Hey there! So, I’ve been on the hunt for WordPress themes to use on my website, and let me tell you, it’s been quite the journey. I’m looking for something that looks amazing but also loads quickly.
I initially went with the Magaziner theme, which looked absolutely stunning on my desktop. But once I checked it out on my phone, it was just kind of… meh. And since most people browse websites on their phones these days, that’s a bit of a problem. Plus, Google prefers websites that are mobile-friendly, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind. And in 2023, having a speedy website is absolutely crucial.
So, I hit a snag. All of the themes I’ve tried so far slow down my website. So, I’ve shifted gears and started looking for themes prioritizing speed above all else. After some research, I found a few options that seem to be popular and will likely show up for you as well in most Google searches:
The thing with most of these themes is that their developers heavily advertise them, and most of the results you see are from people trying to sell you on a particular theme. So which one is best? I have tried all of the above themes, which are very fast after their initial installation. The difference in speeds seems to come down to milliseconds. I was happy with everyone of these as far as speed. So for me it came down to ease of use.
Ease of Use
I do not want to build a theme; I want to concentrate on the content. You can create a child theme and edit all you want, but I did not want to. At first, I tried the site builders. I tried Beaver Builder, Elementor, and the free one that comes with my hosting, but they seemed clunky and slowed the site down. I opted to stick with just the WordPress customizer that’s built-in.
I kept circling back to Astra; I’m not endorsing it; it was just my favorite. It wasn’t much faster than the other themes, But I liked its settings in the customizer. Don’t get me wrong; it is quicker than the other ones I tried. But not by much. Also, the free version has a ton of features.
Free vs Premium
When it comes to WordPress themes, one of the biggest questions is whether to opt for a free or paid option. While it can be a complicated decision, for most websites, there are plenty of excellent free themes available. Purchasing a theme can be quite costly, and it can be tough to justify the expense for additional functionality. However, many themes offer a free version for you to test out before making the decision to upgrade to the paid version.
Personally, I decided to take the plunge and purchase the pro version of Astra. At first, I wasn’t entirely convinced that the added functionality was worth the price tag. But as I’ve spent more time with it, I’ve grown to appreciate its capabilities.
Interestingly, buying the premium version of a theme may have unintended consequences, such as slowing down your site. While the free version is typically more barebones, the premium version can add bloat to the backend of your site. So, if you don’t need the extra features, it might not be worth spending the money on them. Keep that in mind as you consider which WordPress theme to choose for your website.
Website Speed Tips
While not necessarily theme-related, website speed should be at the forefront of your design. Many things can slow down your website, and the ramifications of that could prove costly when you start optimizing for SEO later on. It is best to start with speed in mind from the beginning. I discuss the topic in more depth here.
Optimizing image size
Make sure to optimize your images before you upload them to your site. Think about this from the point of view of the person you’d like to visit your website. Do they want to see big flashy pictures, or are they there to read about a topic they searched for? This question should be a significant factor in deciding which theme to use on your website.
If your website showcases your photography or your place of business, a large image in the header may be the way to go. It will grab attention and keep your visitors interested. But if your website is more informational, keep the pictures to a minimum.
I resized all featured images to 1200 x 630 on my websites. This minimizes file sizes and keeps all photos the same across the site. Using code to resize your images is a bad idea. Taking a few minutes to resize the pictures before they even hit your server should be standard practice. Make it a habit.
If you aren’t indexed in search engines, all your hard work building your website will be in vain. If your site isn’t quick, search engines will not be forgiving. Speed should be in the back of your mind every step of the way.
Search Engines want speed
Website speed is a critical factor for SEO. A slow-loading website can negatively impact user experience, resulting in a higher bounce rate and lower engagement levels. This can signal to search engines that your website is of lower quality or relevance, hurting your search rankings.
Search engines like Google consider your website’s loading speed a ranking factor. In fact, in 2018, Google officially announced that page speed is one of the ranking factors used for mobile search results. So having a fast website can improve your search engine rankings, resulting in increased organic traffic and more visibility for your website.
People today have come to expect instant gratification, and website speed has become an essential aspect of website optimization. It is crucial to ensure that your website loads quickly to enhance user experience, improve your search engine rankings, and drive more traffic.
While some WordPress themes may look pretty on the front end, their slow speeds can be detrimental to the success of your website. Keep that in mind as you develop your oasis on the internet.
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