If you’re not familiar, Avada is by far the best-selling WordPress theme of all time at ThemeForest. At the time that we’re writing this post in December 2019, it’s been purchased an astounding 562,446 times. And over those hundreds of thousands of purchases, it’s maintained an impressive 4.77-star rating out of 5 on over 22,000 reviews.
That’s a lot of sites running Avada and a lot of happy customers, so the Avada WordPress theme obviously must be doing something right.
Avada comes with a huge array of demo sites, features, and options, but those aren’t the main focus of our Avada theme review.
Instead, while we will mention those features in passing, we’re mainly focused on Avada’s performance. Specifically, how fast does a website running the Avada theme load out of the box, and what might your page load times look like with a little optimization from WP Rocket?
To help you understand how Avada performs in both its default state and an optimized scenario, we will:
- Test several different pages from an Avada demo site using WebPageTest.
- Re-test those same pages after activating WP Rocket to see how things change with just WP Rocket activated.
How We’re Testing Avada’s Performance
Before we show you the data, let’s get into how we’ll run the tests and what our test environment is.
First off, our test website is hosted on cheap shared hosting from Bluehost, so it doesn’t have the most powerful foundation out there.
To set up Avada itself, we imported a complete Avada demo site. Specifically, the Freelancer demo site.
While the exact performance results will vary based on the specific demo site that you import, the Freelancer demo site is a good representation of the elements that the “average” Avada demo website includes so the basic ideas should be the same across all demo sites.
Beyond importing all of the Avada theme demo content for the Freelancer site, we also installed some, but not all, of the bundled/recommended plugins. The plugins that we installed are:
- Convert Plus
- Slider Revolution
- The Events Calendar
To gather the performance data for each page, we’ll use WebPageTest with the following configuration:
- Run 5 separate tests and take the median value to eliminate single test variability
- Test from WebPageTest’s Chicago, Illinois server, which isn’t too far from Bluehost’s Utah data center (where our test site is hosted)
- Use a FIOS 20 Mbps connection (this is around the average connection speed for the USA as a whole)
Note – this test configuration is naturally going to result in “slower” numbers than testing with something like Pingdom Tools which uses an unthrottled connection. However, this configuration is more representative of the page load times that your real human visitors will experience.
We will first test just the Avada demo content and the bundled plugins mentioned above.
Then, we’ll install WP Rocket and re-test all the same pages. Beyond WP Rocket’s default improvements (page caching, Gzip compression, browser caching, etc.), the only additional options we will enable in WP Rocket are HTML and Google Fonts file optimization, as well as lazy loading.
These options are unlikely to cause issues on an Avada website.
Avada WordPress Theme Review: Performance Data
Ready to check out the data? Let’s dig in…
Here’s the first test scenario, which is with just the Avada demo site and no performance optimizations:
|Homepage||45||2.366 MB||5.967 s|
|Recent Work||38||2.012 MB||4.836 s|
|Blog Archive||33||2.298 MB||4.985 s|
|Blog Post||31||2.041 MB||4.572 s|
|Contact Page||38||2.035 MB||5.129 s|
As you can see, page sizes are above 2 MB and load times are in the 4.5-6 second range, which is pretty slow and likely to cause a negative user experience for your visitors.
Now, here’s the test data after activating WP Rocket and enabling the HTML and Google Fonts files optimization features, as well as image lazy loading:
|Homepage||37||2.093 MB||4.539 s|
|Recent Work||31||1.987 MB||2.951 s|
|Blog Archive||30||1.993 MB||2.971 s|
|Blog Post||29||1.881 MB||2.573 s|
|Contact Page||33||2.012 MB||4.054 s|
To make it easier to see the differences, let’s put the median page load times from each scenario together in a single table:
|Homepage||Recent Work||Blog Archive||Blog Post||Contact Page|
|Just Avada||5.967 s||4.836 s||4.985 s||4.572 s||5.129 s|
|With WP Rocket||4.539 s||2.951 s||2.971 s||2.573 s||4.054 s|
As you can see, if you’re using the Avada theme, enabling WP Rocket and configuring just a few settings can make a huge difference on your site’s load times.
While the default configuration had page load times in the 4.5-6 second range, WP Rocket was able to shave between 1-2 seconds off the page load times, depending on the page.
WP Rocket also managed to get three of the test pages under the 3-second mark, which is going to offer a huge boost to user experience on your site.
It’s still not blazing fast, but ~3 seconds is much better and within the range of acceptable page speed numbers.
Pros & Cons of Using Avada
Of course, there’s probably more to your decision to use Avada than just performance, so let’s go over some of the other pros and cons of the Avada WordPress theme…
- You get access to a ton of great-looking demo sites, which makes it easy to get started with a complete site. All you need to do is go in and tweak things to match your site and branding.
- The Fusion Builder makes it easy to customize those designs using drag-and-drop or build your own designs from scratch.
- You get access to a number of premium plugins for free, like Advanced Custom Fields Pro, Slider Revolution, Layer Slider, and more.
- Avada is one of the most popular WordPress themes in the world, so it’s easy to find support and you can be confident that the developer will continue to maintain and improve the theme.
- From a performance perspective, Avada is heavier than many other themes, especially in its out-of-the-box configuration. WP Rocket can help fix some of these issues, but you still won’t achieve the page load times that you could with a more lightweight theme.
- If you just want a simple blog or portfolio website, Avada and its many options might be overkill. Both in terms of feature “bloat” and the fact that having so many features makes things a little more complicated than a simpler theme.
Avada’s numbers speak for themselves: a ton of people love this theme. Its multipurpose approach means that you can use it to build pretty much any type of WordPress website. And to help you do that without code, it comes with an ever-expanding list of pre-built demo sites and a visual, drag-and-drop builder.
However, while Avada is certainly great from a design perspective, it’s not the most lightweight theme out there. The demo site that we tested had page load times in the 5-second range, which is not ideal.
To be fair, we were testing on cheap shared hosting, so you’ll likely have slightly better results with more powerful hosting. Still, we’ve tested lightweight themes on a similar configuration with much better results.
If you want to get the design benefits of Avada without sacrificing your website’s performance, the WP Rocket plugin and Avada make a great pair.
As you saw above, WP Rocket can shave 1-2 seconds off your Avada page load times, which got our test site to a much more respectable ~3-second range for a majority of the pages.
Have you had a chance to use Avada in combination with WP Rocket? Or do you have additional questions? Feel free to leave a comment.