Traditional ionic polymer/conductor network composite (IPCNC) electromechanical actuators exhibit low actuation speed and efficiency. In order to improve these parameters while still maintaining low voltage operation, we investigated IPCNC with a range of composite layer (active layer) and middle ionomer layer (passive layer) thicknesses. We show hat it is the slow ion transport in the porous composite electrode layer that limits the actuation speed of IPCNCs. By reducing the thickness of the composite electrode layers, both the actuation speed and efficiency can be improved. eover, we show that the IPCNC actuator speed and efficiency are intimately related to the morphology of the composite electrode layer and the conductor network composites fabricated by ionic self-assembled layer-by-layer (LBL) exhibit higher strain response compared with that from the traditional IPCNC. For example, LBL composites show very high intrinsic strain of about 7%. Detailed device analysis points out directions of further improvement of these actuators.