7 Fastest WordPress Themes [In Depth 2021 Review]

Are you looking for the fastest WordPress themes for your website? You’ve come to the right place.

Not every WordPress theme is a good choice for your website. Many of the free WordPress themes, in particular, are bloated, slow, and not user-friendly.

It’s essential that your chosen WordPress theme performs fast and makes the best first impression on your audience. To help you get the best WordPress theme for your site, we have narrowed down the fastest WordPress themes in this article.

We have tried out a wide variety of WordPress themes and testing all of them by:

  1. Using the same server for each theme’s speed testing so that we can focus on the speed of the theme.
  2. Using new installations for each theme.
  3. Using four different speed tests.

How We Tested the Fastest WordPress Themes

Going through the WordPress repository, we started testing various themes by doing the following:

  1. Installing and activating the theme on a blank WordPress sandbox hosted on SiteGround. We didn’t want other plugins and scripts to interfere with the WordPress theme. We chose SiteGround WordPress hosting to imitate what the average affiliate marketer uses.
  2. Making sure the theme is as it is, with no posts, pages, scripts, menus, or media attached. We only tested the homepage or root URL to ensure every theme is on a level playing field.
  3. Making sure there was no content delivery network (CDN) or other caching before testing.
  4. Running the theme through the Pingdom Speed Test.
  5. Running the theme through the GTMetrix Speed Test.
  6. Running the theme through the PageSpeed Insights Test to determine mobile speed.
  7. Running the theme through the Byte Check TTFB (time to first byte) Test.
  8. Making sure the tests are as fair as possible by maintaining data hygiene at every checkpoint.
    1. This means we deleted GTmetrix, Pingdom, PageSpeed, and Byte Check TTFB data for each theme immediately after we ran a speed test.

We made sure to run the theme through four tests to understand better how well the theme works on different platforms (such as computers versus mobile) and page sizes.

Here’s what each of the tests does:

Pingdom Speed Test

The Pingdom Speed Test measures the following to determine a website’s speed:

  • Load Time: The lower the better. This is the time it takes Pingdom to load the webpage with the theme installed.
  • Performance Grade: Scored out of 100%, the higher the better. You will get a lower grade if the content size is too large and there are too many errors, redirects, and requests.
  • Page Size: This is the size of all your site’s files. The larger your theme is, the larger the page size will be, and the slower the site will be.
  • Requests: This is the number of server requests needed to deliver the theme and site content to the user. The fewer the better.

GTMetrix Speed Test

Similar to the Pingdom Speed Test, GTMetrix checks out performance issues. It helps determine which themes are too cluttered and slow.

Although both speed tests’ variables and tests overlap slightly, we decided to run both Pingdom and GTMetrix to make sure our results are accurate.

GTMetrix provides the following important metrics:

  • YSlow Score: Scored out of 100%, GTMetrix determines this score by crawling the website and comparing it against a list of 23 rules. The developers drew these rules from Yahoo’s rules for high-performing websites. Several factors are crucial to the YSlow Score, such as JavaScript, CSS, DNS lookups, and cookie sizes.
  • PageSpeed Score: Scored out of 100%, GTMetrix calculates this score by looking at the speed of redirects, image optimization, JavaScript, and more.
  • Requests: The lower the better. The higher the number of requests sent to the server for the theme site files, the slower the site will run.
  • Fully Loaded Time: This is how long it takes for GTMetrix to load the theme. Once again, the lower, the better. We’re aiming for under 2 seconds.
  • Total Page Size: The larger the theme file, the slower the website.

PageSpeed Insights Test

Google’s PageSpeed Insights shows you how quickly the user sees the content. It also pinpoints which parts of the theme contribute to slower delivery times.

We only used mobile analysis for this test, since other tests, such as GTMetrix and Pingdom, already covered desktop speeds.

We focused on the following attributes:

  • Overall Score: Scored out of 100%, this considers factors such as idle timing, time to deliver content, and speed index.
  • Speed Index (visible population for all content): This looks at how much time has elapsed for every single content item to reach the user. The lower the better.
  • First Image or Text: This is how much time it takes for your website and theme to show the first content item. Once again, lower is preferable.
  • Time to Become Fully Interactive: Note that interactivity is different from visibility. For instance, a button may be visible, but may not be clickable until later. This should be longer than the Speed Index, but it should not be that far behind.

Byte Check TTFB

The Byte Check or TTFB test measures the duration from the user’s browser making an HTTP request to the server’s return of the first byte. In other words, it measures how long it takes for the site to deliver the smallest bit of information.

This is a good indicator of the responsiveness of the webserver and resources that serve your site.

This is what we looked at for the Byte Check test:

  • Time to First Byte: Measured in milliseconds, this is how long it takes for the user to get the first byte of data.
  • Total Header Size: The bigger the theme’s header, the longer it will take to load. Check if your WordPress theme has a big header. If it does, it may not be what you’re looking for.
  • Total Time: The total time is usually the same since we’re using the same WordPress host for all of our tests.
  • Request Size: The request size is the size of the data sent through the HTTP request. In our tests, this factor remained the same.

We concluded that the following were the fastest WordPress themes for 2021:

Fastest WordPress Themes

  1. Elementor Hello
  2. Generate Press
  3. Schema
  4. Ocean WP
  5. Neve
  6. Twenty Nineteen
  7. The Skin
screenshot of hello wordpress theme
screenshot hello wordpress theme

#1 Elementor Hello

This is a theme built using the Elementor Page Builder, which many use to build a WordPress site without any code.

Available as a free download, Elementor Hello is lightweight and simplistic. It combines well with many popular add-ins such as WooCommerce, Yoast, and more.

Elementor Hello is the fastest theme on this list. The scores reflect this.

  • PageSpeed: 100%
  • YSlow: 98%
  • Total page size: 15 KB
  • Load time: 1.4 s
  • HTTP requests: 8

Pros:

  • Free through Elementor
  • Minimalistic and simple theme files, so it is one of the fastest loading themes on this list
  • Perfect for those who want to or are using Elementor, an easy-to-use code-free click-and-drag page builder
  • Mobile version, like its desktop sibling, has a smooth interface and is extremely user-friendly.
    • Your customers and potential customers will not be confused when they arrive on your Elementor Hello homepage
  • Has great built-in tools for designing landing pages
  • Responsive design for all devices
  • Create translated and multilingual pages and sites with RTL support
  • Has a strong following and online resources, so it’s easy to get the help you need when using this theme

Cons:

  • Unusable if you don’t have Elementor
  • No sidebars or design options
  • Not a good choice if you’re looking for an “all-in-one” WordPress theme

All in all, Elementor Hello is a great pick if you want a light, easy-to-create website. Its Pagespeed, YSlow, and Pingdom scores are impressive and it only has 8 requests from Pingdom and GTMetrix. If you add plugins to the site, that may change, but this is a good starting point.

However, if you don’t have Elementor and don’t want to pay for it, this may not be the best choice for you. It may not also be your best pick if you’re looking for a more flexible and customizable theme, since Elementor Hello does not have sidebars or design options.

screenshot neve

#2 Neve

Created by Themeisle, Neve is highly customizable. If you’re looking for a WordPress theme that is mobile-first and mobile-friendly, look no further. Neve has strong AMP support and a focus on speed.

Fully optimized for search engines, Neve is easily one of the best themes on this list.

Let’s take a look at the main stats:

  • Page Speed: 100%
  • YSlow: 98%
  • Load time: 2.0 s
  • Total page size: 26.7 KB
  • HTTP requests: 8

Pros:

  • Free, with premium versions starting at $49
  • Highly customizable
  • Works well with WooCommerce
  • Lightweight files
  • Works with Elementor
  • Mobile-first
  • Flexible structure
  • Compatible with AMP for creating a user-first interface
  • Library of template demos to launch your website within minutes

Cons:

  • The demos could be more diverse
  • Slight learning curve
  • Support is not as readily available as some other themes

In general, Neve is a powerful, futuristic theme that works wonderfully on tablets and mobile phones. If you’re looking for a highly customizable experience. Neve is for you. You can code it as well as use it with page builders such as Elementor.

screenshot GeneratePress

#3 Generate Press

Generate Press is the WordPress theme for over 80,000 customers. Flexible and easy to use, you do not need to know a lot of code to install it.

Let’s take a look at the main stats:

  • PageSpeed: 100%
  • YSlow: 95%
  • Load time: 1.8 s
  • Total page size: 39 KB
  • HTTP requests: 13

Pros:

  • Light on the coding
  • Lets you customize the site using the native WordPress interface, so you don’t have to learn a new UI
  • Performs excellently even with add-ins
  • Great templates (including free ones)
  • Core theme is free – premium themes are well priced
  • Great customization

Cons:

  • Relative lack of support since it’s made by a sole developer
  • Lack of drag and drop support page builders, so you will have to rely more on coding

We highly recommend Generate Press as one of the fastest and most efficient themes on the market. Even when all its modules are active, this theme runs faster than others on this list, such as Twenty Nineteen.

However, this theme may not be for you if you prefer to use a page builder such as Elementor, since Generate Press does not work with page builders. Although you will have to learn a bit of coding to put the site together, Generate Press is light on the coding and the learning curve is not as steep as initially appears.

Schema is among the fastest wordpress themes.
screenshot schema

#4 Schema

The Schema WordPress theme is amongst the fastest WordPress themes. Aggressively minimalistic and easy to use, it is a popular choice for text-heavy sites such as blogs.

Let’s take a look at the main stats:

  • Page Speed: 94%
  • YSlow: 84%
  • Load Time: 2.0 s
  • Page Size: 151 KB
  • HTTP requests: 17

Pros:

  • Simplified design optimized for fast loading
  • Options panel with diverse picks that allows you to customize the theme easily
  • Includes rich snippets for search engine boost
  • Themes work with third-party plugins
  • Support forum
  • Great for blogging and text-heavy sites
  • One-click import and export options, so you can import the demo content for layouts on MyThemeShop

Cons:

  • Text-heavy, so would not work well for an image-heavy or image-focused site
  • May be too minimalistic for some
  • Customization options could be more easily accessible

In general, Schema is an excellent choice for those who want to prioritize function and efficiency over aesthetics. Although it is highly customizable, Schema is primarily a text-heavy theme, so we won’t recommend it for those who want to make a portfolio or image-heavy site.

#5 OceanWP

OceanWP is another lightweight and highly extendable WordPress theme. With it, you will be able to create any kind of website, including WooCommerce storefronts, business websites, blogs, and more.

Let’s take a look at the main stats:

  • Page Speed: 98%
  • YSlow: 85%
  • Load Time: 2.5 s
  • Page Size: 335 KB
  • HTTP requests: 27

Pros:

  • Free, but you can also pay for a premium version
  • Very fast and responsive
  • Promotes SEO practices
  • Unique WooCommerce features
  • RTL and translation ready
  • Extendable codebase
  • Looks great on smaller devices
  • Works well with page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, and King Composer

Cons:

  • Quite a bit slower than some of our other picks
  • Mobile speed can be concerning. Here are our states for PageSpeed insights for mobile:
    • Overall Score: 86
    • First Image or Text: 3.1 s
    • Speed Index: 3.8 s
    • Time to Become Fully Interactive: 3.3 s

All in all, OceanWP is an excellent free theme. However, it is one of the slower WordPress themes on this list, particularly its mobile version. If you’re looking to provide a streamlined mobile experience, OceanWP may not be your best pick.

#6 Twenty Nineteen

Twenty Nineteen was the default WordPress theme of 2019. More versatile than it initially appears, it is mobile responsive and minimalist.

Let’s take a look at the main stats:

  • Page Speed: 99%
  • YSlow: 97%
  • Load Time: 1.6 s
  • Page Size: 45 KB
  • HTTP requests: 29

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to install
  • Focus is on the power of the block editor

Fully supports the WordPress editor

  • Supports a site logo
  • Allows you to focus on typography
  • Compatible with Elementor

Cons:

  • May be too basic for some
  • Not as text-heavy as Schema, but may still be too text-heavy for some

Twenty Nineteen is an excellent pick for those who are just starting and those who want something basic and easy to use. Easy to learn how to use, Twenty Nineteen works well with Elementor to use this theme even if you don’t know how to code.

However, it is not the fastest compared to other picks on this list. Twenty Nineteen had 29 HTTP requests during our tests, which is the highest number of HTTP requests on this list. As such, it may not always load quickly.

screenshot Skin

#7 The Skin

The Skin is a tightly coded and responsive WordPress theme. Its developers say it is optimized for search engines based on current best practices.

It comes with three basic layouts, which you can customize to suit your needs.

Let’s take a look at the main stats:

  • Page Speed: 98%
  • YSlow: 88%
  • Load Time: 2.1 s
  • Page Size: 211 KB
  • HTTP requests: 22

Pros:

  • Three basic layouts
  • Translation ready, including right-to-left language support
  • Child theme ready: you can customize this theme as you like and files to create a basic child theme come with the theme
  • Free with free updates
  • Has a lot of customizable options, but you need to install the Kirki plugin (free) for WordPress to access most of them

Cons:

  • Can be hard to learn to use at first
  • Could have more demos and templates
  • Not as mobile-friendly as some other themes

The Skin is easily one of the best and fastest WordPress themes on this list. It’s great for photography sites, SEO-friendly sites, blogs, and more. You can customize it as you see fit. Fast, streamlined, and user-friendly, The Skin is packed with great functions.

However, The Skin is not as fast as it could be. Compared to many of the other choices on this list, it has a lot of HTTP requests. Further, it is not as mobile-friendly as some of our other picks on this list.

Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

Conclusion

Overall, Elementor Hello is the fastest WordPress theme for all platforms. It has the smallest number of HTTP requests and the overall highest stats.

However, all of our picks for the fastest WordPress themes are great. Think about what you need for your company and website and see which one of our selections works best for you.

We wish you the best of luck in locating the fastest WordPress theme for your site.

Related article: How to Install WordPress [2021 Best WordPress Guide for Absolute Beginners]

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