Is Acabado theme worth it? There’s a good free alternative (August 2020)

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First of all, this isn’t a comprehensive review. Far from it, it’s a quick and dirty analysis – we didn’t even buy the theme to test it. But we did a good enough analysis of all the info that’s available out there, that might save someone else some time or money. Here it goes.

Steps we took to investigate the Acabado theme:

  1. studied its features, benefits and settings using their landing page info + this training video (where you see most of its settings)
  2. reviewed 10+ other websites that use the Acabado theme – not just the ones that the authors refer to, but we found many other websites too
  3. speed tested all these sites and compared their design against each other (in other words, we confirmed that they all look the same)
  4. compared the results with other alternative themes that deliver similar results

We’re not saying that Acabado theme isn’t good for a specific purpose. We just spent some time analysing its results and compared it to some free alternatives and found that you don’t really need it. But if you really like what Acabado theme authors Income School are doing, or the theme’s features, then go ahead and purchase the theme. They seem like a good bunch and based on a very thorough review of IncomeSchool (authors of the Acabado theme) by Ebizfacts.com, they know what they are doing.

TLDR; – You can get very similar results by using the free GeneratePress theme. A hidden benefit is that already out of the box, it looks much better than the Acabado theme and has more built-in customisation options. You can see the limited Acabado customisation options here and GeneratePress Free in this video and Premium options in this one.

Acabado theme (short) analysis

First, we checked other websites that use the Acabado theme (not only the ones featured on their pages) and can confirm that the theme is fast. These sites were getting above 80/100 on Google PageSpeed insights. And that’s without us knowing how many other plugins they have installed. So far so good.

Then, we looked at about 10 different sites using it. Just looked at their homepage. They all look the same and fairly ugly. Guess that’s because there’s not much customisation options and the target audience isn’t the CSS and HTML savvy one. You can click to a better design using GeneratePress Free theme, or if you prefer even more options, GeneratePress Premium. Acabado theme is so focused on speed, that it had to let go of certain design features – what they call clean, I call bare. Again, great from a speed perspective, not so much if you want your site to also look nice.

The good about Acabado’s bare design is that it’s mobile-first and therefore very fast. All the bells & whistles have been stripped, less CSS and javascript mean the theme is very fast on mobile too.

If you don’t mind having an ugly site and all you focus on is content + speed, then Acabado might give you the edge. If you want similar results, but also want to have a fast website, there’s better and FREE alternatives, read on.

We have found the websites just by a quick Google search for “themes/acabado” – see for yourself.

Conclusion

If the aim is to have a theme that is fast and doesn’t require much setting up and you don’t care much about how it looks (or you don’t know CSS), then Acabado theme is a good enough option. Basically install it, fill in some basic settings and you’re set up – just fill it in with content. Best fit: pure affiliate websites that are primarily about content and don’t care about custom / distinguishing design.

But… if you want a FREE theme that is also fast, doesn’t require much setting up AND looks good (and lets you customise itself to some extent), then the free GeneratePress theme is your best call. And of course, it’s premium version will boost all these benefits further (although the general rule is that the more addons you activate, the slower any site will get).

It’s possible to have a fast site without sacrificing too many features – here’s a website we built that runs Elementor, Mailchimp forms and yet scores 84/100 on Google Pagespeed mobile and 98/100 on desktop (if our hosting isn’t playing up and TTFB jumps up sometimes).

acabado theme review - and free alternative

Other themes we looked at

  • Hello theme from Elementor – it’s a very stripped-down theme that’s very fast, but also doesn’t look very good (it’s meant to be used together with Elementor page builder which itself is a great addition, you can build the entire website, including headers and footers very quickly and it’s fast enough too (but it does add additional .js and .css files, so your Google PageSpeed performance will be worse, make sure you use it in combination with a very fast and reliable theme).
  • OceanWP theme – it has more customisation options, is still quite fast, but not as fast as GeneratePress. It achieved 73/100 compared to 97/100 of GeneratePress. But it looks much better and with 73/100, might be a winner if you need better design options without a builder.
  • Ascend theme from KadenceWP – we’ve been working with Ascend or KadenceWP’s other themes for years now, they are pretty flexible, reliable and have good support. Speed-wise not as fast as GeneratePress or OceanWP, but close enough. It all depends on how many features you turn on or off – even OceanWP theme can get slow if you use all add-ons.

14 Responses

  • So generatepress is one of the best SEO free themes. What are some others that are really good at ranking on Google that are free?

    • perhaps the ones I mentioned in this post ;). Those are the ones we tested. Also have good experience with Ascend Premium theme from kadencewp.com.

  • I understand where you’re coming from. However I believe that their foundation is on content. They never once have ever mentioned what a site should look like, only the functionality. That’s their whole point: speed and content. People looking for information usually care about if they’re getting an answer. The goal is to build an income site and leave it alone lol. Plus the theme is set up for a person to ONLY be focused on content. It even saves you from yourself by only letting you post the right pictures by the right dimensions to optimize speed. I honestly don’t think the sites are ugly. As a web designer who’s job is to make things look pretty, it’s nice to be able to focus on substance, not style. I’m playing devil’s advocate here, there’s nothing wrong w/ providing alternatives..hell, I was looking too because I do my do diligence. I believe it depends on where you’re at in understanding web design and online marketing. This gets someone new right into the door w/o them having to waste time learning or worrying about stuff they don’t know yet. Install and PRODUCE CONTENT immediately is their goal. Great article :)

    • Hi CG, thanks for your comment! You raise a good point – install and produce content immediately. If you don’t mind that your site will look like presumably thousands of others, (not to mention the dated, early 2010’s design), no distinguishing features (except the content), then Acabado is a good choice. But… you could just use Twenty-twenty theme or Free Generate press without making any changes – just fill in the site name, start writing posts and you’re good too, without having to pay the 50 or 100 USD. Not sure if the added features are worth it compared to other free options.

      Guess the only way to tell is to set up a comparison with the same content (on the same domain) and leave it several months with GeneratePress, then switch to Acabado and monitor the change in metrics.

    • Precisely. Content, and slowly ranking, are the primary motivators behind the creators of Acabado. An unlimited site usage license for 99 bucks is insane when everyone else wants about 50 per site. Back in the day I was a subscriber for elegant themes long before they released Divi. The overarching problem with them was that while they were launched by a designer who was very good at making themes that looked good they ignored the practicality aspect. It drove me nuts! The trap that designers lay for the unsuspecting end user is one of too many options when all they really need is something that “works” and gets the job done. A slow loading beautiful site that has meaningless content is a waste of time and resources

      • Hi David,

        thanks for the comment! Exactly as you write, although I would decouple the theme from the content, as the theme isn’t in any way relevant or responsible for the content. I’ve seen many “slow loading beautiful sites” with good content that rank well. And of course, if you’re not slow loading but fast enough and still well designed, with good content, then perfect. Acabado theme is just about speed and content which can put some people off (and is detrimental to the perceived authority of the site by the user – “content is ok, but can’t they spent a bit more time to make their site nicer?”).

        There’s always a good compromise between beauty and speed and I think Acabado is too far down one end, whilst GeneratePress or OceanWP meet both better, hence my recommendation.

        As for the price, yeah, it’s not a bad deal. And for badly designed themes – yep, one has to search and test for a while to find some reliable and well built ones – like ones I recommend here.

    • Hey JPS,

      nope, not kidding, the review says it in the beginning that I didn’t buy it and it’s based on data available online and from reviewing the video tutorial (where you see all the settings like you would if you purchased it).

      This post gives you all the info, pros and cons, alternatives and yes an affiliate link to Acabado, should you still decide to purchase it instead of the recommended alternatives.

      You don’t have to click on any links if you don’t like this.

      Lukas

  • GeneratorPress theme is freemium (meaning free with a premium version upgrade). You didn’t mention your affiliate link means you get paid when someone upgrades. I dare you to print this.

    • Hi Randall, yep, it’s freemium that packs plenty of features, a good alternative to Acabado as I explained.
      The Acabado affiliate link is there in case people still feel that Acabado offers more after reading this review. In that way, this review has probably helped them – they are now more sure in their gut feel about Acabado.

      There is no GeneratePress Premium affiliate link here.

      Printed :)

  • Great article Thank you I am just starting in the web world, and looking for advise for a theme that’s fast and low maintenance.

    Quick question. What does your nimble site use for your cooker banner?

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