Are you thinking of using Astra as your theme? We’ll show you how to choose the best Astra theme for your website.
Astra is the most downloaded non-default WordPress theme in history. It was the first and only non default theme to surpass the one million mark at WordPress.org. Astra has a perfect 5-star rating based on 5,000 user reviews.
Astra is loved by many people. And spoiler alert I am one of those people. This is going to be an overall positive Astra theme review. However, I will highlight some areas where other themes do things better.
This Astra theme review will be divided into two parts to help you better understand why Astra and I are so similar.
In this article, Share Theme will first discuss six areas in which Astra is different from its competitors. These are:
- Performance at a lighter weight
- Multipurpose design
- 150+ importable starter sites
- The detailed WordPress Customizer controls
- Compatibility with other WordPress plugins
- Advanced users can use powerful custom layouts
Next, I’ll give a brief overview of what it takes to build a website with Astra. The pricing will be covered, as well as some FAQs. Finally, I’ll offer my suggestions at the end.
Let’s dig in!
Why is the Astra Theme so popular? Six top features
Six main reasons I believe the Astra theme is so successful are listed below. Let’s look at them…
Lightweight Performance – You Can Create a Fast Website
Your site’s theme is the foundation of your website. It plays an important role in how fast your site loads. Astra is extremely lightweight, which is one of its best features.
An Astra site with the theme is 37KB and 7 requests on a new install.
It is the fastest theme that I have ever tried. Not quite. It’s close, but It’s not quite! GeneratePress, for example, is only 26KB and has 7 HTTP requests. This technically beats Astra. However, I doubt most people will notice the additional 11 KB.
Astra is faster than 99.9% of WordPress themes, and you can create extremely fast-loading websites with Astra.
Multipurpose – It can be used for anything
Astra is truly a multipurpose theme that can be used for any type website. This includes:
- Blog (any niche).
- Website for business brochures.
- eCommerce store ( Dedicated Integrations for & Simple Digital Downloads
- Site for members.
- Online courses (dedicated integrations to LifterLMS or LearnDash, the two most popular LMS plugins)
It is multifunctional. Its versatility is based on the three points I’m about to discuss.
Demo sites are easy to use – It’s easier to get started
Astra has 150+ demo sites that can be imported to support its multipurpose capabilities. These sites are designed for a variety of niches and use cases.
Click here to browse all demo sites. Here are some examples of demo sites that highlight Astra’s versatility:
- WooCommerce powers Organic Store, an eCommerce store.
- LearnDash Academy is an online course demo powered By LearnDash.
- Online Health Coach
- Fast Food Restaurant
- Freelance copywriter
- Travel Blogger & Influencer
You can choose from four of the most popular builders to build your demo site.
- Gutenberg (native block editor)
- Beaver Builder
It’s easy to modify the demo content using a drag-and drop builder.
Flexible Options in Customizer – You Are Free To Adapt It To Your Specific Needs
Astra is a multipurpose choice because it offers a wide range of customization options.
The Customizer has two benefits:
- It is easy and doesn’t require any programming. No technical knowledge is required to make changes.
- A real-time preview allows you to instantly see how your choices affect the design of your website.
The Customizer generally gives you tons of options when it is about:
Because there are so many options, I cannot show you all of them. However, I will highlight some of my favorite options.
The drag-and-drop header/footer creator allows you to create custom headers using a simple interface such as this:
There are many options to control other layouts. For example, you can configure different blog page layouts, adjust metadata, etc.
Astra also provides detailed global color and typography control. This is great if you use a page builder as you can use Astra for global style control and have the page builder inherit your global styles.
This way, if your branding changes, the page builder will update automatically based on your global styles. You won’t have to edit each page individually.
Compatible – It is compatible with Page Builders, WooCommerce and LMS plugins
There are two kinds of compatibility. Astra is compatible with page builders plugins because of its global style rules. This is a great choice to pair with:
- Beaver Builder
- Divi Builder
These are the page-level controls
Astra also has compatibility options built in for popular plugins such as:
- Easy digital downloads
If you use LearnDash to create an Online Course, you will have access to Astra customization options that allow you to customize the layouts of your LearnDash course content.
Powerful Custom Layouts
Astra Pro offers many advanced features that will allow you to have more control over your website.
Custom Layouts is my favorite. It allows you to create custom designs you can “inject into” various areas of your website ( sort of like hooks).
The native editor and your favorite page builder can be used to create designs. You can then insert them anywhere you like using conditional rules.
You could, for example, design a CTA-box that you want to place at the end all of your blog posts. You can then use Astra Layouts () to inject it automatically on all your blog posts. It’s also great for adding ads.
Your layouts can be targeted to certain user roles, devices, times/dates, and so forth.
You can update your CTA at any time by updating the Astra Layout. This update will apply to all pages on your site.
Layouts can be created that insert into your content. After the first three paragraphs.
Here’s an example:
Custom Layouts are a powerful tool that allows you to create custom, personal websites once you have mastered the basics.
How to use the Astra theme
Let’s now look at some of the most notable features.
1. Import a Demo Site
After activating the Astra theme, it will prompt to install the companion Starter Templates plug. This plugin allows you to import the demo websites.
You can then choose the builder you prefer from the four options.
One of the Gutenberg demo websites is a better option if you are concerned about speed. They load much faster than page builders. Gutenberg doesn’t allow for as much customization.
You’ll then see a list with demo sites for each builder. Elementor has the largest number of demo sites available, so you will want to choose Elementor for variety.
You can view a preview of the content of a selected site by clicking strong>Import Complete Site/strong>. Click Import Complete Website to import it.
This will open the import wizard. You have the option to import all or specific elements (such as the Customizer settings).
That’s all! Your site will look exactly the same as the demo if you have all the content imported.
2. Customize the Demo Content
You can customize the content of the demo site by editing the pages with your preferred builder, just as if they were created from scratch.
3. Use the WordPress Customizer
The real-time WordPress Customizer allows you to modify the theme’s design. You can customize your header, colors, and other layouts here.
4. Enabling Pro Features (Optional)
You can purchase Astra Pro ( more information soon), and then install the Astra Pro plug. Astra Pro is 100% free. You can add new features to the theme by installing a plugin.
After activating the Pro plugin, you will be able to go to Appearance to activate premium modules. You can also enable some free features:
Astra Theme Pricing
WordPress.org offers the core theme Astra for free. You get a great selection of demo sites, as well as a wide range of options in your Customizer.
Astra Pro is required to access all customization options, all demo sites, as well as advanced features such Custom Layouts or sticky headers.
Astra Pro, a plugin you can install along with the core Astra theme.
Astra Pro is available for $47 or $249 for a 1-year license. Both allow use for unlimited websites. This does not include premium importable demo websites.
You will need the Essential Bundle to access premium templates.
Below are the prices. Note: Although Astra claims these prices are a one-time deal, they have been offering these discounts for months so it doesn’t seem like a marketing strategy .
Which version of Astra should you choose: Pro or free? The Pro version is more flexible and I believe most people will prefer it. You can always use the free version to get started and then upgrade if the free version is not flexible enough for you.
Is there a downside to using the Astra Theme in your website?
It’s difficult to pinpoint any weaknesses in Astra. This is why it’s one of the most loved non-default WordPress themes.
There are certain areas where other themes excel. GeneratePress, for example, is lighter and has its own theme builder. It is a little behind when it comes to starter sites, design options and integrations.
OceanWP offers more design options than Astra. However, it is a bit heavier than Astra so there are some trade-offs.
As a whole, Astra is a complex package. It’s difficult to pinpoint any flaws or suggest a theme that’s better in all areas.
These themes are recommended if you want to look at other Astra options before making your final decision.
MeridianThemes is another option if you prefer niche-focused themes over multipurpose themes.
Demo sites that offer performance are to be avoided
One thing that I will mention is that if you are concerned about WordPress performance, I recommend sticking to demo sites created with Gutenberg rather than those built using a page builder. Gutenberg will be slightly “lighter”. No matter what page builder you use, this is true.
Here’s an example: Let’s take a look at a small test with the exact same site design, one made with Brizy and one with Gutenberg.
Brizy’s load times are still acceptable, so you don’t have to worry about creating a fast-loading site using Astra or Brizy. The Gutenberg design loads faster. This is why I recommend these demo sites to speed-conscious users.
There are trade-offs, however. You won’t have as much control over customization as Brizy or any other builder if your Gutenberg demo site is Gutenberg-based. This is the price you pay for performance. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.
FAQs about!? Astra Theme Review
Let's wrap up our Astra theme review by answering some questions
WordPress.org offers the core theme Astra for free. Astra Pro is a paid plugin that adds more features to your site.
Yes! Astra is the fastest WordPress theme, with just 37KB and 7 HTTP requests for a default installation.
100% of the Astra template is free. Astra Pro is a plug that allows you to customize the theme and adds demo sites.
Is it a good idea to use the Astra theme?
In a lot my reviews, I try to highlight situations where the product is a good match and situations where it isn’t.
Astra is a great theme. I have no bad experiences with it. Astra is a great WordPress theme. It can be used on any type of site, and it’s flexible and multipurpose.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best WordPress theme. I have shared other great options. It does however mean that Astra is a great choice and I think everyone will be satisfied.
You can test it out at WordPress.org by downloading the core Astra theme for free. However, Astra Pro is recommended to get all the customization options and features available.
Are you still unsure about Astra? Leave a comment!