A new cloud theme for WordPress…built by an A-grade development company. And now compared against the big 4 (GeneratePress, Kadence, Blocksy, Astra).
It’s my honor to present Neve to you for several reasons. One is because I’ve followed their work for a long time. But another is because I got to see my feedback come to fruition in this theme. Neve was a theme I used for the past 2.5 years and just now finally reviewing on my site.
Why? Because it didn’t do anything too unique from my existing theme-stack (GeneratePress, Kadence, Blocksy). I loved everything about Neve but didn’t have a reason to cheat on my theme wives…
Our first date with Neve
We’ve all been with Neve. (You just only didn’t know it.)
Neve is built by the same company (ThemeIsle) behind Hestia theme. Remember Hestia? That super popular free lightweight WordPress theme that was at the top of nearly every “fastest WordPress theme review” article from years ago? (Ok…maybe some of you are too young to remember.)
Yes, that one! Well, your high school crush just got even hotter. Hestia has blossomed and reborn again as Neve. Actually, it’s not the same theme, it’s a brand new one…but still carries the same values from its developers (ThemeIsle).
And believe it or not, I’ve already known of and used Neve for 2.5 years already! (As of MAY 2023.)
Who is ThemeIsle?
ThemeIsle has built many popular free themes since but catering mostly to the mass-produced market and not so much for the DIY/developer theme market. Which is funny because the WordPress theme market has evolved and flipped around so much.
Back in the days, WordPress themes were constantly being created as new ones replaced old ones. Now it seems everyone has caught on to frameworks, which allows you to keep the same (parent) theme code forever. And more notably…allows you to keep the same theme name forever.
For that reason…we easily recognize Genesis and GeneratePress because they’ve been around forever…definitely among the “oldest” themes in the modern era. Whereas Neve is considered new only because it’s core core wasn’t sold under the same framework label forever.
It doesn’t matter. My point is…Neve (and its creator ThemeIsle) has been around a while and experienced lots of success over the years.
What I like about ThemeIsle
A-grade developers (Romanian)
I do love Romanian devs. Strong culture for excellence, quality of code, quality of design. Their work is enterprise professional. Great coding and no issues anywhere. Extremely professional.
Experienced theme devs
They’ve already made several hits over the years. They understand the WordPress theme market well and pay very close attention to what users want. Of course…every theme dev wants to make users happy. The difference with ThemeIsle is that they have the skills and experience to do so.
Large support team
One of things separating ThemeIsle from other theme shops is their size. They are probably the biggest and best support team out there. And can happily answer any type of support questions…ranging from total noob to pro developer. If you’re the high maintenance client who needs handholding, then you need ThemeIsle!
Neve VS other themes
Very hard to say when top themes are good at everything. But here’s where I would position Neve against the other top themes today (GeneratePress, Kadence, Blocksy, Astra).
They are even for the usual features:
- Customization – design your own layouts, headers/footers, colors, typography, and theme templates.
- Header & menu builders – create beautiful header/menu designs without requiring a bloated 3rd-party plugin.
- WooCommerce – (easily) customize your shop templates for better conversions.
- Performance – lightweight clean code for faster page load and high page scores.
- Accessibility – for humans AND machine crawlers (e.g. search engines, SEO).
- Site Library – choose from dozens of premade designs so you can build new sites in minutes, instead of weeks.
- Developer features – mainly HOOKS & FILTERS. You can hook blocks or custom code to anywhere in the site you like, and apply conditions as to when it would show.
These are the features every top theme has nowadays. As you can see by the list, Neve is right there with the best of them. Whatever they do, Neve does as well. You don’t lose any “cool unique feature” going with Neve. They all kind of do the same thing!
I’m happy to say that although all themes are easy to use, I felt Neve’s UI was designed slightly better. We’re talking about the slightest of margins, right?
- GeneratePress – was more text-based, not many useful images but very intuitive organization. Very clean and concise.
- Kadence – had nice images but somewhat disorganized layout IMO. Sometimes the images were so much that you scroll a lot.
- Blocksy – different layout style and really well-organized. I’m not a fan of the small font. You may feel it requires a bit of scroll.
- Astra – different layout style and organized in its own way. Also has nice images. But I really hate the constant advertisements for their PRO version.
- Neve – very similar organization to GeneratePress but also has nice amount of helpful images.
Again…all of these are super easy to use. Not hard by any means. But I just felt Neve was a tiny tiny bit easier to find my way around things. With the right amount of minimalism and helpfulness.
Neve has a really setup for using developer hooks. Which is the feature to “hook” (place) custom content and code anywhere you want in the site. (NOTE: all the themes label this feature differently.)
- GeneratePress “Elements” – well-built and easy to use for developers. But can feel more technical to non-devs.
- Kadence “Hooked Elements” – actually simple way of setting up. Choose what type of content you want to hook, then where and when to display it.
- Blocksy “Content Blocks” – super intuitive. First you make the content, then decide where to hook it.
- Astra “Custom Layouts” – has a few more screens to click through.
- Neve “Custom Layouts” – simple click on Custom Layouts, then create and edit super easily.
Again, all themes do it pretty well and you’ll be fine if you know what you’re doing. But I felt Blocksy was the easiest to use (intuitive and requiring the fewest clicks), while Neve gives users the most “user guidance” for their hooks feature.
- Kadence – best site library IMO. Many awesome designs that look different from each other and not generic.
- Blocksy – just a handful of super polished designs. It’s a personal preference between Kadence vs Blocksy.
- GeneratePress – more minimal and wireframe-ish. Developers may prefer these for being more unstyled.
- Astra – tons and tons of super generic designs. Ewww.
- Neve – there was like 2 or 3 I liked, and the rest felt super generic, but not as bad as Astra.
The design library is the only place where I think Neve could improve. I already gave the feedback to remove all the lesser templates, but I’m guessing they’re keeping them because it looks better for marketing or because many users actually choose them? (I don’t know.)
This is a feature I think Neve was the first to do. Then Kadence had it. I’m not sure if GeneratePress does. And I think Blocksy and Astra don’t have it.
Basically…you can create site templates and content parts, in either Gutenberg or Elementor or Beaver Builder (I’m not sure what other pagebuilders are supported) and then access and re-use them from any other site. It’s all stored in the cloud and attached by your Neve PRO license key.
I think it’s an amazing feature and so cool. Especially if you’re managing a ton of sites and don’t want to keep exporting and importing theme settings files. Also, there are things that aren’t so easily exported. Or maybe you only want certain parts. Anyway, I give Neve a lot of credit for being innovative on things like this.
Full-Site Editing (FSE) Compatibility
Neve is definitely one of the first themes of the
big 4 big 5 to support this new WordPress core feature where you can use Gutenberg blocks to build your theme templates and template parts.
It’s a lot of fun to play with and further reduces the need for pagebuilders or custom code. Kudos to Neve on this.
This is where Neve has a big advantage and disadvantage. It’s totally different.
- GeneratePress, Kadence, Blocksy, Astra – all these guys have dedicated customer support as well as thriving Facebook groups.
- GeneratePress, Blocksy – small dedicated dev team. But good support and with a good heart.
- Kadence, Astra – big companies. I imagine their support is not as good as the other two. Not as personalized, not as skillful.
- Neve – seems like big developer shop and used to handling all kinds of support requests, for all levels of users. Especially since they have experience doing non-developer themes.
Would I recommend the Neve theme?
Best users & use cases for Neve
- Newbies – WordPress beginners and non-coders would be well-served on Neve. It’s got tons of options, but also super intuitive UI and helpful images to guide them through all customizations. And great support to handhold them through every question. Neve just feels like a fun, friendly user experience all around.
- Business owners – you want a mature theme that 1) has all trendy features so you can compete against other businesses, and 2) is well-coded by a trusted company with good reputation. You don’t want any site issues or bugs whatsoever. And lastly, responsive support should you ever have problems. Business owners are somewhat like newbies (in not knowing everything), but also have their own DIY dev experience.
- Developers – again, Neve has all features you would need…from usual customizations to advanced hooks & filter options…all from a super friendly UI. Then they’ve also got a template cloud to help you build multiple sites quickly across your network. And a busy FB group community to bounce ideas and help requests off of.
Curious to cross the street? Try Neve theme today! (FREE / PRO)