This post is also available in: frFrançais (French)

Introduction: I recently posted a long rant about people who criticize WordPress themes and their users non-stop (you can read – or reread – it here).

I’m a little fed up with having our work as WordPress architects denigrated simply because others decide to waste their time doing things differently. 😀

Yeah, it’s cool to use a premium theme for your WordPress site!

If you happen to agree, your next question will naturally be…

What are the best WordPress themes in the universe?

What am I saying? In the galaxy!

It’s fall, 2017, and I’ve just happened upon the ultimate resource for WordPress themes.

It’s a high-tech automated algorithmic ranking system! Yep, not even NASA came up with this idea!

Specifically, it’s a site called “WP Theme Detector” that publishes this incredible resource. As its name indicates, this service lets you detect which theme any WordPress site is using, simply by copy/pasting the URL. That in and of itself is fantastic for when you want to plagiarize get inspiration from a competitor’s site without having to bother inspecting the HTML code 😀

But what makes “WP Theme Detector” clever, is that it saves your search results to then create a ranking of the most popular themes and I can confirm, it does actually reflect a reliable ranking of the market’s best solutions. I’m loving it!

The ranking system presents the 25 best WordPress themes (more to come soon?), but let’s take a look at the top 20 results.

Ranking of the 20 most-used WordPress themes in the universe

1. Genesis (framework)

The first result can’t really be ranked. The Genesis framework allows front-end developers to quickly and easily create WordPress sites with custom web design, all while meeting WordPress standards for developers. It’s not really a theme in the graphic sense of the word.

2. Divi

This is my primary theme.
Intelligent. Flexible. Beautiful. Divi is the most powerful of ElegantThemes’ collection. I use it a bit like I would a framework. I’ll talk quite a bit about it towards the end of this article, after the ranking.

3. Avada

Avada is very flexible even for those who don’t know how to code. It comes with numerous preset “design” demos and dozens (hundreds?) of graphic customization options. You just have to click in your interface to modify your site’s appearance, which does make it a bit slower.

4. Newspaper (tagDiv)

All-time best-seller in the “Blog and Magazine theme” category. Numerous “demo” web designs included.

5. Sahifa

Clean, modern, and ergonomic theme, loads quickly, is customizable, flexible, and works well for news and magazine sites and blogs.

6. Enfold

This is my second-favorite theme. I go into more detail about it after the ranking, at the end of the article. I’m not surprised to see it rank in the top 10 most popular WordPress themes. Lots of demos included.

7. Salient

Also an excellent theme, very visual and ideal for online WooCommerce boutiques. Lots of nice demos included. Definitely one of the best WordPress themes out there.

8. The Theme X

Another modern WordPress theme. The success of Theme X is due to the numerous premium plugins included (for free as part of the package).

9. OptimizePress (framework)

Lets you create e-commerce sites with ease. OptimizePress is designed for creating landing pages, sales pages, and subscriber portals.

10. BeTheme

Probably the theme with the most graphic demos included. This one is useful for those looking to create sites that cover lots of different topics, but have no web design skills.
Really, is that a thing? 😀

11. Twenty Twelve

What do you know, WordPress’ default theme ranks pretty low. It’s a good starter theme if you want to put your PHP and WordPress codex knowledge to use.

12. Jupiter

A Beautiful, Professional and Ultimate WordPress Theme Made by Artbees.

13. Bridge

Bridge is a retina multi-purpose WordPress theme built on the very powerful and flexible framework by QODE.

14. The7

The7 features full and seamless integration with Visual Composer and Ultimate Addons. Most of our customers agree that The7 is the best theme to be used with these plugins, up-to-date!

15. Thesis (framework)

For the first time, you can control every last detail of your site and design with three revolutionary features you won’t find in any other WordPress theme: boxes, skins, site tools.

16. Jarida

Jarida is a clean and responsive Magazine, News and Blog theme

17. Flatsome

Float Responsive WooCommerce theme.

18. Canvas

The official theme of the WooCommerce team.
Canvas enables you to modify the design, layout and typography through the options panel. If you want a highly customizable theme or a starter theme for your next client project, then Canvas is definitely for you!

19. Twenty Fourteen

Oh, another default WordPress theme.

20. Hueman

The paid version of the best-rated free theme of all times for blogs and magazines on WordPress.org.

Where you can find the complete ranking (and live update) of the 25 best WordPress themes:

The advantage of this resource is it’s updated live.

The disadvantage is that it doesn’t really give any explanation of the various themes. If you need more detailed advice and analysis, keep reading to find out about a study done by WP Marmite in summer of 2016.

Afterwards I’ll tell you what I personally use.

“My theme doesn’t show up in the ranking, it’s not fair”

No worries, buddy, Mister didn’t forget you.

If you want to view your theme’s ranking, just scan your site.

For example, my blog uses Extra.

Click, click.

 

Nicolas Richer’s study of ThemeForest themes on WP Marmite

Last year, Nicolas Richer dropped a massive study on the famous ThemeForest premium themes.

And we’re not talking about a short article with a quick comparison. Nicolas tested all the bestsellers of the famous marketplace and dissecting them one by one, posting a detailed analysis for each one in the form of a blog article.

I have to be honest, I haven’t read each individual one. I played it super lazy and wisely waited for him to release the summary of all his studies. And what a shocker! 😀

Further down I’ll share what I think about the themes I’ve already been using for some time within my WordPress agency 😉

The WP Marmite comparison

Here’s the final ranking, from most recommended to least recommended:

  • Enfold
  • The7
  • Salient
  • Uncode

The runner-ups:

  • Impreza
  • Jupiter
  • BeTheme
  • Bridge
  • Theme X 4
  • Avada (the dunce cap goes to the one with the highest sales)

Afterwards, I’ll provide my opinion and user feedback by comparing his results, i.e. the best ThemeForest theme, with Divi (ElegantThemes), which isn’t really addressed in WP Marmite’s comparison since it’s not distributed by ThemeForest.

The indisputable rock star of the “WP Marmite ThemeForest battle” is Enfold!

It nails literally all of Nicolas’ criteria, all except – in his opinion – the “web design beauty” aspect… (a somewhat subjective criterion anyway).

I mean honestly, check out all of this theme’s demos and tell me it’s ugly 😉

enfold

Enfold’s gazillion demos

Now of course, what the WP Marmite comparison is referring to is the “trendy” aspect of the theme in terms of “high level” modernity, etc.etc. But even Enfold in its current state will serve well for some time to come.

The minor “beauty” drawback aside, based on the comparison, this template rates highest for the following criteria:

  • Performance: loading speed (it loads in the blink of an eye), a very important criterion, as far as I’m concerned, for Google indexing and user experience. If you were to pick another large theme, you’d never be able to optimize the site speed to that of Enfold’s. I know because I’ve tried.
  • Simplicity: speed of implementation. Trust me, you’ll get a site up and running10 times faster with Enfold than with Avada for example.
  • Page builder quality: apparently Nicolas has a soft spot for the “Avia Page Builder”. And honestly, after the amount of work he’s put into the analysis, I think we can trust his judgment without having to test all the other builders. Personally I’m in love with a different Page Builder, which I’ll talk about further down.

Best of all, he’s created an infograph to show the results of this cartesian study.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

For those of you who read French, you can also read the original article over at WP Marmite.

A huge shout-out to him for this enormous effort.

My feedback: which themes do I use in my WordPress agency and why?

Reading WP Marmite’s summary, I was impressed and delighted to see Enfold’s rating, since I’m a regular user of this theme.

I also appreciated that he shares his feeling on Divi in the comments.

It is my favorite theme. I recommend it across the board to almost all my clients these days.

So which will it be, Divi or Enfold ?

Why do I only use Divi or Enfold?

First of all, (re)learning how to customize a new theme each time, for each project, is a seriously useless – and huge – waste of time.

Relearning the theme options, relearning which files I have to override in my child theme to do this or that… it’s friggin’ annoying!

Additionally, throughout the site’s lifetime, when there is maintenance to be done (whether technical maintenance or just content maintenance), if you’re constantly switching between different themes with different Page Builders, you’ll lose your way and be unable to form habits. Whereas if you always use the same themes (no more than two), you won’t feel hampered when you move from working on one site to another. Delightful!

If you’re able to customize a WordPress site’s graphic design, there’s no reason to change themes every time.

Let’s compare these themes a bit: Divi & Enfold

I’ll give you my admittedly unscientific opinion from my own experiences. I haven’t taken the time to do much serious in-depth testing, but I can give you my general feeling after trying both themes.

Quick introduction to Divi…

Personally, I’d say that the Divi Builder (the page builder by ElegantThemes) remains the best one, particularly for its ease of use, both for you and your clients if you’re a web service provider.

It now includes a front-end editor. This means creating landing pages takes a third or even a quarter of the time.

Additionally, it keeps you from being “locked in” since the page builder works with literally any theme! And that’s a huge advantage for Divi in terms of upgrade-ability and maintenance, just in case! 😉

You could switch tomorrow from Divi to another theme (a ThemeForest one or even 100% custom development) and keep all your pages using the Divi shortcodes, by simply (and freely) installing Divi Builder.

I recently tested this on a custom-developed WordPress theme (based on a starter theme) and it worked quite well!

The only apparent disadvantage of Divi relative to the other selected ThemeForest themes is that it doesn’t offer any free demo content (i.e. a gallery of preset web designs).

L'unique démo de Divi.

Divi’s only official demo.

Unless you’re willing to pay more in addition to your ElegantThemes license, you’ll have to rework the theme quite a bit (CSS & co) to create something original that doesn’t look like the starting demo, which is a breeze with Divi for a web designer who knows how to code.

I use Divi the same way you would use a WordPress framework.

If you don’t want to customize the web design yourself, you’ll have to purchase child themes from boutiques managed by independent web designers. You can expect to pay between $50 and $200 for every web design demo, in addition to your $249 ElegantThemes license (an unlimited license that includes all their other themes like Extra and several plugins such as Bloom and Monarch).

Who is Enfold for?

In conclusion, I’d highly recommend using Enfold if you are a small entity that needs to get started quickly on a clean, high-performing WordPress platform.

It will be much easier and faster for you, especially if you don’t know how to code, or you’re not overly familiar with WordPress’ child theme system.

Enfold will also work nicely if someone comes to you with very basic needs (like a showcase site) and a very limited budget that won’t allow for a custom child theme.

Who is Divi for?

If, on the other hand,

  • you have loads of future WordPress projects planned for the long-term
  • you want to strut your graphical stuff using custom child themes
  • you want to use the coolest page builder in the universe
  • you want to work with code that’s super fun to customize…

Go for Divi!

Conclusion, which theme is best?

For me, Enfold is best for basic showcase sites and low budgets, and Divi is best for custom web design sites and things that will need updating over time.

See, you haven’t been misled! 😀

With this comparison, your work is done, you should be able to figure out the best WordPress theme for your needs with ease.

The life of a “WordPress addict” is hard, eh? 😀

So which theme will you choose? Will you stay loyal to a single theme, or use several different ones based on your needs? Tell us in the comments.

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À vos plumes !

This post is also available in: frFrançais (French)