So, you found your way to the Avada theme demo site and you were immediately dazzled with how cool the page was. It’s very impressive: that parallax header image, the fade effects, the pretty 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.”
How could you not want to use it?
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. Just the opposite, actually. But why is your Avada theme slow, when the demo loads so well? Did the Avada guys forget to tell you something? What gives?
Why is my Avada theme slow? Demo is optimized, but the theme. . . ?
The Avada authors claim that their demo site scores a 94% (A) on page speed tests, but this isn’t quite true. The Avada demo site does score in the mid-90’s, but only on GTMetrix tests, and not on Google Page Speed Insight tests. On Page Speed Insight tests, the Avada theme demo scores an average of 82% for desktop results (which is still quite good), but a poor 56% 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. The goal should always be to fully load the page in four (4) seconds or less. Under three seconds is optimal. But there is more to this story. The Avada Demo site uses Cloudflare to significantly 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 the theme authors should disclose. By omission, appears the theme itself—not the theme with a premium optimization service and CDN—gets you high scores on Page Speed results. 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 512MB 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, Salient, and others.
- NGINX 1.7.7 with Apache 2.4.10
- PHP 5.4.17
- MySQL 5.5
- WordPress 4.0.1
- Avada 3.6.2
Actual Avada Theme Performance Results
Demo Page – Home Page 18
|4607||0||88||1,434 KB||8.353 sec|
* Average of 12 tests run consecutively without any page modifications.
What do the findings tell us?
A lot of people continue to like Avada. And if you like it, you should use it. But understand you will need to spend 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? Here are my recommendations to help you make fast:
- 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 or TinyPNG (not free, but best our there 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. It won’t. Use Youtube so you can link to larger videos externally.
- Sliders—and I can think of few reasons why you should ever use one—can be disable in Avada Theme Options. This disables the supporting code from being loaded into all your pages, which will help your pages load quicker.
- 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 $3.00 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 grief.
- Use a good CDN service like MaxCDN or Cloudflare or some other you are comfortable with. They will dramatically improve page loading speed, especially for media heavy sites.
- Use W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache. These plugins requires 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.