Finding a good-looking WordPress theme is not difficult. You will find hundreds of them. The challenge comes when you need to find a theme that is well-coded, fast, and versatile. Finding a WordPress theme that fulfils all these conditions is no easy task. On top of that, you will definitely look for something that you can customize to your heart’s content.
But when you have found one, another set of problems show up. You can always find a minimalist and eye-catching design, but is your website going to fulfill two of the most important parameters? What parameters you ask?
Here are the parameters:
- Revenue generation
- User experience
You see, Google’s search algorithms are constantly evolving and its latest avatar focuses on user experience. Google checks core web vitals, all of which eventually measures user experience.
Interestingly, it is possible to score high on all the metrics, but that usually comes at a cost – lowered revenue. Yes, there is a negative or inverse relationship between ads and core web vitals.
I mentioned ads because majority of the blogs are dependent on ads for revenue generation. These ads come from ad networks like AdSense and many more. The problem is that the ads butcher the speed.
This means that you need to find a solution, a delicate balance between advertising and user experience, and that’s a Herculean task.
So, this list of best and most popular WordPress theme will be based on finding the ones that stand strong when it comes to achieving this critical balance.
That’s also the reason why I will happily and deliberately exclude some popular names like Divi that heavily depend on page builders.
Yes, page builders can help you achieve stunning designs, but what you don’t realize is that they are one of the reasons why your website will become slow. Page builders advertise themselves are code-free drag-and-drop builders. That’s convincing enough.
What they don’t say is that to achieve such code-free drag-and-drop modules, they use CSS – tons of CSS that enormously add to your overall page weight.
Thus, I will always suggest that you avoid page builders!
Now that I have given a clarification of sorts, it is time that I go ahead and start with the list.
Best and Most Popular WordPress Themes
Built with speed in mind, GeneratePress is theme you should always consider. Coded with perfection, GeneratePress can achieve unbeatable speeds. Yes, it is the fastest theme I have experience in my 6+ years of blogging experience.
The free version of the theme is available on WordPress themes repository. To convert it into a fully-featured premium theme, you need to purchase its premium plugin. The premium version will give you access to different modules that you can activate or deactivate depending on your needs.
These modules include everything from extra menus to layout to typography and colors. The best, and most powerful module that GeneratePress has to offer is called ‘Elements.’ It will allow you to add new functions and customizations using hooks.
Yes, the premium version is endlessly customizable and you can create designs that are unique to your website. In case you want to build stunning websites, GeneratePress is capable of working with popular page builders like Beaver builder and Elementor.
However, as before, I do not recommend using a page builder!
What’s best about GeneratePress is that it comes with a whole library of premade designs that you can import with a single click in case you don’t feel like playing around with the options to create a unique design.
You can always extend the capabilities of GeneratePress using GenerateBlocks – a plugin designed by the same developers to ensure that you can create additional blocks using WordPress’ new Gutenberg editor.
#2. Trellis by Mediavine
Most likely you have not heard of Trellis. It is a very new entry in the market that focuses on speed. Trellis is not a theme. It is a framework (something similar to the popular Genesis framework).
Trellis ships with a default theme, but you get to purchase child themes as well. Every Trellis child theme has to follow the same coding ideology that Trellis uses. A talk with Mediavine developers (I am using Mediavine ad network for my websites) reveals that they have included core web vitals parameters into the development of Trellis.
The only problem with Trellis is that it doesn’t support building complex sites or WooCommerce sites. It is designed only for content creators (blogs). So, if you are building a blog that you want to be fast right from the beginning, you should go for Trellis.
No, there is no free version available (not even for Mediavine publishers like myself). If you want to use Trellis, you have to purchase it. If you want additional themes, you need to purchase them too!
What’s interesting is that Mediavine has optimized Trellis to work best with Mediavine ads, but that shouldn’t hold you back from using Trellis with some other ad network. You need to adhere to the best practices of using ads if you want speed.
My suggestion will be to ensure that you are no using too many ads on a single web page. Play around with the ad density and try to push the ads below the first fold of your website. Also, try to lazy-load your ads that Mediavine does by default.
Soledad is a premium theme that you can purchase from Themeforest. Built with two things in mind – visual elegance and speed, Soledad is a treat for eyes. Don’t worry. The theme can achieve incredible speed as well.
What’s interesting about Soledad is that is supports AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) out-of-the box. You don’t need to use a separate AMP plugin to achieve that.
You can activate the AMP module with a single click, and the best part is that the AMP site will have a similar design language as your desktop theme. This consistency will be lost if you are using a third-party plugin.
Soledad supports everything from megamenus to additional menu or off-canvas menu. It offers endless color customizations and there are many premade designs that you can work with.
In case you don’t like to work with premade designs, you can create your own preferred layout using the options you get in theme customizer. You will never need a page builder to create a stunning website.
It even allows adding Google Analytics code without any plugin. And yes, there are predefined ad locations for speed optimization.
Ultra is a flexible multi-purpose them that you can use to create any type of website you want. Yes, there are premade templates available that you can use. There is a drag-and-drop page builder included in case you want to edit those design templates. I will, however, never recommend using the builder.
As far as styling and customization is concerned, there are multiple layout choices and you can play with unlimited colors, custom widgets, multiple sidebars, social media integration and more.
Don’t worry! The theme is really easy to use and you don’t have to worry about complex configurations. You can just click around and change elements.
If you are looking for a one-page website theme with slick material design and no compromise with speed, Hestia is the all geared up to give you an experience that you cannot forget.
Well, the theme is compatible with all major page builders (just in case you want to use one). If you want, you can even make an WooCommerce store or a simple blog! Did I mention that the theme will allow you to create full-screen websites that look super elegant?
With Hestia, you can make a professional-looking website in no time. If you want to reduce your dependency on third-party plugins, the pro version of the theme is all you need. With incredibly powerful features, Hestia Pro can help you create the website of your dreams.
It is translation-ready and supports RTL languages. The code is clean and optimized for SEO. In case you need a megamenu, that’s possible as well!
#6. Authority Pro
If you are a big fan of the famous Genesis framework, you should look into the Authority Pro theme. Well, you will need the Genesis framework for Authority Pro to work. Designed to reflect minimalism, the theme features a widgetized homepage layout that can create stunning and yet simple homepages.
Gutenberg-ready and high-resolution, the Authority Pro theme works with the best-known WordPress plugins. So, you shouldn’t face compatibility issues.
StudioPress (the creators of Genesis and all related themes and plugins) is known for offering speed-optimized themes and frameworks. With clean code, you shouldn’t be facing SEO issues.
#7. X | The Theme
Yes, you read it right! The name of the theme is X | The Theme. That’s it! It is an incredibly powerful multipurpose theme. Just how good is it? Consider this – many users who have used this theme say that they will never go back to any other theme.
The features of X are so many that you cannot read it all within a minute or two. You just need to sit down, relax and go through everything. The theme comes with unique designs known as stacks and you get an integrated role manager as well!
It is responsive, and supports short codes, dynamic content, and a lot more! You will also get what is known as the cornerstone page builder in case you want to use one.
You can understand the popularity of the theme by the fact that the developers have made well over 12 million dollars by selling this theme!
Be careful though! This theme can slow down your website if you don’t use the features wisely. Don’t think of using everything. You will never need everything that the theme has to offer.
The only downside of the theme is that it is not Gutenberg-ready. So, if you want to use the theme, make sure you are using the classic editor.
If you want to build a website that can quickly go viral, you should thank the folks at MyThemeShop for giving you the ultra-fast SociallyViral theme. MyThemeShop is a well-known name and it offers many well-coded themes that follow SEO best practices.
Did you know that ViralNova’s Scotty built a 100-million-dollar empire by using some of the themes from MyThemeShop? In case you are not aware of the name, you must have heard of RankMath – the new SEO plugin making quite some noise! The plugin comes from the house of MyThemeShop.
What’s good by SociallyViral is that you can test the waters using the free version before you commit to the premium version.
Sold through Themeforest, Enfold is a theme that will not disappoint you. With a stellar 4.85 out of 5 stars, this theme has some of the coolest features you can get out-of-the-box.
You can build just about anything using the theme. A construction company site, an WooCommerce store, a lifestyle blog, a personal resume site, a photography site – you can build just about anything!
With responsive layouts, integrated drag-and-drop layout editor, translation-ready, search engine optimized codes, integrated form builder, short code editor and more, this theme can eliminate the need to using a few plugins that people usually depend on.
In case you are just starting out and you are tight on budget, it is pointless to spend some money on a theme when you can get the Hueman theme without paying a dime. The theme does have a pro version available, but trust me, you don’t need the pro version.
It was originally developed to be a free multipurpose theme that included everything you would normally expect from a paid theme. Of course, times have changed, but the theme is good enough for building a powerful blog and an WooCommerce site.
You can build unlimited sidebars, and play with unlimited colors. There are many typography options and blog layouts, too! In short, you get a professionally designed premium-grade theme for free!
The themes listed here are lightweight, versatile, and well-coded. Of course, many more could get in this list, but providing an abnormally long list doesn’t make sense. I have personally tested all the themes I mentioned here in this list and found them to be incredibly fast.
Of course, the speed will depend on many things including the plugins you are using, the images and other rich media you are using, whether you are using a CDN, etc. Just ensure that you are using only those that you need. Don’t overdo! At the end of the day, you need a neat and functional website that gets the job done!