When you discuss with someone about WordPress (business owner / agency owner) the first question is: What themes do you use? The themes are an important pillar in WordPress ecosystem, but I believe it’s not useful neither for us as web designers/developers, nor for the end client.
Let’s face it: as a web designer/developer, working with many themes is absolutely painful and totally non-productive, since each theme has its own structure behind the scene. Choosing a good theme/builder is like a marriage or a partnership for the long term.
My Experience with WordPress Themes (and Builders)
Over the years, as a freelancer, I had experience (or just tested) with all the best-selling WordPress themes on the market. And as a web developer in a digital agency I worked with many more, I forgot about.
- ThemeForest: Avada, Enfold, BeTheme, Bridge, The7, Salient, X Theme, Flatsome;
- GeneratePress, Studio Press, Astra, Kadence, Divi, OceanWP;
- Many other themes on the WordPress repository;
- Custom themes: for more than one year, I worked hard to build my own custom theme (HTML/CSS + PHP), but I realized is totally unproductive to use and maintain custom code for the type of project I worked for then.
As a beginner, I had no idea what to choose: I asked meetup friends for recommendations and I read tons of online recommendations. And I learned a few basic principles. But after many trials and errors and hundred hours of practice / testing with each one, I understand – the hard way – a few principles:
- all the themes have the same functionalities;
- there is no perfect theme – all themes have advantages and disadvantages;
- it’s a best practice to add custom code / simple plugin – when needed – to a basic theme than to use an all-in-one theme;
- ThemeForest themes are built for non-technical users, not for developers;
- instead of reading the all-the-same listing of paid tutorials to decide on a theme or another, try to find real-life dev’s recommendations in the comments area at the end of this type of articles; or find what theme uses an agency I really appreciate their portfolio.
- in order to create an easy workflow for design, more important than themes is the builder. So pay more attention to the builder than to the theme.
- if one theme has a big budget for promotion, that doesn’t means that is the best option for my workflow as a web designer/web developer.
My Experience with Builders
I had the same experience with choosing the best builder. Over the years, I worked/tested all the best-selling builders (used by ThemeForest themes / other providers):
- Avada builder
- Enfold builder
- B theme builder
- X theme builder
- UX builder (Flatsome)
- Divi builder
- Thrive Architect
- Visual Composer
- Oxygen builder
- Beaver Builder
- custom code
All of them use the same drag-and-drop functionalities. What’s most important when choosing one or two for the long run as a web designer/developer (not as a client!) is:
- do I enjoy working with it? (working with Divi was a very unpleasant experience for me);
- does this builder help me to develop my designer/developer skills?
- it’s enough market for this theme?
- is it stable in the long run?
- does this builder help me to build an easy workflow? (copy/paste elements on the same page / on another page, how many steps I can use the undo, global section)
- can I build a class-based system (especially for large websites) without losing my mind?
- can I build different types of loops?
- does it help the page to upload quickly?
- how easy is it to customize all the elements in the same style?
For many years, I used Astra + Elementor and I was happy with many projects. Overall, it has many advantages. Until a moment, when a website broke just before a client meeting. There were other negative parts I haven’t paid attention to for a while. But that was the moment when I realized I need to start a new partnership.
My Experience with Kadence
My first experience with Kadence was many years ago, when Kadence was one of the best free themes on WordPress repository. I didn’t pay too much attention since then. Until a moment I started to read many praises of this theme.
I tested it again with a small website and I was astonished about how many features have the free version. When I had the opportunity I invested in the Premium Lifetime Full Bundle package and I had no regret since then.
Why I enjoy working with Kadence Theme & Blocks
- First, as love at first sight, was the nice looking & modern Demo websites;
- I believe the team behind follows the new WordPress trends;
- developing a good ecosystem beyond the theme (Kadence blocks);
- The Facebook Community where I can find very easy the answers needed;
- logical and intuitive structure for theme settings & blocks;
- the support is awesome;
- friendly for a visual web developer like me;
- it is still young and there are not many web designers experienced with it (compared to Astra) while the market is growing;
Even though I am not very happy with the Blocks, I hope they will be improved over time, since the Gutenberg editor is still young. I have decided to stick with it and find ways to make my work easier with a better workflow.
My Kandece Theme Portfolio until the moment of writing this article
- this website & my Romanian portoflio website – luminitaciobanu.ro
- Real Estate Consultant (Ro) – Kadence + Elementor
- unmb.ro/en – Kadence + Elementor
- Counseling Therapy for the Community (Ro) – (Kadence + Elementor)
- Creative Workshops (Ro) – Kadence + Gutenberg
- Music Careers (Ro) – Kadence + Gutenberg
- Qalitec (Ro) – Kadence + Gutenberg
- Cantostuni (It) – Kadence + Gutenberg
- LetteringExpress (En) – Kadence + Gutenberg (as a subcontractor)
- ContentJourney (En) – Kadence + Gutenberg (as a subcontractor)
- Melco (Coming Soon)
- AMA (Coming Soon)