Searching for the fastest WordPress themes to set you up with a quick-loading site?
Having a fast website is important for everything from user experience to Google rankings, conversion rate, and engagement metrics such as bounce rates.
As your WordPress site’s foundation, your theme is going to play a pivotal role in making your site load quickly.
Basically, if you choose a slow-loading WordPress theme, you’re probably going to have a slow-loading website too — even if you try to use caching and other performance optimization techniques as bandaids.
To help you avoid that situation, I’ve collected and tested 14 of the fastest WordPress themes. Actually, I tested more than that, but only 12 made the cut!
On this list, we have multipurpose themes starting at just 28.9 KB and 7 HTTP requests, which is pretty dang lean.
For each theme, I’ll share a little about its features, as well as real test data from both GTmetrix and Lighthouse.
How I’ll Test for the Fastest WordPress Themes
To find the fastest WordPress themes, I set up a test site on a cheapo $5 per month DigitalOcean droplet using PHP 7.4.
The test site has no performance optimizations or plugins installed. It only has the default “Hello World!” post.
To test each theme, I will install the theme and test the default homepage, which is the blog archive page that just lists the single “Hello World!” post.
If a theme recommends additional plugins, I did not install those plugins.
I believe this is the fairest way to do things because it puts each theme on equal footing. Of course, if you import a theme’s demo content, your site will be much “weightier”, so this method is not perfect. But I think it gives the fairest picture of each theme’s out-of-the-box performance.
In situations where a theme offers both a free and paid version, I always used the free version.
To test each theme, I ran it through:
- Google’s web.dev tool, which uses Lighthouse and gives a score between 0-100 in four separate categories: Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices, SEO.
- GTmetrix, which gives PageSpeed Insights and YSlow scores as well as details on HTTP requests and file size.
Note that the screenshot for each theme is not representative of the actual page that I tested. Remember, I’m testing the default theme, not an importable demo site. I’m using demo sites for the screenshots because it would be pretty boring otherwise!
- Page Size: 28.9 KB
- HTTP Requests: 9
GeneratePress came in tied for first on our list at just 28.9 KB and 9 HTTP requests.
GeneratePress is a flexible multipurpose theme that you can adapt to pretty much any niche. It also pairs well with page builders and, with the premium version, comes with a number of pre-built demo sites.
The core GeneratePress theme is available for free at WordPress.org and there’s also a premium add-on that goes for $49.95.
How Fast Is GeneratePress?
- Page Size: 29.9 KB
- HTTP Requests: 7
Neve is neck-and-neck with GeneratePress for the first spot. It’s one KB larger but has two fewer HTTP requests — I’d say that puts it just about even.
Neve also scored a perfect 100 in the Lighthouse audit for Performance and Best Practices. It’s the only theme to score 100 for Performance, though several other themes scored 99 (including GeneratePress).
Neve is a multipurpose theme that comes with tons of WordPress Customizer controls and pre-built demo sites built with Elementor.
The core Neve theme is available for free at WordPress.org and you can also purchase the premium add-on starting at $49.
How Fast Is Neve?
- Page Size: 37.2 KB
- HTTP Requests: 11
Zakra is another lightweight multipurpose theme that comes with a bunch of importable demo sites. Like the previous themes, it also makes a great option to pair with a WordPress page builder plugin.
The core theme is available for free while the premium version starts at $49.99.
How Fast Is Zakra?
- Page Size: 40.2 KB
- HTTP Requests: 9
You might notice a trend here… but Astra is another lightweight multipurpose theme that you can use for pretty much any niche. You can also import hundreds of demo sites built with Elementor, Gutenberg (block editor), Beaver Builder, and Brizy.
The core theme is available for free while paid plans start at $59.
How Fast Is Astra?
5. Page Builder Framework
- Page Size: 64.5 KB
- HTTP Requests: 11
In its approach, Page Builder Framework is quite close to themes like Astra and GeneratePress. But, as the name suggests, it leans into the page builder angle a little bit more.
Like those other themes, you can use Page Builder Framework for any niche.
The core version is available for free at WordPress.org. Then, there’s a premium add-on that you can buy for $58.
How Fast Is Page Builder Framework?
- Page Size: 181 KB
- HTTP Requests: 17
Writee is a 100% free blogging theme that’s available at WordPress.org. It’s the first entrant on our list that is not a multipurpose option. So if you want a blog-focused theme that will put your content first and not get in the way with bloat, this one might be a good option.
How Fast Is Writee?
- Page Size: 201 KB
- HTTP Requests: 10
Newspaper is one of the best-selling themes at ThemeForest. The developer proclaims it as the “#1 selling news theme of all time”, and it’s been purchased over 89,000 times.
I tested a few different themes from ThemeForest, and Newspaper came out as one of the most optimized options.
So if you want to build a news website with WordPress, this one could be a good option for you.
Newspaper costs $59 with standard Envato licensing.
How Fast Is Newspaper?
- Page Size: 243 KB
- HTTP Requests: 19
OceanWP is another flexible multipurpose theme that you’ll commonly see lumped in with Astra and GeneratePress.
However, it focuses a little less on performance and a little more on design flexibility, which is evidenced by the numbers. It’s still pretty lightweight and, if you want that extra flexibility, you might find the trade-off worth it.
OceanWP also lets you conditionally disable scripts, which would let you make it a little more optimized. I didn’t use that feature, though, because I’m testing every theme in its default state.
The core OceanWP theme is available at WordPress.org and you can also purchase a bundle of premium extensions starting at $39.
How Fast Is OceanWP?
- Page Size: 255 KB
- HTTP Requests: 19
Schema is a premium theme from MyThemeShop that advertises itself as the “fastest SEO WordPress theme”.
I’m not sure that the numbers completely back up that “fastest” claim, but it’s still pretty lightweight and can definitely get you a fast-loading site.
Schema is quite flexible, but I’d say it’s mostly focused on blogging.
It starts at $45 for use on a single site.
How Fast Is Schema?
- Page Size: 318 KB
- HTTP Requests: 15
Revolution is the second, and final, ThemeForest theme that made it onto our list. It’s a multipurpose theme that comes with tons of demo sites for portfolios, business sites, restaurants, and more.
Revolution costs $59 with standard Envato licensing.
How Fast Is Revolution?
Sydney is our own flexible WordPress business theme that you can use to create all different kinds of business websites. To help you customize your site, Sydney includes an Elementor integration, as well as some of its own custom Elementor widgets.
The core Sydney theme is free, but you can also purchase a Pro version with more functionality for $69.
- Page Size: 358 KB
- HTTP Requests: 15
How Fast Is Sydney?
WordPress Themes That Didn’t Make the Cut
Here are some of the themes that we tested that didn’t make our cut for being one of the fastest WordPress themes. These are not all the themes that didn’t make the cut, but we did want to single out two of them because they still might work for your site even if they aren’t the “fastest”.
Note, I roughly defined the cutoff at around ~300-350 KB. If a theme wasn’t too far over that and had a low number of requests, I still included it (as you can see with Revolution and Sydney above). However, if a theme went far above that and/or had a high number of HTTP requests, I considered that not making the cut.
Despite its reputation, Divi isn’t horrible from a performance perspective, but it’s definitely a little fat at 400+ KB out of the box and 19 HTTP requests.
However, there is a trade-off for putting up with a little extra weight — Divi is super-duper flexible!
See, Divi includes the Divi Builder by default, which lets you build your entire theme using a visual drag-and-drop interface. This helps explain the extra weight in the test data.
If you value that flexibility, Divi might still be worth it. Plus, if you put proper performance optimizations in place, you can certainly get Divi to load with respectable page load times.
Read our Divi review to decide if it’s worth the trade-off.
How Fast Is Divi?
At 320 KB, Typer’s file size is competitive with some of the themes that did make the cut. The reason that I held Typer back is the HTTP requests, which are a little hefty at 31. I’m not sure what could cause the default “Hello World!” post to need 31 HTTP requests.
Still, Typer includes some absolutely beautiful designs, so it might still be worth a look, especially because there are performance techniques (like combining scripts) that can help you reduce the number of HTTP requests on your site.
How Fast Is Typer?
If you want your site to load fast, picking one of the fastest WordPress themes will set you up with a foundation for success.
While there are tactics that you can implement to optimize a slow-loading theme, you’ll never be as successful as just starting with an already optimized foundation.
In this post, you have tons of multipurpose options that can work for all niches. To pick the best one for your site, I would consider the demo sites and customization options that each theme offers.
By earning a spot on this list of fastest WordPress themes, each theme has already guaranteed a minimum level of performance optimization. So instead of worrying about that, just pick the one that’s going to help you make an awesome looking website.
Any questions about how we tested these fast-loading WordPress themes? Ask away in the comments.
Great roundup, and current, unlike some of the others that claim to be updated for 2021 but use 5 year old data. Fantastic job and very useful.