With over 10,000 WordPress themes available, it can be quite overwhelming to find the best WordPress theme to meet your needs. A lot of beginners start out by choosing the best-looking demo with all the bells and whistles, however this is often a poor choice as these themes tend to be bloated with code that will slow your website's load time down substantially. With Google using website speed as a ranking factor, you need to ensure your site loads within 3 seconds.
So, what are some of the key requirements you should be looking for?
Depending on your hosting company and the content you add to your chosen theme, along with any optimisations you make - you won't know what your final load time will be. What you can do is select a fast loading theme with a clean code base as best practice and then go from there. You can check the speed by entering their demo site’s URL into GTmetrix. Here are the main things you should be looking for:
Fully Loaded Time - the lower the better (your finished website needs to load in under 3 seconds).
Total Page Size - the lower the better (your finished website needs to not exceed 2MB).
Requests - the lower the better (your finished website ideally will not exceed 80)
Most WordPress themes are responsive these days, but there are still a few sellers who are releasing fixed width layouts that are not mobile friendly AT ALL. Don't just take their word for it, run their demo theme's URL through Google's Mobile Friendly Test page.
Most WordPress theme developers will test their themes thoroughly by using sophisticated browser compatibility testing tools. Don’t just take their word for it, run through some basic tests yourself by checking their demo site on different browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. on both desktop and mobile.
Make sure that you check the WordPress theme has good documentation and support options. Most premium WordPress themes offer detailed documentation with 1 year of email-based support. Don’t just believe what they say, check customer reviews for feedback around their support and anything else that may stand out.
We have tested and hand-picked what we believe are the best WordPress themes as of 2019.
Here is a snapshot of the speed test results:
With more than 100,000 active installs, Astra is one of the most popular free themes available in the WordPress.org theme directory. There is also a premium version available which provides you with even more customisation options such as;
Customify is a highly-customisable, ultra-flexible, WordPress theme. Responsive, lightweight, and fast loading, the Customify theme is SEO optimised and comes with personalised e-mail support.
With different layouts, content options, and features to choose from, there are multiple options that will work for any business or industry.
Another theme that was built with speed in mind. Speed testing with a blank canvas page resulted in load times of: 0.536s!
Hestia is a multi-purpose WordPress theme for business websites and eCommerce stores. It is compatible with almost all top WordPress plugins, so you can add any feature on your website easily. It is a responsive, fast, and SEO friendly theme.
Although not as fast as the first 3, still pretty impressive with a blank canvas page speed test loading in: 0.775s.
OceanWP is a free, multipurpose WordPress theme that lets you build beautiful looking websites with WordPress. The free version comes with 7 free extensions but OceanWP also comes with 11 premium extensions that you can purchase to give you further control.
Although not as fast as the first 3, still pretty impressive with a blank canvas page speed test loading in: 0.827s.
As we can see, there are some really fast WordPress themes available that perform very well. Obviously the content you add to your site will have an impact, along with any additional plugins you install, but at least by choosing one of the faster themes you can start your site on solid foundations.
Page speed is important for SEO, and is just one of the requirements that will help you move up in search rankings while keeping your bounce rate down from visitors who don't have the patience for your page to load.
If you need help speeding up your WordPress site or have any other related issue, contact us to see how we can help.