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The 35 Fastest WordPress Themes of 2021 (Tested with Pingdom)

Fastest WordPress Themes

Speed is one of the most crucial aspects of any website. When a site loads quickly, visitors tend to have more enjoyable experiences. Google itself even states the importance of page speed on the Google Webmaster Central Blog. However, if you want a fast WordPress site, you’re going to need a fast WordPress theme.

The best WordPress themes continue to load quickly as you grow your website over time. Plus, gaining access to a fast WP theme doesn’t necessarily mean paying for an expensive one. There are a number of options for all budgets and needs.

In this post, we’ll explain what makes a WordPress theme fast. Then we’ll break down the list of the fastest WordPress themes for various use cases and wrap up with some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Let’s get started!

Our team at WP Buffs helps website owners, agency partners, and freelancer partners make their WordPress sites fast. Whether you need us to manage 1 website or support 1,000 client sites, we’ve got your back.

In This Article 🔍

What Makes a WordPress Theme Fast? 🤷🏻‍♂️

While using caching plugins and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will help speed up a WordPress site, ultimately your theme is its foundation. If yours is slow to load, your webpages likely will be too.

However, what makes a WordPress theme fast? Typically, it boils down to the quality of its code. Its styles and scripts should be streamlined and efficient. Basically, a lightweight WordPress theme is a fast theme.

Speed checklist eBook cover

How We Ranked the Fastest WordPress Themes of 2021 ☝️

We used Pingdom Tools to test the page speed of each of these themes. In addition to providing an overall grade from zero to 100, it also tells you how many response codes a page uses, and provides a report that details content size by type.

However, we didn’t rank the themes below strictly by the overall speed test grade. Instead, we choose to also factor in features and response time. Additionally, we also took into account the page and theme loading measurements offered by the developers.

Top 10 Fastest WordPress Themes ⚡

Some of these themes are pretty barebones, which may not work well for everyone. Again, we didn’t rank these super-fast WordPress themes based on loading times alone. Rather, we focused on fast themes that deliver the most in-demand features in today’s market. Let’s take a look at the top ten.

1. Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework is a popular theme choice known for being highly flexible. You can build it out by combining it with other products from StudioPress, which is famous for developing the framework used in many fast WordPress themes. It also has its own online community where you can find code snippets to help you modify your site.

There are also many specially made plugins, services, child themes, and more built with Genesis in mind. How you customize this theme will ultimately influence how fast it runs for you, although we think the base load time of 4.28 seconds could be bumped down with fewer requests.

2. Astra

Astra* is one of the fastest themes on the market today. It’s currently installed on over one million websites and has more than 4,200 five-star ratings in the WordPress Theme Directory. Most people love Astra because it’s so lightweight (less than 50KB). In fact, it doesn’t even use jQuery.

Astra also offers a full and seamless integration with a wide variety of services and tools, including but not limited to Beaver Builder, WooCommerce, and Elementor. Considering how feature-packed it is, the fact that it loads in less than half of a second is impressive, to say the least:

To top it all off, Chris Lema from Liquid Webs says: “At Liquid Web we tested over 50 themes for WooCommerce looking at performance. And Astra cleanly beat the competition.

Here’s a full review of the Astra theme.

3. Total

If you’re looking for a fast, clean WordPress theme for your business, Total is worth checking out. We were impressed with how fast it loaded as well as its excellent feature set, which includes WooCommerce compatibility and SEO optimized code.

This theme is sufficient for all basic site needs. It includes a drag-and-drop page builder, free updates and support, and much more. It’s also coded for optimal speed to help keep your site loading and running super fast.

4. Scalia

Even though Scalia comes with Visual Composer and a video slider, it still manages to load fairly quickly. This WordPress theme is a powerful choice for businesses, as it has a few demos available for that niche.

In addition to unlimited styling and customization options, Scalia also offers free, super-fast support. This multipurpose theme is built for scalability and can be used for everything from a simple blog to a robust online shop.

5. The Gem

The Gem is aptly named because it contains just about everything you could want in a WordPress theme. Moreover, it loads super fast, even with over 400 ready-to-use page templates and popular plugins such as Visual Composer and Slider Revolution bundled in.

With an extensive demo library, The Gem is an excellent pick for bloggers, online retailers, and creative professionals alike. It also supports parallax backgrounds, mega menus, and other advanced features for modern sites.

6. Top SEO

Top SEO is a solid choice for those looking for fast WordPress themes with an eye to improving their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and digital marketing. It comes with a few plugins bundled in and has its own page builder for extra speed. It also features an animated banner.

Additionally, this premium theme comes with over six demos and is a solid choice for an agency or marketer. While certainly still fast compared to many WordPress themes, Top SEO is a little slower than some of the others on this list due to its 4.3 MB size.

7. X Theme

The X theme comes with tons of tools in addition to your choice of page builder: Visual Composer or Cornerstone. While Visual Composer comes with tons of widgets, Cornerstone offers comparable customization options and lends itself to faster loading.

This live page builder offers a Work area and a Preview area, letting you create your site completely free from distractions. It also comes with many other plugins to help you extend your site’s functionality.

Themeco, the creators of X theme, also have the Pro WordPress theme, which is similar to X and includes their Cornerstone builder and header customizer.

8. Udesign

Udesign is crazy fast when loading the demo site. Its design is simple yet practical and versatile, making it a strong foundation for just about any type of WordPress site.

This theme also offers a slider with a few decent options and has standard Customizer options. Plus, you can use it to implement a parallax background or create a portfolio site without any extra plugins. However, we don’t recommend Udesign unless you’re looking for something on the basic side, with just a few bells and whistles.

9. Skylar

Skylar is similar to The Gem in that it comes with multiple demos and throws in Visual Composer and Slider Revolution. However, it goes a step further by also including the Ultimate Addon for VC plugin.

It also includes free updates and fixes, as well as compatibility with HTML5 and CSS3. Despite the number of requests leading to its average performance score, Skylar manages to load quite quickly, and boasts a near-perfect score on GTmetrix:

The demos are limited. However, Skylar comes with six solid choices for businesses and shops.

10. Wanium

Wanium is a worthy theme to consider if you’re looking to build a standard site that loads fast. It comes with its own page builder and demos for a wide range of sites, including hotels and construction companies.

This premium, multi-concept WordPress theme is also coded with SEO in mind to help give you a boost when it comes to improving your Google rankings. Wanium comes with multiple layout choices for blogs, galleries, and shop pages so you can adapt it to your needs and style.

11. Carbonate

The Carbonate theme from Matt Giovanisci of Money Lab is one of the fastest WordPress themes around and has no bloat whatsoever. On top of improving its loading times, this also makes it easier for those with limited coding experience to edit and customize it.

According to the developer’s site, Carbonate earns an impressive 99 percent score on GTmetrix:

In the words of Matt himself, “You don’t need all the bells and whistles to make a great site.” Unfortunately, this theme does not come with support. However, that’s what we’re here for! Carbonate pairs perfectly with our Care Plans for a low-maintenance experience on your end.

Fast WordPress Themes with Video Backgrounds 🎥

Media files are known for weighing websites down, but they’re also highly engaging. Even mobile devices can open a site with a video background these days. Let’s take a look at two of the fastest WordPress themes that offer this feature while minimizing your site’s loading times

12. The 7

The 7 is a flexible and high-quality choice whether you’re a business owner or individual who wants to wow visitors with an amazing slideshow or image. It comes with the usual grab bag of premium plugins and over 60 ready-made demos.

We were able to load the main demo fairly quickly. However, we believe it could be even further improved if query strings from static sources were removed.

13. Structure

In addition to Visual Composer, the Structure construction theme also offers the Templatera extension and the Essential Grid gallery plugin, providing more bang for your buck. The developer’s also claim page speed scores in the 90s:

Although Structure has lots of demos for construction businesses, it can easily be adapted to fit many businesses. With its multiple header and color scheme options, it’s worth checking out.

Fastest WordPress Themes for Magazines, Newspapers, and Blogs 📰

If you’re building or running an online magazine, blog, or news site, you also have a healthy amount of fast loading WordPress themes to choose from. Here are some of the best options to consider using for your content-heavy platform.

14. Top News

Top News is a stunning, powerful WordPress theme by CodexCoder that offers more than 13 homepage demos. It’s ideal for displaying your posts. More specifically, it offers an easy way to arrange your content in a neat manner. You can display your latest publications in addition to featured content above the fold.

This premium theme also comes with a handful of exclusive header variations and a variety of post styles. It integrates seamlessly with BuddyPress, WooCommerce, and more. Top News also includes free lifetime updates and 24/7 support.

15. Paperio

Paperio is a responsive, multi-purpose WordPress theme that offers a sleek, modern layout. It has demos for various businesses as well as built-in social sharing options. It features a live customizer and seven demos.

In addition to “in-built implemented coding standards” in every module, this theme also ships with the W3 Total Cache plugin. This helps make your blog posts load even faster.

16. Adaline

Adaline is a fashionable magazine theme that features a tile layout. It has a bold style and is also a solid choice for photographers and many other creative professionals and hobbyists whose sites require lots of images.

This theme relies on the Jetpack plugin for some of its core functionality. It’s also available as a Genesis Framework child theme.

17. Newspaper X

Newspaper X is a fast WordPress theme that is perfect for a site dedicated to writing and sharing blog posts and articles. It comes with a built-in newspaper template and can be used across a wide range of industries, from fashion to web development.

In addition to support for Google Ads and AdSense, this premium theme comes with integration for BuddyPress, WooCommerce, Instagram, and more. Newspaper X also includes more than 1,000 premium layouts to choose from, 90 unique post templates, and a library of pre-built pages.

18. Milania

The Milania WordPress theme is a wonderful option if you’re looking for a gorgeous, minimalist theme for your lifestyle blog or website. It boasts unique layout choices, including options such as two columns, masonry, portfolio, and more.

Another cool thing about this theme is that you can combine features from various demos. This enables you to scale down your site’s code to just the elements you actually want to use, minimizing the need to load extra features.

Fast WordPress Themes for Businesses 💼

Many of the options we’ve covered so far in this list are appropriate for business sites. However, there are a handful of fast WordPress themes that are particularly versatile and powerful for businesses to use. Let’s take a look at some.

19. Neve

When it comes to super-fast themes, our team at WP Buffs loves Neve from ThemeIsle. This reduced weight theme (~28KB) loads in less than one second. It also has speed grade of 100 in Google PageSpeed Insights as well as Pingdom Tools:

There are multiple demos you can use to kick off your business site’s design. The best part is that it’s free to download (although there are also premium plans available). You can’t get much better than that!

20. KnowAll

KnowAll claims to be the best WordPress theme for building knowledge base websites. It surely lives up to that thanks to its perfect mix of incredibly fast performance and modern-elegant design.

What makes this fast-performing theme even more special is that it’s able to offer this much speed even while providing plenty of useful built-in features that are must-haves for a knowledge base website.

This includes the ability to add downloadable file attachments, translate your content, and use widgets to gather user feedback. It also includes powerful analytics for gaining insights into what users are searching for in your knowledge base.

Fastest WordPress E-Commerce Themes for Online Shops 🛒

For online retailers, speed is of utmost importance. If your pages or checkout process take too long to load, it can lead to shopping cart abandonment. To avoid that, consider using one of the following fast WordPress themes for e-commerce sites.

21. Electro

Electro is an attractive, feature-rich theme built specifically for online electronics shops. However, this premium theme is quite versatile and can be used for other types of e-commerce as well.

It lets you choose from more than ten demos, nine predefined color palettes, and dedicated mobile layouts. Electro also enables advanced customization via Visual Composer’s drag-and-drop editor.

22. Stockholm Shop

The Stockholm theme offers many demos, including ones for restaurants and architects. However, its shop demo is particularly impressive.

Key features include a store locator, language translator, and the ability for users to create wishlists. There are also aesthetically pleasing animations and sliders, as well as a minimalistic layout.

23. Schema Shop

Schema is a premium fast WordPress theme from MyThemeShop that is both lightweight and flexible. It even has built-in speed optimization features, such as the option to enable lazy loading.

Schema Shop is an awesome choice for those who want to have a main page with an online shop on the side. In addition to its performance optimized code, it’s also SEO-friendly to help get your products in front of searchers and drive organic traffic.

Fast WordPress Themes for Photographers, Artists, and Designers 🎨

If you’re a creative professional, the theme you use to showcase your work is essential to help you find new customers or clients. Let’s take a look at some fast WordPress themes that are quality options for highlighting your talents.

24. Oshine

The Oshine WordPress theme is a stunning theme that provides over 50 demos geared to photographers, designers, and other creatives. It features a live page builder, eight hover choices, and a variety of lightboxes, carousels, and galleries.

In addition to shipping with a plethora of styling and customization options for displaying your work, this flexible theme also delivers fast performance. One of the ways it does this is by loading Javascript plugins in parallel (and only when necessary). 

25. Foto

Foto is a beautiful WordPress theme that loads fast and offers many custom layouts for displaying images. If you’re a photographer, for example, you will likely enjoy the plethora of gallery, album, and slider options. We recommend checking out the Polaroid demo.

As the developers explain on their website, they optimized this theme with quality code and minification to ensure fast performance. In addition to speed and display features, Foto also includes multiple header and footer options, as well as a live customizer.

26. Photography

The Photography theme is a premium WordPress portfolio theme that is super fast and comes with a ton of cool customization options. It includes a drag-and-drop builder, over 1,000 fonts, and premium plugins such as Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) Pro and Photo Lightbox.

We especially recommend checking out this theme if you currently use your WordPress site to book appointments online (or think you’d like to in the future). It also has vertical menu and tile layouts.

Super Fast Miscellaneous WordPress Themes 🎲

There are some WordPress themes that don’t fall into traditional categories. However, their versatility and speedy performance earn them spots on this list. Let’s take a look.

27. Jobify

Jobify is a fast WordPress theme that is ideal if you’re looking to develop a community of employers, prospective employees, or supervisors. It’s the perfect solution for turning your site into a professional job board.

This theme includes a clean, bright design and comes with all the bells and whistles you need to create a robust job board. It’s regularly updated, built with quality code and according to WordPress best practices, and includes free support.

28. Rosa 2

If you’re looking for a fast WordPress theme for your restaurant or venue, the ROSA theme is a strong option. Designed and developed by the Pixelgrade team, this theme features a gorgeous layout with high-quality images, sleek sliders, and elegant fonts.

However, more recently, the team released an upgraded version of the theme, ROSA 2. This revamped solution is specifically crafted for the Gutenberg editor. It includes hero blocks with scrolling effects, custom food menu options, and so much more.

29. Wayfarer

If you’re part of a band, you’ll likely appreciate Wayfarer for its ability to list songs, albums, tour dates, and more all on your homepage. Made by AudioTheme, it’s specifically designed for people who make music, as are all the themes this talented team develops.

Wayfarer provides a Discography custom post type so you can share all the details of your music with site visitors. It also includes a video library, breadcrumbs support, and a homepage image slider – all while remaining quick to load so your fans aren’t left hanging.

30. Gumbo

If you have a podcast, or have been thinking about starting one and want to create a website for it, the Gumbo theme is for you. Created by SecondLine Themes, it has several interesting and useful features for podcasting in particular, and looks awesome as well.

The pages on the demo load quite quickly. This is particularly impressive when you consider that Gumbo comes with tools such as embedded audio players and Instagram widgets.

Fast Loading Free WordPress Themes 🏆

While there are a ton of premium WordPress themes out there that are feature-rich and blazing fast, quality performance doesn’t necessarily need to mean spending a fortune. If you’re on a budget, there are a handful of super fast loading free WordPress themes you can check out.

31. Writee

Writee is a freemium WordPress blogging theme that offers impressive speed and performance. The free version includes three custom widgets, multiple Customizer options, and a featured content slider.

It’s available to download and use for free from the WordPress Theme Directory and is a quality option if you’re looking for a simple, bloat-free theme for your blog.

32. Bento

If you’re looking for the fastest free WordPress theme, you may want to consider using Bento. This theme claims to be the “ultimate free WordPress theme”, and provides many premium-grade features to back that statement.

Built for speed and quality SEO, Bento includes a drag-and-drop content builder and configurable page templates. It also features Ajax loading and multiple layout options.

33. Vantage

Vantage by SiteOrigin is another fast and free multipurpose WordPress theme. While relatively basic, it includes all the essentials for a standard WordPress site.

It also provides an impressive number of customization options and a classic layout. Vantage comes with WooCommerce integration, widgets bundles, and a page builder.

34. Pixova Lite

The Pixova Lite theme is a quality parallax, one-page theme. However, if necessary, you can add more pages to it to suit your needs. For example, you can incorporate counters, portfolio items, client lists, and more.

This theme establishes a healthy balance between sophistication and simplicity. Plus, aside from being speedy, it’s also free!

35. GrowthPress

The GrowthPress theme from our friends over at Proteus is one of the best marketing themes out there. It has the right look and feel for promoting any product, service, or online course.

Some of its features include a standalone sales page, widgets designed to increase conversions, and pages optimized for speed. According to the GrowthPress website, this theme achieves an average of 96 out of 100 desktop speed and 97 out of 100 for mobile results.

FAQs About Fast WordPress Themes 🙋🏻

At this point, hopefully you’ve discovered at least a few fast WordPress themes that could work for your site. However, before we wrap up, we want to take a moment to address a couple of FAQs.

There are a handful of page speed testing tools, including GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. However, when it comes to checking the speed of a WordPress theme, we recommend using Pingdom Tools.

As we mentioned earlier, we use this as our page speed ranking test because of the thorough reports it provides, including breakdowns of content size and requests by content type. Additionally, you can use it to generate an overall grade for your site’s speed and performance. 

If your website is suffering from slow response times, there are many different steps you can take to speed it up. Some of the most popular methods include image compression and optimization, minifying CSS and JavaScript, and choosing a performance-optimized hosting provider.

Wrapping Up 👏🏻

A fast WordPress theme is an asset no matter what type of website you have. Page speed is important for SEO and will help you move up in search rankings as well as keep your bounce rate down and retain visitors who don’t have the patience for your pages to load.

In this post, we listed 35 themes that consistently provide fast loading times. They span a variety of niches including e-commerce, blogs, creative portfolios, and more. We also included several free options for those with smaller budgets.

If you need help speeding up your WordPress site or have any other related issues, we’re here to help. At WP Buffs, we offer Care Plans and WordPress speed optimization services that will help keep your site lightning fast. Check them out today!

Want to give your feedback or join the conversation? Add your comments 🐦 on Twitter.

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