You want to create a WordPress website and you're wondering what you should pay special attention to? We say: Speed! With a fast WordPress theme you ultimately lay the foundation for how quickly your website loads.
In this article you'll find out why a fast WordPress theme is so important, which factors affect the loading time and which themes perform best in terms of speed. For a more in-depth report on performance, check out our article Making WordPress faster: The best tips for more performance. It's also available as an e-book to download.
What experience have you had with the themes from our list? Do you know any other lean WordPress themes? Feel free to share your feedback in the comments at the end of this post.
Why is a fast WordPress theme so important?
The speed of a WordPress theme has a great impact on the experience of visitors to your website. This in turn also affects the ranking of your site in the search engines and thus your visibility.
- User experience: When users visit your website, they want to access your content as quickly as possible. If the site loads slowly, they won't like it and will leave.
- SEO ranking: Google also takes into account how responsive your website is. After all, the search engine wants users to find answers to their search queries as quickly as possible. A fast WordPress theme with short loading times can therefore have a positive effect on the ranking and help you generate more organic traffic.
- Conversion rate: A good performance of your website ultimately leads to a higher conversion rate. It ensures that your visitors can easily interact with your site to, for example, download content, sign up for a subscription, book a course or buy a product.
What sets the fastest WordPress themes apart?
When we talk about fast WordPress themes, we mean how long it takes for your website and its content to load. Experience shows that the loading time should not be more than three seconds. At this point, users become impatient. Ideally, you should aim for less than two seconds.
In most cases, longer loading times may also be acceptable – if your website offers a high added value for visitors, for example. In addition to the complete loading time of a website, the following values are particularly relevant:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP): This refers to how long it takes for the first element with content to be displayed on the page. This could be a text or image, for example. It's the first view that visitors receive when they access the page. A fast load time is important so users see your website has something to offer.
- Time to Interactive (TTI): This is about how much time elapses before users can interact with the page, e.g. click on elements. This factor shows users that the website is working.
Other important metrics are the Core Web Vitals, which Google uses as important factors to measure the user experience and quality of a website. These have a major impact on ranking and include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric shows how much time elapses before the largest visible element (usually the main content) of a site is displayed.
- First Input Delay (FID): This measures how quickly a website responds to the first interaction, for example when a user clicks on a button or link.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This parameter describes how much the page content shifts during or after loading. It can happen, for example, that an image loaded later changes the text layout. This value thus provides information about the visual stability of a website.
What influences speed?
The theme sets the basis for the performance of your WordPress website. When choosing a theme, make sure that it has been developed or programmed with high quality. The fastest WordPress themes are characterized by the following features:
- Few HTTP requests: Unnecessary HTTP requests increase the server load and thus the loading process.
- Optimal page size: The page size is influenced not only by the code but also by elements such as images and content. The smaller the page size, the faster the page loads.
Besides the themes, however, there are many other factors that affect the speed of your website:
- Load weight: This is the amount of data that is transferred when the website is loaded. The number and size of images and videos in particular have a major influence on this. To reduce the loading weight and thus the loading time, heavy data should be compressed. WordPress plugins like Optimus help you with this, among others.
- Caching: Caching is a good way to reduce load times and server requests. With caching, the data of the website is stored temporarily. When the website is called up again, the data from the cache is accessed directly instead of sending a new request. As a result, the page loads significantly faster. The function can be activated via a plugin (e.g. WP Super Cache). Hosting providers such as Raidboxes also offer caching directly on the server side – making an additional plugin unnecessary.
- Plugins: Don't use too many plugins because they can also have a negative effect on the speed. Always only install the plugins you really need, pay attention to good quality and regularly remove ones you're no longer using.
- Hosting: One of the most important factors when it comes to speed is your WordPress hosting. For your website to perform well, it's best to rely on a specialized WordPress hosting provider with fast and reliable servers.
Faster load times for WordPress
The fastest WordPress themes in comparison
We've collected the ten fastest WordPress themes for you below. Good news: For speed you often don't have to dig deep into your pockets as many of the best WordPress premium themes can be downloaded for free.
By the way: In our blog post on the best free WordPress themes, we give you an overview of which templates you should take a closer look at if you're building your website on a tight budget.
In the list of the fastest WordPress themes, GeneratePress is a must. The theme focuses on minimalism to get the maximum performance, speed and user experience out of it.
- GeneratePress impresses with very lean and clean code.
- The lightweight theme has a page size of just 7.5 KB.
- With only 2 HTTP requests, the data of your website is transferred very quickly in the basic version.
- At the same time, the theme is very flexible so it can be used to implement a wide variety of websites, blogs, stores, etc.
- The theme is compatible with all popular WordPress page builders and plugins.
Price: free, premium version for $59 annually or one-time $249
Neve has rightly taken the lead among the best WordPress themes. Because like GeneratePress, this theme also relies on a sleek yet versatile design. If you want to improve the mobile speed of your website in particular, this theme is a good choice.
- The search engine optimized code ensures a good ranking on Google.
- The theme is AMP-optimized and thus also offers the best user experience on mobile through fast loading times.
- Overall, Neve is a very responsive WordPress theme, which ensures your website performs well and quickly on any device.
- In addition, Neve supports numerous page builders, including Elementor, and also provides an interface for WooCommerce.
Price: free, premium version from $99 annually
Both beginners and developers will get their money's worth with OceanWP. The flexible multi-purpose theme offers you, in addition to the free version, numerous extensions so you can customize your site as you like.
- Overall, the lightweight theme delivers very good rates in loading times. We only have to deduct a few points for the mobile speed.
- As a fully responsive theme, OceanWP delivers what it promises and impresses with a good user experience even on small devices.
- You can also turn your website into an online store with OceanWP through WooCommerce.
- Moreover, it supports all popular WordPress page builders to customize your site further.
Price: free, premium version from $43 annually or one-time $222
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4. Kadence WP
Thanks to its versatile starter templates and layout options, Kadence WP is one of the most popular WordPress themes among those who want to get creative with their website design. At the same time, it's one of the fastest themes in our ranking.
- In the Core Web Vitals, Kadence WP performs very well across the board.
- By default, the theme uses the pre-installed WordPress editor Gutenberg, which can be easily upgraded via Kadence extensions.
- Kadence WP is also compatible with other page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder.
- With the WooCommerce plugin you can also create powerful online stores.
- Use lightweight pop-ups, banners, and sliders to drive up conversion rates.
Price: free of charge, premium version from $129 annually or one-time $699
Astra has earned its place as one of the fastest WordPress themes on several levels. You can set up all kinds of websites in no time and they perform well too.
- The Astra theme is characterized by a neat and clean code.
- Despite the many demos, speed tests provide very good results.
- The multi-purpose theme is in the good midfield with a page size of around 50 KB as well as 6 HTTP requests.
- You can flexibly use different page builders. Some demos are even designed specifically for individual page builder programs.
- In addition, you benefit from unique WooCommerce features.
Price: free, premium version from $59 annually or one-time $299
6. Hello Elementor
You're probably already familiar with the Elementor page builder, which allows you to create pages very easily using drag-and-drop. The theme Hello Elementor is also based on this principle – it should be as simple, flexible and uncomplicated as possible.
- Basically, the theme is a fairly empty template with very lean programming and simple design.
- As a result, it offers you a clean interface and great loading times.
- In combination with Elementor Page Builder and many popular plugins, you can extend your website as much as you want.
- The theme is very responsive on all devices.
Price: free, paid extensions
If you're looking for a powerful multi-purpose theme with a fast user interface, you'll find it in Zakra.
- In terms of speed, Zakra is in no way inferior to the best WordPress themes and usually loads within two seconds.
- Very lean websites can be created with the Core theme.
- The theme is optimized for search engines and mobile devices.
- It offers you some helpful integrations with page builders like Brizy and Elementor as well as plugins like Yoast SEO and WooCommerce.
Price: free, premium version from $69 annually or one-time $199
The block-based WordPress theme Blocksy makes it easy for beginners to build beautiful websites without programming skills. It's one of the fastest free themes of the CMS giant, which can be extended with paid, but quite affordable features.
- Blocksy was created using the latest web technologies and offers regular updates.
- The Core Web Vitals metrics are achieved by this lean theme without any problems.
- The responsive, customizable and SEO optimized theme will help you increase your conversions.
Price: free of charge, premium version from $49 annually or one-time $149
The WordPress theme Enfold comes with its own page builder and is an interesting alternative to the common block system. It may not be the fastest theme on the market, but it performs quite stable and reliable.
- The theme is very structured and neatly coded.
- It is regularly updated and offers support in languages other than English, e.g. German.
- Thanks to load time optimization, you can give your website a boost with Enfold.
- The theme follows a mobile-first approach and is highly responsive.
Price: from $59
Sydney is especially suitable for users, who are looking for a simple but professional design. The free theme offers you many premium features to make your small business grow.
- The small page size ensures short loading times.
- Optimization for search engines and mobile devices also ensures high speeds.
- With only 7 HTTP requests, Sydney is definitely one of the fastest WordPress themes.
- Sydney offers you the possibility to add a parallax effect. This allows you to visually enhance your images without slowing down your website with complicated features.
- The theme comes with unique WooCommerce features.
Price: free of charge, premium version from $69 annually
Conclusion: How to find the right theme for you
To increase your conversions and provide your website visitors with a good user experience, you should rely on a fast WordPress theme when building your website.
Here are a few tips on how to find the right theme for you:
- The first thing to consider is what kind of website you want to create. Depending on whether you want to build a blog, an online store, a private portfolio page or a complex business site, the theme must be able to perform specific functions.
- At first glance, multi-purpose themes are a good choice. With these you can easily create websites of all kinds. But be careful – make sure they are not overloaded with too many functions by default, otherwise they will become unnecessarily heavy. This has a negative effect on the loading times.
- For the best loading times, ideally you'd rather go for sleek and minimalist themes that only load your website with a small page size. Especially for rather small websites, a simple design is enough.
- Overall, you should choose only cleanly coded and tidy themes. This will ensure that your website loads stably and reliably.
- Think carefully about which functions you need. Most of the themes presented here are compatible with all common plugins, but always check in advance whether all desired extensions can really be installed. However, choose wisely so as not to overload your website.
- Of course, the look of the theme must suit you and your web project. However, this should not be at the expense of functionality. Therefore, always test the themes carefully.
- Find out which page builder the theme allows. For example, some templates are tailored to the Gutenberg editor, while Elementor's Hello theme naturally works best in combination with that page builder.
Last but not least, your budget also plays a role. Many of the fastest WordPress themes are available as a free version. To unlock even more features, get reliable support and benefit from regular security updates, the paid Pro version is often recommended.
For even more tips on choosing the right WordPress theme for you, check out our post 8 Tips for the Right WordPress Theme.
Frequently asked questions about fast WordPress themes
Why is a fast WordPress theme so important?
A fast WordPress theme is very important, especially for user experience. If a website loads slowly, there's a risk users will become dissatisfied and bounce. The speed is also an important ranking factor for Google and affects your conversions.
What influences the speed of a website?
For a website to load quickly, it should be cleanly coded, have an optimal page size and send as few HTTP requests as possible. In addition, you should only install really important plugins and use compression and caching functions, the latter ideally on the server side as with Raidboxes. Last but not least, it is important that you choose a reliable WordPress hosting provider.
How do you measure the speed of a website?
What matters here is how fast the website loads. One of the most important metrics is how long it takes for the first and largest elements to load and for the website to be ready for interactions. There are various tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights test to measure the respective values. You can read more about this in our post How to properly measure the loading time of your website.
How to find the fastest WordPress theme?
To find the fastest WordPress theme, you should pay attention to a sleek design and clean programming. With multi-purpose themes and extensive templates, you should ask yourself honestly which functions you really need and which extensions you can do without.