Every WordPress website has a theme, but they’re not built equally.
They come in all shapes and sizes, colours and flavours. It’s tough to know what you need, the difference between a potential feature and unneeded bloat. And this unknown has hurt many businesses. We will help you choose the fastest WordPress theme in this article.
In reality, the theme doesn’t need to do much more than provide structure and overarching styling. The rest should usually be accomplished with the page builder. And this is where themes typically become the biggest offender of slowing down websites, where non-optimized themes include extra requests, styles, and load items on pages where they’re not needed.
Our Recommended Themes
Our Fastest WordPress Theme of choice that we have found to be the fastest and best optimized is GeneratePress. This is a free theme available directly via WordPress, and has a paid plugin for additional features. This theme is less than 30kb, only does what it needs to do, and lets us quickly set up new sites with optimum performance in mind.
Astra Theme is another good contender. In our tests we have found that Astra is not as efficient as GeneratePress, resulting in more requests and larger file sizes. However, the performance is still very good, and the tradeoff here is additional feature options that might help you in designing a website from scratch without assistance.
The Hello Theme is designed specifically for the page builder Elementor, and is essentially a blank canvas to build on – so it is automatically lightweight. While we don’t recommend Elementor as the best page builder, if you are already using it, we do recommend the Hello theme.
Have a different theme you recommend or would like us to test? Let us know, we’d love to test it out and update this post with any impressive results.
How to Change Your WordPress Theme
When we are engaged to optimize a website, one of the first things we look at is the impact of the current theme on the site’s performance. It’s not uncommon for us to need to change the theme, and depending on the site, this can take a fair amount of work.
Changing the theme itself is as easy as adding the new theme (and it’s Child Theme) within the Theme menu under Appearance and activating it. This removes the styling the previous theme provided, so work will need to be done to bring it back to how it previously looked (or making improvements).
The first step is to go through all the settings the new theme provides, to ensure we’re not trying to use CSS to achieve something the theme itself can. Once this is done, we use CSS for any final touchups required.
That’s it. It’s not rocket science, but can be scary when your pages suddenly look broken when the theme changes. We always perform this work a test server where your website has been duplicated, to ensure it’s a clean swapover once complete, ensuring you have the fastest WordPress theme.
Best Practices For WordPress Themes
Use a Child Theme. If you don’t, when an update is made to your parent theme, you run the risk of losing your styling. Best practice is to use a child theme, and make your styling or function changes within it. Then any updates to the parent theme, such as security fixes, won’t impact your site.
Set styles and structure once, within the theme. Don’t edit each page or customise via CSS to achieve something that can be done at the theme level.