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Fastest WordPress Themes Tested with Data

Here is a fact. Fast loading pages attract better traffic. In the age of 5G and high-speed internet, nobody wants to wait for pages to load to check out a certain piece of information. You lose out on potential customers if your website is not fast enough.

Content Management System like WordPress have taken over the web in the past couple of decades. Over 37% of all websites are WordPress sites. This is all the more reason to choose the correct and fastest WordPress themes for your websites.

Now, why are some themes faster than others? What are some parameters that affect speed? Are fast themes the best themes? These are a few questions we will address here. With this article, you will be able to choose a great theme for your website that has minimal response time.

What makes WordPress themes fast?

WordPress themes are just a set of files (images, stylesheets, and PHP scripts) that decide how your WordPress website looks. Different factors determine the speed of a theme.

Some of the factors are

  1. Number of images and their respective size
  2. The styling of elements
  3. The complexity of the script
  4. Plugins
  5. The browser

Lots of themes have a vast number of pictures, videos, and graphics. This makes themes very aesthetic and visually appealing. But this means that this data has to be stored in a database. The server has to fetch them all every time the website is loaded. Lots of pictures and graphics mean more space in the database.

Styling is mostly done with the help of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Usually, not all CSS is critical for the website. Some CSS does not need to be loaded in until they are required. Avoid themes that look like they have excessive styling because they are usually client-heavy.

The functionality of the theme determines the complexity of the PHP script. With more features come more scripting and computing. This slows down the server and website. Some themes come with plugins that are necessary for them to work. Plugins more or less do the same thing. They increase functionality and reduce speed. So they have to be kept minimal.

Well, choosing themes taking into account all these factors is hard, if not at all impossible.

So to make things easier for you, here is our list of top 9 fastest themes for 2020.

Well just in a bit 😉

Let’s see how we evaluated and chosen the fastest WordPress themes. We have used the following trusted tools to rank them.

  1. Page Speed Insights – Google Developer Utility
  2. GTmetrix – Website Complete Analysis
  3. Pingdom – Website Speed Test

The important parameters to take away from these tests are,

  1. Direct Page Speed Performance – Minification of JS/CSS, Serving Scaled Images, Compression, Asynchronous Service Calls, Minimising Redirects, etc. Overall grade and percentage are generated based on this.
  2. YSlow (Sub-Analysis Tool) – Using Content delivery networks (CDNs), reducing DNS lookup and cookie sizes, etc. Issues are classified by priority (Low, Medium, High)

Ok now to the list! The following are the top 8 fastest WordPress themes in no particular order.

List of Fastest WordPress Themes in 2020

Kadence WP

First, in the list of fastest WordPress themes, Kadence is a minimalistic theme. It is lightweight without excessive graphic content and is easy to use. Has good overall navigation functionality to make it accessible.

It has got some great features for any website. Headers that are sticky or transparent. Navigation links and social links add more functionality too. Kadence has a simplistic blue colored default theme that is pleasant and does not overwhelm the user. The themes can also be used across multiple domains without a limit.

A premium version is on its way for the next summer. Some of the advertised features include – header builder add-on for customization of headers, element hooks to add custom content to any section, a mega menu, and a WooCommerce add-on for creating an online shop page.

Support for the theme is limited to online ticketing via the website. The team responds via email usually within a day or so. Premium support is available and is a feature of Kadence’s yearly membership.

The membership comes with added customer support and additional premium features for all their themes. Note that Kadence is a relatively new theme and premium features are still under development.

Now to some speed tests!

Google Developer Speed Test

The desktop version gives an astounding score of 98.

Great scores for initial response and input delay. Cumulative layout shift, that is, unexpected shift in web layout during an event, seems to exist to a very small degree.

fastest WordPress Themes

The mobile version scores about 93 with a very low input delay.

fastest WordPress Themes

Pingdom Test – Performance Score of 91

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 100%

YSlow – 96%Alright.

fastest WordPress Themes

A few words about the developers.

The Kadence team is based in Missoula, Montana, US. Their website says they aim to provide professional themes to everyday people. The team loves the neighboring mountains of the city and often go on hikes. And hence the name ‘Kadence’ from ‘Cadence’.

Astra

Astra is the fastest growing theme of all time. It has grown to the point that it is always on the recommended themes list by WordPress. Astra has incredible flexibility to accommodate the needs of different users. It has the biggest library of pre-built websites that save time. These are called templates and you can find them in the templates WordPress submenu.

Astra is customization friendly and is greatly appreciated by page designers and developers alike. It gives design freedom to experiment with the layout, headers, colors, and typography. The Pro version grants full flexibility options.

Note that Astra does not use jQuery to avoid bottlenecks, is extremely lightweight (50KB), and built with SEO in mind. Translations with .mo files and .po files are extremely easy. For the tech-savvy readers out there, Astra is completely open-source! Go check out GitHub now.

Now to the speed tests…

Pingdom Test

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 100%

YSlow – 94%

fastest WordPress Themes

Generate Press

Generatepress is another extremely popular theme in the WordPress market. It prioritizes performance more than anything else. The basic version of the theme is barely 30KB!

This gives the speed a huge boost. Security and stability are top-notch with independent reviews from industry leaders.

No jQuery is used to avoid any dependencies. Is completely built with vanilla javascript. Comes with default SEO optimization with schema.org. If you are writing a blog you already have a head start in the SEO race with generate press.

Some more features include customizable color/typography, layout control, and element hooks. The theme is compatible with various page builder plugins such as Elementor and Beaver Builder. It also supports a variety of other plugins for added functionality. As seen in Astra, Generatepress also is translation friendly.

The premium version brings an upgraded site library with pre-built features. Also, there are additional colors, fonts, spacing control, and navigation control. Use page builders to break down content into sections and disable/enable more sections. Replaceable copyright message on the footer. Import and export themes with customize settings.

The premium costs $49.95/year. It. comes with a 40% renewal discount. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Now coming to the speed tests…

Google Developer Speed Test

fastest WordPress Themes

Pingdom Test

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 99%

YSlow -94%

fastest WordPress Themes

Neve

Neve is a new age, performance prioritizing WordPress theme. It is AMP compatible.

Meaning it is mobile friendly and loads faster on mobile devices than other themes.

It is customizable and flexible. It supports a number of popular page builders – Elementor, Beaver Builder, SiteOrigin, Brizy, Visual Composer, and Divi Builder. It’s got a library of 80+ ready to go templates. These templates are labeled and categorized by purpose. Note that some of the templates are pro only.

There are some additional features that come with Neve Pro.

  1. Additional flexibility with headers
  2. Blog Booster
  3. Elementor Booster
  4. WooCommerce Compatibility
  5. Scroll to Top Feature
  6. White Label Feature for developers

Another notable unique feature is 1-click rollback to previous versions. It is SEO optimized, without jQuery, and translation/RTL ready. About 100,000 websites run with Neve at the moment.

To the speed tests…

Google Developer Speed Test – Score 98

fastest WordPress Themes

There is slightly decreased performance in mobile devices with a score of 87. This is mostly due to render-blocking and image formats.

fastest WordPress Themes

Pingdom Performance Grade – 91 A

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 83%

YSlow -86%

fastest WordPress Themes

Yosemite

Yosemite is inspired by Mac OS X Yosemite. It was created by My Theme Shop. It is AdSense optimized and therefore, see’s better engagement and returns via CTRs and RPMs. It comes with a simple and elegant design. It is greatly appreciated by apple lovers.

Yosemite promises a higher engagement rate, which it claims is a result of better design. It has fluid-responsiveness such that it delivers the best experience in all devices. Retina ready icons and a strain-free reader experience are a few more attractive features. It is integrated with Schema for better search engine ranking.

Yosemite’s WP Subscribe plugin enables the site owner to create an email list to further improve user engagement. You can integrate Yosemite with WP Review Pro – enables users to add reviews and ratings to blog posts. Support for other major league plugins like Mega Menu is available by default. It is translation and RTL ready.

Support is available 24/7 via the mythemeshop forum.

Yosemite is almost completely a paid theme. For a single site, it costs about $29/year. For 3 sites, the subscription costs $69/year and for unlimited sites, it is $87/year. Membership costs $99, $197, $420 per year for 1, 2, and unlimited sites respectively.

Now to the speed tests…

Pingdom Test – Performance Score: 79

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 84%

YSlow – 82%

Serving resources from consistent URLs improve trust in services. That seems to be the only parameter that is flagged by GTmetrix.

fastest WordPress Themes

Zakra

Zakra has over 50,000 users. It is focused on providing versatility and flexibility for different company domains. Zakra is lightweight and has great response speed. It performs equally well across devices and is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) ready. There is support for RTL languages like Urdu, Persian, and Hebrew.

Language translation is made very easy with WPML or Ploylang WordPress plugins. Support is available via forums for free users. For premium users, an online ticket system and live chat are available throughout the year.

Zarka’s templates are available under the demos submenu. They are categorized by purpose and page builder. The variety of demos provide a great starting point for users. Again, some demos are for pro users only.

Some pro-only features are,

  1. Additional Dynamic Customisable Areas and Widget Area
  2. Sticky and transparent header
  3. Responsiveness and Visibility of header
  4. Selecting appropriate HTML title tags
  5. Scroll back to the top and more footer features
  6. Woo Commerce – Dedicated sidebars and layouts
  7. Dropdown menu styling and mobile menu styling
  8. Customizable Layouts for blogs – Grid, Masonry, Thumbnail etc
  9. Read More feature and Author Bio
  10. Related Posts recommendation

Zaka pro subscription is of 4 types: Personal, Personal Plus, Professional, and Developer. They cost $49, $69, $129 and $199 a year respectively. For more details on pricing check out the official page.

Now to the speed tests…

Google Developer Speed Test – Score 95

fastest WordPress Themes

Although the demo does considerably well in desktop sites, mobile responsiveness seems not very optimal. It has a performance score of 63.

fastest WordPress Themes

Pingdom Performance Score – 93

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 94%

YSlow – 90%

fastest WordPress Themes

Image scaling seems to be not very optimal according to GTmetrix. This could cause scalability issues as traffic grows on the website. The server should be able to serve multiple clients with the same scaled images.

Ocean WP

With over 2.9 million downloads, Ocean WP is a super popular theme. OceanWP is eCommerce ready. WooCommerce integration empowers eCommerce. It has an intuitive design, built-in SEO and is translation and RTL ready.

Some design features that will be appreciated by websites that are looking at eCommerce are

  1. Native Cart Pop up
  2. A floating add to cart button
  3. Off-Canvas Filter
  4. Quick View

A number of popular page builders are also supported – Elementor, Brizy, Visual Composer, King Composer, Divi, Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect, and Site Origin. Support is available under online ticketing for normal users. With a priority upgrade – Professional Support ($29/3 months) and Ultimate Support($99/year) – there is faster and extensive support.

OceanWP uses extensions (plugins) to improve functionality. There are 15 in total. A few notable ones are

  1. Stick Anything – Attach text or media to the website
  2. Pop-up login – A login/register plugin
  3. Cookie Notice – Informs user about cookie usage according to regulations
  4. Ocean Hooks – Adding custom content to the theme
  5. Custom Sidebar – Generates unlimited sidebars to use in the website.

Pro-only features include premium extensions, priority support, and exclusive demos.

There are 3 pricing plans.

  1. Personal ($39/year) – 1 Website
  2. Business ($79/year) – 3 Websites
  3. Agency ($129/year) – 25 Websites

Now to the speed tests…

Google Developer Speed Test – Score 90


fastest WordPress Themes

Mobile website produces a suboptimal speed of 53%. This is mostly owing to the size and format of the graphic content.

Pingdom Performance Score – 87

The only parameters flagged for bad quality are cookie-usage and frequency of HTTPS requests.

fastest WordPress Themes

GTmetrix:

Page Speed – 99%

YSlow – 96%

Shows very promising results with highly optimised images and minified CSS/JS.

fastest WordPress Themes

StudioPress Themes

StudioPress offers a variety of theme packages with different functionalities. The Genesis platform brings all of them together. StudioPress has over 200,000 active users and is installed on over 500,000 websites. Genesis takes the approach of a simplistic design with theme packages or child themes (analogous to templates and demos) for flexibility.

Genesis is a search engine optimized with schema.org. With Genesis, there is unlimited support for 1 full year. There is also no cap on the number of websites supported. After the year to continue with the same support and features you will need to upgrade to Genesis Pro.

WordPress sites are among the most targeted and vulnerable to malware attacks. Genesis promises state of the art security that has adopted all the best WordPress security practices. Any update can be done in a matter of 1-click.

Customization to the Genesis website can be done with widgets and theme options. Site functionality is broken down into widgets. Some custom widgets that are worth noting are

  1. User Profile – Display an avatar, bio, and about page.
  2. Featured Posts – Specific posts can be pinned with a thumbnail
  3. Featured Page- Specific pages can be pinned with a thumbnail

But there are some exclusive features for Genesis Pro. Some great ones are

  1. Premium Child Themes – All premium only Child themes with support
  2. Free hosting – For one full year you get free hosting for 1 website (with no automatic billing for the next year).
  3. Custom Blocks and Layouts – Collection of blocks, content sections, and layouts that are customizable.
  4. Unlimited Websites – The Pro Plugin can be used on unlimited websites.

But the prices are at the higher end of the spectrum. The Genesis framework by itself costs $59.95. It comes with unlimited updates and websites. Complete support for 1 year. Genesis Pro costs $360/year. It brings the full collection of child themes, site builder plugins, blocks collection, and tech support.

Now to the speed tests…

Google Developer Speed Test – Score 79

The demo website from studio press generates a mediocre score of 79 in the google developer tools page speed test. This is largely attributed to an unrelated layout shift during an event.

fastest WordPress Themes

Pingdom Performance Score – 84

fastest WordPress Themes

Pingdom flags the site to be using a little too many HTTP requests that can be improved.

Otherwise, the site seems to have exceptional responsiveness.

GTmetrix

Page Speed – 99%

YSlow – 93%

The site does exceptionally well here generating a 99% score in the page speed test.

fastest WordPress Themes

Conclusion

It is important to keep in mind that the speed of the theme is dependant on a lot of factors. Although the basic versions of the themes that were tested were mostly similar in size and graphic content, they still differ.

So, it is very important that you choose the correct WordPress theme to maximize speed. But it is not enough to only do that. The images/videos used, their size and format, what plugins are used, how many are used, how complex the functionalities are, time and location all matter.

It’s time to choose one from the list of best WordPress themes and build a blazing fast and efficient WordPress website today!

You Might Like These Popular WordPress Queries:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the fastest AMP compatible WordPress themes?

AMP compatibility makes websites a lot faster on mobile devices. If your service is aimed at mobile users AMP compatibility is a must. It is hard to evaluate the best AMP themes, but a few really fast AMP themes are:

  • Kadence
  • Newspaper
  • Pinna
  • Astra
  • Generate Press

2. What are the fastest WordPress themes for Elementor?

Elementor is a popular page builder that allows customization and the addition of elements in an existing theme. Lots of newer WordPress themes support Elementor. A few fast WordPress themes that support Elementor are:

  • Astra
  • Generate Press
  • OceanWP
  • Neve
  • Atmosphere Pro
  • Sizzify

3. Fastest WooCommerce themes

WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It makes setting up an online store a piece of cake. It is the most popular e-commerce plugin in town and a few fast themes that are highly compatible with it are:

  • Astra
  • OceanWP
  • Online Shop Pro
  • Outfitter Pro
  • Shoptimizer

4. What makes WordPress themes slow?

A great question. As we talked about in the article, WordPress themes depend on a number of factors. A few important ones are:

  • Too much visual Content and graphics that take up space.
  • Too many dependencies like jQuery, log dash, and other libraries.
  • Complicated Scripting – PHP in case of WordPress themes
  • Un-Minified of CSS and JS

5. Fastest WordPress themes as per different Online Communities?

Most online communities are very split when it comes to this. But still here are a few threads, for discussions on fast WordPress themes.

  • Reddit – Astra, Generate Press, and Genesis Framework
  • Quora – Genesis, Flexia
  • Twitter – Talk about testing and the WordPress themes market.

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