Fastest free WordPress themes 2019 – performance research
Gijs Hovens, February 14, 2019
Are you looking for free, fast WordPress themes? Then it’s a good thing you’re here! That means you think speed is important for your website.
You’re right about that. Google and Akamai research also confirm that speed is important for your organic ranking and your conversion rate. In this article, we’ve tested the 30 most popular free WordPress themes for speed and accessibility.
A number of themes that are doing very well stand out, while some others fall by the wayside.
Let’s get straight down to the nitty-gritty. Here’s the ranking of the fastest free WordPress themes:
|Ranking||Theme||TTFB (sec.)||Fully Loaded Time (sec.)||Size of page (in kb)||Requests||Google PageSpeed Mobile||Google PageSpeed Desktop||Lighthouse Perf. Mobile||Accessibility||Best Practices|
|25||VW Event Planner||0,7||2,0||633||19||85||96||92||83||87|
Which free WordPress themes are the fastest? – 2019 edition
WordPress’s own themes: all Twenty themes are fast. The more recent Twenty themes are also better accessible. We also recommend the Astra, Zakra, GeneratePress, Customify, Neve, and Color Mag themes.
Do you want to get started with improving all the things that contribute to a faster website? Then read our Ultimate checklist for speeding up your WordPress website.
We selected the themes from the official WordPress.org theme repository. We sorted them by popularity and included the top 30 themes in the test.
We installed WordPress 5.0.3 on a Savvii Shared One package together with the Savvii hosting plugin. We then installed the themes on top of that. We activated and tested the themes one by one.
For testing, we disabled our caching, so we could see how fast a theme was. In reality, these themes will load faster on a clean WordPress website with our caching on.
We used webpagetest.org, Google PageSpeed, and Google Lighthouse as research tools.
To measure speed as reliably as possible, we conducted nine tests for each theme on webpagetest.org. From these nine tests, we used the median as the result.
Via webpagetest.org, we measured Time To First Byte (TTFB), Fully Loaded Time, page size, and the number of requests. We sent a ‘Cache-control: no-cache’ header to disable the cache and opted for ‘Stop at document complete’.
Google PageSpeed Insights
With Google PageSpeed Insights, we measured the scores for mobile and desktop views. This score indicates the extent to which the website is optimized. A high score means that there’s a lot of optimization, while a low score indicates that there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
With the Google Lighthouse browser tool, we measured the scores for four components: mobile performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO. For SEO, all themes received the same score, so we didn’t include the results in the table. Because Yoast SEO wasn’t installed, and, therefore, a meta description tag was missing, all themes attained a maximum SEO score of 91.
For device, we chose ‘mobile’, and for audits, we went with ‘performance’, ‘best practices’, ‘accessibility’, and ‘SEO’. For throttling, we chose ‘no throttling’. We also ticked ‘clear storage’.
How do you choose the best theme?
We’ve already tested a lot of things. Speed, accessibility, and responsiveness are all very important. Do you want to know how to choose the best theme for your situation? Then read our free white paper on how to choose the most appropriate theme.
There are so many WordPress themes available with different features and performance that it’s difficult to choose if you don’t know where to start.
In the white paper, you’ll find solutions for problems that WordPress users experience when choosing a theme. You’ll be shown how to choose the best WordPress theme for your situation with step-by-step instructions.
To give you a peek behind the curtain: there are four things you have to pay special attention to when choosing a theme that we tell more about in the white paper.
The speed of your website is very important. Thus, you’ll want to choose a theme that results in a fast website. Why is speed important?
The speed of your website is an important ranking factor on Google. Faster sites end up higher in the search results.
In addition, a faster website results in better user experience and a higher conversion rate. You do not want to miss out on these advantages by choosing a slow theme.
Less is more
When choosing a theme, it’s wise to look carefully at the functionalities that a theme has to offer. You’re often tempted by dozens of options and possibilities. The trick is to choose a theme with only the functionalities that you really need.
Why? The more functionalities a theme contains, the heavier and slower the theme becomes. You don’t want to give up speed and security for functionalities that you don’t actually need.
A theme can be quick and contain the exact functionalities you need, but that’s not the only thing you need to assess a theme on. The quality of the theme also needs to be guaranteed. Things like SEO friendly, updates, browser support, accessibility and W3C validation are all important.
Certain themes can pass quality control better than others. How do you rate a theme in terms of quality? Check the white paper.
To measure = to know
It’s advisable to make a rational choice based on scores. We secretly already know all this, although we don’t always act accordingly. Don’t be led astray too easily by the layout or the feeling that a theme evokes.
Determine what kind of theme you need and follow the first three principles. Then look at the list above for which themes have achieved the best results, and bingo: you’ll have found the best theme for your WordPress website!
With this list and the tips we’ve given, you’ll definitely find a theme that fits your website. Your choices are vast, and there are clear distinctions among all the free WordPress themes.
Still not successful? Maybe one of our partners or customers can help develop a custom theme. We know our customers well, so feel free to call or mail us for a tip!