First of all, this isn’t a comprehensive review. Far from it, it’s a quick and dirty analysis – but an honest one, not trying to sell you the theme, regardless of it’s good/bad fit. We didn’t even buy the theme to test it – but we did a thorough 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 / review the Acabado theme:
- studied its features, benefits and settings using their landing page info + this training video (where you see most of its settings)
- 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
- speed tested all these sites and compared their design against each other (in other words, we confirmed that they all look the same)
- 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 or GeneratePress Premium for more features (perhaps at a slight cost of speed). 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.
– also, speed isn’t everything. Great content + ok speed + good marketing features beats average content and 99 on PageSpeed. Focus on content first with a good FREE theme, get some traction and results, confirm your idea has ground to stand on. Then you can optimize the hell out of it by paid themes.
Update 18.1.2021 – a good theme also needs fast hosting company:
It is also very important to host your site on a fast server. Any fast theme and optimisation will not be enough, if your hosting is slow. I have written more about it in in “When speed optimisation alone isn’t enough: fast hosting is key for good page speed results“. I was able to add ~20 points to my mobile PageSpeed rating just by switching to a better hosting provider – WPX.net.
A review might not be what it appears to be at a first glance:
‼ A word of caution: since earlier this year, the rules of Acabado affiliates have been changed. Now you can only become an affiliate if you purchase the whole Income School Project 24 membership ($449 per year). If you stop and think about it – what does that say about all the positive reviews of the theme that contain affiliate links? Of course, you would recommend the theme, you already paid quite enough for it – they have vested interest – double if you think about it – by recommending Acabado they can not only earn a referral fee but lower the already paid $449 cost of the Project 24 membership. (Heck, the whole Project 24 is about affiliate marketing, so it makes sense that all members will recommend the Acabado theme).
Therefore, to make sure you’re getting an objective review, I recommend:
- check if the review you’re reading has Acabado affiliate links – if it does, it might not be the most honest/objective one.
- check if the review contains more than just repeated benefits of the theme copied from the Acabado sales page. There’s always more to a product than what the sales page tells you, look for reviews that do that.
- check if the review compares the theme to any other theme out there, or just praises Acabado without giving any other alternatives (which there are always for any product).
For transparency – my Acabado links are not affiliate, but some the other recommended themes are. You might think that of course, I wouldn’t recommend Acabado over the affiliated themes. But – this review was written way before the afore mentioned affiliate rules change – and I was still an affiliate of Acabado too. So all themes I review here were on the same level at the time of writing. If you read thoroughly, I recommend Acabado to a specific type of user too. But as they removed the affiliate option for non Project-24 members, I have removed the links to Acabado. That’s the only change – the content is the same, I use the other recommended themes often + the updates which I clearly highlight.
Use your common sense, think for yourself and decide what’s best for you using information from this review, but also from the plethora of others ;).
[1.10.2020] – There’s a new kid on the block too – Kadencewp.com‘s Kadence theme – pretty fast out of the box!
I just tested it quickly on this website (didn’t leave it on as I need to do some design cleanup after switching themes + portfolio content needs transferring), but the results with the same setup are AWESOME for an authority / blog website sensimism.com:
And pretty good for this website you’re viewing now (using Elementor and a bunch of other heavier plugins):
Kadence Theme (Free or Paid) is pretty fast, has many very useful customisation options, is available as FREE or PRO version, it’s Gutenberg ready and compatible with many top visual builders. I’d like to test it against GeneratePress one day :).
Do I need to show you more? :D. I have their (KadenceWP) Ascend theme installed (yes, haven’t had the time to migrate to a faster theme as I’m using their portfolio custom posts and it will take more time). But, as we know, speed isn’t everything:
Update 18.8.2020 – it’s more about the content & marketing tricks than speed:
The authors of Acabado have released a video, where they show how they tripled the sales of an affiliate site (nice job!). But, there’s another take-away there – in the technical optimisation, they installed Acabado, but as they admit themselves – most of the improvement came from turning off plugins, rather than from Acabado. And still, the improvement wasn’t that great (see 7:40; they say it’s because the site has 13 plugins still active. Well, show me one sales or affiliate site that doesn’t at least have this number of plugins nowadays). I also find strange that they never actually show or mention the new PageSpeed result, they only show “3.5x” improvement at the end. That would mean 49/100, which isn’t bad, but yeah, sounds less impressive than 3.5x improvement I guess. Overall – what they did is awesome – from 450 USD to 1650 USD monthly revenue with the same traffic. But it’s much less likely due to Acabado and much more likely due to all the other tweaks they did. Which brings me to the point of this review – why paying for Acabado if you can get GeneratePress for free (or up your game and look even better with GeneratePress Premium).
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.
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.
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. Acabado theme 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).
There’s also the new kid on the block – Kadence Theme (FREE or paid), that’s amazingly fast + tons of options, Gutenberg integration, header and footer builder – so you don’t even need any heavyer visual builders. I say this is one to watch! (or buy…)
It’s possible to have a fast site without sacrificing too many features – here’s a website we built using GeneratePress FREE that scores 84/100 on Google Pagespeed mobile and 98/100 on desktop** (if our hosting isn’t playing up and TTFB jumps up sometimes). You don’t need more than that – 80/100 on mobile and great content = great Google rank for free!
** at the time of testing. The website is a live thing, new plugins, functionality might impact this over time.
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).
- The New Kadence theme from KadenceWP – we’ve been working with their Ascend theme or KadenceWP’s other themes for years now, they are pretty flexible, reliable and have good support. Kadence theme seems pretty fast too, is available as FREE or PRO and has plenty of great customisation features. It all depends on how many features you turn on or off – even OceanWP theme can get slow if you use all add-ons.
- 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.