In my previous post, I explained why you should use a lightweight theme for your WordPress website. Today, I want to show you the themes that I used throughout my years of managing my own WordPress site.
At the beginning of setting up my website, I never thought about the page speed and other technical factors that affect the user experience.
Instead, I was more concerned about the aesthetics of my site, and more importantly, just set up my online presence in a quick manner. Thus, I tried to use a theme that is high in visual appeal and less complicated to navigate but also free to use.
One of the themes that I started out with was Shapely by Colorlib. It is a free WordPress theme with an elegant design and enough features to feature most articles or blog posts. Before the existence of this site, I used to be a proofreader, and therefore, my site was more catering to promote my proofreading services (now ceased).
I’m not going into the nitty-gritty details because that was two years ago, and I forgot why I chose that theme in the first place. Probably because it’s the first theme I encountered which I can use for free, and as I mentioned earlier, the minimalist design appealed to me.
But since it’s a free theme, the customization options were pretty limited. I can’t even adjust the sizing and the positioning of some aspects on many pages within my site. Plus, I could not hide the default footer notes too with the free theme.
Transitioning to Another New Theme (Also Free)
Four months later, as I was transitioning to become a freelance writer, I had to find a new theme with a bit more customizable features and free to use. Thus, the “Construction Company” theme from Rara Theme came into my radar.
Now don’t get me wrong. Just because it’s a construction theme doesn’t mean it can only be used for construction-related sites. In fact, I did customize the theme to promote my freelance writing services, and it worked like a charm.
I also adjusted the layout on most of my pages in addition to the colorful header and sidebar. My homepage was a bit special because there’s an opt-in sidebar form that I can utilize to accept online bookings.
But being naive with the whole website traffic at that time, no one was using the form because… well… no one recognizes my website, and even if there is, I presume that they would leave my website when there’s nothing more to see there. Then, I set up the form as an opt-in form with a freebie which I thought would work (it’s not).
New Year, New Theme
Around the middle of last year (2020), I tried to find another theme with more customizable features.
For some reason, I found Divi while researching on Google. The drag-and-drop capability is my main draw because the visual appearance is just too good.
Though it’s not free (I had to pay $89), I decided to give that new theme a try anyway. Although the features were overwhelming at first, I was able to completely customize and design my site according to my liking after a few days of delving into the new Divi theme.
However, there was one problem: editing and customizing the Divi theme using the visual builder slowed down my laptop performance. I have to shut off the tab where I edited my site, only then my laptop performs as normal again. But that is just a minor setback because I still love the Divi theme at that time.
It is not until I get to know about site page speed and how the site’s theme plays a role in it. When I first noticed the issue, I thought it was due to the size of my media files. I know that I had to compress those files, which would be another story in another blog post.
So I did a performance test for my website through GTmetrix and finally found the culprit. The theme that I used does cause my site to load a bit longer. There were too many codes embedded within the theme, which makes the page load slower.
Also, I realized that I hadn’t used much of the features inside the Divi theme. So I’ve decided to abandon Divi, and even though it was a good theme, I just had no other choice but to move on to another theme that performs better.
More Focus On Lightweight & Performance-Friendly
Then, last February this year (2021), I researched for another theme, but this time, I’m pretty clear with the kind I’m looking for: lightweight and much simpler to configure.
Okay, maybe “simple to configure” is an assumption because I just read through the reviews of each theme I looked through online. But still, I know that I need a better theme that performs better for my site.
Among all the lightweight themes that I have researched, I chose Astra. It was very lightweight, and it had basic options that I could manage when doing the customization.
It is also free to use and comes with no significant downsides, though I decided to pay $59 for the pro features in the theme. I don’t really need the fancy features like in Divi. Being able to configure the elements and widgets on my website without the complicated fluff is enough for me at this time. I’m still using the Astra theme, two months on.
All in All,
I have tried these themes:
– Shapely by Colorlib (free version)
– Construction Company by Rara Themes (free version)
– Divi by Elegant Themes
– Astra Pro
So far, I am quite satisfied with my current theme, and I have no plans to change to another theme yet.
But for the sake of demonstrating the usage of the themes that I have used to you all, I may consider installing those themes on separate sites (which I will create some time) and let you test them out yourself.
For now, I’m sticking with Astra 🙂