Thank you for your insightful input on this topic.
Indeed, the scores from the mentioned tools can sometimes provide a skewed perception due to the potentially bloated nature of demos packed with features and functionalities. The way in which the themes are intended to be used can vary greatly and that, in turn, impacts the actual performance.
You make a valid point about hosting - it’s a significant factor that can dramatically influence the performance of any website. Whether it’s hosted on a dedicated WP Engine or a shared setup like GoDaddy Deluxe, the performance could be substantially different.
As for Google not considering page speed as a ranking factor anymore, that is indeed correct. However, as you noted, it still significantly affects user experience and potentially contributes to wider penalties.
That being said, I would like to draw attention to some lightweight and fast WordPress themes that perform well regardless of the hosting environment. One such example is Luxeritas, a free theme not available on Envato, but definitely worth considering due to its speed and efficiency.
Luxeritas Theme: https://thk.kanzae.net/wp/dl-2/
And yes, your recommendations - @greatives, @CocoBasic, @fuelthemes, @UiCore, and @AncoraThemes - are all excellent, highly esteemed in the WordPress community, and have a solid track record.
Considering these factors, what are your thoughts on the balance between performance, user experience, and functionality when selecting a WordPress theme? How do you weigh the importance of each when making your choice?
Once again, thank you for contributing to this discussion. Your input is greatly appreciated.