On Kadence WP – a commercial WordPress theme I can at the very least tolerate

This is big, everybody

Recently I’ve been looking at my offering as my freelance WordPress development business. Sure I am confident in my abilities, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.

It’s no secret the majority of my work is at a higher price point. It’s with good reason: it’s custom work, often built from scratch, to high standards. I’m confident in my code, and that’s what people pay for.

However, whilst this works for the majority of my clients, there are odd cases where quick, simple sites are a struggle to price. I’ve built sites on to top of other themes before, and happy to communicate that with a client that I am using a child theme.

However, they have a habit of looking the same, which is generally looking like a TwentyTwenty child theme. It’s fine, and the client is happy, but I’m not 100% satisfied myself.

Sure, there are other themes, but I tend to find they are bloated mess and I struggle using them, using custom admin setups and – more often than not – the demo doesn’t look like what it looks like out of the box.

Recently, however, I saw a question from noted newsletter peddler Remkus de Vries, and read the replies.

From the replies, one theme, from names that I trust and admire, kept cropping up. I also had a potential lead that came through that explicitly asked for help in that theme.

Kadence WP

So – with the philosophy shared in my last side project build – where I make sure each side project is a learning experience, I reached into my box of domains, pulled out one – Dad Joke Ipsum – and set aside a day to build it.

The side project – Dad Joke Ipsum

So the idea behind Dad Joke Ipsum is a tool for web designers to generate dummy text for their designs. However the dummy text will be all dad jokes. After crowdsourcing a bunch of dad jokes (as well as using ChatGPT – did you know ChatGPT knows only 25 dad jokes? Dads: you’re safe), there was a bit of developmental work to build the generator with a database behind it. Ideally I didn’t want to be spending a huge amount of time on the theme, so Kadence WP made sense.

So, after soft launching the website at WordCamp Europe, I was impressed with Kadence WP, in a number of ways.

Kadence WP – Why I like it

1. It’s fast

So, the site is hosted on a bog standard SiteGround installation, and with a few images. Obviously other sites have a lot more images, but even using the SiteGround optimiser, it scores in the 90’s on mobile (though the largest contentful paint seems to be determined by the joke pulled from the database).

Check out the speed!

This bodes incredibly well as there isn’t a huge overhead from the theme itself, suggesting it is incredibly efficiently coded, with very little bloat. Also it scores highly in accessibility (the only error is me being odd with my heading tags placements). So it bodes well for a site that I’m trying to pick up traffic.

2. It doesn’t take over the admin

Honestly, I’m sick of themes that don’t use standard UI’s and take over the admin. Kadence WP very much does not. Logging in after installing and everything is either in the default Customiser, or within the posts. If anything I struggled to find where everything is located.

The theme uses the default customiser

It’s everything you need, though even though I could do most of what I wanted to without one. I do have a child theme. This is more for structuring the dad joke archive page and individual jokes.

Once you get your head around it (which is incredibly straightforward if you use Gutenberg on a daily basis), then you’re good.

3. Free is more than suitable

So everything you see on Dad Joke Ipsum is using the free version. I’ve not used the premium version, just a bit of basic customisation, and I can use the Gutenberg editor to build out the pages. There is a premium version which includes starter templates, infinite scroll, WooCommerce integration & a few other bells and whistles.

However, I’ve not needed it. It’s good enough to use on its own with the free version. I have recommended the premium to a client who I felt they needed it (the basic look is quite basic, but the starter themes do change the look of it quite a bit), but even for things like the WooCommerce additions and Infinite Scroll, I’d probably stick to the free version.


So yeah, I am a bit of a fan of Kadence WP, and have already recommended it to a couple of legacy clients who needed a site building rather quickly. I cannot really see myself using anything else for things like side projects where getting things out the door is paramount. For bigger projects, I’m still going to be building from scratch – if you pay for a custom WordPress theme, you’d get a custom WordPress theme for me, but for those that need something built quickly, this feels like a great compromise.

Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links in here. But yeah, wanted to write here that I am a fan of Kadence WP. You can click on those links and give me a small commission if you decide to buy it. Or just Google it and play around with it. Do what you want, I’m not your real dad.