Our last post looked at a high-level overview of why you still need a theme in 2021, even with the rise of WordPress page builders. Today we are diving into which themes qualify as lightweight that we regularly use.
Why Does Lightweight Matter
First, why do you want a lightweight theme anyway? If you are using a page builder, you want most of the code printing out on the page to come from the page builder and not from your theme. The theme can add needless HTML, CSS, and scripts, which in turn slows down your website.
While page speed isn’t everything when it comes to organic ranking, it is a factor that you cannot wholly ignore. Organic search results aside, speed also impacts your user experience. The last thing you want is users leaving your website because it takes too long to load.
For several years Astra was our go-to theme. When we use Elementor and WooCommerce, it is still our top pick. Astra is super fast with convenient modular additions, including some very affordable premium options, to make your website professional and easy to use.
Just a straightforward “Activate” link gets you some excellent theme-level customizations while still leaving room for the page builder you choose to do what it does best – layouts.
Turn to Astra when you want a page builder and need a few extra quick to employ features with eCommerce or Learning Management Systems. Astra also offers many starter site templates for Elementor, Beaver Builder, and the WordPress native Gutenberg editor.
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If you are using Elementor as your page builder, look no further than Hello Elementor from the Elementor team. It is 100% free and super lightweight. It is as close to being invisible as a theme can be, AND it handles Elementor with zero conflicts.
No conflicts mean you won’t be hunting down why styles are changing or not working because the page builder will define all of that. Best of all, if your pages are slow, you know it isn’t the theme.
One side note is that we have successfully hot-swapped on live sites between Astra and Hello. A couple of minor style differences may occur, but they actually run so similarly, most users wouldn’t notice. I would only recommend doing something like this if you need some new features for WooCommerce, LearnDash, or LifterLMS.
You can easily download Hello Elementor from the WordPress.org repository when you spin up your new WordPress installs.
Honorable Mention: Kava
Kava theme is also speedy and well suited for use with Elementor. I have demoed it and found it very lightweight and easy to use as a foundation for Elementor.
Still, it didn’t exceed the performance or features in Hello Elementor or Astra in any way that enticed me to switch. But check it out if you are looking for alternatives to some of the other major players.
Selecting a theme can be a lot of weighing of pros and cons… if you need help, you can contact us here.