A detailed Swift Theme review, learn all the pro and cons about one of the fastest WordPress theme, Swift Premium.
When it comes to the WordPress themes, you can easily find the hundreds of WordPress themes that boasts tons of features, but in case if you search for a WordPress theme with heaps of features, and still loads faster? I am sure, you’re less likely to find even a single such theme, quiet easily.
You know these days, there are many WordPress theme authors, each day new themes arrives, nearly all of them features stunning designs, a theme options panel with numerous built-in sliders, built-in drag and drop builders and a bunch of good-looking features. However, when you buy a theme copy and install it on your WordPress site, you’ll notice your shiny new feature rich WordPress theme loads super slow.
In the past, I’ve bought many of these so-called premium WordPress themes with the astonishing designs and fancy features, but whenever I try to use them on my WordPress sites, they always end up loading slow. That is the reason, I always try to stay away from such themes.
Recently, I came across this Swift Theme, by Satish Gandham, which is reckoned as “the fastest loading,” WordPress theme. At first, I was highly impressed with the site loading speed, amazing speed benchmarks with 90+ scores at Google Page speed score and at GTMetrix. Not just the speed, the theme is claimed to be customizable to the core, highly SEO friendly, and comes with all sorts of features, to help you create professional WordPress sites and generating more revenues.
I thought how about thoroughly reviewing the Swift theme, and see how it actually performs on my WordPress installation, will it be able to score the higher speed benchmarks? what are the actual customizable options behind the hood, and how the Swift WordPress theme will help generation more revenues?
With all such questions in my mind I reached out Satish for a copy of Swift Premium theme and he was kind enough to provide me a review copy.
The Swift Theme review.
The Story behind Swift Theme
Before I start, I want to tell you an interesting story behind the birth of Swift Theme. Initially, Satish was not a WordPress developer, and he got a degree in Chemical Science and Technology.
He was just a passionate blogger, facing issues with his WordPress blog, and his site was down due to higher resources usage, and the culprit was his then theme. Coincidentally, at the same time, he finished learning CSS a week before, and one of his friend told him, that how badly he wanted a lite weight WordPress theme.
After completely frustrated with customizing his blog theme, he discarded it and came up with an idea to create his own theme. It took him a week to come up with first copy of Swift theme, that he had used on his own blog.
Today Swift is used by more than 200K free users, and nearly 4K paid subscribers.
What makes the Swift theme faster?
There’s no secret sorcery behind the Swift theme that makes it one of the fastest loading WordPress theme, it’s all in the code. Swift theme is built out of necessity for a lite weight theme, so it’s built from the ground up with speed in mind. Swift theme is designed to work flawless even if you’re on a low server resources.
Minimum http requests – It’s always suggested to keep the minimum http requests counts for your site, the lesser the http request, the faster the site will be loaded in your browser. The ideal http request for a website should be under 50 (as according to the Quicksprout Website test, but you’ll be amazed to see that the default Swift theme loads only 34 http requests, it’s almost 20 requests lesser in comparable to the ideal http request count.
Zero images – Previously, in my old days with WordPress, there used to be WordPress themes where, the layout is highly designed with CSS images, that means even for designing a simple sidebar widget title box, themes were using CSS images, which makes the overall http request count for the entire theme design, ridiculously high.
- For instance – This eStore by Elegantthemes still uses old CSS images technique for the site layout design, and the http request count, is above 80, which is definitely not something to be proud of.
However, since the day one (August 17 2009) Swift theme relies completely on pure CSS design for the layout of the theme. This zero CSS images technique greatly reduces the http requests, and remember lower http requests = faster sites.
Performance ready code – It’s true that the hacks do complicate your code and eventually they are bound to fail. Whereas, Swift theme uses highly optimized codes, that means no hacks or workarounds, and they regularly optimize their code and queries for optimum performance. The theme also uses delayed loading aka lazy loading technique which, delays the loading of elements such as Gravatars, and user perceive the site to be much faster.
My setup for testing Swift Theme
For testing WordPress products I had set up a test WordPress installation at super-fast MediaTemple Managed WordPress hosting, and I’ve also configured one of my empty domain, likedesk.com to work with this test setup.
Let’s begin the Swift theme review
Once, I finish installing the latest version of Swift theme i.e. v.7.2.4, I was excited to take a look at the theme options page. To my surprise, Swift comes with a big set of options pages with nearly 6 menu options and there was total 18 tabs within Swift and design options page, combined.
The swift options menu allows you to configure your copy of Swift theme on your site.
Scripts and Misc – Under this tab, you can define the scripts that you want to load in the header sections such as if you’re using Google Adsense responsive ad units, and you want to customize the ad units with custom CSS, then you can add the custom CSS here, without directly editing the code inside header.php.
Similarly, if you want to add scripts such as Google Analytics code, inside the footer sections, you can use the “Footer scripts” section.
You can also setup a default thumbnail image, if your posts doesn’t have one. Be sure that if you’re using the full width slider, then the image dimensions should be no less than 940px in width.
Branding & header – In this section, you can upload a custom favicon, logo of your site, logo position, and there are even separate options to upload retina versions of favicon, and logos.
The Swift theme has an integrated set of social buttons to enable social media following, that shows icons of popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google plus in your site’s header.
If you’re using custom search solution like Google custom search, then you can paste your code in this tab, and the default WordPress search will be replaced with your Google search, nifty feature indeed.
Custom Slider – With Swift you’ve got the integrated solution to create a custom slider without the need of using any third-party slider plugin, you can add an unlimited number of slides.
Homepage settings – Inside, the home page settings tab, you can enable a feature post slider, that shows your featured posts in the slides, instead of custom slides. You can hide the slider feature in mobiles or tablets, under this tab. You can even configure the featured post slider style, be it full-width, or just fitted with according to the width of your content in the slides.
Further, here you can adjust all the settings related to slider, such as auto sliding, number of feature post, define a feature post category etc.
For the home page, you can enable excerpts, and if you want then you can also allow few full length posts to show before the excerpts. With Swift theme, you can edit the traditional WordPress “read more,” text with whatever you want.
I found the drag and drop functionality to configure the homepage post meta very useful, you can customize every thing under the post meta section including the orders of elements, such as date, author name, author avatar, categories, tags. Swift gives you the freedom to even change the “posted on” text, under the post meta.
Single Post options – For the single posts pages, you can edit the related posts title, as the Swift Theme comes integrated with custom template for Yet Another Related Posts plugin. However, nearly all managed WordPress hosting providers blocks this related posts plugin, so if you’re on a managed WordPress hosting and using Swift theme for your site, then you’ve to opt for some other off-site related posts solution such as nRelate, Outbrain etc.
Again, the social buttons shares the same, drag and drop functionality, so that you can easily arrange the social buttons, the way you prefer.
The theme also has the built-in feature to show author box, so no need to install a third-party plugin to set up an author box, just tick the show author box, and a neat author box, will appear right after the post content.
For the single post meta, you’re free to create the meta info box the way you want. Use the efficient drag and drop method to add and arrange your meta elements for the single post, above and below the title.
Ad Management – When I first saw the built-in ad management feature inside the Swift theme options, I was stunned. The ad management inside Swift is so powerful that it can easily beat any full-fledged ad management plugin for WordPress. With Swift you can easily integrate ads such as Google Adsense, in locations such as above the header, in the header, below the navigation, below the slider, between ad posts and archives, single posts etc.
You can also enable ads between the posts, after the first paragraph, after the first image, between the post content, below the post text, above the footer and in the footer, did you notice? with Swift you can nearly place the ads at just any location of your site. The ad manager inside the Swift also supports shortcodes and float properties.
Newspaper layout – Swift theme is bundled with a page template for news paper layout, if you’re interested to create one on your site, then first enable the newspaper layout from the options, then choose the add new page inside your WordPress dashboard, and under the page attribute select the newspaper template, and publish the page.
Now navigate to WordPress > Settings > Reading, and then select the static newspaper page that you’ve just created, and that’s it, the newspaper layout is now live on the home page of your site.
Further you can fully customize the newspaper layout from the options page.
Social Media – The last tab under the Swift theme options is the Social media, here you can define the Feedburner ID if you’re using the feedburner to serve the RSS feeds on your site, and configure other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram and YouTube.
Well those were just Swift options, now I am moving towards the Swift Design options
Swift Design Options
Layout options – This is the first tab inside the design options, there is a unique business site mode feature dubbed as experimental, what it does that it removes all the elements, which doesn’t looks nice on any business sites, such as references to the comments, dates and RSS feeds.
With Swift you can make your site retina ready, with enabling the retina support, and then you’ve to install WP Retina 2x plugin.
You can enable, the responsive mobile layout from this section to make your site mobile ready, I doubt who’s not going to enable this option?
By default Swift comes with 1160px width layout. However, if you want to manually adjust the site layout according to your needs, then just use the easy vertical slider according to your needs and push the save button.
There are total four layout types available for the Swift theme,
- Fluid – As the name suggests, this layout fills the entire screen and does the maximum usage of the available screen size.
- Fixed – The good old centered layout, with empty areas on the both the sides of your site layout.
- Boxed – Just the enhanced version of fixed with a shadow on the border line and curves, in a boxed layout.
- Hybrid – The mixture of fixed and fluid layout, where header and footer both are fluid with centered content, while the posts and sidebar area, both has empty spaces on the sides.
Further, you can choose how much space you want to add-on the outer side of your content, choose regular, airy, more airy and lot more airy. Well to be honest, I found this feature to be just useless, just give a standard spacing to the content and you’re done.
However, there are people out there, who just want pixel perfect spacing according to their needs, I guess this feature could be useful for them.
Swift offers three different navigational styles bordered, solid, modern. There is also an option to enable drop-down animation for navigation menus. If you want to configure the sidebar location on your site be it left, right or centered, do it from here.
You can also setup the total no of columns you want inside the widgetized footer area.
If you want a different layout for blog and archives page, then you’ve the option to choose from 6 bundled presets.
- Magazine Full
- Magazine Grid
- Magazine Grid Full
Background images – Yes, so with Swift you can add background images to just each and every section you want. There’s an option to upload your own images or choose from already existing palette of the background images.
Color options – Every single element can be customized, I bet you’ve never seen such a deep level of color customization available in any other WordPress theme.
Font options – Text is fully customizable, you can arrange the text alignment and the theme comes with 12 custom typography to customize text appearance according to your site. Plus, if that’s just not enough, you can even enter your own font stack, and change the font family for nearly all the text elements on your site.
Rounded corners – Didn’t liked the sharp corners on your site with Swift? you make them rounded.
Custom CSS – If you want to add your own custom CSS, you can do it here. Since, it’s Swift theme, how can you expect a single custom CSS box? right? so unlike the other themes, Swift comes with three different custom CSS boxes, one for the desktop layout, second is for the tablet layouts, while the third box is for mobile layouts.
Plugin compatibility – In case if the contact form plugins or if you’re using any plugin that uses tables to display the content and isn’t playing nice with Swift then you can disable the theme’s built-in form and table styling.
Thumbnail sizes – By default Swift uses dynamic thumbnail rebuilding, that means it prevents WordPress from creating thumbnails for the images that are not required. However, if you want to regenerate thumbnails using any plugin, then you can temporarily disable this option.
Further, you can also define the size for Blog thumb, and edit the height of sliders.
Sticky Elements – Sticky elements are cool, they stick to the browsers, greatly helpful for enabling maximum visibility for elements such as navigation, and sidebar areas. Swift comes with an integrated support for sticky navigation, sticky below navigation ad, and sticky sidebar.
Advanced – Sometimes, few users don’t use any shortcodes on their site, so for them there is an option to disable shortcode CSS, which will save 40+ Kbs of un-necessary content being loaded every time.
By default Swift uses FontAwesome icon, but they had gone a step ahead to save the un-necessary content from being loaded by creating four different sets of the FontAwesome icon set, lite, medium, large and the final full set. You can choose only that icon set, which you think you’re going to need while, creating your site with Swift.
Similarly, Swift also allows you to disable scripts for the features which, you’re not using on your site such as sliders, masonry layout, feedback template, mosaic template, tooltip, contact form 7 styling and you can even disable individual plugin stylesheets, which are loaded using wp_enqueue method.
Swift also allows you to use custom color schemes, it comes with 6 different color schemes.
If you’re creating a site based on Swift on localhost or in case if you’re planning to use the same Swift settings across all your site powered with Swift theme, then this import/export feature will come handy. You can even use this feature to back up your Swift settings safely in a plain text files.
The last two Swift menu options, Useful info and Help are just helpful resources about the theme functionality and usage.
Additional Swift features
- Fully Responsive design
- 12 Widgets and multiple sidebars – Swift comes with 12 different widgets, for all your needs.
- Category Specific text widget
- Homepage only text widget
- Page specific text widget
- Popular Posts widget
- Random posts widget
- RSS subscribe widget
- Smart & awesome posts widget
- Smart posts widget
- Smart text widget
- Swift Affiliate widget
- Swift page specific ads widget
- Tab widget
- Built-in shortcodes – Like I’ve mentioned earlier, Swift comes with built-in shortcodes for buttons, icon link, info box, typography, content toggle, related posts, contact form, column layout, tab layout, adding sliders, list generator and dividers.
- 3 Menu locations – By default, Swift has three menu locations first is above the logo, second is below the logo, and the third one is for navigation links in the footer area.
- 13 page templates – Swift is bundled with multiple page templates and their variations for feedback page, landing page, WooCommerce page, bbPress page and more.
- Built-in support for Google Authorship markup – Just update your Google Plus profile URL in your WordPress user profile.
- Built-in breadcrumb support – Swift theme has built-in support for breadcrumbs with WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, if you want to enable breadcrumbs on your site, just check the breadcrumbs options inside the Yoast SEO plugin settings.
- Custom CSS for individual post and pages.
Alright, so that was the most detailed overview of the entire Swift theme features, and so far all I can say that Swift is one of the most feature rich theme, and it could be easily the most customizable WordPress theme ever.
But you must be thinking what about the Swift theme review? is it really the fastest WordPress theme? let’s test it out!
Swift theme speed test review
At first, I tried to test the load time of my test setup with Swift theme installed. In this fresh WordPress setup, there’s a stock copy of Swift theme, with no plugins installed except the default MediaTemple system and Site stager plugins. I had used pingdom tools to test the website load speed.
First Swift theme speed test, Stock WordPress, Stock Swift Theme, no plugins installed
In the first test, did you noticed there was total 12 http requests, with page load size of just 141 kb, it took 702 ms to load the entire site. With barely configured Swift, the Google page speed score is 76/100, not bad.
Second Swift theme speed test, Stock WordPress, Stock Swift Theme, no plugins installed
I thought, to conduct a second speed test for the same site, and the results were even better. Now the site loads under 573 ms, the speed boost in this second test is definitely due to the faster response from the DNS servers.
P3 Profiler results
Okay so the above test was about how much time does a complete site loads with Swift theme activated. It would be much better if I could know that how much time only the theme alone takes to load. For conducting this test I had installed P3 Plugin profiler, a plugin benchmark tool by Godaddy.
After conducting a simple automatic profiler scan, did you notice something exciting here? if you breakdown these results, it takes 0.617 (617 ms) seconds to load the entire site, that is roughly same results which I’ve got earlier from the Pingdom speed tests.
But, the most noticeable part is the load time of Swift theme, as it only took 0.0669 seconds (66.9 ms) to load the theme files, whereas the WordPress core itself took much more time to load, i.e. 0.2591 second (259 ms). Definitely I can say, Swift is one of the fastest WordPress theme that I had ever used.
Second Swift speed test (fully configured site with content)
Well in the above test, the site has zero-content, no plugins installed, and I had barely used any theme feature in the previous test. Now since nobody runs a WordPress site with no content and zero widgets etc, so I had gone a step ahead and added some dummy content to my test site along with a simple favicon, site logo, few widgets, configured slider, contact form, and let’s see how this content rich site performs with the Swift theme on top.
First Swift theme speed test with fully configured site, few widgets, plugins, posts and pages
As soon as, I finished the first test result finished, I was thrilled, despite of increased http requests, and increased page size, the Swift theme still managed to load under 724 milliseconds. Also this time the page speed grade improved to 84 out of 100.
Second Swift theme speed test with configured site, few widgets, plugins, posts and pages
I thought, there could be some error with the first test result so I conducted a second site speed test, and whoa! the test results remained almost same. After analyzing the test results, I was highly amazed with the performance of Swift theme.
Second P3 profiler results
Lastly, I again ran a P3 profiler test on the site, this time my test site has content with 70 dummy posts/pages and 11 plugins installed.
Though, there was a difference of 154 ms in the total load time of P3 profiler results i.e. 895 ms (0.8958 seconds) in comparison with Pingdom test results, i.e 741 ms, which is most probably because of MediaTemple has served a cached version for the Pingdom query, whereas the P3 profiler generates site results in a non-cached environment.
But overall, even with second P3 profiler test, the results are still impressive.
In this second P3 profiler speed test, the theme load time went up from 66.9 ms to 94.7 ms, can you believe these results? a theme inside full-fledged WordPress site is taking just 95 ms to load? I have to say that Swift theme has definitely setup a performance benchmark for the other WordPress themes out there.
In my entire experience with WordPress, I had used over dozen of WordPress themes with different frameworks, and almost all of theme were premium. But, after playing with Swift theme for few days while writing this review, without any doubts I can say that Swift is the one of the most customizable WordPress themes I had ever used, seriously there is an option to configure just anything you wish.
The author Satish, has done a commendable job with Swift theme, he had tried to integrate all sorts of features within the theme itself such as integrated sliders, social buttons, AD management system, built-in templates, widgets etc, that greatly eliminates the need of using any third-party plugin for adding any functionality you name, and this way the performance of the site running Swift theme, remains un-affected.
If you’re currently experiencing performance issues with your current theme, then you should definitely try Swift theme for once. Rest I am sure, once you switch to the Swift theme on your WordPress site, you won’t look back.
FAQs related to Swift theme
Does Swift theme achieves the promised 90+ pagespeed score?
Well to achieve the 90+ pagespeed score, Swift theme highly relies on using methods such as minify and combine, which is definitely not possible without using any third-party plugin, such as W3 Total cache etc. Since, I had tested Swift theme on a Managed WordPress hosting platform, where all the popular caching plugins are blocked including W3TC therefore, I couldn’t make out Swift to achieve 90+ pagespeed score on my hosting environment.
However, there is possibility to achieve 90+ pagespeed score on managed WordPress hosting using, independent minify plugins, which are allowed on managed WordPress, such as Better WordPress minify, WP Minify etc.
On the other hand, if you’re hosting your site on a regular shared hosting environment, then without a doubt, by using W3 Total cache you can achieve 90+ pagespeed score with the Swift theme, here is the easy guide to do so.
Since, I don’t own any shared hosting account, therefore I couldn’t test out Swift theme with W3TC plugin.
So Swift is the fastest WordPress theme?
Indeed, Swift is one of the fastest WordPress theme I had ever used, but I can’t say that it’s the “fastest WordPress theme.” Since there are many WordPress theme out there, and in order to win the title of the fastest WordPress theme, I’ve to put Swift theme in comparison with the other fast loading WordPress themes.
In the coming days, I’ll try to test out Swift vs other themes, to find out which is the fastest.
Any popular sites which is using Swift theme?
Is there a free version of the Swift theme?
Of course, there’s a basic version of Swift theme available for free download from the WordPress theme repository, but as usual, free comes with limited set of features, and no support.
How much the Swift theme costs?
Swift theme is available with four types of subscription:
Personal license – $57 one time + $10 per year– You’ll get a paid copy of Swift theme, with a license to use it lifetime only on your sites. But, you won’t get any support and updates.
Life time personal license – $97/ one time – The lifetime personal license is ideal if you’re planning to use Swift on your sites, as along with paid copy of theme, you’ll also get lifetime theme support and updates.
Developer license – $97 one time + $15 per year – If you’re a developer, and you want to use Swift theme on your client sites, choose this plan. Be sure that you won’t get any support and updates.
Life Time Developer License – $125/ one time – If you’re a web agency or web developer, and looking to use Swift on your client sites then, you should choose this plan, as along with the theme copy you’ll also get the theme support, as well as updates for the lifetime.
Alright, this Swift Theme review has now gone way too long, so let me wrap up this post.
Finally, are you considering to switch your WordPress site to tje Swift theme? do you’ve got any doubts related to the Swift theme, please let me know your views and questions in the comments below. Also if you’re an existing Swift theme user, or if you’ve used the Swift theme in the past, then please feel free to add our person experiences in the comments.
Swift WordPress Theme Review
- Performance friendly
- Google search engine friendly
- Customization friendly
- Mobile friendly
- Value for money
Swift is one of the fastest WordPress theme, lite weight yet deeply customizable, tons of built-in features, and SEO friendly, truly a value for money WordPress theme.