Before we start, let me tell you this: both Astra and Kadence are amazing WordPress themes. Any of these 2 can power nice looking, fast and customizable websites. You won’t regret if you choose one or another.
In this article I will describe both products, explain the difference between them and help you choose the best one for your needs.
Let’s get started.
What is Astra theme?
Asta is a customizable, light, fast and SEO friendly WordPress theme released by the guys from Brainstorm Force. They have multiple WordPress related projects in their portfolio, but Astra is the most popular.
Astra was released in 2017 and became one of the most widely used WordPress themes on the market, with more than 1 Million active installations to date.
What is Kadence theme?
Kadence is a highly customizable, fast and flexible WordPress theme created by Kadence WP (the company behind this product). They have launched a few other themes, but Kadence is their most successful one.
Kadence theme was launched in 2020 and has been referred as a new thing. It relies on default WordPress functionality and its new block based editor. It reached 100K active installations in just 1 year and is currently installed on 200K websites.
2. Customization and ease of use
Astra is extremely easy to customize and use. Most of the customization options are available within WordPress Customizer (Appearance – Customize). There you’ll be able to adjust pretty much everything that is related to your site design.
Here are some things that you can define and change in the Customizer:
- Layout options
- Blog layouts
- Global colors
- Buttons settings
There is also a dedicated section located under Appearance – Astra Options. From there, you can access specific Customizer Settings and extend the functionality of your site with free plugins offered by Astra.
Astra offers some decent adjustment options and I like they way it works – it’s simple to use, well organized and easy to understand. You simply install the theme and adjust it right away, without the need to install extra plugins or search for documentation.
Another thing that I like at Astra is the built-in “Astra Settings” option when you edit a page or post. You can choose to hide/show specific elements like title, featured image, breadcrumb, etc. and adjust the settings for you sidebar or header.
The latest version of Astra 4.0 comes with an improved admin settings area, new mega menu options and more features in the Customizer.
Kadence is also very easy to customize and use. The majority of customization options are available in the WordPress Customizer (Appearance – Customize). Simply access it and start customizing your site instantly.
Here are some elements that you can define and adjust in the Customizer:
- Global colors
- Buttons settings
- Page layout
- Blog layout
- Search results
- Scroll to top
Kadence has a dedicated section located under Appearance – Kadence. There, you’ll find links to specific customization features, latest theme updates and getting started info.
Kadence offers more customizations than Astra, but some options are located in tabs, so it’s sometimes more difficult to get around and find the required feature.
Kadence has a dedicated side panel with additional post/page options. You can access it when you edit a post or page. It provides more adjustment features than Astra and gives you more control on what elements to display or hide.
I find this panel easy to use and understand, as it blends with default WordPress editor settings and it’s really powerful in terms of features.
Astra is packed with multiple features for both its free and premium version. These options should cover most of your site’s needs in terms of functionality and appearance.
Here are some features available in Astra theme:
- Header and footer builder
- Boxed, full-width, fluid layouts
- Grid, list, masonry blog layout
- Infinite loading
- Mega menu
- Mobile header designs
- Optimized for SEO & speed
- Above & below header content
- Google fonts and custom fonts
- Colors and typography management
- Custom sidebar
- Custom header/footer
- WooCommerce ready
- Display conditions
- Custom layouts (pro)
- Sticky headers (pro)
- Custom page headers (pro)
- White label (pro)
- Hooks & filters (pro)
With Custom Layouts (available in the Pro version) you can add custom elements to different areas of your website. This gives you lots of new possibilities in terms of design.
You can add custom sections on:
- Entire website
- Single posts/pages
- All posts/pages
- Before or after header/footer
- Before or after sidebar
- Before, after or inside content area
- Custom placement via shortcodes
You will first need to activate the Custom Layouts option from your admin and create a new layout. Then, you’ll get 4 options:
- 404 page
- Inside post/page content
The most advanced option is Hooks, allowing you to create and place custom elements on on your website and even add custom code.
It takes some time until you learn how to manipulate your design with Custom Layouts, but it’s worth it, as you get lots of extra options allowing you to customize your website.
I like the fact that Astra is extremely versatile and provides options for lesser known tools/plugins. For example, the Pro version plays well with EDD (Easy Digital Downloads) – which is a great alternative to WooCommerce, if you want to sell digital goods.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Astra 3.9 includes multiple new WooCommerce related features to help site owners improve the default ecommerce options.
For example, you can now a new design to your shop, product, cart, checkout page and also add custom text and some specific ecommerce elements.
Kadence was one of the first themes to provide built-in header and footer builder. It was the game changer at that time.
More theme providers (including Astra) followed this concept and now offer the same functionality, allowing you to adjust your header/footer.
Kadence is packed with an impressive amount of features, even in the free version. You can adjust lots of things right inside the Customizer.
Here is a list of some options available in Kadence:
- Header/footer builder
- Advanced typography features
- Advanced layout features
- Custom blog layouts
- Global colors and palettes
- Global button settings
- Scroll to top
- Social media links and icons
- Sticky header
- Responsive design controls
- Speed and SEO optimized
- Responsive controls
- Custom post type support
- Hooked elements (pro)
- Ultimate menus (pro)
- Header/footer scripts (pro)
- WooCommerce addon (pro)
Kadence is very customizable and you can adjust it the way you like. It has some really useful and granular options that other themes don’t have, for example: related posts, post updated on, author box, etc.
One of the most powerful features available in the Pro version is Hooked Elements. It’s one of my favorite tools, as it offers you tons of customization options.
Hoked Elements allows you to add custom elements on different areas of your website like:
- Entire website
- Single post or page
- Before or after the header/footer
- Before or after the content area
- Before or after sidebar
- Before after title
- Custom placement via custom hooks
You can also choose to display these elements to all users or specific users and set expire dates, so they will disappear after the defined date.
You can even replace certain template parts using the Template element type (replace header/footer, sidebar, etc.).
With Kadence, you can’t replicate any layout though. For more complex layouts, you would need to use their Kadence blocks plugin or a page builder like Elementor.
4. Speed and SEO
It also includes some cool SEO features like: built-in schema markup, built-in AMP compatibility, mobile first compatibility, built-in breadcrumbs, optimized header tags and more.
Kadence adds some default schema markup to your site, but you can enhance it by using a relevant WordPress plugin.
The theme is compatible with Google AMP, but the Gutenberg blocks plugin is not fully compatible. To make it work with AMP, you will need to get their dedicated plugin.
5. Starter Templates
Astra offers more than 240 started templates for a wide range of websites: agencies, web portfolios, online stores, yoga studios, coffee shops, restaurants, law firms, etc.
That’s an impressive number of layouts, covering lots of possible use cases.
All these are ready made site templates which can be easily imported and customized. The designs are clean, modern and in general are looking nice.
In order to import any of the built-in templates, you will need to install their “Starter Templates” plugin. Then, go to WP admin – Appearance – Starter Templates and import the complete site or just a page template.
If you go for one of their Agency plans, you will also get access to Ultimate Addons for Elementor or/and Beaver Builder (a set of predefined widgets to further enhance your website).
The theme also provides a wide set of wireframes, so you can create layouts faster and see how they look before building the actual pages.
To benefit from more than 56 wireframes you need to install the Astra Starter Templates plugin and then access the blocks from the dedicated area as shown below.
Astra provides more starter templates than Kadence. If you need a specific theme and don’t want to build your site from scratch, then Astra might be a good fit.
Kadence doesn’t offer as many premade templates as Astra, but the team is working hard and releasing new templates at a fast pace. At the moment of writing, they’re offering more than 80 starter templates.
The design are clean, modern, airy and can power different types of sites: ecommerce, business, personal, learning, etc.
To benefit from these templates you will need to install their “Kadence Starter Templates” plugin, then go to WP admin – Appearance – Starter Templates and import the whole site or a single page template.
I like the import options in Kadence, where you can choose a specific color palette and font and instantly preview the design. Very handy!
Kadence also comes with wireframe blocks. This recent options allows you to quickly build raw layouts and plan/structure your page’s design before they go live.
Wireframes are available with Kadence Blocks plugin and premium membership. It’s also available to free users, if you subscribe to their newsletter.
Adding wireframe blocks is pretty easy. Just follow these steps:
- Make sure you have the Kadence Blocks plugin installed
- Create a new post or page
- Click on Design Library, select the Wireframe section
- Choose the wireframe you need (search or browse by category)
- Click to add it and save the page/post
There are more than 50 wireframe blocks available across different categories: content, promo, pricing tables, testimonials, etc.
6. Page Builders
Astra is compatible with the most popular WordPress page builders. This gives you even more customization possibilities on top of multiple built-in features.
Here is the list of compatible page builders/editors:
Astra works just great with any of these builders, especially Elementor. I think that Astra + Elementor is a great combination for those who don’t like or don’t want to use the default WordPress editor Gutenberg.
Kadence is also compatible with commonly used WordPress page builders/editors like:
However, the Starter templates are only available for Gutenberg and Elementor at the moment. Hopefully, they’ll manage to release more templates in the future.
In any case, Kadence is a great fit for those who want to use the default Gutenberg editor. Kadence + Gutenberg is a great combination and they work perfectly together.
Additionally, Kadence theme + Kadence Blocks is even more powerful when used together. Their blocks plugin is far superior to default WordPress Gutenberg blocks.
The guys from Kadence did an amazing job by providing logical and useful features for Gutenberg editor (which by default isn’t that great).
Astra works seamlessly and integrates with the following tools:
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Convert Pro
- Schema Pro
Kadence on the other hand has the following integrations:
- Tutor LMS
- Restrict Content Pro
Astra theme offers a free and premium version. There are 3 plans offered by Astra Pro. Here they are:
|Astra Pro||Essential Bundle||Growth Bundle|
|$59 / year||$169 / year||$249 / year|
|All Astra Pro Features||All Astra Pro Features||All Astra Pro Features|
|100+ Starter Templates||180+ Premium Starter Templates||180+ Premium Starter Templates|
|One-to-One Support||One-to-One Support||One-to-One Support|
|Extensive Training||Extensive Training||Extensive Training|
|Unlimited Website Usage||Unlimited Website Usage||Unlimited Website Usage|
|WP Portfolio Plugin||WP Portfolio Plugin|
|One of the Following Addons:||Ultimate Addons for Elementor|
|Ultimate Addons for Elementor||Ultimate Addons for Beaver|
|Ultimate Addons for Beaver||Convert Pro Plugin|
|Schema Pro Plugin|
|All Future Plugins|
These annual plans are also available as lifetime plans. Meaning that you will only have to pay once, without updating every year.
The Kadence pricing plans used to be confusing. The pricing structure was comprised of: Kadence Pro, Kadence Blocks Pro, Kadence Bundles, Kadence add-ons. However, they have simplified the plans.
If you only need the premium features, then choose Kadence Pro. If you need more starter templates and access to all options, blocks, add-ons and plugins, then Kadence Bundles are for you.
At the moment, there are 3 pricing plans. Here is the difference between them:
|Kadence Theme Pro||Essential Bundle||Full Bundle|
|Use on unlimited sites||Use on unlimited sites||Use on unlimited sites|
|1 year support and updates||1 year support and updates||1 year support and updates|
|30 day satisfaction guarantee||30 day satisfaction guarantee||30 day satisfaction guarantee|
|Kadence Theme Pro||Kadence Theme Pro||Kadence Theme Pro|
|Kadence Blocks Pro||Kadence Blocks Pro|
|Pro Starter Templates||Pro Starter Templates|
Kadence Shop Kit
|Access to all themes and plugins|
|Access to all future products|
Kadence Full Bundle ($219 / year) is the best value for money as you get access to all themes and plugins and future releases. There is also a lifetime plan, priced at $699 (one time payment).
New users can benefit from an introductory discount on all plans.
Astra offers the following support options:
- Comprehensive documentation
- Email support (ticket system)
- Video tutorials
- Private Facebook group
Astra has been in the business for a longer period of time, so they provide really comprehensive guides. Also, the community of users is huge and you can easily find various tips and tricks shared by others.
Kadence provides the following support options:
- Comprehensive knowledge base
- Email support (ticket system)
- Support forums
- Video tutorials
- Private Facebook group
Kadence offers decent support options, but if you have a specific question, you might spend some time finding the answer. I think that their help resources are somehow dispersed.
Both themes are awesome: they’re fast, SEO friendly, versatile and beautiful. It really is a thing of personal preference, as there is no winner or looser in this comparison.
On one hand, Astra is easy to use, fast, customizable, SEO and mobile friendly, works with most popular page builders, offers plenty of templates and has a huge community of users.
On the other hand, Kadence provides more features right out of the box, is fast, looks fresh/modern and is focused on WordPress built-in functionality.
When it comes to what theme + page builder to use, here is my recommendation:
If you like Elementor then go for Astra. If you like Gutenberg then go for Kadence.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t use them the other way around, as both Astra and Kadence work just fine with most of WordPress page builders and editors.
Frequently Asked Questions
I wouldn’t say so. Both themes are equally good and well rounded. Astra is robust, has more starter templates, is fast, has extensive documentation. Kadence looks nice, has more features, is fast and works great with Kadence blocks.
No, as both themes are super fast. I’ve seen multiple speed comparisons between these 2, claiming that one is faster than the other by a fraction of a second. The truth is – those milliseconds won’t make any difference.
Yes, both themes are free and include a wide set of options. In fact, the free version of any of the 2 themes is enough to build a functional and good looking website.
Not necessarily. While both themes work with the most popular WordPress page builders, you can successfully use them with the default WordPress editor. Page builders are not mandatory.