The theme is the foundation for the look and feel of any WordPress site, so choosing a theme is one of the first things you do when building a website. Personally, I mostly use Divi, but in this article I compare some popular themes for the default WordPress editor – Gutenberg – that are also great for other page builders like Elementor and Brizy. All these themes have both a free version and a paid version.
In this article, Bob puts very popular WordPress themes like Astra (more than 1 million active installs) and OceanWP (about 700,000 active installs) literally next to promising newcomers Kadence and Blocksy. Neve is also present in this extensive WordPress Theme comparison.
I only looked at the features the theme itself offers, whether or not with an official “add-on plugin”. For example, Blocksy needs the Blocksy Companion plugin for certain featuress, Neve needs their own Orbit Fox plugin and OceanWP even has several add-on plugins available. Every theme also requires you to install a plugin to access the premium features.
Many features that are not available by default in the theme or the official add-on plugin can of course be added with third-party plugins or custom code (for example Google Analytics or custom sidebars), but this has not been taken into account in the comparison below.
|Included in the free version|
|Included in the premium (paid) version|
|Not included in the theme or an official add-on plugin|
|Set maximum content width|
|Override global settings on a per page base (sidebar, header, footer etc)|
|Different color on hover|
|Setting padding and margin|
|Choice of multiple units such as px, (r)em, %, vw, vh|
|Social media follow buttons|
|Social media share buttons|
|Choose between sidebar left, sidebar right or no sidebar|
|Separate sidebar settings for blog, pages, posts and woocommerce|
|Set sidebar position for mobile (above or below content)|
|Sticky sidebar (stays in the viewport while scrolling)|
|Add custom sidebars|
|Conditional sidebars (e.g. only show for posts in certain category)|
|Header builder which lets you design your own header|
|Choose between multiple header templates|
|Sticky header (stays at the top of the screen while scrolling)|
|Shrinking header (shrinks the header as user scrolls)|
|Add icons to menu items|
|Separate builder for the mobile menu (off canvas)|
|Multiple nav menu elements (eg #1 for main menu and #2 for utilities menu)|
|Overlay search function (magnifying glass icon instead of search box)|
|Show live search results as you type|
|Contact info widget (address, phone number, email)|
|Off canvas menu on desktop (hamburger button like on mobile)|
|Multiple conditional headers (e.g. setting a different header on blog pages)|
|Login / my account widget|
|Recaptcha for login widget|
|Custom HTML widget|
|Add widget area (for WordPress widgets or plugins)|
|Footer builder which lets you design your footer yourself|
|Choose from multiple footer templates|
|Sticky footer (stays at the bottom of the screen)|
|Multiple conditional footers (e.g. set a different footer on blog pages)|
|Scroll to top widget|
|Shortcuts widget (bar with useful links that sticks at the bottom)|
|Set global typography|
|Separate typography settings for H1 to H6|
|Extensive typography settings (line height, letter spacing, transformation)|
|Separate settings for tablet and mobile|
|Load Google Fonts locally (save on your own server)|
|Upload custom fonts|
|Adobe Typekit fonts|
|Font Awesome icons|
|Choose from multiple layouts for the blog page|
|Masonry blog layout|
|Inifinite scroll (automatically load more posts )|
|Choose from multiple layouts for single blog posts|
|Adjust featured image size|
|Show or hide specific metadata (author, date, categories)|
|Reorder meta data|
|Last updated meta data|
|Using custom fields as meta data (e.g. ACF, Toolset, Metabox)|
|Show post title in hero with featured image as background|
|Next / previous post navigation|
|Author box (widget with information about the author)|
|Reading progress bar|
|Read time indication|
|Multiple layouts for the shop and category pages|
|Multiple layouts for the single product page|
|Infinite scroll on shop and category page|
|Ajax add to cart|
|Shopping cart icon in header|
|Off canvas cart / mini cart|
|Off canvas filters (filter button)|
|Floating add to cart (sticks to the top of the page when user scrolls)|
|Show product images as carousel (on single product page)|
|Newsletter subscription form|
|Cookie notice bar|
|Facebook timeline widget|
|Custom 404 page|
|Insert templates using hooks|
|Show templates in popup (e.g. by clicking on button)|
|Automated triggers for popup (after x seconds, scroll %, exit intent)|
|Extra Gutenberg blocks|
|Extra Elementor widgets|
|Google Analytics integration (without plugin)|
|Anonymization of Google Analytics data (to comply with GDPR)|
|Add custom code snippets to head, body and footer|
|Separate settings (layout, etc.) for custom post types|
|Export / import settings|
|Demo templates / sites||Astra||OceanWP||Neve||Kadence||Blocksy|
|1 page demo layouts|
|Complete site layouts with multiple pages|
|Demo templates for Gutenberg|
|Demo templates for Elementor|
|Demo templates for Brizy|
|Demo templates for Beaver Builder|
|Extensive documentation available|
|Video documentation available|
|Support for free users|
|Google Pagespeed mobile score||99||87||99||98||100||Google Pagespeed mobile loading time (time to interactive)||1.1 s||2.7 s||1.1 s||1.2 s||1.1 s|
|Google Pagespeed desktop score||100||100||100||100||100||Google Pagespeed desktop loading time||0.3 s||0.4 s||0.3 s||0.3 s||0.3 s|
|Disable WordPress core scripts (e.g. emojis)|
|Prices premium versie||Astra||OceanWP||Neve||Kadence||Blocksy|
|1 website, per year||$ 59||$ 54||€ 59||$ 79||$ 49|
|5 websites, per year||$ 59||$ 109||€ 59||$ 79||$ 69|
|Unlimited websites, per year||$ 59||$ 179||€ 59||$ 79||$ 99|
|1 website, lifetime (no annual recurring costs)||$ 249||$ 222||$ 699||$ 149|
|5 websites, lifetime (no annual recurring costs)||$ 249||$ 445||$ 699||$ 199|
|Unlimited website, lifetime (no annual recurring costs)||$ 249||$ 725||$ 699||$ 299|
To measure the speed, I useda simple layout with some Gutenberg blocks: a hero section with a heading, background image and a button, below that a block with 3 columns, each with an image, text block and a button, and a gallery block with 7 photos and 2 buttons.
Then I activated the free version of each theme one by one (with the same Gutenberg blocks all the time) and did a speed test via Google Pagespeed Insights in a new incognito window (so things like browser cache can’t play a role either).
Not a single plugin was active, nor was any caching or other optimization.
Bob’s Favorite: Blocksy theme
Blocksy is my personal favorite WordPress theme. Both the free version and the paid pro version offer a lot of features, the interface is very user-friendly, everything looks great and the prices of the pro version are reasonable. In addition, new features are added very regularly and the support is excellent.
Only the number of demo sites is still quite limited, but there are new ones added regularly and they are are available for various page builders.
With over 1 million active installs, Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes of all time. Nevertheless, the above comparison shows that Astra offers a bit less features than some other themes. On the other hand, there is a lot of documentation available on how to add a feature that is not included in the theme by default, but for that you usually have to use a piece of code or a plugin.
Furthermore, Astra has a huge number of demo sites, which allow you to import a complete website with 1 click. After that, you only have to edit the templates. The Astra demo sites are available for various page builders: the default Gutenberg editor, Elementor, Brizy and – as the only theme on the list – Beaver Builder. That, in combination with their attractive prices, explains why Astra is so popular.
OceanWP is also quite popular with about 700,000 active installations, but as you can see OceanWP’s column contains quite a few red crosses.
Yet many of those things are possible, but require a detour. Some examples:
– OceanWP doesn’t have a built-in header/footer builder, but you CAN create a custom template and set it as header / footer. However, there are no standard widgets in WordPress for things like a navigation menu (yet), so an additional plugin is needed to create a custom header. Hence the red cross.
– OceanWP is the only theme that offers a mega menu feature in it’s free version, in which you can also add a widget area. OceanWP offers a number of custom widgets including a contact information widget and a login widget. However, these cannot be added to the header itself, only to a dropdown submenu, so they are not always visible. Again, a red cross that’s not entirely deserved.
– You can also adjust a few things separately for the mobile menu, but that is less flexible than in Astra and Blocksy.
In the speed test, OceanWP stood out because of the somewhat lower score on mobile. I took the test several times, but OceanWP continued to score “only” 87 on mobile.
That is of course not a bad score, but it is significantly lower than the other themes. The loading time on mobile is also a lot higher at 2.7 seconds than that of the other themes.
Neve is also a pretty popular theme with a lot of features. However, some of those features (such as the social sharing buttons and the newsletter subscription form) only work with Elementor and/or the free Orbit Fox plugin (from the same maker). Other things (like the popup) only work in Gutenberg.
All licenses are for an unlimited number of websites, but if you want extensive WooCommerce settings you pay € 149.00 per year, and if you want to white label Neve the price even goes up to € 259.00.
Many people in the WordPress community are raving about the Kadence theme and the accompanying Gutenberg plugin Kadence blocks. And I can understand why; the Kadence theme has quite a few green ticks, which means that it offers quite a few features in the free version of the theme. However… not as much as Blocksy.
The premium version can’t compete with Blocksy Pro either in my opinion. For example, the Kadence WooCommerce Shop Kit contains a number of interesting features, but “basic” things like quickview and a wishlist function seem to be missing. I say “seem” on purpose; I don’t own a Kadence Pro license and the documentation is so limited and cluttered that I can’t get a good idea of which features are included or not.
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I love Blocksy, Simple, convenient and easy to use
Still my favorite as well 🙂