I first wrote this review of Mediavine’s Trellis WordPress theme back in 2021, but I wanted to update it today as quite a few have changed in the past couple of years (fortunately, all amazing changes).
With the loading speed of your website becoming an important ranking factor for Google – but also a solid opportunity to keep your visitors on your site, getting a lightning-fast theme that passes all core web vitals is essential.
Today, we’re going to talk about the fastest of them all: the Trellis WordPress Theme by Mediavine.
IMPORTANT: I am using this theme on a different website that I have monetized with Mediavine and not here on Nomad Not Mad (will explain later why). However, I am planning to switch to Trellis this year so, depending on when you read my review, you might be able to see it in action here as well.
Trellis Theme Review
I’m not the person that gets overly excited easily, but the truth is that Trellis managed to surprise me instantly.
Trellis is the fastest theme out of the box
Even before getting it for my site, I was reading reports from people who used it, claiming that it did wonders to their PageSpeed – both in actual loading times, resulting in better UI, as well as increased scores on places like PageSpeed Insights.
When seeing their comments, I always thought something like: “Ah, these are just people who know nothing about optimizing their theme or blog, but I do and my blog surely run as fast as it possibly could”.
And with the Trellis theme costing more than your regular premium WordPress theme, I was skeptical at first. But fortunately, I decided to give it a try
This is the score that I am getting now, after installing the Trellis Theme by Mediavine (just installing and activating the theme, not making any other changes):
And this is the score I got from GTMetrix:
I couldn’t believe my eyes and I sure was happy I decided to give it a try after all.
Here is how things looked like on my site where I considered that I had done everything possible to get the maximum Page Speed scores:
How did I get this massive improvement? (Note: ALWAYS check the page speed insights on one of your articles, NOT the homepage because the two are formatted differently and a high pagespeed score on the homepage doesn’t automatically mean a high score for the rest of your site).
I simply switched the theme I was using to Trellis. Nothing more. Absolutely amazing!
Getting a score of over 90 on PageSpeed Insights for a blog that runs display ads is very difficult for most users out there.
You have to be really tech savvy and properly optimize your website to get there (and you still might not do it).
Or install Trellis.
I was extremely happy and honestly surprised. I never though it was possible to instantly increase my loading speed scores by just switching themes (and I repeat: I had done everything I could to make sure that my previous theme was as fast as it could be).
After all, going from Fully Loaded (according to GTMetrix scores above) in 14.8 seconds to 3.8 seconds is amazing. Time to interactive score has also dropped from 6 seconds to 3.7 seconds which is just as good.
And right now, I am passing (with all green!) all the core web vitals:
Trellis theme’s impact over traffic / earnings
Did changing the themes have any impact over my traffic and/or ad earnings? I personally believe that there was a positive impact, for sure, although it’s difficult to estimate as many other factors matter (like publishing new content, Google algo updates and more)
First, here’s how my Google Analytics stats looked like for the blog where I installed the Mediavine Trellis Theme:
As you can see, there is an increase after some 20 days, but it’s difficult to attribute it to the theme change only (although I do believe it matters).
Mediavine’s Trellis theme also has an important trick up its sleeve with how it loads the Analytics code for your visitors.
I am not allowed to say more about this, but I can say that a number of visitors that were counted before installing the theme were no longer counter afterwards.
This means that, even though there’s no obvious or impressive uptick in traffic, at least some visitors that were counted before were no longer counted once Trellis was live.
And since traffic didn’t drop as a result – on the contrary – we can safely consider it an increase.
All in all, after all these years, the traffic went up eventually, the loading speeds went up A LOT, and I am extremely happy with that! The best parts? The blog survived all the recent Google updates without any major impact.
I have sold the website used for the example above in the mean time, so I don’t have current data, but back when I sold it, it was generating more money than ever, with around 2.5k daily sessions.
Important Features of the Mediavine Trellis Theme
Let’s leave all the technicalities above aside and talk about some of the features of the theme and how I feel about it.
The thing is that Trellis itself is a framework that allows for Child themes to be created and used to fully personalize the site.
However, you can still run a barebone Trellis install with no child theme and still get a properly running blog with similar page speed scores as above.
At the moment of writing this article, there are three child themes you can choose from – and you get them all for free with the main framework / Trellis.
To be honest, I am not really a big fan of any of these designs, as I prefer a more magazine-like approach to most of my larger blogs, but the results speak the truth.
I found out that the development team is working on other designs, and I got a sneak peek at the upcoming child theme and it’s absolutely amazing – exactly how I like it! But it’s been in the works for a LONG time now and it seems that it takes forever to be ready. But I am waiting.
The three child themes included with the purchase of Trellis are Bamboo, Birch and Wisteria. You can see how they look like on Mediavine’s website.
The best part about Trellis, in my opinion, is that it is a modern theme created with ad revenue in mind.
Unlike most other themes out there that try to offer as many functions as possible – most of which you will never need if you run a blog – Mediavine’s Trellis theme focuses on the content creator.
It’s a theme created for bloggers and optimized for ad revenue. Which is perfect.
This is also an extremely simple, minimalist theme that offers all the basic features that a blogger needs, but without any of the bells and whistles other themes offer.
All those “bells and whistles” usually mean nothing but bloat. Extra code that you will never use. Extra code that makes your blog run slower. So pretty much useless for most bloggers out there.
I never felt that I needed a feature that wasn’t present in the Trellis theme. You get a pretty basic theme control panel where you can activate and deactivate various settings… and that’s it!
No fancy page builders for you, no extra (yet mostly useless) features. Focus on creating content and giving your visitors the fastest browsing experience there is! Happy visitors = more money.
Add to that included, built-in lazy loading, Built-in Critical CSS, and the Trellis Images plugin that optimizes your images for speed.
Basically, it has plenty of features that you would usually get by installing extra plugins that would in turn make things more complicated and your pages slower to load.
How to Get the Trellis Theme?
Anybody can purchase the Trellis theme from the Mediavine marketplace. You can also check out a few examples of blogs that run the theme – you can check their page speed scores too and you’ll see how easy it is to stay in the 90s with this theme.
You don’t have to be a Mediavine publisher to use the theme, but it is built for Mediavine publishers, so there are many options that will help you if you are already running their ads.
How Much Does the Trellis Theme Cost?
Mediavine’s Trellis WordPress theme is not a cheap one, compared to other premium options out there.
At the moment of writing, the Trellis theme costs $149 per year (or you can pay monthly – $14.95). This is substantially more than the regular price of other solid Worpdress themes, starting at around $30 (sometimes as a one-off payment).
BUT. This is not a regular WordPress theme!
It is a premium theme with premium options, optimizations, and offering amazing performance, as you saw above.
But I understand being potentially reluctant to switch over, especially if your blog is not making a ton of money. Actually, this is the reason why I haven’t rushed to switch all my blogs to the amazing Trellis theme.
Most of my websites are still not making enough money to cover the costs. I am also in a process of reorganizing my blogs – so I don’t know just yet which ones to keep and which to sell.
If you’re just starting up and you want a very fast and lightweight theme, I recommend GeneratePress Pro. (Read my review here) It’s not as fast as Trellis, and not as easy to use out of the box, but it’s still pretty good!
Note: I am using GeneratePress on this blog, and I am still getting decent PageSpeed scores of around 80, and (barely) passing core web vitals.
However, I am running Ezoic ads here, which are really bad for your site’s speed. Blogs with AdSense only or no ads can get in the 90s too.
However, as soon as you can afford Mediavine’s theme – go for it. As you can see, it’s totally worth it! I would go as far as saying that if you are already an approved Mediavine published, getting this theme is a must.
In the end, the increased page speed and the fact that it is optimized for running display ads, will help your blog flourish, get more visitors and ultimately make more money.
I was absolutely blown away by the instant and major effects Trellis had on my blog.
I didn’t really think it was possible for my scores to go up (and definitely not by that much) and now I am happy I switched over.
Changing my old WordPress theme to Trellis was the best decision I made in recent times.
I am sure that, as Google will put more and more weight on your Page Speed when it comes to ranking, this theme will prove even more useful to all bloggers.
Sure, it’s not a cheap theme to start with – but it is fairly priced, in my opinion, based on the awesomeness it offers.