The Best WordPress Themes

During a recent client site build, we realized we weren’t super happy with the base theme we were using. While we quite like Beaver Builder for a page builder, the theme we were wrapping it with just wasn’t quite as powerful as we wanted without additional add-ons.

So we decided to try and recreate some projects we’d completed with the combination of Beaver Builder and Beaver Theme in a few other popular WordPress themes designed to be lightweight, unopinionated, and play nice with most page builders.

Here are the criteria we considered as we reviewed these themes:

  • Available options (header settings, footer settings, archive and post configuration)
  • Simplicity of use
  • Compatibility with popular page builders (Beaver Builder, Elementor and the like)
  • Compatibility, and integration, with big-name plugins in their arena (WooCommerce, The Events Calendar)
  • Compatibility with Gutenberg/the block editor
  • Forward-thinking – is this theme adopting Full Site Editing?

And the options we reviewed:

Note that we tested only the free versions of these themes, though Beaver Theme is technically not free. We tested it given we have a Beaver Builder subscription already.

Our Recommendations

To cut to the chase, our recommendations out of this list are Astra and Blocksy. Keep reading for more details.


Getting up and running with Astra was very quick. Their global color palettes are very helpful and wide-reaching, resulting in much less configuration than required with, say, Beaver Theme.

We installed WooCommerce to see how things went there. There are a few customizations available for the catalog, but next to none for the single product template in the free version. The cart and checkout had several options for customization as well, and we expect that only becomes more robust in the Pro version (though most of this will continue to be progressively more superseded by WooCommerce Blocks).

The only hiccup we really hit was that the Astra button styles didn’t apply to Beaver Builder buttons. We dropped a support ticket and were informed this was intentional. So perhaps this is really more of an issue with Beaver Builder than the theme – Beaver Builder could really use defaults for certain modules.

Finally, Astra offers quite a few starter templates, many of which have implementations in Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, and Gutenberg, meaning you can use each template regardless of your page builder of choice. That really feels like the extra mile for agencies that work with small businesses where, sometimes, the budget means the minimum viable product is “looks professional”.


  • Global color palettes
  • Support for popular third-party plugins like WooCommerce and The Events Calendar
  • Good support for block editor
  • Even free version is highly customizable
  • Tons of templates, implemented in many builders


  • We’ll let you know


There isn’t a ton to say about Blocksy that isn’t reflected in our review of Astra – it plays nice with the block editor and many popular WordPress plugins. Their implementations of many features are quite similar, including their header and footer builders. Our biggest gripe is a heavy reliance on non-core blocks in some of their starter templates.

If you like Astra, you’ll probably like Blocksy. We expect that, in the future, they’ll become more separated by how quickly they do or don’t adopt new WordPress functionality rolling out, like full-site editing. Both of these themes’ header and footer builders could be replaced by FSE, so we’ll see if either lean into that.


  • Global color palettes
  • Support for popular third-party plugins like WooCommerce and The Events Calendar
  • Good support for block editor
  • Starter templates for a variety of builders and Gutenberg


  • Fewer demo templates than Astra
  • Gutenberg starter templates depend on bloated block plugins when core blocks would suffice

Beaver Theme

Beaver Theme does some things well. There are very few bells and whistles, and some sensible defaults. But we do feel that it could do more, especially with plugins with large install bases like WooCommerce and The Events Calendar. Instead, focus seems to be shifted to Beaver Themer, which let’s you build theme parts with Beaver Builder. This kind of functionality is built into plugins like Elementor, but we’d honestly rather keep it within the theme. The advent of full-site editing will change this.

With that shift in focus comes lack of support for this particular product. Over the last couple years we’ve specifically run into small layout quirks with Gutenberg and a dated sticky header implementation that can result in overlapping your content. With nearly zero updates in the last couple years, we’re not optimistic these things get fixed.


  • Bundled page templates don’t bloat the media library with image uploads
  • Doesn’t stray from familiar WordPress interfaces and usage patterns. Mostly customizer-driven settings.


  • Limited integration with major plugins like WooCommerce and The Events Calendar
  • Infrequent updates, with focus shifting to Beaver Themer (a paid upgrade)
  • Poor implementation of global colors – lots of repeating yourself
  • Few hooks/filters – expect to fully override theme partials in a child theme


OceanWP suffers from many of the same issues as the Beaver Theme. There are no global color palettes, which is frustrating when it comes to, for instance, setting link and button colors. A nice default can be to set a single color and hover color that gets applied to links across the entire site and button backgrounds. With OceanWP, you must set these colors explicitly everywhere the theme allows you to customize colors.

We couldn’t figure out how to utilize a single demo page template for OceanWP, as opposed to replacing the entire website with a demo site. It’s possible this just isn’t a feature. While it comes with a few full site demos out of the box, many are paid add-ons.

The latest version underlines links contained within Beaver Builder buttons. That’s weird looking. Would be nice to see that fixed out of the box by one party or the other.


  • Highly customizable, site-wide and per-page


  • Limited demo content
  • Lack of default color palette settings
  • Less robust header creation settings than some of its competitors

Page Builder Framework

We immediately deactivated Page Builder Framework after seeing its overbearing presence in the WordPress admin bar.

Kadence Theme

Coming soon!


Coming soon!

Themes We Didn’t Review

Industry-Specific Themes

Categorically, we didn’t review any themes that advertised themselves as being industry-specific. These themes tend to bundle functionality designed at a particular vertical, so for agency work, it ends up being a uni-tasker instead of a multi-tool.

ThemeForest Themes

ThemeForest’s licensing isn’t well-designed for agencies, and the theme authors on this platform tend to churn out a bunch of industry-specific themes built on the same framework instead of building a single, well-functioning offering. These themes tend to get abandoned. In contrast, the themes we chose generally have a full agency providing their support, making them field-tested and reliable for the long haul.


We’ve used Divi a lot, and while it’s very powerful, there’s a lot we don’t like about it:

  • The building interface is slower than many of its competitors.
  • Issues with how it integrates with the WordPress core upgrader
  • Poor default formatting of content created within WordPress without the builder
  • Support has generally been uninterested in resolving issues that require passing feedback to the dev team, and sometimes have demonstrated poor understanding of WordPress core

These issues and others give an overall impression that Divi does not intend to be a tool to extend your WordPress site, but rather intends for you to have a Divi site. We can’t recommend this kind of lock-in.


Hello is designed very specifically for Elementor, and does next-to-nothing by itself. This wasn’t what we were looking for.


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