Divi is one of the most popular multipurpose WordPress themes out there. While Elegant Themes, the developer, doesn’t publish public usage stats, Divi is definitely up there with other big names like Avada.
Divi is both a flexible theme and a visual, drag-and-drop page builder plugin, which means you can build out your entire site design using a simple visual interface. The fact that anyone, even non-developers, can build a custom website with Divi plays a big role in its popularity.
However, popular as those features might be, they’re not the main focus of our Divi theme review.
We will briefly touch on them at the end, but we’re mainly focused on how Divi performs from a page speed perspective. After all, we do make a WordPress performance plugin, so page speed is our main focus.
To help you understand how Divi performs, we’ve set up a test site that includes several pages built with the Divi theme/page builder. For each page, we’re going to test it in both an “out-of-the-box” and “optimized scenario”:
- We’ll test the Divi theme in its naked state, with no performance tweaks added.
- We’ll install the WP Rocket plugin and re-run all of those tests to see how Divi performs after you implement WordPress performance best practices.
How We’re Testing Divi’s Performance
Before getting to the performance data, let’s run through the testing environment so that you know exactly where this data comes from.
To set up a realistic Divi website, we installed the Divi theme and then imported a set of themed templates from the Divi Den layout pack collection (which is built with the bundled Divi Builder). The site has four pages:
- Landing page/homepage
Depending on how you use Divi, your actual website might be “heavier” or “lighter” than our test page, but setting it up like this should create a pretty representative example of the average WordPress Divi website because most Divi users will use the builder to design their content. Additionally, the test templates include all the content elements that you’d expect on a real-world website.
Here’s what the homepage looks like:
To collect performance data for each type of test page, we’ll use WebPageTest and the following testing configuration:
- Run five separate tests for each page and use the median value to eliminate test variability
- Test from WebPageTest’s Dulles, Virginia server, which is near our DigitalOcean droplet
- Use a FIOS 20 Mbps connection (on average, this is about the Internet speed for the USA as a whole)
By testing this way, we’ll naturally get slightly “slower” numbers than a tool like Pingdom that uses an unthrottled connection, which is something to keep in mind. But this approach should be more accurate to what your real-life human visitors will experience when they visit your Divi website.
For each page, we’ll run two test scenarios.
First, we’ll test just the Divi content by itself, with no outside performance optimizations.
Then, we’ll re-test all of those pages after installing and activating WP Rocket. By default, WP Rocket enables page caching, Gzip compression, browser caching, and some other improvements. Beyond that, we’ll also enable file optimization for HTML and Google Fonts, as well as lazy loading.
Let’s dig into the data!
Divi WordPress Theme Performance Review
Below, you’ll find the data for the first test configuration, which is just the four core Divi pages (built with the Divi Builder) and no performance optimizations:
No performance optimizations:
|Home||35||1.852 KB||1.822 s|
|Blog||31||751 KB||1.531 s|
|About||38||1.878 KB||2.010 s|
|Contact||54||2.579 KB||3.013 s|
Overall, these numbers are solid for pages that are built using a visual, drag-and-drop editor.
Yes, you can certainly find faster WordPress themes, but Divi gives you a lot of flexibility and still offers adequate page load times. Elegant Themes released a big performance upgrade for Divi in June 2019, so this might play a hole in why Divi performs better than some people give it credit for.
You might experience weighter pages if you load them up with slider modules and other “heavy” modules, but ~35 HTTP requests and under 2 MB is not bad for a page builder page, especially compared to some of the other popular multipurpose themes out there. For example, if you look at our Avada performance tests, you’ll see that those pages are quite a bit larger.
However, you can speed things up a good bit if you pair WP Rocket with Divi. How much? Here’s the data after activating WP Rocket on our Divi test site:
With WP Rocket:
|Home||33||1.848 KB||1.376 s|
|Blog||30||748 KB||1.229 s|
|About||26||1.439 KB||1.084 s|
|Contact||53||2.575 KB||2.718 s|
To help you visualize the differences between the two test scenarios, we’ll combine the median load times into a single table:
|Just Divi||1.822 s||1.531 s||2.010 s||3.013 s|
|With WP Rocket||1.376 s||1.229 s||1.084 s||2.718 s|
While WP Rocket was able to shave a few requests off each page and slightly reduce the page size, you can see the biggest reduction in the median page load times.
Depending on the page, WP Rocket reduced the page load times by between 46% (the About page) and 10% (the Contact page).
Getting three of the pages under 1.5 seconds is great for user experience and shows that you certainly can get a fast-loading Divi site when combined with WP Rocket.
There are some things to consider when using WP Rocket with Divi, though. For example, Divi’s built-in A/B testing feature will not work with WP Rocket’s page caching because A/B testing relies on PHP. Similarly, you may need to make some tweaks to file optimization in either WP Rocket or Divi (which includes some of its own file optimization features).
You can learn more about using Divi with WP Rocket in this help article.
Pros & Cons of Using Divi
As you saw above, it’s quite possible to get respectable, or even fast, page load times when using Divi. But let’s quickly run over some other pros and cons of the Divi theme beyond performance:
- Divi is super flexible. Whether you’re using the theme settings or the bundled Divi Builder, you can create some great-looking, custom designs. This is something to keep in mind when you compare Divi against more lightweight themes that, while faster, don’t offer a visual, drag-and-drop builder.
- The Divi Builder is one of the premier page builder plugins out there, whereas a lot of the multipurpose themes that come with their own proprietary page builder often don’t have the best page building experience.
- Divi comes with 125+ layout packs that you can import to create a website in pretty much any niche.
- Divi is one of the most popular multipurpose themes out there, so it’s easy to find community support as well as third-party extensions and layouts, like the template pack that we used for the test pages.
- Elegant Themes (the developer) has a very attractive licensing policy. For one price, you can use Divi on unlimited sites and also get access to all of Elegant Themes’ other plugins and themes.
- While Divi’s performance is solid, you can certainly find faster WordPress themes if performance is paramount to you.
- Divi can be a little overwhelming if you just want to create a simple blog. If you’re not going to take advantage of the Divi Builder and all the detailed customization options, you might be happier going with a simpler, more minimalist theme.
Divi is not the absolute fastest WordPress theme out there, but it’s more than adequate and does well when you consider the flexibility that you get with the Divi Builder.
Out of the box, the page load times for pages built with Divi Builder and the Divi theme are solid. On just the cheap $9.95 per month FASTDOT Starter Hosting , the page load times for “real-world” page designs built with Divi and the Divi Builder hovered around ~2 seconds, which is fine for most sites.
If you combine Divi with WP Rocket, you can probably get those page load times down under the ~1.5-second mark, which is definitely fast enough.
So if you like the multipurpose flexibility and bundled Divi Builder, you can still create a quick-loading website with Divi.
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