for premium users, ensuring you aren’t stuck trying to fix your own issues.
Astra offers multiple ways to get in touch with customer support and even more ways that you can get questions and concerns answered. This includes a live chat support feature, a large community for discussing issues, frequently asked questions articles, support documents, and email support.
One of the other benefits of Astra is that it’s one of the most used WordPress themes. This means that there is tons of documentation out there in terms of YouTube videos, Reddit posts, blog entries, and other third-party support options.
All of this makes it incredibly easy to get the answers to your questions. Having used Astra for a few years, the few times in the past that I’ve had issues with Astra, there has never been trouble getting help almost immediately.
Kadence also has plenty of options for getting support for issues you have with the theme or any of their other plugins. Some of the options you have for gettings support for Kadence include:
Help centerSupport deskSupport documentationContact us page
As with Astra, there are plenty of options for finding help and support in terms of third-party articles and videos. The one downside is that Kadence hasn’t been around as long as Astra and therefore has a bit less in terms of third-party support articles.
Winner: Astra (more third-party support content)
Astra vs Kadence: Add-Ons and Integrations
One final point that’s important to consider is the number of add-ons available for each theme. This will greatly expand the functionality of your website and allow you to integrate more easily with third-party services you need to run your site.
Astra offers plenty of other add-ons and integrations that can make working with everything from page builders to LMS systems much easier. As far as the add-ons are concerned, Astra is very well known for the Ultimate Add-Ons plugin bundles, which can help expand the functionality of popular WordPress page builders, including Beaver Builder and Elementor.
The company behind Astra, Brainstorm Force, is also working on a useful add-on for editing and creating Gutenberg blocks, which will potentially help create lighter-weight and more optimized websites while minimizing the code bloat builders like Elementor often create.
Other integrations and add-ons that Astra provides include:
LifterLMS integrationSchema Pro pluginWP Portfolio pluginLearn Dash integrationConvert Pro plugin
It’s important to note that many of these are included in the pro versions of Astra, so you will need to pay for a license for access.
Kadence also offers quite a few add-ons and integration options that greatly enhance the theme’s functionality. These add-ons cover everything from creating eCommerce functionality to improving design options and other features.
Some of the add-ons you can purchase either individually or as a bundle with Kadence pro include:
Blocks ProTheme Pro AddonShop KitConversionsCloudGalleriesReCaptchaSimple ShareCustom FontsWooCommerce Email DesignerRelated ContentReading TimeWooCommerce Site Origin Builder AMP PagesPage TransitionsFullpane Vertical SliderSlider ProPricing TablesKadence Classic Themes
Some of these you will need to purchase individually however, many of these come with the Kadence Full Bundle. Even better, the Kadence Full Bundle is available for a lifetime license, so that you can save money over the long run of your website.
Which Is the Better Theme Between Astra vs Kadence
While the battle between Astra vs Kadence is close, I would have to say that Kadence is the better option. The thing I like most about Kadence is that it’s much faster, lighter out of the box, and has starter templates loaded up.
Using Kadence Blocks also ensures your website can skip out on the code bloat builders like Elementor create. Astra certainly has some upsides that you can’t get with Kadence. However, from my experience, none of these features are make or break.
So, if you are looking for a fast and easy-to-use WordPress theme with robust design options and plenty of starter templates to work with, Kadence is the way to go. It’s from a respected company with room for growth, meaning the theme will only improve over time.