A list of general thoughts about the current top themes out there.
This list exists so people can stop messaging me privately. Seriously, there’s like 80 of y’all that keep asking me the same
If you want my all-time list…check out my Best WordPress Themes guide. Otherwise, this list covers only the recent and most commonly talked-about ones. If I don’t mention it here, then it’s not a big deal to me in 2021.
Here goes my list in order of favorite (most-used) to less-used (but arguably still as good).
- Pros only.
- If you’re not a coder, don’t use it. End of story.
- If you never used Genesis before, now probably ain’t the time to start. (Go to the next option.)
- I do really love Genesis blocks. Genesis theme community devs are the best in the business and overlapping as WordPress core developers/contributors.
- Easily my favorite of the free themes and might take over Genesis as my new favorite. (Also kind of obvious GP was initially inspired by Genesis.)
- Great theme with longstanding history.
- Nice hooks and filters for devs. Has great developer-centric interface/workflow.
- Also perfect for minimalist developers.
- Great starter theme library. Has designs I actually like, and don’t look like generic stock templates.
- New features make it perfect for me, in regards to FSE-related design and custom page templates.
- Strong community with legit developers, and also many newbie ones to help each other as well.
- Great modern theme. 2-man show.
- Beautiful super-polished starter theme designs.
- Great interface for customizing your site and page templates.
- Really awesome devs that care and passionate about their work.
- Kind of like another Blocksy. Similar custom header builder and other features that were involved in controversial mud-slinging (between them two) a couple months back.
- Kadence has different starter theme designs. You may like them more for being very American-hipster style. Or you may feel their designs to be less fancy and polished than Blocksy’s.
- I’m not a huge fan of Kadence being acquired by iThemes (ewwwww). Just makes me feel the head dev either doesn’t want to deal with his product anymore, or is so overwhelmed by newbie user-requests that he needs a partner to handle them.
- Also not a fan of Kadence being linked to Adam Preiser (WPCrafter), who I can’t help but see as an affiliate-marketer dude more focused on his bottom-line than anything else.
- However, there’s no denying that Kadence has a strong following, strong community, and still a solid theme. I also like the KadenceBlocks plugin a lot. It’s a nice set of Gutenberg blocks that aren’t overly-designed.
- Very cool new workflow for WordPress themes and pagebuilder-users. Has a unique pagebuilding interface that actually utilizes the native Gutenberg blocks. Basically allows you to create custom layouts in pagebuilder manner but outputs super fast lean Gutenberg block code.
- Very fun to use and could totally be a gamechanger.
- Many other features as well such as cloud templating and sharing designs across different sites and with community.
- Still lacking in starter templates and many things still being improved. I would probably not use this on a super complicated site for now. But do give it a try.
- Has many similar features that you see in Blocksy and Kadence. But backed by a big company with lots of support resources. If you’re too shy to ask for help on Facebook groups, Neve is a great option for you.
- Also has cloud-based templating and able to share designs across different sites and with the community. Oh lord, it seems everybody’s copying this feature now. Kadence jumped in on it too recently (but sells it as a separate paid plugin).
- Neve has built-in AMP-compatibility.
- Also don’t like the huge library of generic-looking starter sites.
- This theme is so 2018. It’s last year’s “last year”.
- I don’t like their coding architecture.
- I don’t like their designs and copycat nature (ripping off ideas from other themes instead of innovating their own).
- Yes, the theme is popular but sure as hell not with devs like myself.
- And yes, the theme has many similar features as other themes above.
- Their plugin eco-system is sometimes buggy. Also not a fan of the giant library of generic designs.
- I think the support is helpful enough if you aren’t reliant on so much handholding.
- I’m also not a fan of their leadership and PR-strategy of sweeping/deleting community complaints instead of tackling them head on.
- With that said, the theme isn’t totally bad. There’s a reason why it’s the most popular on this list. (Although, I secretly feel it’s more to do with hype marketing than actually being special/unique.)
Still can’t decide?
Argh. I’m so freaken annoyed. If you still can’t decide… please, DO NOT MESSAGE ME. Just follow the questions below and decide for yourself. I don’t tell you what you wear, or what to eat. And I’m sure as hell not going to tell you what theme to use. I really don’t give a rat’s ass.
- Which one has the type of starter themes you like? – because the less work you have to do, the less help and inconvenience you’ll have to go through.
- Which one has the community you like? – typically…devs like helping other devs. Newbs like helping other newbs. So pick the community that matches you.
- Which one does your developer like? – because he/she will be the one doing all the things you can’t. And it’s cheaper/faster if you use a theme they like.
- Are there features that are dealbreakers? – some small features can make a huge difference if you really use them. If not, then it don’t matter much. All these themes aren’t bad.
Well Johnny, i’m sure that generatepress with seo framework on ls enterprise server backed by a fast cdn, is the real deal here..
Also genesis.. But not a huge fan ( still learning dev op)
GP + SEOF + LS ENT = nice!!!!
Whats LS ENT?
I think he is referring to Lightspeed sever.
Wow, really a nice article. Thank you Johnny. I’m recently becoming a fan of open source themes, still exploring for more themes and plugins that contributed to the community.
Cheers : )
John @ S4
If anyone does want to just try out Genesis, then the fact that they are changing the pricing structure from the start of June to make the framework and sample theme free is a good news: https://studiopress.blog/studiopress-big-changes/
Personally, of those listed I’m a huge fan of GeneratePress, just like the direction, the logic, the coding and also the support system. It just feels like something that is being ‘done right’.
Right with you, John. I love GP very much and it’s not far off from being the longest standing WordPress theme. It’s outlasted the old school guys and still contending with the new school.
Why are you being so rude? And while you are making everything public, like you created a personal Facebook group of yourself, people are going to easily find you. So, it’s obvious to get messages. There may be other ways to contact you as well; I don’t give a bang. But you just can’t behave like this. First time I saw a blogger acting like this. Horrible!
If there are readers, there is your blog, boy!
The tone is exactly as intended. I try to be as nice and helpful as I can. But I don’t have time to answer the same questions for hundreds of people messaging me directly for things already answered throughout my site. If this offends you…by all means, please find another site!!! I beg you. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to behave as I like (with or without your approval). Peace!
PS: I don’t give two craps if the public reads this blog or not. It exists for my clients, not for lazy people wanting free help without checking Google or my site first.
Great guide, thanks! I was just checking Bricks and it looks amazing! Not sure whether it’s good to have a theme with page builder in one pack. Probably that’s what makes it so cool and fast.
I also believe Blocksy can be a big player soon when they release their Gutenberg blocks.
I’m mostly interested who is going to bring dynamic fields first.
Accurate feedback, Lukas. FWIW, I do like how Bricks implements the theme/builder combo. It’s not far off from Oxygen and in many ways, more native WordPress-ish than Oxygen.
I’m tired of the GeneratePress Shit philosophy about what should and what Not should be included in the theme. Always that you suggest to the GP team to add a needed & essential feature like “Related Posts”, “Breadcrumbs”, “Load Google Fonts Locally” or “Social Share Buttons” they always respond the same sack of shit —-> “All these features are in the Plugin Territory, So if you need them you should install a Plugin. The Theme should be only for the Layout and nothing more than the Layout. Also if we include these features they will Slow Down the Theme Performance “Posts Element (without the need of a 3rd party plugin like WP SHow Posts)”, “Slider”, “CountDown Timer”, “Forms”, “Tabs”, “Accordions”, “Pie Chart”, “Carousel”, “Advanced Gallery”, etc….. and All of these without affecting the Performance & Page Loading Speed at all.
Bricks and other themes are showing very clearly that you can have All these features Built-In without affecting the Performance, as long as the Developer knows how to implement them correctly. So, what happens with all the missing features in GeneratePress and GenerateBlocks ??? – Is Tom Usborne a Lazy Developer that only wants to maintain a very limited set of features, or He Does Not have the needed Skills to add these features without affecting the GeneratePress Performance…
Miguel, I’m very much on Tom’s side here. People need to understand the clear separation between theme and plugin. Theme is design. Plugin is function. Are there certain things that could go one way or another? Absolutely. Some people want a full-function theme with every widget in there. You can go with AVADA if you want that. Some people want a minimal theme that they can add to. GeneratePress fits the bill nicely.
With that said, nobody is forcing you to use GP. And if you think Tom is “lazy” or “does not have the skills”…you’re freaken out of your mind. Maybe spend a few years learning PHP and read his code changes on GitHub to see what he’s doing. Educate yourself before you speak, please. Last but not least, let’s not forget GeneratePress base theme is free. Or just don’t comment here next time if you can’t respect a community developer’s work.
Hi Johnny my comment above was Cut automatically by your comments system. So it is incomplete and you cannot understand everything I wanted to explain. May be You have a Limit about the number of words allowed in a comment.
Sorry your comment was cut but anyway…the things you hate most about GeneratePress are a big part of why I like it. It’s ok. You like different themes from what I like. We don’t have to agree. Hope you find what works for you.
What theme do you use for this blog? Really nice and so eye-catching.
It’s my own custom made theme.
Hi Johnny, my point is this: The GeneratePress team have said that adding essential and basic features like “related posts” would slow down the theme performance and this is a Big Lie. For example, there are two themes that currently have “Related Posts” built-in and are a little bit Faster overall than GeneratePress, those themes are “Neve” and “Suki”. However, GeneratePress is faster than Astra, Blocksy, Kadence and Page Builder Framework.
I have tested Neve and Suki with its built-int Related Posts versus GeneratePress( using WP Show Posts plugin to display Related Posts) and both “Neve” and “Suki” have a Faster “Largest Contentful Paint” by approx. ~100 milliseconds in the Single Posts Page Loading Speed Tests for Mobile using several tools like:
– PageSpeed Insights
So, this shows very clearly that having these features built-in Does Not affect the Performance at All. On the contrary, it is Faster than using external plugins.
Since your comment section is limited to only 1300 characters, please continue reading below…
Miguel, sounds like you need to pick another theme. Every developer’s philosophy is different and if you don’t like Tom’s vision, you should go with another. Adding functions that require extra DB queries will likely slow down a theme…this part isn’t debatable.
Regarding Avada theme, the amount of built-in features are Not the culprit of Avada disastrous Performance, the culprits are its poor quality coding and Bad & Unoptimized architecture.
If having many features were the real cause of being a Slow Theme then the new and Ultra Fast “Bricks” theme would be very slow. But all the contrary, despite having all the built-in features that “GeneratePress + GenerateBlocks” will never have, “Bricks” is as Fast as GeneratePress, and I have No doubt that with the upcoming improvements –> “Optimize Asset Loading”, “Lazy Loading for Background Images”, “Remove jQuery”, and more to come, “Bricks” will end up being Faster than the overrated GeneratePress, despite having all the needed features and functionalities built-in. It all comes down to Code Quality & Architecture.
So, at the end of the day, if GeneratePress does Not change their philosofy( it’s still on time to change), it will be put to shame by “Bricks”, “Suki” and others.
GeneratePress continues to operate and thrive independently of other themes. I think there’s more to life than ranting about GP here. Let it go and focus on things that make you happy.
Really appreciate your content, clear and straight to the point without the marketing fluff and affiliate junk. There’s a lot of hype about Focus WP them. Do you think this is something that could rival GeneratePress or Kadence?
FocusWP (which I don’t think has any hype) will never rival GP or Kadence. Chris Pearson’s grip on the SEO/site-speed niche was already lost nearly 10 years ago. He’s since shifted his theme philosophy over to one of “your site should be simple so users don’t get confused”. And that’s simply against the trend right now. Most people out there want bloated pagebuilder mazes on their site.
For anybody wanting to see my point, check out the Focus WP site showcase for yourself…
I used to love Chris’s Thesis theme but things have evolved so much since then. The only reason for using FocusWP nowadays is if your design philosophy matches Chris’s exactly. Otherwise, you need to use a theme that actually lets you build custom stuff.
Hi Johnny, I got carried away by my desires of what I would like GeneratePress to be so my comments above were 100% influenced by my emotions. I perfectly know that GeneratePress is a superb theme and the fact of not having all the features I want, does not change the fact that it is a superb theme.
Each developer decides what to include or not in their theme based on their own preferences, target audience, users feedback, etc…, and we must respect that. Like you said, probably is not the theme for me, since every user has different needs. Some users prefer the GeneratePress philosophy( barebones as possible), others for example prefer a Blocksy philosophy( all the features under the sun built-in), etc… etc..
If possible, it would be awesome if you could delete all my previous bashing comments. And Sorry for the bad vibe I left with those comments.
All the Best.
Honestly, I thought your ranting was fine. Many people feel that way and your comments validate them. Likewise, I’d like my reply to stand as well as a public reply to all others who think the same. It’s totally ok to complain when you don’t get what you want. Don’t worry about it. I only hope you find a better theme for you and come back here to comment again. 🙂
How to make a theme like wpjohnny? Seriously it is the best looking theme I have ever seen. Make a guide plz. ❤❤
Thank you and lol…I did write a guide on it: Design logic behind the WPJohnny custom theme
Md. Redwan Hossain
Care to share how did you made the POPULAR WORDPRESS GUIDES section and arranged them in a beautiful list? And how did you managed to craft the perfect mobile header? Throw me a guide link if you have any.
Please comment these questions right on that post.
Tien Dung Dao
You can try with this theme, it is very nice
Page Builder Framework (https://wp-pagebuilderframework.com/)
I hate pagebuilders. So the name alone is already gonna be a hard sell for me. But thank you for suggesting it to my readers.
Hey Johnny. Love your work.
Kadence – how do you think it’s acquisition will go long-term?
I know you don’t have a crystal ball. I was just curious as to your thoughts on it.
Likely better? Likely not better? Thanks so much in advance!
I’ve never felt iThemes to be innovative so I highly doubt they’ll do anything out of this world with it. But hey…most people are totally fine with mediocre things that have all the same features and vibe as everything else. While Kadence isn’t special to me (anymore)…you can’t go wrong with it.
Which theme is good for Woocommerce?
Great advice, many many thanks! Of those mentioned above,My personal choice is GeneratePress because of its structure,logic, coding, and overall their support system. Simply said, it seems to be being “done right.”