Fastest free WordPress themes of 2018

by: Gijs Hovens

Wordpress themes
You already know that a fast theme is important. Speed ensures better rankings on Google, better rankings in the Facebook Newsfeed and better conversion! We have evaluated the fastest free WordPress themes of 2018 for you.

Top 30 themes tested on speed

These themes all come from the WordPress.org theme repository and have thus already been checked in respect of coding quality and security. We tested the 30 most popular WordPress themes and evaluated them for you. Number 1 is the fastest and number 30 is the slowest theme on the list.

Theme name URL TTFB (caching off) Fully Loaded Time (caching off) TTFB (caching on) Fully loaded (caching on) Google PageSpeed Mobiel Score (caching on) Google PageSpeed Desktop Score
Twenty Ten https://wordpress.org/themes/twentyten/ 0.868 1.626 0.269 0.982 85 92
Twenty Eleven https://wordpress.org/themes/twentyeleven/ 0.926 1.731 0.268 0.908 85 92
Astra https://wordpress.org/themes/astra/ 0.909 1.83 0.289 1.211 84 92
OceanWP https://wordpress.org/themes/oceanwp/ 1.042 1.971 0.275 1.966 70 85
Writee https://wordpress.org/themes/writee/ 0.915 2.078 0.3 1.435 67 82
Colormag https://wordpress.org/themes/colormag/ 0.952 2.138 0.268 1.532 69 83
Spacious https://wordpress.org/themes/spacious/ 1.02 2.19 0.279 1.314 71 84
Twenty Twelve https://wordpress.org/themes/twentytwelve/ 0.947 2.23 0.273 1.84 69 84
Activation https://wordpress.org/themes/activation/ 1.179 2.284 0.272 1.541 71 86
Twenty Fourteen https://wordpress.org/themes/twentyfourteen/ 0.894 2.3 0.282 2.026 70 86
Twenty Seventeen https://wordpress.org/themes/twentyseventeen/ 0.88 2.302 0.308 1.188 71 85
Twenty Sixteen https://wordpress.org/themes/twentysixteen/ 0.865 2.306 0.27 1.413 68 87
Twenty Fifteen https://wordpress.org/themes/twentyfifteen/ 0.917 2.322 0.314 1.72 70 86
Twenty Thirteen https://wordpress.org/themes/twentythirteen/ 0.97 2.337 0.266 1.755 71 87
Shapely https://wordpress.org/themes/shapely/ 0.905 2.392 0.265 1.886 85 92
Storefront https://wordpress.org/themes/storefront/ 0.976 2.394 0.271 1.919 70 85
Primer https://wordpress.org/themes/primer/ 1.035 2.402 0.287 1.374 70 86
Magazine Point https://wordpress.org/themes/magazine-point/ 1.247 2.469 0.266 1.653 83 79
Flash https://wordpress.org/themes/flash/ 1.055 2.506 0.275 1.576 68 84
Total https://wordpress.org/themes/total/ 0.951 2.618 0.266 2.224 69 82
Consulting https://wordpress.org/themes/consulting/ 1.115 2.657 0.273 1.738 70 84
Peony https://wordpress.org/themes/peony/ 0.963 2.679 0.281 1.806 68 84
Anissa https://wordpress.org/themes/anissa/ 1.179 2.691 0.27 1.725 63 77
Shop Isle https://wordpress.org/themes/shop-isle/ 0.799 2.778 0.268 2.272 59 79
Onepress https://wordpress.org/themes/onepress/ 0.909 2.839 0.272 1.76 69 83
One Page Express https://wordpress.org/themes/one-page-express/ 0.981 2.885 0.275 1.984 70 86
Zerif- Lite https://wordpress.org/themes/zerif-lite/ 1.033 3.131 0.272 2.328 64 74
Hestia https://wordpress.org/themes/hestia/ 1.044 3.187 0.284 2.214 71 86
Sydney https://wordpress.org/themes/sydney/ 0.943 3.334 0.265 1.75 63 81
Kale https://wordpress.org/themes/kale/ 1.421 3.844 0.285 1.279 66 75

Which WordPress themes are the fastest?

It is striking that virtually every theme scores the same for Time To First Byte. However, a few themes fall short here. If speed is your most important requirement, you can forget about the Activation, Magazine Point and Kale themes.

If we look at the Fully Loaded Time, we see starker differences. Fully Loaded Time correlates with the scores of Google PageSpeed Insights. The old default themes of Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven perform well, as do Astra, OceanWP and Writee. Shapely and Magazine Point perform particularly well on the Google PageSpeed Insights score for mobile.

What is also clear is the great advantage of speed that is achieved if one no longer actively switches off Savvii full-page caching. Time To First Byte is then 3x as fast!

How did we test the themes?

All themes were tested with the webpagetest.org and Google PageSpeed Insights tools. Those provide a good insight into a website’s load time and areas for improvement in that regard. Would you like to test your website’s load time? Then read our blog about measuring website speed.

Reliability

To obtain the most reliable data, each test was repeated nine times with webpagetest.org. We used the median score in the analysis.

Validity

To obtain the best insight into the theme’s impact in terms of load time and Time To First Byte, we switched off our server-side caching at webpagetest.org by setting a no-cache header. To see how much faster the site became with this caching, we also repeated the test with Savvii full-page caching switched on. The Google PageSpeed Score was calculated without server-side caching.

All themes were tested in the same WordPress installation. This is a WordPress 4.8.1 website  with 100 messages and 10 pages. The website is equipped with Yoast SEO & Akismet plug-ins. The site operates on a Shared One package from Savvii Managed WordPress Hosting.

We tested the homepage, this page showed 1 post.

How do you select the best theme?

Naturally, speed is an important factor in selecting a theme, but certainly not the only one. Design, responsiveness, functionalities, accessibility and quality of code and support are important. We explain how take those factors into account in your choice in a whitepaper on selecting the right theme. Download the whitepaper for free!

Download our free white paper 'Choosing a WordPress theme'

Leave a reply

Get to know us better!