Ever since Google announced the Page experience update and the arrival of the so-called core web vitals metrics, there has been a bit of panic everywhere as this is a very tricky problem that isn’t just easy to solve.
A brief introduction to core web vitals, its how Google engineers or its entities measure a page, its load speed, and overall performance. It’s not new that Google has said speed, alongside security such as adding SSL to your site, backlinks, and great content is great for higher rankings. Now placing more emphasis on speed, enter, Core Web Vitals.
According to Web.dev, One of Google’s products for developers, CWV is divided into three aspects:
- LCP/Largest Contentful Paint: This aspect of the core web vitals has to do with loading of the website.
- FID/ First Input Display: The FID metrics deals with interactivity of the site. How long it takes to be able to render some elements of the page from loading.
- CLS/ Cummulative Layout Shift: How long its taken the site to fully load. Tagged: Visual stability.
And Google does have expected benchmarks for these metrics as stated on this image.
The Core Web Vitals discussion is a huge one as it encompasses so many things and issues, so to say. A lot of things go into passing these tests. A number of them are:
- Using very fast web hosting with great server speeds (We recommend and use Cloudways for this due to its ability for server scaling and wide range of selections, great pricing too).
- Build your website on a reliable CMS or platform. For example, WordPress. Many of the Core web vitals solutions online today are targetted towards helping WordPress users.
- If you use WordPress, use a fast theme and not one with bloated codes (The aspect we’re tackling today).
- Only use plugins you don’t need and optimize the already activated ones.
- Image compression or use advanced/lightweight image formats like Google’s Webp.
- Utilize caching both on server and WordPress levels and so much more.
Now back to our article, While the WordPress theme you choose is only a small piece of the puzzle, it’s a vital one as the importance of choosing a clean and lightweight option to build your site on in this era cannot be overemphasized.
As creators with our own portfolio of sites out there winning the core web vitals war, here’s a list of the best WordPress themes we recommend for increased speed, passing core web vitals, and overall higher conversions.
AstraWP has over one million active installs on the WordPress repo and the reason for that is not because it has over 150+ templates you can install in just 1 click. This theme is lightweight and built for speed, along with that comes a smooth integration with some of the most popular page builders.
If you’re to ask us what our favorite feature of this theme is, it’s definitely going to be the header and footer builder. Having the freedom to fully customize the header and footer of your website? That’s awesome.
The team behind AstraWP also directly works with the WordPress team and is a big player in the WordPress industry. It’s also cost-effective and the base plan is very sufficient for most creators even e-commerce businesses looking for ways to dramatically cut down the load speed of their website.
Overall, we highly recommend this theme for everyone.
So what makes KadenceWP different from the rest? They are more focused on minimalism but that doesn’t mean they sacrifice aesthetics and the rest. This theme comes with Kadence Blocks and this allows you to go from creating post carousels, split content, image overlay feature to modal buttons on any page.
KadenceWP theme also comes with online documentation to help you get the best of the theme. If you wish to get the full feature of this theme the starting price goes for $69/yr and the Kadence suite going for $169/yr (which we highly recommend) there is also a lifetime deal if you wish to go for that.
Some features you get for the full version of this theme are:
- Header add-ons: With this addon, you get to add your own HTML codes in the header or you can have your header toggle in or out, choice is all yours!
- Woocommerce Addon: The woocommerce addon comes with some amazing features like auto opening a cart when a product is added and a custom built shop page.
- Fixed Elements: This addon allows you to show fixed content like headers and banner or show elements based on devices.
While the creators of the Networker theme tag it as a theme for tech news, we believe it’ll do fine for just about every and any content niche site out there. Networker is one of the themes created by CodeSupply, An elite author on Themeforest.
The Networker theme is a lightweight theme built with features for even more speed such as image lazy loading, both normal and native for browsers, utilizes the latest CSS and HTML versions for its code, requires absolutely no coding, and very easy to install and use.
The theme also comes with about 9 demos you can install and start using immediately with a ton of ways to change the header, body, and footer designs. The inbuilt dark-mode option is also a huge plus, highly recommended if you want to appeal to your readers visually while adhering to the rules of building a fast-loading website and passing core web vitals.
GeneratePress is a free and open-source WordPress theme, it’s built to prioritize the need of your website from usability and speed to make sure your website is loved by search engines.
Having GeneratePress on your website means you get to use the GenerateBlocks WordPress plugin and the most interesting part about this is that you can build all parts of your website without having to write any code unless you want special features added to your site, your developer can take care of that, or if you know your way around these things.
Like the previous themes we’ve mentioned above GeneratePress also comes with some really cool starter website templates that will save you a ton of hours. With GeneratePress, the creators have set up a foundation so your website can achieve that optimal page speed score.
The GeneratePress theme is very popular among WordPress speed enthusiasts and there’s a reason for that. The free version in most cases is okay and provides the basic needs but the pro version provides extra features you’ll find helpful in the long run.
ContentBerg is getting some serious love from content marketers and creators. This theme is built around the Gutenberg WordPress editor. ContentBerg comes with different article layouts you can choose from.
The team at ThemeSpehere has made it so you can choose how you want your homepage customized, from a simple blog layout, grid, or a magazine-style blog layout, and with the support of powerful page builders like Elementor and WP Bakery, you can make your own custom looking homepage without writing a single line of code.
ContentBerg is a well-documented WordPress theme and if you’re already familiar with how Gutenberg works then working around this them should be a piece of cake.
6. StudioPress Themes
StudioPress Themes or Genesis Framework as many of you may know them have been around for some time now and with over 50+ themes built for speed with clean code, you can never go wrong with any of these themes.
If you want to see this theme in action, you can opt-in to getting the free Genesis framework theme and the free block editor to see magics you can person with this powerful WordPress theme.
However, if you’re just looking for something that’s been built already, the Genesis Pro subscriptions offer you tons of already built themes, 24/7 chat support and you can use it on unlimited websites.
Schema by MyThemeShop brands itself as the fastest SEO WordPress theme available on the market right now and that claim is not to be taken lightly, the theme is truly incredibly fast and has been on the market even before most of the options on this list were created.
This theme combines a fully responsive design into an ultra-fast and SEO-ready theme with an inbuilt review system and an options panel to change almost everything in the design including header, footer designs, fonts and so much more without the added bloats that other themes are bundled with.
While the theme also utilizes Elementor to build amazing pages but the base version is just okay as is except you have other design needs. At this time now, it’s safe to say the need for a fast theme like this one can’t be over-emphasized.
Apart from a blazing fast theme that boosts conversion and helps you retain visitors, using this theme for your content site can also help you get more social shares with strategically placed buttons that require no extra code or plugins to add. Enjoy higher ad earnings with the in-built ad placement systems and overall? An Improved user experience all website owners should aim to deliver all the time.
There’s a free version of this theme too, just like AstraWP, called Schema lite, it does the job at the bare minimum level but the pro version just offers so much more.
OceanWP is one of the few creators that offer a lot of premium widgets for free and they a very big on Elementor page builder as most of the widgets are built using Elementor. Without any coding skills required you can go from working with global fonts to amazing header styles, top bar, and up to 3 mobile menus styles.
If you happen to have a shop, this theme offers some really amazing WooCommerce features to help you get the best out of your online store. One of the WooCommerce features we are most excited about is the multi-step checkout and the best part about this is, it all comes for FREE!
OceanWP has some cool plans you can opt-in for if you’re looking for more. The plans are Personal, Business or Agency plans and the starting price is $39/yr and a lifetime offer going up to $519.
9. Acabado Theme
Acabado was created by the guys over at Incomeschool.com and guys, it is a crazy fast theme, truly.
As content marketers with a portfolio of sites, Jim and his team recognize the need for a theme that is not only super fast that can help them achieve 100/100 on Google’s page speed test tool but also has SEO features built-in as SEO plugins have been accused of being bloated over and over again by users who feel let them after installing them on their site.
That’s not all, the theme also brags about putting mobile-first which is a great thing. According to ComScore, the number of mobile-only users has surpassed desktop -Only users in the United States and that was in 2015. Google also treats websites in its website to mobile-first rankings and prioritizes mobile users over desktop and rightly so, the data don’t lie. Shouldn’t you rather get a theme that helps you look good on the mobile front?
Acabado also has a couple more features that make it a better choice over others like its anti-bounce protection features and Pinterest image optimization. With this, there should be no need for extra plugins or code or bloatware to add pinning functions to your site that may slow it down especially if you’re big on Pinterest which you should be. Pinterest is among the top five referral traffic drivers in the world right now just a bit behind Google and Facebook.
The only drawback we’ve noticed with this theme is that there’s no free version you can try unlike Kadence, Schema, AstraWP up there. The design is also very stripped down and common. There are no elaborate demos and this theme is strictly built for content websites. The pricing is fair however and has no licensing restrictions. The yearly fee lets you use it on unlimited personal sites you own.
That’s it for our list on the faster themes to give a go right now.
Off the bat, we’d recommend you go for AstraWP but it depends on what you really want to build. Kadance and OceanWP are two great options too.
Trouble deciding or have general feedback? Use the comment section and we’ll talk through things together.
Thanks for reading.