WP Astra Theme Review

WP Astra Theme Review ( Oct 2020)- Why It Is Best?

by YASH GOYAL

Astra is a beautiful WordPress theme that can be used for portfolios, blogs, businesses, online shops and more. In fact, if you go to the WordPress.org theme directory, Astra is the highest-ranking third-party theme – the only themes in front of it are the default WordPress themes

The free version is being used on more than 200,000 websites, and it has amazing support for page builder WordPress plugins — letting you customise your whole website via the WordPress theme customiser.

Giving you the ability to import dozens of high-quality website designs, Astra lets you transform your website at the click of a button.

You can extend the functionality by upgrading to the pro version of the theme, but a number of free extensions are also available.

Astra is a multipurpose WordPress theme, which means that you use it for virtually any type of WordPress site. You can use it for a technology blog or a fashion store or a guitar class…it can do anything you need it to.

In my opinion, there are five factors that explain Astra’s success:

Built for speed: The Astra theme is built taking speed into consideration. It’s built from the ground to be sleek, lightweight, and not impact the page load times. I’ll be explaining how the page load times of Astra Pro compares with other themes shortly.

Best theme for page buildersAstra Pro is the theme that’s specially built from ground-up to be perfectly compatible with popular page builder plugins like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect, and others.

Modular approach: One thing I liked about Astra Pro is that they neatly organize their features in the form of modules. As the theme comes with literally hundreds of features, you can disable the features by deactivating the modules. This approach also helps the developers to add new features to the theme relentlessly.

Developer friendly: As the Astra Pro theme comes with abilities to add hooks and filters, it is super-easy for developers to extend the functionality of the theme without touching the base code.

White-label option: Astra Pro comes with the white-label option. This is very helpful for agencies to do their own custom branding. This is an option that’s something that’s rare to see in pro version of the themes.

Why WPAstra theme is preferable over other themes?

1. Easily Customizable

Being a blogger for more than 7 years, the one thing which I see in any theme is, it must be easily customizable.

Being a user, I should be able to changes the colors, layouts, placements, header, footer and other settings.

If any theme gives these functionalities, it’s a winning theme.

WPAstra has all those features which a good theme should have.

2. Performance

As your site’s foundation, your theme plays a large role in how quickly (or slowly) your WordPress site loads.

Because of that, one of the first things that you should look at with any theme is its performance optimization.

And when it comes to performance optimization, Astra is one of the fastest WordPress themes that you’ll find.

Astra is under 50 KB, follows coding and performance best practices, and uses no jQuery. For reference, most “regular” WordPress themes are somewhere between 250-350 KB.

To assess Astra’s performance, I set up a test website and ran performance tests for two scenarios:

  • The out-of-the-box theme after first installing it on a fresh WordPress site.
  • One of Astra’s free importable demo sites.

For each test scenario, I ran six separate tests with WebPageTest and took the median page load time.

With its out-of-the-box settings, Astra loaded in just 0.769 seconds and came in at 52 KB (for the entire site):

Astra naked performance test

These page load times are impressive. However, it’s not a very realistic test scenario because Astra’s initial settings are quite basic. On a real website, you would have a lot more content.

To better assess Astra’s performance in a “real-world” scenario, I imported the Travel Blog demo site built with the native WordPress block editor.

With the full demo site, my test site still loaded in just 1.377 seconds with a page size of 1.720 MB and 50 HTTP requests. 

Astra demo site performance test

All in all, Astra is one of the fastest WordPress themes out there. 

I have tested some themes that are a little bit faster than Astra. However, when you combine Astra’s flexibility with its performance, I think you’ll struggle to find another theme that offers a better combination.

3. Header Options

You can easily customize your headers position and layout in Astra theme.

WP Astra Review: Multi-purpose, Fast, and a Customizable Theme 6

This theme gives you flexibility to customize your theme’s header with ease.

You can easily change..

  • Sites’s Identity – Logo, Icon, Sites Title, Tagline etc.
  • Primary Header
  • Above Header
  • Below Header
  • Sticky Header
  • and Transparent Header

If you want to edit the settings of Primary Header, Above Header or any other header options, you’ll see the options as seen in the graphic.

4. Page Builder Integration

Astra is built to pair well with WordPress page builder plugins, which gives you the option to design your content using drag-and-drop.

Whenever you create a new post or page, Astra gives you detailed options that let you control the canvas for your page builder.

First, you can choose between different layouts. For example, you can disable your sidebar and use a full-width canvas so that you can take over everything with your favorite page builder.

Second, you can disable specific parts of your post, like the post title or your site’s header.

Astra page builder integration

All in all, if you want to use a page builder plugin such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, etc., then Astra’s page-level controls help you get the most from your chosen plugin.

5. Typography

Being a blogger, I personally love the typography of blogs.

I love the blogs which are having awesome fonts and ease to read.

You can see at my blog that I am using much bigger font than other bloggers and my font is more readable as compared to other blogs in the industry.

After going through many blogs and reading many articles, I finalized this special font for my blog to make it awesome for my readers.

When I found that perfect font for my blog, I had to install one plugin which could help me to add any font which I wanted.

6. Mobile-friendly options

Astra Pro theme comes with a module called “Mobile Header”.

You need to activate it.

Astra Theme Mobile Header

When you navigate to Appearance > Customize > Header > Primary Menu. Mobile Header options are listed under different tabs.

Astra Theme Mobile Menu
Astra Theme Mobile Logo

Here as you can see, there are various options like menu breakpoint, menu label, menu label, toggle button style, toggle button color, etc.

The default menu breakpoint for Astra is 921px. For example, if a breakpoint is set to 554px then the desktop header will be visible till 554px width and it will change to mobile header below 554px.

This is really a good feature to hide the menu items under a toggle button on mobile screens or narrow screens.

There are also different menu styles like dropdown, flyout, fullscreen, etc. You also have various toggle button styles as well like minimal, outline, and fill.

Astra theme also comes with the ability for you to set different logo for mobile devices.

With this, it doesn’t serve the usual big desktop logo even for mobile devices thus speeding up the page.

7. SEO-Friendly

Almost all the WordPress themes claim that they’re SEO friendly. But only a few of them actually have the features that make them SEO-friendly according to modern SEO standards.

The first aspect is that the Astra Theme is lightning fast. As you perhaps already know page speed is one of the top ranking factors.

Astra theme schema markup

Also, the Astra theme adds schema markup to each and every page on your site by default. You can take this to the next level by using their plugin Schema Pro.

As you may know, implementing schema markup in your web pages is very important for Google, as it is displaying rich snippets and also feature your site in knowledge graph.

8. WooCommerce Compatible

Such an amazing feature of this theme.

If you are using this theme to design your main blog, there is no need to change the theme if you are planning to launch an eCommerce site.

Astra WooCommerce gives you features like:

  • Infinite Scroll – This will give your store an extra edge to sell more products on the homepage with same efforts.
  • Mobile Optimized for Sales – WooCommerce themes are optimized for the mobile sales. It will automatically switch to mobile responsive view if someone is visiting from a cellphone.
  • Conversion Optimized Checkout – You get perfectly optimized checkout page to boost your sales.

And there are many more options which makes this theme a flawless theme to use for any kind of business.

How Astra Works – Hands-On With the Theme

Now that you know some of the standout features of the Astra theme, let’s make this Astra theme review a little more hands-on.

In this section, I will show you how the Astra theme works on a real WordPress site.

Importing a Starter Site

After installing Astra, one of the first things that you’ll want to do is import one of the hundreds of starter sites.

The interface for importing demo sites is user-friendly and gives you some convenient options for choosing what to import. For example, you can:

  • Choose specific pages to import. E.g. you could import the homepage and about page, but not the contact page.
  • Only import the Customizer settings. This would let you make your theme’s header, footer, and general layout/style options look like the demo site. However, it wouldn’t import the demo content itself.

To access the starter sites, you’ll need to install the separate Starter Templates plugin from WordPress.org.

From there, you can go to Appearance → Starter Templates.

First, you’ll be asked to choose your preferred content editor. If you decide to import the demo content for your site, it will be built with the editor that you select:

Astra demo site page builder selection

The list of starter sites is not the same for each tool – Elementor has the largest collection of starter sites by a good margin. If you want to, say, use the native WordPress block editor, you won’t have quite as many choices.

Once you select your content editor, you’ll see a list of all the starter sites that are available for that tool.

You can use the filter and search box at the top to help narrow down the starter sites

Astra starter sites

Once you find a design that you like, you can click on it to open a larger preview and view the import options.

As I mentioned earlier, you can either:

  • Import the full demo site by clicking the Import Complete Site button.
  • Choose a specific design from the Page Templates list and just import that Elementor template.
Astra starter site import options

If you choose to import the complete site, you’ll further get some options to choose exactly what to import:

Import Astra starter site

Using the WordPress Customizer

Once you’ve imported a demo site (or decided you want to design your site from scratch), you can manage all of Astra’s other settings from the real-time WordPress Customizer:

Astra free WordPress Customizer options

This lets you easily change up your site’s design without needing to know any code. As you make changes, you’ll instantly see those changes appear on the live preview of your site.

For example, if you open the settings for your header, you can choose from a few different layout options:

Astra header choices

There are a lot of options here, so you’ll want to fully explore this area.

This is also one of the parts of Astra that can feel a little overwhelming because there are so many options.

Rather than trying to configure everything from scratch, I would recommend finding a pre-made starter site where you like the basic design. Then, you can import just the WordPress Customizer settings for that demo site.

Once you have those Customizer settings as your foundation, you can just go in and make small changes as needed.

Astra Free vs Pro: Which One Do You Need?

As I mentioned earlier, the Astra theme is available for free at WordPress.org.

Then, you also have the option of purchasing Astro Pro, which is a plugin that extends the theme with new features and options.

So…which should you use when it comes to Astra free vs Pro?

Well, you can certainly use the free version to create a great-looking website. The free version is still performance-friendly and gives you access to a huge number of starter sites.

If you, for example, find a free blogging starter site that you love, there’s no reason that you need to upgrade to Astra Pro.

So what are some reasons that you might want to upgrade to Astra Pro, then?

First, if you want to build your own design from scratch, or you want to heavily modify one of the starter sites, then Astra Pro just generally gives you a lot more flexibility when it comes to:

  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Other style options
  • Layouts (for blog posts, header, footer, etc.)

For example, the Pro version comes with lots of new blog layouts, which gives you more control over what your individual blog posts and blog list looks like. 

Overall, if you want to customize your site beyond what’s available in the free starter sites, you’ll be a lot happier with the Pro version.

The second big reason to upgrade to Astra Pro is for the integrations.

You will absolutely want to upgrade to Astra Pro if you’re building a site based on:

While the free version gives you limited integrations for all of those plugins, the extra features and integration capabilities in Astra Pro are definitely worth the price.

Finally, if you’re a developer, Astra Pro gives you some other useful options, like the ability to inject code into Astra’s many hooks.

You can view a detailed comparison of all the features in free vs Pro on this page.

Support and pricing

The support provided by the Astra Pro developers is great. If you have any queries you can mail them or you can also open the tickets in the support section of their site.

They also have a very in-depth knowledge base on their site. If you have difficulties during the installation, customization, you can refer their extensive knowledge base.

Coming to pricing, as I’ve already told they have both free and pro versions of the theme.

The Astra Pro comes at a yearly price of $47/year or you can opt for the lifetime deal at $249. There are also two other plans mini-agency and agency bundle plans coming $169 or $249 / year. The lifetime price for both of these agency plans is $499 and $699.

Astra agency plans

The agency bundle plans come with all of their other plugins.

For using Astra theme on client websites, you don’t necessarily need an agency bundle. Even their beginner Astra Pro license comes with the ability for you to use the theme with unlimited client sites as well.

Get Astra

Final Words

Astra is an amazing theme for bloggers as well business owners. The kind of flexibility and ease you are getting in this theme in just incredible.

If you buy pro version of this theme, you get access to the starter sites which are just so amazing to start the basic frame for your blog.

You can easily import them on your website with just one click and then start customizing it as per your needs.

I am giving this theme rating 5/5 because this is fast, easily customizable, and following all industry guidelines to start a perfect blog/website.

Happy Blogging!

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