17 Fastest WordPress Themes in 2021 (Based on Real Data and Thorough Testing)

It’s no surprise that Google is obsessed with speed. Since 2010 for desktop and 2018 for mobile, page speed and load times have been the most important ranking factor.

Speed of your WordPress website has a great impact on your position in search results, but it also strongly affects your visitors’ experience. Namely, whether users will wait on your site to load, how much time they will spend there, whether they will convert and how they will perceive your brand.

You can hurt all your efforts if you choose a wrong WordPress theme that will slow your load times. But I understand that it’s unrealistic to consistently test WordPress themes for performance. That’s why in this article, I will help you find the fastest WordPress theme you can possibly get.

Such a theme must meet these three most important criteria:

  1. It must be coded by a professional to the highest programming standards with the latest web technologies in mind
  2. It must be lightweight, and it must implement every feature very carefully
  3. It must be SEO-first, heavily focused on the right search engine optimization

As a rule of thumb, always start with a simple theme with a minimal number of features. This ensures that it will load fast.

Before we will dive into the collection of the fastest themes currently available and pick the winner, let’s take a look at some general aspects of WordPress theme you should definitely know about before considering the change based on the results below.

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How fast should your WordPress website load?

Load times are getting faster and faster year over year as people have shorter and shorter attention span. These days, you need to be quick, because your potential readers demand and expect immediate response. This is especially important on mobile devices where every second means a potential loss of audience.

Your website should load as fast as technically possible, but it should never take more than 4 seconds. Yes! You read that right! After 4 seconds, users are usually gone and there’s no way to bring them back. This means that if your current theme loads below 4 second threshold, you’re probably fine and don’t need to change your theme.

Also consider that theme is only one aspect of your website performance. Here are other factors that can affect the speed of your website:

  1. The size of images you use in the articles
  2. The speed of your hosting service
  3. The number and size of installed plugins

It’s important to make sure that all of these aspects are solved before you decide to change the theme. Maybe your theme is fine, and you use big images, or run your website on slow web hosting service.

Load times are getting faster and faster year over year as people have shorter and shorter attention span. These days, you need to be quick, because your potential readers demand and expect immediate response. This is especially important on mobile devices where every second means a potential loss of audience.

What makes a WordPress theme really fast?

Your WordPress theme should be optimized for mobile devices, this means that it has to be responsive. Also, it should be as lightweight as possible. This means that it cannot contain any high-resolution images, animations and other fancy effects that are usually very demanding and slow the performance of your website.

How we tested the fastest WordPress themes?

To make the results of our testing fair and comparable, we follow these rules:

  1. static snapshots of the theme
  2. default vanilla version of the theme
  3. four speed tests

Static snapshots of the theme

To eliminate the performance differences among individual web hosting services, we decided to use a static snapshot of each theme and put it on Netlify CDN network. This, in our opinion, is the only truly fair approach to testing different themes.

If you than decide to run your WordPress theme of choice on any hosting service, we strongly recommend choosing a well-designed managed hosting service that won’t hurt your website’s performance. Logical options are FlywheelKinsta or WP Engine, or learn more about the best hosting for your website before you decide which one to choose.

Default vanilla version of the theme

We installed each theme on a fresh Local installation of WordPress, without any modifications or plugins. The only plugin we used was Simply Static to export the final website and upload it to Netlify servers.

We didn’t use any demo or pre-made pages or websites, just a default layout of the theme. We also didn’t add any new pages, posts, menus, or images.

Where available, we always used a free version of the theme. The only notable exceptions are those themes where there’s no free version, such as AvadaDiviMagazine ProNewspaper, and Parallax Pro.

Four speed tests

There are four popular speed-testing services you can use to test the load times of your website and we used all of them for each theme four times to get reasonable results and to eliminate rare glitches and technical problems.

These services are:

  1. PageSpeed Insights by Google
  2. GTmetrix
  3. Pingdom
  4. Byte Check

PageSpeed Insights by Google

PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed focuses on user experience which heavily rely on how quickly the website can deliver content to the user. It will also reveal what parts of our theme slow down delivery times.

GTmetrix

GTmetrix

GTmetrix is a great tool for checking on performance issues. It will take our website, analyze its speed, and suggest an optimization. This will tell us whether a specific theme is lightweight or cluttered with useless files.

Pingdom

Pingdom

Pingdom is similar to GTmetrix. But it offers a slightly different metrics, so it makes sense to use both of these services, especially if there are any major discrepancies of the results.

Byte Check

Byte Check

Byte Check focuses on time to first byte metrics that tells us how long it takes to browser to deliver a complete first byte of data. This says how long it takes for the initial information to be delivered to your reader.

17 Fastest WordPress Themes Thoroughly Tested on Real Data

We selected these candidates based on number of downloads, popularity, and quality reviews. We also made sure that they name SEO as one of their features.

This list is created in an alphabet order, not in the order of the highest speed. The results are available at the very bottom of this article if you wish to go directly there.

  1. Astra
  2. Avada
  3. Betheme
  4. Blocksy
  5. Customify
  6. Divi
  7. GeneratePress
  8. Hello
  9. Magazine Pro
  10. Neve
  11. Newspaper
  12. OceanWP
  13. Page Builder Framework
  14. Parallax Pro
  15. Schema
  16. Sydney
  17. Zakra

1. Astra

The whole point of Astra is to give you a site ready to go once you activate this theme. You can customize most elements without the need to manually modify the code.

Astra WordPress theme

Astra is growing in popularity thanks to its integration with popular page builders like Elementor and BeaverBuilder. It also integrates with popular plugins like WooCommerce and LearnPress.

Astra offers a free and a premium version of its theme. A free version is available right from the WordPress admin dashboard and you can easily upgrade to premium version for $59.

Astra Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 92
PageSpeed Desktop 100
GTMetrix Performance 100%
GTMetrix Structure 99%
Pingdom Performance Grade 90
Pingdom Load Time 133 ms
Byte Check TTFB 194 ms
Byte Check Total Time 483 ms

2. Avada

Avada is something like a Swiss army knife for theming your WordPress website. It comes with a powerful drag & drop builder that allows you to create a custom design without coding. 

Avada WordPress theme

Avada also offers a number of pre-made designs, and other cool features like mega menu. With the latest version, there’s a brand-new performance wizard that disables unused features, optimizes CSS and JavaScript, and manages fonts, images, and videos.

Avada has a its own custom-made WooCommerce Builder that will help you create custom shop, cart, checkout, and product page layouts which any coding.

Avada is available from Themeforest marketplace for $60 and it is frequently updated with new features and bug fixes.

Avada Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 89 
PageSpeed Desktop 99 
GTMetrix Performance 97%
GTMetrix Structure 95%
Pingdom Performance Grade 87
Pingdom Load Time 2.25 s
Byte Check TTFB 90 ms
Byte Check Total Time 307 ms

3. Betheme

Betheme is a multipurpose WordPress theme with decent styling options. It has more than 600 ready to use demo websites you can install with one click. Recently, the authors introduced a brand-new Live Builder with hundreds of pre-built sections that lets you visually edit your pages.

Betheme WordPress theme

Betheme is fully compatible with Elementor and it comes with more than 50 unique Elementor elements.

Betheme is fully customizable, responsive and retina ready theme with shortcode generator, layouts configurator and custom font uploader.

Betheme is available from Themeforest marketplace for $59.

Betheme Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 87 
PageSpeed Desktop 96 
GTMetrix Performance 97%
GTMetrix Structure 94%
Pingdom Performance Grade 85
Pingdom Load Time 2.54 s
Byte Check TTFB 92 ms
Byte Check Total Time 373 ms

4. Blocksy

Blocksy is a free WordPress theme that works nicely with Gutenberg editor so you can be sure that your website will be 100% compatible with Gutenbert blocks.

Blocksy WordPress theme

Blocksy touts itself to be lighter and faster than most similar WordPress themes with clean code, fully responsive design, and live preview of customizer changes.

It is designed to work with the most popular page builders like Brizy, Elementor and Beaver Builder

Blocksy lets you customize every part of your website including layout, headers, sidebar, footer, colors, backgrounds and more. Even in free version, it has the most detailed customization from all tested themes, followed by Astra and GeneratePress.

For a free theme, it’s a pretty sweet deal, but you can also buy a lifetime personal licence for $149 if you want some advanced options like multiple conditional sidebars, content hooks or custom code snippets.

Blocksy Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 100 
PageSpeed Desktop 100 
GTMetrix Performance 99%
GTMetrix Structure 98%
Pingdom Performance Grade 84
Pingdom Load Time 487 ms
Byte Check TTFB 162 ms
Byte Check Total Time 268 ms

5. Customify

Customify is another pretty fast WordPress theme option to consider. It offers dozens of pre-made sites ready to import and it also works with almost any page builder so you can pick the one you love. 

Customify WordPress theme

Customify touts itself as the most customizable theme for building your online business. You can customize everything with the native WordPress customizer to your liking, including unlimited typography settings, unique options for mobile devices and unique headers for each post.

The basic version is available for free, however it you want to use all Pro modules, you need to buy Customify Pro plugin starting at $59 per year for 1 website.

Customify Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 100 
PageSpeed Desktop 100 
GTMetrix Performance 99%
GTMetrix Structure 99%
Pingdom Performance Grade 87
Pingdom Load Time 878 ms
Byte Check TTFB 104 ms
Byte Check Total Time 270 ms

6. Divi

Divi from Elegant Themes has been around for quite some time and it’s one of the most popular WordPress themes available. Over the years, it has been continually improved and today, it includes hundreds of templates, drag & drop page builder and countless customization options.

Divi WordPress theme

Divi Builder is probably one of the most feature-rich content editors for WordPress. It includes WYSIWYG visual editor for page designs, it lets you configure and customize sections, rows, and modules. You can also jump-start your design with over 20 pre-made layouts that cover a variety of common page types.

When it comes to pricing, there are two options. You can get a yearly access for $89 per year which allows you to use Divi on unlimited number of websites. You’ll also get a premium support, product updates and hundreds of website packs.

If you rather pay once and have these perk for a lifetime, you’ll have to shell out $249.

Divi Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 89 
PageSpeed Desktop 95 
GTMetrix Performance 96%
GTMetrix Structure 92%
Pingdom Performance Grade 83
Pingdom Load Time 978 ms
Byte Check TTFB 204 ms
Byte Check Total Time 370 ms

7. GeneratePress

GeneratePress is a darling of premium web hosting companies and performance-focused audience because of its focus on speed. It is a versatile theme in a little package that nicely integrates with multiple page builders. It also offers WooCommerce support and various sidebar locations.

GeneratePress WordPress theme

As with many other competitors, there are two versions. Free version includes the basic features and customizing options, but if you want to get the most out of this theme, you should consider upgrading to premium version.

The premium theme is available for $59 per year, and it comes with some extra modules for colors, demo sites, typography and more. If you prefer one-time payment, you’ll have to pay $249.

GeneratePress Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 98 
PageSpeed Desktop 100 
GTMetrix Performance 97%
GTMetrix Structure 98%
Pingdom Performance Grade 93
Pingdom Load Time 478 ms
Byte Check TTFB 144 ms
Byte Check Total Time 170 ms

8. Hello

Hello is a theme created by folks behind Elementor, a popular drag & drop page builder for creating WordPress site without using any code. Since Hello theme is produced by the same developers, you can expect it to be fast and versatile as well. 

Hello WordPress theme

This theme integrates nicely not only with Elementor, but also with WooCommerce, Yoast and more. Even though you start off with a blank slate, you can design virtually anything thanks to integrated Elementor page builder.

Both Hello theme and Elementor Page Builder are available for free if you’re fine with basic option, however, if you want some additional templates, widgets, and elements, you need to buy a paid subscription, which starts at $49 per year.

Hello Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 98 
PageSpeed Desktop 99 
GTMetrix Performance 96%
GTMetrix Structure 97%
Pingdom Performance Grade 97
Pingdom Load Time 278 ms
Byte Check TTFB 94 ms
Byte Check Total Time 130 ms

9. Magazine Pro

Magazine Pro is a child theme based on the Genesis Framework. This is one of the most popular WordPress frameworks, renowned for its fast-loading code and structure focused on SEO. This means that you’ll be able to create websites that are not only user-friendly, but that will greatly improve your chances with search engines.

Magazine Pro WordPress theme

Magazine Pro theme is one of dozens of themes available to choose from. It offers integration with Gutenberg block editor, theme customizer and accessibility features.

This is included with Genesis Pro plan, which is available for a hefty $360 per year, but you can get it for free if you sign up for either WP Engine or Flywheel hosting plan. This is actually a surprisingly good deal, because these two hosting providers are known for their quality managed hosting services.

Flywheel’s plans start at $15 per month and having Genesis Framework with Magazine Pro theme included sounds like a no brainer. If you’re considering this option, here’s my review of Flywheel hosting.

Magazine Pro Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 88 
PageSpeed Desktop 93 
GTMetrix Performance 79%
GTMetrix Structure 83%
Pingdom Performance Grade 82
Pingdom Load Time 778 ms
Byte Check TTFB 112 ms
Byte Check Total Time 370 ms

10. Neve

Neve theme is created by folks from Themeisle, a popular producer of fast and flexible WordPress themes and plugins. This fact brings some confidence when it comes to quality of code and customer support. It touts itself with top results on PageSpeed Insights performance tests and loading time of less than 1 second. These are pretty impressive claims we wanted to test.

Neve WordPress theme

Neve works very well with Elementor and many other page builders including Beaver Builder and Brizy. If you’re not into page builders, you can still use the default WordPress Customizer to control the layout of your website.

Neve focuses on mobile interfaces for fast experience on mobile devices. A reliable coding and a flexible structure of this theme ensure that you can build any site you wish. The theme is also compatible with AMP, and it offers a library of custom-made demos for launching fully functional websites with one click.

The basic version is available for free, but to get more advanced features, you need to pay for premium version starting at $59 per year or you can opt for a lifetime access for $189. 

Neve Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 92 
PageSpeed Desktop 98 
GTMetrix Performance 93%
GTMetrix Structure 90%
Pingdom Performance Grade 88
Pingdom Load Time 778 ms
Byte Check TTFB 94 ms
Byte Check Total Time 170 ms

11. Newspaper

Newspaper by tagDiv is another winning theme available from Themeforest marketplace. With almost 7.000 ratings and 112.000 sales, it’s definitely one of the most popular WordPress themes you can get.

Newspaper WordPress theme

Newspaper theme is regularly updated with new features and optimizations. The latest version brings online store builder that adds 27 new drag & drop elements to WooCommerce. On top of that, there are 8 fully customizable prebuilt eShop Designs you can import with one click and start your online shop right away.

Newspaper is a pretty heavy theme, and it was known to be quite slow in the past, but the latest versions are quite fast thanks to a new performance optimizer that analyzes the sturucture of your website and optimizes code. It also removes unnecessary CSS and moves the non-critical code to the bottom of the page.

Newspaper comes with 120 unique pre-built websites including texts and images. You can import the one you like and customize everything without ever touching a single line of code. Newspaper is available for $59 lifetime price that includes all future updates.

Newspaper Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 84 
PageSpeed Desktop 93 
GTMetrix Performance 89%
GTMetrix Structure 76%
Pingdom Performance Grade 73
Pingdom Load Time 978 ms
Byte Check TTFB 204 ms
Byte Check Total Time 370 ms

12. OceanWP

OceanWP theme offers a professional looking layout suitable for agencies, but it also includes more than 150 demos and 19 extensions to help you create the website the way you want it. As most of quality themes, OceanWP is beginner-friendly, fully responsive, and quickly customizable.

OceanWP WordPress theme

OceanWP supports Elementor page builder, as well as Brizy and Beaver Builder. It also integrates Gutenberg and even Divi. 

Free version of this theme offers a pretty decent range of customizations, when compared to pretty limited GeneratePress, but you can always opt for more with paid plans starting at $39 per year for 1 site. This plan will give you 13 premium extensions and 138 Pro demos.

OceanWP has a support for WooCommerce including a native cart popup, floating cart bar and a quick view. You can choose from extensions like popup notice, Instagram integration and full screen scrolling.

OceanWP Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 95 
PageSpeed Desktop 99 
GTMetrix Performance 99%
GTMetrix Structure 97%
Pingdom Performance Grade 93
Pingdom Load Time 378 ms
Byte Check TTFB 106 ms
Byte Check Total Time 250 ms

13. Page Builder Framework

Page Builder Framework touts itself to be one of the fastest WordPress themes built for maximum performance. It’s quite easy to customize colors, menu, and other options with the default WordPress customizer, but this theme also supports popular builders like Beaver Builder or Elementor.

Page Builder Framework

The main focus of this theme is performance. The front-end part of the theme is under 50kb and loads super-fast. It’s GDPR compliant and seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce.

The theme supports SEO with schema.org and all the latest accessibility standards. It also supports Gutenberg and multilanguage plugins like WPML and Polylang.

The basic version is free, while you can buy premium addons for $58 annually or $248 as a lifetime payment.

Page Builder Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 99 
PageSpeed Desktop 100 
GTMetrix Performance 95%
GTMetrix Structure 96%
Pingdom Performance Grade 83
Pingdom Load Time 780 ms
Byte Check TTFB 401 ms
Byte Check Total Time 120 ms

14. Parallax Pro

Parallax Pro is another StudioPress theme based on Genesis Framework.

Parallax Pro WordPress theme

It’s known for its responsive design and special typography. This theme works great with Genesis Blocks that enhance default WordPress block editor and offer powerful site creation tools.

With premium block library, you can create any kind of design without touching the code. You can also easily edit pages, sections, and layouts.

With Genesis framework, you’ll get 4 pre-built full-page layouts and 8 pre-built sections, but you can opt for Genesis Blocks Pro that will give you access to over 50 pre-built pages and 130 pre-built sections to choose from. These premium blocks are part of Genesis Pro subscription that includes all StudioPress premium themes for $360 per year.

Parallax Pro Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 88 
PageSpeed Desktop 91 
GTMetrix Performance 79%
GTMetrix Structure 81%
Pingdom Performance Grade 77
Pingdom Load Time 583 ms
Byte Check TTFB 309 ms
Byte Check Total Time 490 ms

15. Schema

According to its creators, Schema is the fastest SEO WordPress theme. It’s fully responsive, SEO ready, with demo sites and built-in review system. Schema also includes rich snippets that help search engines to understand your website.

Schema WordPress theme

You can download the free version of Schema theme for free. This Schema Lite version of theme is heavily limited when it comes to customization, and you need to buy a full version for $59 per year if you want to do any meaningful customization.

Schema theme is compatible with Elementor page builder and offers ad management to control and track ads. You also get an ultimate control with custom CSS so you can redesign and restly the default theme any way you like.

Schema Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 84 
PageSpeed Desktop 93 
GTMetrix Performance 89%
GTMetrix Structure 76%
Pingdom Performance Grade 73
Pingdom Load Time 978 ms
Byte Check TTFB 204 ms
Byte Check Total Time 370 ms

16. Sydney

Sydney is one of the themes that have been officially recommended by Elementor page builder. It’s a powerful business theme for creating online presence. It has many customization options like Google Fonts, full color control, sticky navigation, custom layouts and more.

Sydney WordPress theme

Sydney offers custom Elementor blocks, parallax backgrounds and slider headers. It also offers cross browser support; live customizer and it is translation ready.

Sydney Pro is a premium version of the basic theme that will cost you $69 per year. Sydney Pro offers premium video headers, five extra page templates, extra blocks like carousel, employees block, pricing table and more.

Sydney Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 94 
PageSpeed Desktop 98 
GTMetrix Performance 91%
GTMetrix Structure 96%
Pingdom Performance Grade 93
Pingdom Load Time 378 ms
Byte Check TTFB 404 ms
Byte Check Total Time 470 ms

17. Zakra

Zakra theme is the last WordPress theme in our list, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the worst. On contrary, Zakra is quite capable when it comes to speed, SEO, and responsiveness. This theme offers 65 pre-made templates, which are very well designed, especially those you can get with premium plan.

Zakra WordPress theme

Zakra offers easy customization with WordPress Customizer, and it’s compatible with famous page builders like Elementor, Divi or Brizy to name a few. Zakra is also APM ready so your website will load with blazing speed on mobile devices.

SEO friendliness is necessary these days and Zakra offers full SEO optimization while also supports major SEO plugins like Yoast. On top of that, Zakra seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce so you can easily customize your online store.

When it comes to performance, this theme is touted to load within 1 second and has 97% score on average from major performance testing services. Zakra doesn’t load jQuery library which also improves overall performance.

Zakra is available for free, but this version is reasonable limited. If you want more features and premium demos, you need to buy premium version which starts at $209 annually, or $454 as a one-time payment.

Zakra Performance Results

Service Score
PageSpeed Mobile 89 
PageSpeed Desktop 92 
GTMetrix Performance 86%
GTMetrix Structure 87%
Pingdom Performance Grade 79
Pingdom Load Time 478 ms
Byte Check TTFB 304 ms
Byte Check Total Time 570 ms

Conclusion

We have tested 17 fastest themes to pick the best one and we declared Blocksy the winner for 2021. This theme is currently the best you can get regarding the performance of your WordPress website.