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Over the past year, we’ve been hearing a lot about OceanWP, from people who swear by it. SEO’s claim that its fast loading speed makes it one of the best themes out there for WordPress websites. People who build their own websites say that OceanWP is easy to use and customize, allowing them to start running professional looking websites within minutes. Also, the free version is the full version. All of which led us to get our own copy for this comprehensive OceanWP Review.
The goal of this OceanWP review is to provide you with as much information about this WordPress theme/page builder so that you can make an informed decision. You can also skip right down to the conclusion to get the skinny on if it is worth it.
OceanWP is a WordPress theme that also doubles as a page builder, an idea that isn’t unique, but as you’ll see in this review, its implementation is its stand out feature. Think of as a hybrid similar but not exactly like Visual Composer. The demo system allows users to quickly transform their entire website with the click of a button, something that’s built into its theme panel.
We were impressed in this review with the amount of functionality that OceanWP offers right out of the box. It is unprecedented for a free theme or even a paid one. Plus, many features can be added and enhanced thanks to a host of free and a couple of paid extensions which we also used during this review. Users can also get a hold of more theme designs by upgrading to the OceanWP Core Extensions Bundle.
All of these features mean that it comes as no surprise why OceanWP WordPress theme is so popular. Popularity is clearly evident from the fact that the free version of the theme is running across 300,000 websites and counting. We’d say it is arguably the single most successful WordPress theme or free theme even. A near-perfect rating on WordPress.org certainly has us stoked about reviewing this theme in detail.
OceanWP WordPress Theme Overview
OceanWP is considered for the most part a free WordPress theme that was created and is still maintained by its creator Nicolas Lecocq. Nicolas was a freelance designer and created OceanWP, and then thought to give it away for free. So, sites that are using it can continue to use it forever. However, it is exclusive to WordPress.
While it one of the best multi-purpose free WordPress theme available for, we soon discovered that it does have its fair share of downsides. While the upside is certainly it being free, something we can’t state enough of in this review, but there are several limitations that you can only bypass by adding paid extensions. We will cover this and other things we discovered during our time working on this OceanWP review.
OceanWP comes accompanied with a bucketload of features. It has more features than we’ve seen from rival free theme builders or a customizable WordPress theme. The features allow you to customize almost every aspect of the design from blog posts to sales pages and even set up an e-commerce website with relative ease.
A couple of stand out features include:
- A responsive WordPress Theme that adjusts to any screen size.
- Lightweight design means that it is quick to load compared to most page builders or a WordPress theme that adds lots of bloat to the code.
- The WordPress theme integrates with leading eCommerce plugins such as WooCommerce.
- Nearly a dozen free demos and counting. The export functionality allows you to export demos too, which is another first for a free WordPress theme and something we’ll discuss later in this review too.
- SEO friendly demo content theme with added Schema support.
- Has a built-in opt-in module, share module and many others.
- More features can be added via paid and free extensions that are available for OceanWP.
One of the things we instantly started to like about OceanWP WordPress is the fact that it is so easy to customize. While it isn’t like a drag and drop page builder like Elementor, it is still surprisingly easy thanks to the theme panel. Furthermore, from the time you install the free version, it looks premium. That means you start off building on what is already a solid foundation.
Everything from the color, header, and footer, to the hook areas, sidebar, typography and CSS can be easily customized via the customizer or theme panel. We like the fact that scripts and styles are easy to play around with even if you’re not into coding. We were able to add quite a few scripts and styles with a click of a button.
However, taking it all in at first may seem overwhelming. It takes a while to get used to seeing so many options on screen but once you get the hang of it, adjusting and changing things becomes second nature. Even pros like us had a bit of an adjustment period during the time we were researching for this review.
Remember we said that everything is customizable in OceanWP WordPress? Well, that’s down to a feature called the Theme Customizer. Any changes you make to the customizer can be previewed on smartphones, tablets and desktops in real-time. You can even change the menu, and other aspects of the page within seconds, something that impressed us during this review.
Head on over to the general settings section of the theme and here are the primary website settings. You can change things like the styling of your web design, the layout style for all areas of the website, and also control how pagination works for OceanWP WordPress.
Users can also modify aspects of the website like topography for every element on the site like we did during this review. You can change what fonts are used in specific areas of the website. Furthermore, you can see the effects of changing fonts in real-time; that way, you can choose what looks good to you without constantly hitting the ‘preview’ button.
We were particularly impressed with the numerous header styles that accompanied our free copy of OceanWP. There were several header styles, and with each style, we were able to change the margins, padding, colors etc. Plus, there is an option to add large images, a demo import, menu option, and a video banner as required can be adhered to the header of the theme.
Blog Customization Features
Unlike page builders like Thrive Architect, which does not have any way of setting up your blog’s layout, OceanWP WordPress is fantastic at doing just that. You can choose the way your blog looks by adding thumbnails, images, a grid layout, and various other blog elements can be disabled or enabled by clicking their respective buttons.
We were also able to easily customize certain blog posts to look a specific way. However, once you set up the blog, everything you post will follow that format in terms of layout, color etc. of the theme But you can still further customize it the way we did.
Customize for Specific Devices
Another standout feature and something we were not expecting to find during this OceanWP WordPress review is the ability to customize certain features of the website for mobile devices. For instance, you can change the footer section to show something different for a desktop device, tablet or smartphone. Used it to create a custom version of our copyright message for each device in our OceanWP WordPress setup. You can also change the way, a form asking for name email is presented across each device.
Speaking of name email, we are seeing an increasing number of theme developers use the WordPress theme customizer instead of other traditional options like ones powered by a Redux Framework. Now while that speeds up the process of customizing a theme, some aspects take a little longer like customizing the menu. However, that’s still a small price to pay for the convenience of easy customization.
Now OceanWP WordPress, i.e. the free version comes bundled with a couple of theme right out of the box. The themes, designs or layouts are all labelled as “Demo” by the platform. Now while that was a little confusing initially, knowing this made navigating our way around the pre-built templates easier. Features like demo import also make a lot more sense!
After the free Ocean Demo Import, as well as the Ocean Extras add-ons, are downloaded and installed from WordPress.org, it then becomes possible to import your demo content from the dashboard. However, as of the latest update, that functionality is also available via the Ocean Extra page on the Install Demos’ page.
Clicking on the Ocean Extra feature will show you a list of all the free demos that you can install and use. If you have the Ocean Pro Demos Extension which costs $29, you also have access to the premium demos. In our experience, the paid extension is well worth it.
Each demo has a preview, and you will be shown what plugins are required to start using it. In our experience, things worked exactly as we thought it would. However, the free demos are limited. So, if you are serious about monetizing your WordPress website, the paid demos are the way to go.
OceanWP has its fair share of pros. In our opinion and to our knowledge it is the only free theme that enables people to do whatever they like to customize it to the point where it is hard to tell if it is, in fact, an OceanWP theme! In addition, below are a couple of additional pros you’d want to consider especially for budget users on the fence.
Lightweight, fast and clean
We simply can’t get enough of the fact that OceanWP is so lightweight which allows it to load quickly compared to websites designed using other page builders. So, if the user experience is something you care about, it does not get any better than this.
When using OceanWP, we discovered that the theme works in a way to enhance the look and feel of several stock WordPress widgets and menu. For instance, we saw that recent posts menu and newsteller were particularly enhanced in the way they behaved with the theme.
Truckload of features
Once you install and start customizing OceanWP using its Extra plugin, it becomes evident that there are way more options than you’ll ever use. While it is a pro, the fact that it is overwhelming is a con too.
The speedy nature of the OceanWP theme and the use of schema markup, along with the use of proper HTML tags and navigation, make it very search-friendly.
Ease of Development
Like most other WordPress themes, you’ll find OceanWP on Github, and here developers can enhance its functionality or build a custom version of it.
Saves Time and Money
OceanWP is free, plus there is no need to hire a freelancer or a designer to layout or customize the theme for you.
Enhanced for Ecommerce
OceanWP plays well with e-commerce plugins like Woocommerce. It also does a good job of enhancing its functionality and appearance. So, there is an opportunity to enhance your conversions and do so without having to deal with compatibility issues like you’d have to with other themes.
Like everything else in this world OceanWP as good as it is it has its fair share of cons. We go over a few prominent ones below:
Customizer Can Be Initially Overwhelming
Remember we said that the customizer is a pro, but it is also a con? The screen is filled with options, and that’s way more than most people can initially take in.
Does Not Work Well With Speed Optimization Plugins
We were a little, unfortunately perhaps for repeatedly running into this issue, and it can break your website’s SEO. We were curious about the cached version of our website in Google and decided to search and see how it looked. To our surprise, the cache version looked nothing like what we had. Now we are not sure if this has something to do with Google or if it is an OceanWP issue.
OceanWP is free! That said you’ll still find yourself needing to pay for extensions to add more functionality to the website. There are three pricing tiers. That’s in addition to the fact that there are 13 premium plugin extensions for the theme.
The extensions available are Ocean Hooks, Side Panel, Full Screen, Cookie Notice, Footer Callout, Popup Login, Instagram, Portfolio, White Label, Woo Popup, Sticky Header, Sticky Footer, and Elementor Widgets.
Each extension is priced at $29.99 a year. However, you can choose to buy the OceanWP Core Extension package, which has all the premium extensions for a flat price of $34.99; the regular price is $39 annually. The bundle also includes 12 months access to updates and support, as well as access to all the pro demo designs.
You also have three license types. Each license type depends on how many websites the product can be activated across. The personal license is for a single site for $39, then there is the Business license for $79 for up to three websites, and the Unlimited bundle for $129 for an unlimited number of websites.
OceanWP Free vs Premium Edition
OceanWP does not have a premium version, so the only version you get is free! However, when it comes to extensions and demos, you have the ones that are already included with OceanWP, and then there are those you’ll need to buy. The premium extensions arguably turn your free OceanWP into a more customizable theme.
Premium extensions include access to more demos and the ability to add functionality. Much of this functionality isn’t available with the free or standard version. Plus, many premium demos require premium extensions, so without it, they will not work.
Our recommendation is to get the premium extensions pack for $39 a year. However, if you’re on a budget, the free OceanWP should serve you well to a great extent provided you’re willing to put in the time.
Should You Upgrade to OceanWP Premium?
If you are serious about doing business via your website then certainly. Also, if you can’t seem to find a demo that’s compatible with your business, then too upgrading is worth it.
OceanWP: Popular Questions & Answers
Q. Is OceanWP Theme Responsive?
Yes! OceanWP Theme is 100% responsive. We tested the theme across multiple devices, and each time it scaled correctly. There was no tearing or shearing from across the edge of the screen.
Q. Is OceanWP Theme Free?
OceanWP Theme is free to download and use. However, you’ll need to pay for premium extensions.
Q. What is OceanWP?
OceanWP is a customizable WordPress theme that doubles as a page builder. You can customize everything from the sticky header to social sharing, menu etc.
OceanWP Theme Review: Conclusion
OceanWP is one of the best options for anyone looking for a WordPress theme that’s free, easy to use and highly customizable. We were surprised by the number of styling options and changes that could be made to customize the theme. Plus, most people will find that being able to preview your changes in real-time is a big help and saves a great deal of time.
The additional settings under the visual editor can be used for additional customization, which is unique to each page. So, there are limitless possibilities of how you change the look and feel of the website.
Interestingly, OceanWP supports page builders. You can just as easily disable various page elements like the header, sidebars, footer, by just clicking a button. Plus, it integrates better with page builders like Elementor compared to others.
After a couple of days using OceanWP, we feel that it is a great theme, but it isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for someone who wants to slap together a website quick and easy to sell a few products. It also isn’t entirely free, because you’re still paying for all those premium extensions. Many demos don’t work without those extensions.
Our verdict for this OceanWP review is that the theme, unlike other WordPress themes, is an excellent choice for someone who wants to build their own website and is willing to put in the time to learn how the customization works. Plus because it is free, it is certainly worth the shot. We’d recommend anyone in the market for a page builder for their WordPress site to try their hands at OceanWP and get the premium extensions because $39 in the grand scheme of things isn’t a lot of money all things considered.