10 Lightning-Fast Free and Premium Themes
Having a fast website is usually one of the most important things webmasters rate as important to them. They will pay hundreds (or even thousands of dollars) on VPS web hosting packages that promise super-quick server response times. They will pay hundreds per year to a Content Delivery Network (like MaxCDN or CloudFlare) to create a super-quick cached-version of your website.
And then they will install a beautiful looking WordPress theme that–while looking amazing–is bloated and slows the entire website down. If the theme itself isn’t coded well, or quite simply has too many features, then no CDN or server response time will make a difference in your website’s load time.
We tested out some WordPress themes, and added a few plugins that are known to conflict and slow-down a low-quality WordPress theme: w3 Total Cache, Ewww Image Optimizer, Plugin Performance Profiler, and Recent Posts with Thumbnails.
1. Avada WordPress Theme
Avada is the ‘king of the mountain’ when it comes to WordPress themes. Why? It can be any kind of website: a news blog, e-commerce store, photography portfolio, fitness website…pretty much anything you can imagine.
With such versatility, you might think that the website is big, bloated and slow. But in our theme tests, we actually found Avada to be the fastest WordPress theme we could find.
Here is a screencap from our test with GTMetrix:
As you can see it scored a 90% with GTMetrix. And why did it lose points? It appears that on the demo, the images aren’t compressed. But if you install something like the Eww Image optimizer that we mentioned before, you’re Avada-installed website will likely score even higher.
Bottom Line: This is as good as it gets for lightning-quick WordPress themes. If you complement the Avada theme with a CDN, a caching plugin and an image-optimizing plugin, you’ll have a powerful, speedy website.
2. Enfold WordPress Theme
Enfold is another multi-purpose theme that manages to do a lot of things well. First off: you can make nearly any kind of website with it: a one-page restaurant website, a portfolio website, a wedding site, landing pages, and even a ‘Coming Soon’ page for when you aren’t quite ready to launch your site just yet.
As for the GTMetrix score, it looks like this:
There’s slightly more load time, and a few more requests than the Avada WordPress theme. The areas where it lost points? Again, the images weren’t compressed on the theme’s demo page (which is easily fixed).
Bottom Line: Enfold offers similar performance to Avada in terms of speed, with Avada winning out overall. Enfold does have more website-templates (i.e. Restaurant menu) that are great for non-coders that want to create their website quickly and easily.
3. Jupiter WordPress Theme
Jupiter is also a responsive, multi-purpose WordPress theme that can pretty much accommodate every kind of website that a customer could need.
It comes with a gob-smacking 80+ templates for you to built your website, and has a simplified back-end that lets you build posts and menus by dragging and dropping items as you please. A definitely plus for a super-beginner.
Now what’s interesting here is that the ‘Page Load Time‘ is actually less than the Avada theme. The reason is that the Jupiter Theme already has the images on their theme compressed for you. It’s a theme designed for super-beginners, so it’s not surprising that Jupiter has this feature already built in.
While it made up points in the image compression, it lost it in two categories: Remove query strings from static resources’ and “Avoid CSS @import”. Now the second one is problematic here, because a caching plugin won’t fix this problem for you. Unless you have someone with coding knowledge willing to work on this theme, it’s going to be there forever.
Bottom Line: That’s why we made Jupiter #3. Despite it scoring higher on the GTMetrix test, if you add a caching plugin to the #1 or #2 themes, they will outscore the Jupiter theme.