Myths and Lies about Fast WordPress Themes

I’ve researched “Fastest WordPress Themes” for many years as a Page Speed fanatic. The sites we build at Frank’s Designs are built with fast, clean themes with no bloat.

So why are bloated WordPress themes considered “fast?”

The YES argument

If you consider that these themes load 50 – 200+ code files, fonts and images (called “requests”) they are incredibly fast. But most websites do not need to load so many requests to accomplish their goals. This site you are viewing now uses 15 requests after caching but even without caching it loads 20 – 30 requests.” With some help from smart design and WP Rocket It is lean and mean and faster than 96% of all sites tested on Pingdom. This site is lean with a Page Size of 145KB.

The NO argument (mine)

If you look at this WordPress theme review post it claims that a theme called “The Core” is fast. Really? It loads a whopping 244 requests! If you look at the photo on this review you’ll see “The Core” is faster than 41% of the sites tested. This is literally SLOWER than 59% of the sites tested; nothing to be proud of.

Slow WordPress Theme Performance Grade

Why are these top rated themes really so slow?

If you search for these you’ll notice that they are described as multi-purpose themes which means that you can do “any type” of business website with them. So because they are multi-purpose they are stuffed with tons features. In many cases I’ve seen themes that have multiple sliders built in. They are poorly designed because they load unnecessary items in the effort to support all possibilities.

Is it fair to compare a theme framework like Blox to a multi-purpose Theme?

Yes and No. If you have a site built by a professional who takes pride in their work you shouldn’t hire someone who is using a theme like this to build your site. UNLESS, you like your page to take 20 seconds to load. Of course a framework like Blox Theme can’t do everything Avada and others do but I would argue that your website shouldn’t try to do everything. It would be like trying to make a bus sized RV perform like a Lamborghini.

 

WPTechGuru LogoCan WPTechGuru make my [existing] site really fast?

It depends on where we are starting. Sometimes a website is so badly built we can only speed it up some with image compression and caching. Sometimes we can selectively replace plugins with smarter ones too. If your site is still not as fast as you would like we can rebuild it.; there is no pressure.

How a website is built affects everything

Sometimes one website built with the same theme as another site can be much slower. This is because of the developer’s approach to the project:

  • Were they just doing it quick or planning ahead?
  • Did they use a few plugins as possible?
  • Did they use responsive and mobile first techniques?
  • Did they avoid adding plugins that drag the site down?
  • Other factors?

Unfortunately profit motive leads developers to build sites as fast as humanly possible using quick and dirty methods instead of planning ahead and looking at the big picture and truly caring about their client’s success.

Sometimes it is the customer’s fault

The customer often wants “everything” and asks for third party elements that add bloat to your site. Sometimes the customer installs a plugin without my knowledge.

Big culprits include

  • live chat
  • social media
  • and integrations

Remember than an integration provided by a company might not be the best solution. A a great example of this is a Mail Chimp sign up form. If you use their form your lose precious page speed and increase requests on your website. If you use Gravity Forms as a sign up form you save resources and avoid adding bloat.

Our approach is to use every opportunity to keep your website lean. As part of that strategy we the absolute best tools available on the market. This is why we use the best in class, premium plugins to design our sites and also to manage them.

If you are interested in more information on this topic here is an article I wrote on avoiding multi-purpose themes.

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