Top 10 Fastest WordPress Themes for Incredible Page Speed

A fast and lightweight theme can do wonders for improving your page speed – and ensuring your visitors will hang around long enough to read your content.

Last week we looked at ways to improve your Google PageSpeed Insights score. One of the recommended measures was choosing a quick theme that makes few HTTP requests.

Finding a fast theme, however, is no mean feat. Most themes available today are packed with features, such as parallax, social media and ginormous images, ensuring your site will struggle to get a score above 50 out of 100 on PageSpeed Insights.

But fast themes do exist. Below, I’ve ranked the 10 fastest themes I could find in order from slowest to fastest.

Is your theme fast? Tell us your theme’s PageSpeed Insights score in the comments below.

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Sparks

sparks

PageSpeed Insights score: 86
Cost: $59

Sparks is a flat and minimalist theme designed for agencies, business and portfolios.

It has a responsive design and, according to its developer, ThemeZilla, is “a nimble little theme which focuses on the task at hand” thanks to its bloat-free codebase.

Blox

blox

PageSpeed Insights score: 86
Cost: $59

Another ThemeZilla theme. This colorful, flat and responsive theme is aimed at designers who want to showcase their talent. Each of your projects sits in its own “block.”

Blox is also advertised as a “nimble theme” with a bloat-free codebase.

Trail

trail

PageSpeed Insights score: 87
Cost: $49

Trail is a multipurpose port olio theme that focuses on big images and lovely typography. It features a stunning parallax scrolling effect.

Despite the demo’s big images, Trail loads quickly and looks great on any device thanks to its responsive layout.

Skadi

skadi

PageSpeed Insights score: 89
Cost: $45

Skadi is a beautiful and responsive multipurpose parallax theme. It’s been built on the Twitter Bootstrap framework and includes a page builder.

Other features include eight different portfolio layouts and 11 blog layouts.

Spark

spark

PageSpeed Insights score: 90
Cost: $35

Spark isn’t a new theme (it was released in May 2012) but it is much quicker than most newer themes available.

This theme comes with a PHP-based delivery system which, the developer promises, will get you a 97 out 100 score on PageSpeed Insights. Maybe so, but the demo site can only reach 90 out of 100.

Feijoa

feijoa

PageSpeed Insights score: 90
Cost: Free

Did you know a Feijoa is a type of fruit, also known as a pineapple guava?

This unusual theme is super minimalist with an emphasis on text and typography, allowing it to load quickly.

Fable

fable

PageSpeed Insights score: 90
Cost: $69

Fable is a full-width blogging theme with a clean, beautiful design built for easy reading.

According to Elegant Themes, they use coding best practices to ensure their themes are fast and secure. Plus, their themes frequently undergo security audits.

Lucid

lucid

PageSpeed Insights score: 90
Cost: $69

Another Elegant Themes design in the top 10. Lucid is a responsive magazine theme with a clean and organized layout.

As mentioned above, Elegant Themes adheres to coding best practices to ensure their themes are fast and secure.

Swift

swift

PageSpeed Insights score: 95
Cost: From $57

It’s not the most eye-catching theme out there, but Swift is certainly one of the quickest.

Swift is fast, lightweight with speed its ultimate goal. The developers have created this theme with PageSpeed Insights in mind and it does perform well, also scoring highly on GTmetrix with 96 per cent.

Frank

frank

PageSpeed Insights score: 96
Cost: Free

Frank is an open source theme designed specifically for speed. This theme is certainly quick, and offers a light, responsive and unobtrusive reading experience.

The parent theme’s default homepage makes nine database queries and consists of two requests weighing ~29Kb (9.6Kb Gzipped).

Frank is bare bones – no Javascript frameworks or unnecessary images, just a simple, fast blogging theme.

Comments (20)

  1. Hi Raelene

    Thanks for including Swift in your recent list :)
    Regarding the comment about the look, our aim is to provide a plain canvas to users to make the customisation easy for them.

    We choose neutral colours which would go well with any other colours. So if some one want’s to change just the navigation colours, they can do so without worrying about it looking odd and out of place.

    Here are some of the beautiful sites built on Swift
    http://girlwhothinks.com/ ( Uses built in colour scheme, that just a click away )
    http://conservativeread.com
    http://genieforge.com/
    http://solofemaletraveler.com
    http://katanaswords.info/

    • Hi Richard,

      You can easily improve your page speed score and load times by combining the CSS stylesheets to one files.

      Next to that you can skip some background images by adding them to the styesheet as image maps.

      Just install http://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/, configure it a bit and you’re done!

      This will also remove query string variables from your CSS and JS files which will improve browser caching.

      I think you can cut 503 ms in half easily :-)

      • Did some optimization, didn’t cut it in half, longest part it the wait time of 271ms…

        Although pagespeed insights gives it now a score of 92/100 for desktop, 81/100 for mobile.

        and pingdom:
        Page size: 308.9kB – Load time: 470ms – Requests: 26 – Perf. grade: 95/100

        Also installed and configured w3 total cache, that improved the pagespeed insights with another 2 points for desktop and 3 for mobile

        And brought back the wait time to 19ms for a second request
        http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/cnVxjs/http://orobiancomozzarella.nl

        Page size: 309.1kB – Load time: 225ms – Requests: 26 – Perf. grade: 95/100

        The background images to image maps function seems to have a small negative influence on the pingdom results, +50ms load time & 94 perf. grade.

  2. I am using cuatom theme built with UltimatumTheme on a full scale web (news) portal. Ads are serverd via Google DFP platform and there is some 11 or 12 ads served on a front page of http://www.roditelji.me (most of them build in flash). Also, there are few diferent sliders there (one is for 6 featured news, second for some 5 important articles, third for events announcements, fourth for some 20 shop products, and last one in footer for presenting couple of our network sites. Pagespeed result is 77, which is not bad at all considering heavy resources usage :-)

  3. @Raelene > Great post. Thanks for implementing my suggestions. IMHO the additional information about the page load speed and price allows for a better informed purchasing decision. Also it is good to know there are some free themes that get the job done too.

    At least starting with a very fast theme you have a chance to have a fast theme when the plugins are added. WP-fastest-cache also combines CSS, JS, creates static HTML cache pages and minifies too.

  4. Thanks to all for sharing some awesome plugins and themes.

    I hope Google’s need for speed does not lead to security issues especially in the free themes.

  5. I can attest that ET themes are optimized to fast because the trick Nick used to opimized his web firm is applied to them. ET site is the fastest loading site compare to other WordPress theme building firms. I know what I’m saying because I’m in Africa and internet speed is epileptic. While other sites are loading and not showing, ET site will load and still show content. I don’t know how Nick did this but his firm site very fast even more than wpmu.org I frequent everyday!

  6. How did you this performance Test ? offline on apache server? under same conditions?
    If you only compared online Demo Pages, thats a joke, Elegant Themes Demo Pages uses W3 Total Cache, many others not

  7. Sorry, Frank theme doesn’t work very well with WP3.9.1, at first time it allow personalize home page layout, then it doesn’t any more…. any responsive portfolio w/images theme could rank here???

  8. I understand the need for themes to be fast, but the fastest thing ever is a plain text html page, which many of these themes look like. Would be nice to a speed comparison of some of the more, let us say, “full” WordPress themes that are available. Functionality makes the web interesting, and sometimes can keep people onsite.

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