For over 10,000 WordPress themes available, finding the best WordPress theme for your needs can be quite challenging. Most beginners start by selecting the best-looking demo with all the bells and whistles, but this is often a poor choice because these themes appear to be blown with software that will significantly slow down the loading time of your website. With website speed being used by Google as a ranking metric, you need to ensure that your page is loaded within 3 seconds.

So, what are some of the primary criteria you need to seek?

1. Speed

You will not know what your final load time will be, depending on your hosting company and the content you add to your chosen theme along with any optimizations you make. What you can do is pick a fast loading theme as best practice with a clean code base and then go there. By entering the URL of your demo site into GTmetrix, you can test the rate. Here are the main things you should be searching for: Fully Loaded Time–the higher the lower (your website must be loaded in less than 3 seconds).

Total Page Size–the better the lower (your website must not exceed 2 MB).

Requests–the better the lower (ideally, your completed website won't reach 80)

2. Responsive

Many WordPress themes are sensitive these days, but there are still a few vendors launching fixed width templates that are not mobile-friendly AT ALL. Don't just take their word for it, run their sample theme URL via Google's Mobile Friendly Review site.

3. Browser compatibility

Many WordPress theme designers will use sophisticated plugin compatibility testing tools to extensively test their themes. Do not just take their word for it, run some basic tests on your own by checking their demo page on various browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. on both your desktop and mobile.

4. Support & reviews

Make sure you have good documentation and support options for checking the WordPress theme. Most premium WordPress themes offer one year of email-based support for detailed documentation. Don't just accept what they're doing, look for input from customer reviews about their support and anything else that might stand out.

As of 2019, we tested and hand-picked what we believe to be the best WordPress themes.

1. WP Astra

Astra is one of the most popular free themes available in the WordPress.org theme directory with more than 100,000 active installations. Now available is a premium version that gives you even more customization options such as; layouts–these provide you with the option to choose from Boxed, Full Width, Max Width, Padded and Fluid layouts. Through margins and padding around objects, spacing can also be adjusted to suit the user's needs.

  • Headers–different customizations of headers and footers such as Transparent Headers, Sticky Headers, Phone Headers and Page Headers.
  • Typography–Typography–Google fonts fully integrated and a free application for custom fonts. Easily control typography size by computer to allow full responsiveness, with plenty of additional transformation options for headings such as Text Transform, PX or EM font size as you choose, and other typography options.
  • Colors and context for Headers, text, sites, files, forums, sidebars and footers are completely flexible and customizable.
  • Design of the blog–map, masonry, chart, date box, extract, etc. There is also built-in infinite scrolling and post pagination.
  • Global Design Options–the company logo can be left-aligned, balanced, or right-aligned, with different designs to choose from. Along with many other customization options, you can also configure mobile device-specific headers, headers, templates and custom code above and/or below the text.
  • Integration of WooCommerce–product grid designs, endless scrolling, sidebar off-canvas, easy display option for product images, multiple gallery choices, shopping cart drop-down, just to name a few.

Yet WP Astra's best standing attribute is its pace! It was designed from the ground to be sleek and lightweight with clean coding. With a blank canvas page, speed testing resulted in load times of: 0.576s!

2. Customify

Customizing is a WordPress theme that is highly customizable, ultraflexible. The Customize theme is SEO optimized and comes with customized email support, open, lightweight and fast loading.

  • It has its own construction tool for headers and footers on the site.
  • Constructed with an emphasis on SEO, site speed and usability
  • Support for all big plugins for the creation of site
  • Compatible with WooCommerce
  • Various sidebars and models for the page
  • Visual editor in real time

Another template that has been designed for pace. With a blank canvas page, speed testing resulted in load times of: 0.599s!

3. GeneratePress

There are multiple options to function for any company or sector with different layouts, product choices, and apps to choose from.

  • Navigation – it offers 2 different options for navigation
  • Header – you can easily move your header around and change its styling
  • Design of the sidebar – it has 1 or 2 sidebars
  • Layout of the blog post – such as metadata, image size, etc.
  • Design of the footer – choose the number of widgets to include
  • Embedded Schema – perfect for SEO
  • Great support for the free version as well!

Another theme that has been designed for pace. With a blank canvas page, speed testing resulted in load times of: 0.536s!

4. Hestia

For business websites and eCommerce stores, Hestia is a multi-purpose WordPress theme. It is compatible with almost all the top WordPress plugins, so you can easily add any functionality to your website. It is a theme that is responsive, quick, and friendly to SEO.

  • Responsive development – as it is a must these days.
  • One-page interface – the layout is built to look like a single page, making navigation for everyone simpler and more intuitive.
  • Compatibility with WooCommerce –Hestia is designed to properly support WooCommerce.
  • Drag-and-drop builders compatible–Hestia can add one out of the box with your pick.
  • Friendly SEO–Hestia's software is tailored for all the latest trends and specifications in SEO.
  • Newsletter subscription form–SendinBlue is one of the most popular delivery services for emails and newsletters. Hestia has already built-in and incorporated its subscription type.
  • Widgetized footer–full support of the widget in the footer for maximum customization.

Although not as good as the first 3, a blank canvas page speed check loading in: 0.775s is still quite impressive.

5. OceanWP

OceanWP is a free, multifunctional WordPress theme that allows you to create beautiful looking WordPress websites. The free version comes with 7 free extensions, but OceanWP also comes with 11 premium extensions you can buy to give you additional control.

  • Responsive development – so any display size will be modified for designs.
  • Built-in SEO – for optimal indexing and ranking of queries.
  • Ready-to-compatible translation with the WPML conversion plugin.
  • Many forms of app menus.
  • PHP7.1 compatible
  • Wide Mega Menu with complex menus.
  • Support for all common page constructors.
  • Integration of the Menu Icon.
  • Stick Something – do anything for sticky.
  • Popups on your page – for login to WooCommerce.

Although not as fast as the first 3, a blank canvas page speed test loading in: 0.827s is still quite impressive.

Conclusion

As we can see, some very fast WordPress themes are available that work very well. Clearly the content you add to your site will have an impact, along with any additional plugins you download, but you can begin your site on solid foundations at least by selecting one of the faster themes.

For SEO, page speed is important and is just one of the criteria that will allow you to move up in search rankings while keeping your bounce rate down from visitors who don't have the patience to load your page.

If you need support to speed up your WordPress page or have any other related issues, please contact us for assistance.