You found your way to ThemeForest and the Avada theme demo site, and you were immediately impressed with how cool the page was. That parallax header image, the fade effects, the attractive layouts, four different sliders, umpteen different blog and portfolio layouts, shortcodes galore, and top sales bragging rights at ThemeForest.
Add to that how it “scores a 94% on page speed grade.”
But when you run your new Avada theme-driven site using the imported demo content alone it’s not the racehorse Theme Fusion told you it would be. Why is your Avada theme slow, when their demo loaded so quickly? What gives?
Why is my Avada theme slow? Demo is fast, but the theme is slow.
The Avada authors claim their demo site scores a 94% (A) on PageSpeed tests, but this isn’t quite true. The Avada demo site does score in the mid-90’s, but only on GTMetrix tests, not on Google Page Speed tests. On PageSpeed Insight tests, the Avada theme demo scores an average of 89% for desktop results (which is still quite good), but a much lower 71% for mobile devices.
When it comes to first-visit load times, performance on the demo site’s home page is nothing to brag about. On a twelve-run test, the *fully-loaded page averaged just over eight (8) to just under nine (9) seconds on simulated LTE 3G. The goal should always be to fully load the page in four (4) seconds or less on mobile using fair 3G carrier. But there is more to this story.
The Avada Demo site uses Cloudflare to help reduce page load times and boost it’s performance scores.
* Fully-loaded means that all page elements, including DOM, all GET/POST requests for included or imported files, and all other code whether internally or externally derived has fully loaded in the page, or has failed to load because of error and the request has timed out.
Avada demo site uses Cloudflare CDN
There is nothing wrong with using a good CDN (Content Delivery Network) and optimization service. I use a CDN myself. But this is something Theme Fusion should disclose. Without Cloudflare, it follows that the Avada demo site home page would load significantly slower and score much lower on page speed test results.
Below you can see the actual results for the Avada theme; out of the box, using just the demo content import, and with no further optimization or CDN services. I have noted the server environment details for reference:
Our Avada theme demo testing site was loaded on a Webfaction 764MB RAM shared hosting account. This environment is used by many of our clients with small business web sites, using WordPress and premium ThemeForest themes like Avada, Enfold and others.
- NGINX 1.14.0 with Apache 2.4.34 or higher
- PHP 7.2.0 or higher
- MySQL 5.7 or higher
- WordPress latest version
- Avada latest version
Actual Avada Theme Performance Results
Demo Page – Home Page 18
* Average of 12 tests run consecutively without any page modifications.
What do these findings tell us?
That is especially true when it comes to mobile devices on less speedy data plans. Avada users constantly request more and more features, and the Avada authors keep giving them what they ask for. This has led to an increasingly larger and more complex code base.
By trying to keep their users happy, the author’s of Avada have sacrificed fast out-of-the-box performance to provide all of the features their users want.
A lot of people continue to like Avada. And if you like it, you should use it. But understand you will need to devote significant time, some additional money, or both, to get your Avada-driven site to load fast and score well, especially on mobile devices.
Avada theme slow? Recommendations to make it faster:
- Make sure you keep your image file sizes as small as possible and optimized for the web. Use a good image-compression plugin, like EWWW Image compression plugin or TinyPNG (not free, but a better choice).
- Don’t think you can load a 70MB video into a 10 slide slider, put it into a page, and think it will load fast enough for anyone to hang around to watch. They won’t. Use YouTube so you can link to larger videos externally.
- Sliders-and I can think of very few reasons why you should ever use one-can be disabled in Avada theme options. This disables the supporting code from being loaded into all your pages, which will help your pages load quicker. Then disable the slider plugins themselves.
- You can disable other theme features and code libraries, although Avada developers have not done a great job of explaining what will happen when some of them are disabled.
- When your $5.00 per month hosting package blows up on you, don’t act surprised. You should have known better. Get a good hosting package. It will save you a lot of downtime, SEO, security and functional problems, and gray hair.
- Use a reputable CDN service like MaxCDN or Stackdriver or some other you are comfortable with. They dramatically improve page loading speed, especially for media heavy sites.
- Use WP Super Cache and Autoptimize. These plugins require time and knowledge to implement correctly. If you don’t have that time, or don’t want to deal with it, hire a competent professional to help you optimize your site. You’ll be glad you did.