What Is The Fastest WordPress Theme?

We all know it: page speed matters. Not just for SEO, but for user experience and conversions also.

We know what we need to do: install CDNs, reduce page elements, cache your files and compress your images and even consider moving to a better web host.

But, what else are we missing?

We can attempt to make our sites faster using all the aforementioned tactics, and yet it may only make our pages slightly faster than what they were prior. That tends to be the case when a website is built on an unchecked foundation: the theme.

We seem to forget that the theme on which our website is created on is *extremely* important to the speed of which your pages load. The amount of elements, code and requests are almost completely dictated by the theme. So, why haven’t we prioritized speed as a factor when considering a WordPress theme?

That question is what has lead us here.

After much searching, there seems to be some consensus on the following themes being the fastest the web has to offer. They are:

As the control, I chose the two most common themes known to WordPress sites: Twenty Nineteen and Twenty Twenty.

The website which the test would be conducted on was a standard eCommerce website.

To draw fair conclusions, there would be two pages being assessed i.e.:

  • The homepage (no images)
  • A category page (list of products with respective thumbnails)

Now that the ground rules had been laid out, it was time to get testing.

The four sites used for testing speed were the same ones we recommend in our SEO resources section:

At the risk of all four tests producing similar numbers, I thought it would only make sense to make sure some of the evaluations be simulated from foreign locations. In doing so, it would also serve to show which theme was consistently faster across the globe. Germany, Canada and Australia were among the countries included in the experiment.

The current figures, at the time of writing were:

Twenty Nineteen

Homepage Category
Size 301 Kb 2.3 Mb
Requests 10 requests 22 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 1.8 seconds 3.6 seconds
— Germany 1.9 seconds 3.3 seconds
— Australia 3.9 seconds 7.9 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 79/100 73/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 93/100 88/100

Twenty Twenty

Homepage Category
Size 446 Kb 2.74 Mb
Requests 9 requests 21 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 1.9 seconds 2.9 seconds
— Germany 1.9 seconds 2.2 seconds
— Australia 4.9 seconds 8.9 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 75/100 75/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 92/100 95/100

Fastr

Homepage Category
Size 85 Kb 2.39 Mb
Requests 7 requests 19 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 1.2 seconds 3.6 seconds
— Germany 2.2 seconds 2.3 seconds
— Australia 2.7 seconds 6.7 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 97/100 96/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 99/100 94/100

Susty

Homepage Category
Size 62 Kb 2.37 Mb
Requests 5 requests 17 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 2.0 seconds 3.1 seconds
— Germany 1.8 seconds 2.2 seconds
— Australia 2.9 seconds 6.9 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 94/100 96/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 99/100 99/100

_s

Homepage Category
Size 87 Kb 2.39 Mb
Requests 8 requests 20 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 1.8 seconds 2.8 seconds
— Germany 1.5 seconds 2.3 seconds
— Australia 3.5 seconds 6.7 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 92/100 97/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 97/100 86/100

WP Web 1.0

Homepage Category
Size 65 Kb 2.37 Mb
Requests 5 requests 17 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 1.3 seconds 1.6 seconds
— Germany 1.2 seconds 3.0 seconds
— Australia 2.9 seconds 7.6 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 99/100 98/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 99/100 98/100

GeneratePress

Homepage Category
Size 199 Kb 2.5 Mb
Requests 15 requests 27 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 2.8 seconds 3.1 seconds
— Germany 2.4 seconds 2.7 seconds
— Australia 3.6 seconds 7.7 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 68/100 67/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 77/100 86/100

Kava

Homepage Category
Size 512 Kb 2.81 Mb
Requests 17 requests 29 requests
Loading Time (by location)
— Canada 2.8 seconds 4.5 seconds
— Germany 2.6 seconds 4.2 seconds
— Australia 4.1 seconds 7.9 seconds
Overall Rating (mobile) 49/100 47/100
Overall Rating (desktop) 69/100 76/100

The data was in! Now it was time compare the results.

Comparing page size

While the category pages remained relatively similar, the ranges in size for the homepage were significant.

Overall, the smallest pages included:

  • Susty — 62 Kb
  • WP Web 1.0 — 65 Kb
  • Fastr — 85 Kb

Comparing load time

The second-delay between pages and the specified locations remained relatively consistent, no matter where in the world it was loaded. In other words, there was no theme that loaded fast in one location and proceeded to load slowly in another when compared to it’s competitors.

The fastest average loading times were:

  • WP Web 1.0 — 1.8 seconds
  • Fastr — 2.0 seconds
  • Susty — 2.2 seconds

Comparing page insights

Considering that PageSpeed Insights was a resource by Google, along with the novelty of summarizing their analyses into a score out of 100, it was only reasonable to take another look at these numbers to see if there was any outlier or point of data that may have been overlooked.

The highest average scores seemed to be:

  • WP Web 1.0 — 98.5/100
  • Susty — 97/100
  • Fastr — 96.5/100

The verdict

It is clear from the data observed that WP Web 1.0 seems to be the winner. Aesthetically speaking, however, it would be difficult for us to recommend this theme, even for the most speed conscious webmaster — especially when we consider other elements that contribute to ideal SEO conditions such as UX, link opportunities and engagement.

Susty and Fastr, despite their slight difference in performance, are both great options to choose from and the themes we would recommend for anyone looking for a lightning fast WordPress theme.

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Sebastian Hovv is a SEO consultant, blogger, speaker and author of the book, The Little White Book of SEO. With over 13 years of experience in SEO, he has become an expert in the field and a contributor to the world of digital marketing.