Astra theme is one of the most popular and downloadable WordPress themes today. It’s used on over 1 million websites and the number is growing.
A couple of years ago it was one of the fastest, lightweight, and customizable themes but since then many new WordPress themes have emerged.
So I am interested in how it holds up against new themes and if it’s still one of the best themes out there. I know people who say that the Astra theme still is the best.
Also Read: Blocksy Theme Review
Astra has some great features and options. Has a great templates library and works with page builders perfectly. It’s a very clean theme and constantly gets updated.
Let me dive in, break down and review all the aspects of the Astra theme.
Astra Theme Overview
Since then there were some major updates and now we have Astra 3.6 which was released in June 2021. They added header & footer builder, Astra theme became faster and more compatible with Gutenberg.
Astra is a free theme and can be used on unlimited websites. For more features, you can upgrade to a pro version. Works well with all major page builders and WooCommerce.
It is a lightweight and fast theme. Astra doesn’t use jQuery, is less than 50KB, and loads fast. One of the lightest themes you can find.
Also, Astra has one of the best and biggest template libraries. Includes over 150 pre-made templates for different types of websites. Has free and pro templates for Elementor, Gutenberg, Brizy, and Beaver Builder.
Templates are well-designed and beautiful. You can create websites in minutes.
Also Read: Top 6 WooCommerce Alternatives
The free version offers all the necessary features and options you need but the pro version extends its capabilities and offers much more options.
Now that you understand a little about the Astra theme, it’s time to dive deeper and break down all of its features, pros & cons.
Astra Theme Customizer
Astra has a very clean and easy-to-navigate customizer. It’s broken into different sections such as global, blog, sidebar, header builder, etc.
It allows you to choose typography and sizes for different headings and paragraphs. Also, you can change the width and layouts of different pages.
Also, you can change colors for different elements but it’s very plain. And that was one of the things I have never liked in Astra.
Some other themes offer more complex and diverse color settings. It is not bad but it can be improved.
Also, blog archive and single blog page settings are very limited with the free version. Almost every popular themes offer much more powerful customize settings in this area.
The only things you can control are width, font sizes, and show or hide elements like featured image, title, and meta. Also, it can display posts only in a list style.
That is the reason why I never liked the Astra theme for blogs and they still haven’t improved it. You don’t have to pay for these features. For example, Kadence and Blocksy offer much more features in a free version.
But they really improved the header & footer builder. It is like Blocksy & Kadence where you can add different elements to the header or footer. It works like a drag & drop builder.
You can add elements like menu, search, button, social, widgets, etc. And it is very easy to manage. Just click the + symbol and add whatever you want.
I really like this feature and I’m very satisfied that they improved it because previously you could create only a simple header and footer. I hope they will update the blog section too.
Other features in the customizer are basic. You can edit sidebars, menus, add widgets, and custom CSS.
All in all, Astra has a good but simple customizer. Not as powerful as other popular themes. Nothing new or unique.
How Fast Is Astra?
But Astra was always known for its speed and how lightweight it is. On Astra’s official website, it says that it’s less than 50KB and loads in 0.5s. Let’s test it.
I will use GTmetrix for the speed test and will test the clean Astra theme, a page built with Gutenberg, and a page built with Elementor.
No caching or other optimization plugins will be installed. I want to know how fast it is and how well it works with page builders.
Also Read: Elementor vs Gutenberg: Speed Test
The first was a clean test and the results were amazing. Astra is a fast and lightweight theme. Performance & structure had a score of 100%, and an LCP of 0.6s. No blocking time.
The page size was 41.4KB and had 8 total requests. Page loaded in 1s. I used shared hosting for testing and perhaps with powerful hosting, load speed will be faster.
The Gutenberg test shows that Astra works great with it. Amazing results. Almost exact as with clean test. the A grade with 97% of performance and 100% of the structure.
This template size was 696KB and had a total of 22 requests. And the page loaded in 1.1s which is a great result for a page that includes high-quality images.
One of the main reasons for this is that this particular Astra template doesn’t use extra plugins. It uses the default Gutenberg blocks.
Now, for the Elementor test, I used the same template but it was built with Elementor and the results still were outstanding. This template also used only default Elementor widgets. And remember, no caching or other optimization plugins were used.
The page loaded in 1.8s with 48 requests and the page size was 875KB. No blocking time and LCP was a little higher – 1.4s. This is an amazing speed result for Elementor.
I knew that the Astra theme was fast but this test showed that it is one of the fastest, if not the fastest theme available.
Not only is it fast, but it also works great with Gutenberg and Elementor and is almost as fast as without page builders.
So, if you want to have a fast website, then Astra is a great choice.
Brainstorm Force, the team behind the Astra theme, has plugins that add more options to the theme.
I haven’t used all of them but I know they work great and can extend themes’ capabilities and can make your work easier.
My favorite plugin is Custom Fonts that allows you to install any font you like. You can upload any number of fonts in different formats. Works with Elementor too.
Another plugin is Astra Widgets that add new widgets to WordPress and can be used with Astra and Elementor. It adds three widgets – address, list icon, social profiles.
Also, there is a plugin called Home Page Banner that adds a new section in the customizer and allows you to add a banner to your home page. That can be very useful.
Other Brainstorm Force plugins you can use are Astra Hooks, Astra Bulk Edit, Astra Customizer Reset, and a couple more.
With these plugins, you can add little new features to Astra and make it a little more powerful.
Astra Starter Templates
Starter templates are great because with them you can build websites very easily. Astra has one of the biggest template libraries with hundreds of well-designed pre-made websites.
They always add new templates and the library has templates for all the major page builders – Gutenberg, Elementor, Brizy, and Beaver Builder. They have free and pro templates.
All the templates are very well-designed and high-quality. They have one of the best design teams. And it is very easy to install these templates. You just have to install their plugin and you can import any template with one click.
The template collection consists of different types of templates. They have templates for corporate, blog, eCommerce, agency, online course, personal, NGO, restaurant, and more.
Also Read: How To Install Astra Templates
If you decide to use Astra as your main theme, then you can use any of their templates and build websites very fast. Of course, you can edit and modify these templates.
You can import the whole website with all the pre-made pages, or just the homepage. It automatically installs the required plugins for that particular template.
Like many other themes, Astra also has a premium version of the theme which adds more features. It brings new options, widgets, and features.
But some of the pro features they offer, are in a free version of other themes. I think that Brainstorm Force should think about and add more features to the free version.
For example, Astra pro features such as page & blog layouts or scroll to top links are free in Blocksy and Kadence. So, it shouldn’t be a pro feature.
Other features that a pro version offers are white labeling, a sticky header, more color control, spacing control, more fonts, etc.
With a pro version, you can choose three different layouts for your blog page – list, grid, and masonry. But that should be in a free version.
The Astra theme offers two types of pricing – annual and lifetime. Each consists of three different plans. And the pricing plans are fair.
But I can say that it is not the best pricing plan. They should update and offer different kinds of plans.
If you buy the cheapest plan, you get all the pro features and you can install Astra on unlimited websites. But you don’t get pro templates.
To get pro templates, you need to upgrade to the second plan which also comes with the WP Portfolio plugin.
And with the most expansive plan, you get additional plugins such as the Convert Pro, Schema Pro, and Ultimate Addons.
You may think it is great but in my opinion, these are not good pricing plans. The only benefit you get from the pro plan is the premium features. And some of their pro features are another themes’ free feature.
So, you can use other themes instead of Astra. It kind of forces you to buy the second or the third, more expensive plans. Because you get premium templates and additional pro plugins.
I think the Astra theme needs new and more convenient pricing plans and also, they should transfer some features from pro to free version.
So, the Astra theme is a very fast and lightweight WordPress theme. Maybe the fastest. Has beautiful free pre-made templates. Works great with page builders. But it lacks customization options.
The free version must be more customizable and they need to change their pricing plans. Because other powerful and fast themes offer more customization options and better pricing.