Astra is one of the most popular free WordPress themes due to its lightweight code and user-friendly features. However, every site owner has different needs, and you might be wondering whether this is a suitable option for you. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together a detailed Astra WordPress theme review.
By exploring its functionalities in depth, you can quickly decide if Astra will fit your unique preferences. That means learning about its compatibility with certain page builders, the starter templates it offers, and how it holds up in a performance test.
In this Astra WordPress theme review, we’ll cover the key features, pros, and cons of this tool. That way, you can more confidently determine if it’s the best option for your WordPress website.
Let’s get started!
An introduction to Astra
Astra is marketed as lightweight, speedy, and customizable. Its developers also call it “The Most Popular Theme of All Time:”
This is certainly a bold statement. However, with the Astra theme currently clocking in at 8,148,585 total downloads, it may not be an exaggeration. This theme also has a five-star rating on its WordPress.org listing page, making it a top contender if you’re in the market for a new theme.
Astra was first released in 2017. It is developed by Brainstorm Force, the same team behind Convert Pro and Ultimate Addons for Elementor. Therefore, it’s designed to be compatible with popular page builders, many marketing tools, and some of the leading WordPress plugins. It’s also a ‘freemium’ theme, which means that the developers offer both free and premium versions.
Astra’s key features ⚙️
With that basic introduction out of the way, it’s time to dive into our Astra WordPress theme review. First up, Astra has some distinctive features that make it different from many other WordPress themes. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer.
- Performance-focused design
- Page-building features
- WooCommerce integrations
- Free plugins
- Social functionality
The Astra theme is designed for high performance, with the aim of helping your site run smoothly and quickly. To check it out for ourselves, we installed the theme on a testing site and ran some performance tests using WebPageTest.
Out of the box, Astra came in at just 42 KB with six HTTP requests, which is about as lightweight as you can get. Of course, once you add some actual content, that size will increase. But Astra provides a very strong foundation for you to build a fast-loading WordPress site (as long as you follow other WordPress performance best practices).
Moreover, Astra relies on highly optimized code to keep it efficient and lightweight. It also offers self-hosted Google fonts, so your website doesn’t have to retrieve these elements from an external server (slowing down page speeds in the process).
With Astra, you also get enhanced page-building abilities. For starters, you can easily integrate this theme with popular page builders, such as Beaver Builder, Divi, Elementor and more:
Additionally, Astra includes page-level controls that enable you to set up a custom canvas for your preferred page-building plugin. For example, you can choose the content and sidebar layouts for your page:
You can also disable specific elements, such as page headers and footers:
Moreover, you can access advanced settings to disable particular header rows and choose transparent header qualities:
Note that these settings might differ slightly depending on your page builder plugin and starter site.
Astra Pro also comes with a dedicated Header Footer Builder that enables you to create custom tri-layer designs. With it, you can add interactive elements to your headers and footers, such as logos, buttons, and widgets. Plus, there are custom design options, including sticky and transparent elements.
Astra Pro can also be a worthwhile option if you want to run an eCommerce store. That’s because it integrates easily with the WooCommerce plugin and provides a range of specialized settings to help you optimize your online business.
You can also access the following WooCommerce-specific features:
- Grid settings: Show your products in a customizable grid layout.
- Infinite scroll: Enable customers to view all of your products without navigating between different pages.
- Quick view: Let customers see product specifications without clicking on their separate pages.
- Drop-down cart: Allow buyers to view their online carts without leaving the page.
- Sales bubbles: Promote discounted products with custom graphics.
- Gallery display options: Design a product gallery with various display options.
You can access these settings via the Customizer. Here’s an example of the options you get to customize the single product page.
However, as with many of Astra’s more advanced features, these settings aren’t available with the free version. So you’ll need to upgrade to a premium license if you want to utilize them.
Astra also provides easy access to plugins that can supplement its functionality. In fact, it recommends that you take advantage of them. You can find these tools on the Astra Options page after installing the plugin and activate any of them with one click:
Here’s a quick overview of the recommended plugins:
- Import/Export Customizer Settings: Import and export your Customizer settings between different Astra websites.
- Astra Customizer Reset: Return your Astra theme to its default settings to design from scratch.
- Customizer Search: Search within the Customizer settings without opening tabs manually.
- Astra Bulk Edit: Edit multiple Astra post and page layouts simultaneously.
- Astra Widgets: Make widgets for addresses, social icons, list icons, and more.
- Custom Fonts: Embed custom font types such as woff2 and eot.
- Custom Typekit Fonts: Import and embed Adobe fonts into your Astra site.
- Sidebar Manager: Create custom sidebars and display them on different pages of your Astra website.
- Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg: Access exclusive Gutenberg blocks (such as Star Ratings, Forms, and Tabs) and starter sites.
💡 Keep in mind that these plugins aren’t essential for using Astra. However, they can be handy if you want to automate your design workflow and get the most out of the theme.
Astra also comes with some integrated social features. For instance, it supports Google Web Stories. This allows you to display your content in the style of Facebook or Instagram stories, to show off highlights and news about your business:
Furthermore, Astra offers social icon widgets:
These social icons link directly to your social media profiles. This allows visitors to quickly and easily start engaging with your brand on other platforms. Thanks to this feature, you won’t need to install a third-party plugin to link your site and social platforms.
Astra’s design features 🎨
A theme’s design plays a huge role in whether it’s a good choice for your website. That’s why in this part of our Astra WordPress theme review, we’ll look at all the styling and customization options it gives you access to.
Astra is fairly easy to use and customize. You can access the majority of the theme’s settings from the WordPress Customizer. It also comes with over 180 starter websites, some of which are constructed using page builders alongside the theme itself.
Once you install and activate Astra, you can navigate to Appearance > Astra Options and click on Starter Templates. You’ll then see a search page where you can customize your template using a page builder:
Here, you can search for templates according to site types, such as Business or Blog. After you’ve made your selection, you’ll be prompted to upload a logo and adjust its width:
Next, you can choose from preset color and font options, or customize them instead:
Finally, you can enter your personal details and import Customizer settings, widgets, and content for your starter site (if needed):
Astra will then take a couple of minutes to import the starter site and its content:
Now you should see a success screen and a demo video. You can go to your new website by clicking on View Your Website:
Then, you can start customizing your site with the corresponding page builder plugin. Our starter site was made with Elementor, so we’ll click on Edit with Elementor > Site Settings to get started:
This will launch the Elementor plugin:
While Astra is highly user-friendly, one downside is that its free support is pretty minimal. This means that if you run into any issues, you’ll only have access to video tutorials, troubleshooting posts, and a limited ticketing system.
To access premium customer support, you’ll need to upgrade to Astra Pro. With this in mind, Astra may not be the best option if you think you’ll likely need extensive technical help while configuring your WordPress website.
Global design and customization options
As with most themes, Astra enables you to apply design options in the WordPress Customizer. There, you can use global styles to control your site’s typography, colors, button styles, and container (page layouts):
You can also access basic header and footer options to choose different types, widths, margin settings, and buttons. However, keep in mind that you’ll have fewer customization options with the free version than with Astra Pro:
Additionally, you can set up blog layout options, breadcrumbs, and sidebar designs from the Customizer. It’s simply a matter of clicking around and adjusting settings to fit your needs.
Your site’s typography can be a significant contributor to your overall branding. It can set the tone for your content and complement your visual aesthetic.
Astra has multiple typography options available in its free version. You can choose from more than 700 Google fonts (800+ with the premium version) or use presets to save time on design. Additionally, you can import custom fonts.
Astra also allows you to customize font sizing and spacing across your website:
Moreover, it lets you set responsive sizes that differ across mobile devices. This can help you provide a great user experience (UX) regardless of each visitor’s device.
With Astra Pro, you can also design and use site and blog layouts. These templates can display your content and blog posts in attractive and user-friendly formats, including:
- Masonry layouts
- Grid layouts
- Boxed content
You’ll also have access to advanced header and footer styling options, such as:
- Mobile headers: Breakpoints, flyouts, hamburger menus, and more mobile-responsive designs
- Above/below header content: HTML code, shortcodes, and widgets below and above your header sections
- Footer layouts: Widgets, shortcodes, and HTML within your footers
Once again, keep in mind that these styling options are only available in Astra Pro. When you’re using the free version, you’ll be restricted to a default content container and a preset blog post layout.
Therefore, you might consider choosing an Astra starter site that already has the visual specifications you’re looking for. If you can’t find one you like, these restrictions can be a bit limiting.
Astra pricing (free vs pro) 💵
As we’ve mentioned, you can download and use Astra for free or you can upgrade to Astra Pro. In addition, you may have already noticed that the free version has significant limitations in certain scenarios.
As a reminder, here are some of the more advanced features that only come with the premium theme:
- Access to site, blog, and footer layouts
- More than 800 Google fonts
- Color and background customization options
- Multiple header designs
- Integrations with the LearnDash and LifterLMS plugins
- Custom layouts/hooks (great for developers)
- White-labeling options
- Premium customer support
Astra Pro starts at $47 per year. You can also purchase lifetime access starting at $239. With any paid plan, Astra offers a 14-day money-back guarantee, enabling you to try it out and see if it’s the right fit for your needs.
Astra pros and cons 👍👎
To summarize our Astra WordPress theme review, here are the main pros and cons of using this theme:
- ✅ Lightweight and performance-enhanced
- ✅ Multiple customization options
- ✅ Beginner-friendly
- ✅ Integrations with various page builders
- ✅ Regular updates
- 🚫 Limited support and minimal styling options with the free version
Overall, Astra is a highly versatile WordPress theme that can work well for nearly any type of site. Therefore, it may be an excellent choice if you’re looking to put together an attractive and high-performing website quickly and easily.
However, if you want advanced customization options and eCommerce features, you’ll likely need to upgrade to Astra Pro. Therefore, it’s important to make sure this theme fits into your budget before choosing it over other options.
Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes. It comes in both free and premium versions, and offers plenty of customization options for all kinds of website niches.
To recap our WordPress theme review, Astra stands out due to its performance and efficient code. It’s also ideal to use with page builder plugins, and beginners should find it easy to navigate. However, you’ll need to upgrade to Astra Pro for advanced eCommerce features, layout templates, and premium support.
Do you have any questions about our Astra WordPress theme review? Ask us in the comments section below!
Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%: