Welcome to the ultimate Astra theme review.
The theme is one of the most popular, highest-rated and fastest-growing WordPress themes currently but is it the right pick for you?
You can never over-stress how crucial it is to choose the right theme for your website. If you pick the wrong one you are limiting what you can do with your website. And it’ll be just like trying to build a skyscraper in a locality with height restrictions.
So, we're here to tell you all about Astra to help you make the right decision.
That said, Astra is an amazing WordPress theme that you can use for literally anything a website can handle: business, portfolios, online stores, blogs, etc.
Over the years, the theme has gained tremendous traction being used by over 1,000,000 people. But there are reasons for its popularity and in this Astra WordPress theme review we'll be looking at all there is to know about it.
Astra, for example, features stellar support for page builder plugins, which allow you to customize your entire website through the WordPress theme customizer. It gives you the ability to import top-notch website designs and all of this with a click.
It even does what the old breed of WordPress themes failed to do, which is combine design flexibility in a lightweight format, to avoid slowing down your website.
Despite the theme featuring tons of pre-built demo websites and so many abilities in its WordPress Customizer, it still somehow has your website loading fast.
With all that this theme has to offer, it's worth a review.
Let's get started.
What's the Buzz with Astra Theme?
Astra from Brainstorm Force is one of the only themes in history to have over 1,000,000 users while maintaining its average 5-star rating.
It is popular majorly for 3 primary factors:
- It's Extremely Lightweight: Astra loads under half a second and maintains page and navigation speed even when you grow your website.
- It's Incredibly Customizable: Unlike other available fast themes, Astra still maintains its customization features. Typically, if you want a fast website then you have to give up on aesthetics for an ugly one but Astra solves this problem. Even though it is lightweight it almost feels like Divi or Avada.
- Quick website Turnaround Time: Most agency owners opt for Astra due to its speed. And no this doesn't mean it's loading time. It's how fast you can have your website. Astra websites or Astra's prefabricated sites allow you to create a custom website in a matter of hours with little to no headaches.
You don't even have to upgrade to Astra pro theme paid version to be able to build a gorgeous custom website. That said, for upgrading to the premium version all you need to do is purchase Astra's pro-add-on. This is a plug-in that allows you to access the theme's premium models.
What About Brainstorm Force?
Brainstorm Force the company behind Astra – are they reputable?
The brand is an Indian-based web Dev company. They consist of a group of professional WordPress developers that have created various other plug-ins aside from Astra.
Some of Brainstorm Force's popular plugins are Ultimate Add-ons for Elementor and the Ultimate Add-ons for Beaver Builder. The developers from this brand have also even worked on Beaver Builder itself.
They amplify the capabilities of the mentioned page builders by including fresh custom widgets (header/footer widgets for example), elements, templates, or blocks.
The Brainstorm Force team is also behind the widely known ultimate add-ons for Gutenberg that change the Gutenberg editor into what can be termed a small native WordPress page builder. It includes advanced custom blocks with added capabilities and features.
In brief, the manufacturers of the Astra WordPress theme have been around for some time; they are reputable and trusted as vendors with numerous successful products linked to their name.
What Does Astra WordPress Theme Offer?
Astra WordPress theme offers users a lot of capabilities, which we'll look at in a bit, but before we dive into the features let's have a general understanding of what this theme can offer:
1. Developed with Page Builder Compatibility
Astra was developed with in-built page builder compatibility from the get-go. Most of its starter websites are created with beaver builder or elementor, which are two of the most widely known page builders.
The theme is extremely compatible with page builders and this makes it a great choice as well as convenient for developers or busy agencies with amateur experience.
2. Starter Websites
Your Astra theme will come with a tag-along plugin termed Astra starter sites. As soon as your theme is properly installed and activated you get access to more than 180 pre-built website templates a lot of which are free. And what makes this so amazing is that they aren't just single page templates but completely functional websites that possess the essential plugins, features, and pages bundled into a single package.
3. Page Builder Categorization for Starter Sites – Elementor, Brizy
All Astra Starter Sites are categorized based on the page builder used. There are templates created with Brizy, Beaver Builder, and Elementor. Gutenberg Starter Sites are also available.
4. Deep Customization Options and Features
As we've already seen above, Astra is deeply customizable without losing speed. This is one of the major reasons Astra became so popular and preferred. You can build a huge website complete with images, posts, custom layouts, drag and drop functions, and experience less than a second load time. That's extremely hard to beat.
In the paid version (pro), the extended customization features handle everything element of your platform. You can change the website's layout options, set custom typography, etc. of any part of your website.
Even with the Astra free version, you have a massive variety of customization options and this makes the theme one of, if not, the most generous free themes for building WordPress sites available.
5. Version Improvements
Brainstorm Force's team since Astra version 2.0 has reworked the customizer to make it seamless to customize and design your website. Its usability and performance have drastically improved and we'll see more of this in a bit.
6. Stellar Performance
Developers of Astra state that the WordPress theme's size is lower than 50KB and this makes it extremely fast. The theme loads in about 0.5 seconds with standard WordPress data.
Astra WordPress Theme – Features Deep Dive
Now that we have an overall overview of what the Astra WordPress theme is, in this section, we will go deeper into its capabilities and features.
1. Quick Load Speed
A major reason why Astra loads extremely fast (which is most times under 0.5 seconds) is that the theme doesn't use jQuery. That said, how fast your finished website is, depends on other factors such as the plugins used as well as your hosting choice. Astra even offers the ability for you to fetch Google Fonts to your website and then store them on your server locally. The result of this is that you'll improve your Core Web Vital Score and also the font loading speed.
The reason this works is that whenever you use Google Fonts on your website it demands a request being sent to Google to fetch that particular font every time a post or page is loaded. The impact of this on your CLS points with regards to the Core Web Vitals is harmful.
To help this situation the Astra theme comes with a Self-Google Font feature inbuilt. All the user needs to do to enable this feature is a click. Upon activation, this feature sends just one Google Font API request that gathers all font data and asset files from Google and locally stores them on your server.
All future requests will have the Google Fonts loaded via the locally stored files. You have the option of pre-loading local fonts also with a single click as well. Normally, your browser would have to wait to load a font file and this causes a problem where the browser is set to load the website's text but has to wait for the font file to be downloaded first because it isn't available yet. This results in your website page loading slowly and ends in a bad user experience.
However, with the preloaded fronts feature on Astra you can tell the browser to import your fonts earlier on, which means that the fonts are ready to be shown the moment the browser begins painting your text. The result is a tremendous impact on a website's speed and performance. And all you have to do to enable this feature is click on the “Preload Local Fonts” setting.
When trying to build a website, even if you decide to use a page builder to develop a major portion of your website, it is a best practice to use a well-coded theme as your structure or backbone.
Astra is built on Automattic's Underscores theme, which is the foundation for most recent primary WordPress themes. This means you can be sure that the code for this theme is planned out in a logical and tidy way.
Since it is derived from Underscores, Astra possesses most features that an accessibility-ready theme has, save just a few. For example, navigation links on keyboard usage as well as underlined links in the primary content. On the flip side, Astra offers submenus as keyboard accessible and the user can also use breadcrumbs for seamless navigation.
This theme also offers numerous theme hooks capable of benefiting developers who intend to include their content. Plus, Astra supports schema markup, which aids your website SEO.
3. Quality Documentation
It's extremely frustrating when you start with a fresh theme only to discover that there is a struggle to create your website due to the poor documentation of the theme. Astra, fortunately, offers a different case due to its knowledge base, that's extremely comprehensive.
A lot of the articles in Astra's knowledge base feature video tutorials and some have annotated screenshots. This is both crucial and helpful to users of the theme as it ensures that you properly use the necessary features and gain all the benefits the theme has to offer.
There's even an entire section on Astra's documentation about helping you get Astra looking how you want it to look via custom code snippets that can be added to your website.
4. Astra Starter Sites
A primary way that Astra soars above its competitors is that it offers a large library of pre-built templates that use different page builders such as elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, or Gutenberg.
Beginning your website development process using Astra Starter Sites saves you the stress of brainstorming over creating complex layouts. You have to change the visuals and demo sites content but even with that, you are still able to create a professional-looking website within a quick time frame.
Imports are seamless and fast with all required plugins installed and automatically activated. A great feature in this line that stands out is that you can import an entire website at-a-go as opposed to a single page, which is the normal practice with other themes. This saves you hours on end in WordPress.
Another great feature is that after installing a starter website through Astra's starter templates plugin you have automatic access to the entire Pixabay library, right from your media library. This saves you the time used to find stock images for your website.
4. Deep Customization
Astra features a customizer that offers users a host of options. For example, you can change the primary theme colors, change post and pages layouts, use Google Fonts, and much more. There are even footer, sidebar, header widget customization options.
So many themes out there just allow you to upload your brand logo and that's the end of it. Fortunately, Astra goes way beyond that. You can include your logo to the right or left of the main menu, as well as center it right above the menu. Astra also allows you to change your logo width and upload different versions for mobile or retina displays.
Another major problem with most other themes that Astra addresses is that they make it extremely difficult to customize the footer. Astra on the other hand offers footer bar settings, which allow you to have one or two-footer bar sections. And each section can contain a widget or footer menu or text. Fortunately, the developers of Astra included a shortcode for the current year.
Then there's the transparent header that Astra offered as a free feature. This allows you to have your background image stretched into the website header area. And you can also apply a custom color as well as transparency to your header. You can even customize the mobile menu. There's also the option of changing the break-point where your mobile menu appears.
5. Popular Plug-in Integrations
The developers of Astra have ensured that the theme is compatible with the most popular plugins. As already stated in this Astra WordPress review the theme works extremely well with most page builders. And it has a right sidebar by default but that can be customized and removed to ensure a full-width layout on your pages and other content types or even across the entire website.
That said, if you're creating an e-commerce website Astra is a great choice to use for your online store. For example, the Astra theme is developed on the WooCommerce default options to provide you with greater control over your product pages and the overall look of your store. Plus if you only have downloadable products, the theme supports the plug-in “Easy Digital Downloads” as well.
Even for those creating a website in the E-Learning space, Astra integrates seamlessly with LMS plugins and LearnDash.
Astra Extension with Plugins
In Astra's options page, you’ll find that it states that the theme can be extended with free plug-ins. Currently, there are a total of 12 plugins listed.
All plugins listed are developed by Brainstorm Force the creators of Astra except Unlist Posts and Pages plug-in which was built by Nikhil Chavan.
5 of the available free plug-ins were built just for the Astra WordPress theme. That said, while there's a great argument for including this extra functionality into the main theme, it's well appreciated that this is a separate function as it helps keep Astra's core version lightweight.
Then there is the Astro Bulk Edit plugin. This plugin aids in reducing the amount of time it takes to make adjustments for metadata settings such as sidebar position and page title for every page on your website. This enables you to apply such changes to hundreds of pages simultaneously if you so desire.
Another plugin for extending Astra capabilities is the Astra Customizer Reset plugin. This plugin includes the “reset all settings option” to your theme customizer. It's a very handy plugin even though it's quite surprising that it hasn't been built directly into Astra's theme customizer.
There are so many other free plugins that can extend your Astra theme capabilities, for example, Templator is a great new plugin that allows you to save your website pages and templates in the cloud. This means that you can export them at any time to any website. Or the customizer search plugin that once activated replaces the search bar in the WordPress theme customizer to aid you to find options quicker.
These available plugins help make the process of creating your website with the Astra theme a lot easier.
Astra WordPress Theme Pricing
Astra WordPress theme free-version has enough features to develop a professional-grade website, without having to upgrade. But it does possess certain limitations that make it not the ideal option for large businesses. So if you intend to scale you may have to upgrade to a paid plan.
However, before we get into the details of Astra WordPress theme pricing is crucial that you understand the below concepts:
Lifetime and annual licenses do not have major differences beyond the duration of the license. No functionality, bonus, or feature is exclusive to either license type. That said, it isn't a best practice to pay annually as a business. Because as a business, going for the lifetime subscription will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run and you won't have to face renewal headaches.
With that out of the way, here are their pricing plans:
- Pro Plan costs $59 Annually and $249 Lifetime.
- The Essential Bundle Plan costs $169 annually and $499 lifetime.
- The Growth Bundle Plan costs $249 annually and $699 lifetime.
As you opt for higher plans it becomes more necessary to use lifetime access. But if you go for the annual payment you have a 20% discount on all your future renewals. For instance, if your business opts for the lifetime fee on Astra's agency bundle plan rather than annual, you will save cash in about 2.5 years. So if you intend to stay in the business for over 2.5 years, you can save $249 annually for every year after that.
Is Astra Pro Plan Upgrade Worth It?
Absolutely. You will unlock some amazing value when you upgrade to Astra WordPress theme paid plans, especially the white label service and the additional starter templates available. With the white label service you can create custom websites for your clients in a matter of hours and then charge them like you custom made it from scratch.
That said, at the start of this section we mentioned that the free version works great but the difference becomes clear as you upgrade. You gain access to improved and additional controls, extra site layout, extra headers, custom blog layout for bloggers, upgraded WooCommerce functionality, unlimited typography, and colors. This makes this a no-brainer choice especially if you're running an e-commerce store. It's like taking a great product and making it even better.
The option to upgrade even becomes clearer when you know that Astra has 1,000,000+ plus users but almost all the successful businesses, agencies, and stores using the theme are not on the free plan.
Finally, the Astra WordPress theme offers a 14-day money-back guarantee if you don't like the results. There is nothing to lose by choosing the upgraded versions.
What Astra Pro Plan is the Best?
The right Astra Pro package for you is dependent on your specific requirements as well as your budget. For example, the entry-level package is great if you don't require extra access to additional Astra Starter Site designs or extra plugins from Brainstorm Force.
While this WordPress theme is great, this Astra theme WordPress review will be incomplete without mentioning some alternatives to choose from. Some of the great alternatives to Astra are OceanWP and GeneratePress.
GeneratePress is a worthy competitor to Astra with regards to performance and speed. Both themes offer great features and GeneratePress also features modules that can be deactivated or activated at will.
However, the major point at which GeneratePress gains more points is that its free version offers more features than Astra. But all their premium and paid plans offer the same quality, core features, and results. Then with regards to support, Astra is a WordPress-based theme, while GeneratePress is built by individual developers so Astra has its advantages there.
This theme also doesn't have the same compatibility Astra has with page builders.
Like Astra, OceanWP is built with page compatibility in mind. However, this theme seems to be primarily built to be perfectly compatible with elementor even though it works with all the major page builders. It also offers a lot of customization options and features similar to those offered by Astra.
This theme however is a great option majorly for e-commerce stores as it offers a lot of features targeted at boosting cart and product pages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Astra WordPress Theme
Here are some commonly asked questions about Astra theme:
1. Is Astra WordPress Theme Free?
Absolutely. The Astra theme is free. However, there are paid Pro versions that include several premium features not included in the free plan and they start at $59.
2. What is Astra Pro Version?
Astra Pro is the theme's premium version and includes a significant amount of features like multiple website layouts, sticky headers, new header designs, custom layouts, premium starter websites, additional color controls, white-label service, and a lot more functions.
3. How do I Load Astra WordPress Theme Starter Sites?
To load Astra theme starter sites you have to install the Starter Sites plugin. Then navigate to Appearance > Astra Sites. Next, pick the website you want to import. You'll be prompted to install particularly recommended plugins for the specific plugins starter site. As soon as the recommended plugins are installed, hit on Import Site to completely import the structure and content of the starter website picked.
Conclusion – Is Astra WordPress Theme Worth Purchasing?
Taking all we've seen in this Astra WordPress website builder review into consideration, the answer is Yes.
Astra is a simple, highly customizable, and fast theme that enables anyone to create professional-level, aesthetically beautiful websites in a couple of hours or less. Even if you don't have any coding experience or have built a website before it. All for free.
You can gain access to amazing features for free, with no mandatory upgrades or pro version purchases to get quality functionality.
VERDICT: Astra is worth it.