There were only three considerations I made when choosing the theme for this site:
- You, my readers.
- The speed of the theme and its conformance to HTML5 specifications.
- My time. It’s very valuable.
PixiGo was an easy choice.
You, my readers
First, there are plenty of fancier themes. But when thinking empathetically about the audience for your website, you have to give them what they want, not what you want.
We live in an age of show. Social media warps our brains into thinking that we constantly have to push the envelope.
We delude ourselves into thinking that we have to look fancy, put extra stuff everywhere, do daring and bold things, and in general, “be awesome”.
There’s a problem there. While those things might serve our egos, they don’t always serve others.
This website is for those who are looking to make their WordPress websites be the absolute fastest websites possible, with little upfront cost (other than a bit of their time).
In general, I expect that most of my visitors will be web developers, enterprise software agencies, and website hobbyists.
Those visitors would not appreciate:
- advertising popups
- complicated fonts
- a slow or clumsy interface
The fastest way my readers can get the information they need is to have:
- clean, responsive text
- simple centered screenshots
- quickly viewable articles and lists
- embedded videos (occasionally)
- code snippets
PixiGo helps me give that to you as fast as possible. It’s almost as good as putting a website into Safari’s “reader mode”, but there is no need for you to do that with PixiGo.
Here’s another “fast” theme that I could have chosen:
As you can see, Zakra, like many themes, while very fast and highly-rated, would not serve you, my readers, very well. It’s more for a commercial entity trying to sell a service or product. It’s more for a marketing or branding firm.
Speed and HTML5
PixiGo is fast. Blazing fast. All on its own.
WordPress needs fast HTML5 compliant themes.
Unfortunately, even when theme developers use HTML5, they still create nested DIV hell and attach dozens of CSS classes to nearly every tag.
I’ll write more about this later, but remember one thing: while there are a hundred speed-related factors for a website, at the end of the day, it’s all HTML.
PixiGo comes out of the box with only a 36Kb page load.
That is not a typo. Contrast that to most fast themes, and they still start at 500Kb, and dip into the 1.5Mb side of the scale.
And those are the fast HTML5 compliant ones. I routinely have to tear apart bloated themes that have code that looks like this:
Look at all the classes on the html tag alone. There are children’s bedtime story books that have less text than that.
I’m highlighting the search box (“Buscar…”) in the code. It’s quite literally the second thing on the page (logically), after the banner, and it’s buried so far down that the FBI couldn’t find it.
I’m not picking on this website. I happen to know they used a page builder to drum up some of this code (and they are actively seeking to fix this due to, unsurprisingly, a very slow response website which is costing them customers and traffic).
They are just victims of the our modern WordPress culture. (Incidentally, just a switch to Zakra and Gutenberg would likely be a major help to them).
In contrast, PixiGo has super clean HTML, uses correct HTML5 tags (like <header>, <footer>, and <article>), and attaches very little CSS. Their main style sheet is under 1,000 lines (my personal requirement). While I’m sure I could optimize PixiGo even further (for my own needs), it quite literally starts off with just what is needed and not much else.
My Valuable Time
This leads me to point three. I want to get information into the hands of you, my readers. “Fiddling” with my theme is not high on my priority list.
I’m a WordPress developer and could have happily spent some time customizing Zakra, or many other fast themes, to my specifications.
I will eventually fine-tune PixiGo even further for myself and maybe help contribute to it. But I don’t have to “hack” the theme just to get it to do what I want.
That being said, we live in an age of Developer Time > Reader Time. Sometimes it is also Developer Time > Machine Time.
That has to stop.
What I’ll be writing about here is how to focus our development time on making sure that our readers, and machines, are impacted less, even as we are impacted more.
So, I started by choosing a theme that is performant, pleasant, and meets the needs of my readers out of the box. Once I have 50 articles on this website, I’ll go “tinker” with a few theme-related things.
For now, enjoy Performant Press on the PixiGo theme.
Note: This is in no way a plug or advert for PixiGo or its studio. I did not consult with them prior to writing this. Plus, PixiGo is completely free for anyone to use. When you first activate PixiGo, there is a promotion for some other products, but you can bypass it easily if you’d rather not use them.
Note 2: You’ll notice I left the credits for the theme in the footer. There’s an option to turn that off for those of you who like the theme but, for commercial reasons, need to not show that. For me, however, I’m happy to give credit to Pixify and other development studios who are focusing on making WordPress screaming fast.