Are you looking to buy an Astra theme for your WordPress website?
Do you want to know whether the free theme is enough for you? Wondering if its pro version is worth buying?
Astra is one of the easy-to-use, lightweight, and highly customizable WordPress themes available today. To date, there are 1,653,898+ websites created with Astra.
Astra has a free theme available, but it has limited features. If you want to build stunning websites and want more customization options, its premium version is the way to go.
We are using Astra Pro + Elementor Pro on this website since 2019, and we have no plans to switch over.
In this in-depth Astra review, I will explore all its features along with its pros and cons, and will also compare it with competitor themes like GeneratePress and Kadence.
Let’s get started with the review.
Upfront bottom line: If you need a completely white-labeled theme and integrations with LMS plugins like LearnDash and LifterLMS, go with Astra Pro. Also, its custom layouts, header and footer builder, premium starter templates, sticky header are worth buying the pro version.
If you are already using the premium page builders like Elementor Pro, then you really don’t need the premium version of Astra Pro unless you want to use WordPress block editor for performance reasons.
Because, with Elementor theme builder you can create custom headers, footers, sections, pages, posts, etc, the way you need. Even, you can design your entire WooCommerce store alone with Elementor Pro.
For example – Astra supports its header and footer builder in its premium version. But, as I said, with Elementor Pro you can achieve this even more professionally than Astra. So, Elementor Pro + Astra Free Theme is a good combo for page builder addicts.
|Pricing starts at||$59/mo|
|Templates available?||Yes, it has over 180+ starter templates|
|Page builder addons||Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder|
Ultimate Addons for Elementor
Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg
|Is it a completely white-labeled solution?||Yes|
|Integrations||It integrates with LearnDash, LifetLMS, Toolset, Gravity Forms, Jetpack, etc. |
Check out all the integrations
Astra is one of the easiest WordPress themes developed by Brainstorm Force, the same team behind some popular tools like Convert Pro, Schema Pro, Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg, Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder, Ultimate Addons for Elementor, etc.
WordPress.org has 1 million+ active installations, five stars ratings from over 4886 users as of writing this blog post.
Astra is a very lightweight theme; it is less than 50KB on the front end. It is best suitable for your blog, portfolio, business website, and WooCommerce storefront.
Note that Astra pages are optimized for Schema Markup and are mobile page accelerated. These features help search engines to rank your site higher in SERPs, giving you an SEO edge, especially with Google Core Vitals in place.
Astra theme works well with all major page builders. These include Beaver Builder, Elementor, Divi, Site Origin, Visual Composer, etc.
Astra pros and cons
- The main selling proposition of Astra is its ease of use. You don’t need any coding skills, unlike GeneratePress. Using Astra you can build stunning websites even if you are a complete beginner.
- Astra offers plenty of pre-made templates called starter sites, which you can access even if you are on the Free version. You can import the demo content in one click and they come with all the pages, plugins, widgets, and content you need to build the site.
- Astra 3.0 released a drag and drop header and footer builder. With this, you can create beautiful headers and footers to display on your site. This is a Pro feature.
- Astra Pro comes with custom layouts and page headers features. With custom layouts, you can create custom headers, footers, content, hooks, and 404 pages. Using page headers you can design an attractive page title/page header area.
- Astra comes with plenty of free plugins/add-ons to extend its features. There are plugins available for bulk edit, import/exporting the customizer settings, reset the customizer, adding custom fonts, customizer search, etc.
- Astra works excellent with page builders like Elementor. It offers additional add ons to supercharge your page builder. It has ultimate add-on plugins for Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Gutenberg.
- Astra seamlessly integrates with popular WordPress plugins like LearnDash, LiferLMS, Easy Digital Downloads, Toolset, and WooCommerce.
- Astra is a completely white-labeled solution and supports unlimited site usage. If you have an agency, this is a big plus.
- Astra supports hooks to add extra functionalities in various areas inside the theme.
- Astra has its free block addon called Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg. This addon gives you some advanced and powerful blocks to design your posts and pages.
- Astra provides some cool features to customize your default WooCommerce checkout page; you can enable the two-step checkout, display coupon fields, display the order notes, etc.
- Astra is one of the fastest themes in the market. Thus, it gives Astra an edge over other themes in terms of SEO and loading time.
- Astra’s free version has very limited features. To unlock its advanced features and modules, you need to get its Pro version.
- Astra has a very limited number of integrations with other WordPress plugins, unlike Kadence.
- Astra works excellently with page builders. If you heavily use page builders to design your site, you will end up wasting money on Astra Pro. Because with page builders like Elementor Pro you can design what you imagine; even without the need for the Pro features of Astra.
- Astra blog post & page layout is very basic and doesn’t look great without customization.
Ease of use and user interface
Astra is very simple to use, even for beginners.
If you are a premium user, you need to install Astra Pro on your WordPress site and activate the theme under Appearance>Themes>Choose and activate Astra.
In Astra Pro’s customizer, the features are neatly organized and categorized in the modules.
Astra gives you the links to customizer settings right in its dashboard for quick access. If you want to set colors, just click on set colors it will directly load the customizer. Cool isn’t it?
Astra was made for non-developers and that’s why the customization and the dashboards were built as per that. The UI is very simple and intuitive and a newbie can also easily go through all the customization options.
Speed and performance
Let’s analyze the speed and performance metrics of the Astra theme with GTmetrix.
- WordPress site running on Closte (powered by Google Cloud and Litespeed)
- Tests are run keeping Closte’s CDN server-side cache that includes OPCache and advanced-cache.
- Litespeed cache plugin on WordPress.
Astra free theme alone
I have deactivated all the other plugins and have only Astra’s free theme installed.
Performance with Astra Pro
For this test, I have activated only Astra Pro and deactivated all the other plugins on the site.
You can analyze from the above tests that Astra Pro also loads faster similar to their free version.
Many people think that the premium version will slow down their site. But there will be a few milliseconds difference, and you don’t need to worry about this. You can have a fast-loading site with Astra. No doubt about it.
Site library (starter templates)
Building a website completely from scratch is time-consuming. Astra provides plenty of beautiful templates for you to get started with website creation. Astra offers these demo sites in their Starter Templates plugin.
These starter templates by Astra will help you build a beautiful and conversion-focused website within a minute or so. Hence, it saves you a lot of time as well as money.
These starter templates are not just single blog pages; instead, these templates have all the essentials like pages, plugins, and features packed as a bundle. You can import these with a single click.
These demo sites work well with page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder (read the comparison here), Brizy (read my review), and Gutenberg. You can customize them as you need.
There are also some starter templates available that you can access even with Astra’s free theme. If you compare Astra with GeneratePress in this regard, GeneratePress’s site library is accessible only to its pro users.
Patterns and wireframes in Astra starter templates
Astra’s starter templates plugin supports patterns; these are ready-made sections of a web page for creating the sites quickly. These Gutenberg block patterns are a set of multiple elements. You can save these as templates for later use.
You can filter the patterns by categories like – about, call to action, FAQ, features, services, portfolio, and much more.
Wireframe blocks are nothing but a set of ready-made WordPress blocks that helps you to get a visual blueprint of how your WordPress site looks.
Wireframes help you to visualize your site structure, so you can focus on adding the content.
This will help you to save a lot of time in designing as a wireframe will provide you a base, so you can add the content accordingly.
You will get access to these wireframe blocks in both Starter Templates and Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg plugin.
Compatibility with page builders
Astra integrates well with page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, Divi, etc.
While selecting the templates, you can choose the templates that are compatible with the page builder you are using. I personally use Elementor Pro with Astra.
You can design the entire site in three ways here:
- Only with a customizer
- Mix and match the customizer settings with page builder customization options
- Or even entirely use your page builder’s theme builder.
If you are a professional web designer or have an agency, you can even use its Ultimate Addon plugins for Elementor and Beaver Builder to extend the functionalities of your page builder. You don’t need to buy these plugins individually, Astra’s Growth Bundle includes all these addons.
Astra’s Ultimate Addon plugin for Gutenberg is completely a free addon. It comes with powerful blocks like icon list, Lottie animation, infobox, price list, post layouts, post timeline, and much more. You can also pull the dynamic data while designing the custom blocks for pages/posts.
Compared to GenerateBlocks, this Ultimate Addon plugin is feature-rich and has advanced customization options. UAG eliminates the need for page builders.
If you are concerned about website speed and core web vitals, UAG can be a life-saver for you as it works great with Astra so that you can eliminate the bloated page builders.
You can perhaps choose Astra Free theme + Elementor Pro combo or Astra Pro + UAG to design stunning websites.
Design and customization
Astra has improved its customizer loading time by 70%, with the release of Astra 3.0. Also, it brings over a 25% increase in the page load speed and has launched a new visual header and footer builder. It’s really good to see them focus not only on new features but also on under-the-hood enhancements.
Feel free to refer to this guide to know all the updates of Astra 3.0.
Let’s discuss Astra customizer settings.
Go to Dashboard>Appearance>Astra options, to access Astra’s customizer settings.
With Astra’s free theme, you will get very limited customization options. I recommend you go with Astra Pro to access its advanced customization options.
Pro theme extends the flexibility of the customizer with various modules like:
- White Label
- Blog Layouts
- Site Layouts
- WooCommerce Text
- Scroll to Top Link
- Footer Widget
- Header Sections
- More Header Designs
- Spacing Control
- Sticky Header
- More Color Controls
- Better Typography
- Custom Layouts
- Nav Menu
- Page Headers
On our site BloggingX, we are using Astra Pro along with Elementor Pro to design our site. Note that if you are using the free version of Astra, the features we are going to explain will be missing for you.
For the sake of explanation, I am using an eLearning demo site.
Global settings help you to set the typography & colors for text, headings, backgrounds, etc, customize the buttons, and set layouts for the site, pages, posts, archives, and WooCommerce. If you change any of the settings here, it will reflect the entire website.
Under global settings, you will have the option to add a scroll to the top button for users to scroll back to the top quickly once they reach the end of the page.
Header and footer builder
Astra has released a new drag and drop header and footer builder in its 3.0 update. It gives you several widgets to design custom headers and footers for your site.
You can add site title, logo, primary & secondary menus, search bar, cart, social icons, and much more to make site navigation a breeze. Similarly, you can design footers with a footer menu and other widgets.
Astra provides two header options: transparent and sticky header. You can add animations like slide and fade for headers.
Similar to GeneratePress, Astra supports mobile headers. You can use navigation as a mobile header(see the screenshot above), make it sticky, or choose to hide it when scrolling down.
Like Kadence, Astra also allows you to add any animations, images or elements to be added in the footer using the widget option.
Blog (Designing blog/archive, single post pages)
In blog settings, you can design blog and single post pages. For designing the blog page,
- You can choose the layout style.
- Select the grid layouts as one, two, three, or four columns.
- There are options available to enable the date box, highlight the first post, add spaces between the posts, remove the featured image padding, etc.
- Display the full content for the post or excerpt it.
- Display the read more button and customize its text.
- Set the post pagination as an infinite scroll or restrict with limited posts.
- Much more.
Astra gives you the freedom to design your post structure. You can selectively display and reorder the featured image, title & blog meta. There are various settings available to design the meta structure, like:
You can display –
- Publish date
- Read time
Similarly, you can design single posts. For single posts, you can display the related posts or optionally auto-load the previous posts.
Note that GeneratePress doesn’t allow you to design the post and meta structure. Also, it doesn’t have a built-in feature to display read time for the posts. You need to play with custom code to add the read time feature.
With this option, you can set the default sidebar for your entire website. Also, set sidebars for pages, blog posts, archives, WooCommerce, and single products.
Note: To set sidebars for WooCommerce, you need to have the plugin activated first, otherwise, you won’t see the option. Similarly, if you have the LearnDash plugin activated, you will see LearnDash options as well here. It goes the same for LifterLMS and Easy Digital Downloads.
You can choose the sidebar from these four options:
- No sidebar
- Left sidebar
- Right sidebar
- Default – It applies the default sidebar settings.
You can design the sidebars, change the background, colors, and outside & inside spacing, etc.
With Astra, you can create custom sidebars and display them on specific pages using the display rules. For this, you need to install the Lightweight Sidebar Manager plugin.
First, create the sidebar, then choose the sidebar to replace, add the display rules and the user rules.
This custom sidebar will appear under Appearance > Widgets. You can add the required widgets and create the sidebar.
If you have a WooCommerce page you can create custom sidebars to display the top-selling products or the related products.
Note: You can also create custom sidebars using Elementor. Choose the custom layouts as hooks>create your custom content using Elementor and then select the sidebar area to display. That’s it.
Along with these, Astra also supports:
- Breadcrumbs to make navigation easier for users. (GeneratePress lacks this)
- Set background images for body, header, content, sidebars, footer, and for navigation.
Custom layouts and page headers
These two are Astra’s premium features. With custom layouts, you can design custom headers, footers, hooks, page content, and 404 pages. You can design these custom layouts either using the WordPress blocks (using UAG blocks) or with page builders.
Click on the Astra icon in the right sidebar to access custom layout settings. Here, you need to select the location, add display rules and user roles to display the custom layout.
If you are running time-sensitive campaigns you can add the start and end date/time for the custom layouts. This is lacking in GeneratePress.
Astra custom layout is a great and useful feature specially for affiliate marketers who want to display a particular kind of post layout in all review posts, or comparison posts etc.
With this, you can design attractive page headers for specific pages with breadcrumbs, background, and parallax. You can also design the site headers to suit page header design.
For creating the page headers, you need to choose the layout, enable if you want to display the breadcrumbs, set the page header size, and customize the background.
Astra hooks allow you to add additional functionalities or custom content anywhere on your website. For example – you can display any promotional message on your blog in the sidebar. This is a dynamic hook.
This is similar to Kadence elements hooks. You can add any element throughout your site. For instance, you want to add a call-to-action with a description below every post, or an affiliate disclosure in every post, or something like that.
Astra uses the WordPress Hooks API for this.
To get this feature, you need to install the Astra Hooks plugin. Once you install this, you will see a new section in the Customizer.
Refer this page to know all the hooks available with Astra.
On my site, I have added Google Tag Manager and Facebook Pixels tracking code in the wp-head for conversion tracking.
Astra’s WooCommerce module allows you to design your WooCommerce store with various customization options.
You can add a store notice, for example – You can display a message if any of the orders are not available for delivery or any other custom messages for customers.
Most of the store features are available in the product catalog.
- You can choose what should be displayed on the shop page; whether you want to display products, categories, or both products & categories.
- Select the number of columns to show on the page.
- Set the number of products to display on the page.
- Set the shop product structure; you can choose to display categories, title, ratings, price, add to cart, and description.
- You can also display breadcrumbs for easier navigation, page title, toolbar.
- There are also pagination options available.
- You can also set the colors and fonts for products.
You can also customize the WooCommerce checkout page. You can enable the two-step checkout, display order note, display apply coupon field, enable distraction-free checkout, and much more. Kadence and GeneratePress don’t support the two-step checkout and coupons fields for WooCommerce.
Similar to designing single post pages, you can design the single WooCommerce product pages. You can set gallery layout, image width, set product meta-structure, and related & upsell products, and much more.
To extend Astra’s functionalities it provides some free plugins (additional modules), you can access these under Appearance > Astra Options.
Import / Export Customizer Settings: With this, you can easily import the customizer settings from other websites or export them. If you have multiple websites, this is a real quick way to customize the site just with a single click. A great feature for web designers and agencies.
Astra Customizer Reset: If you have overloaded the site with tons of customizations and want to revert back to default, you can just reset and get back to default.
Customizer Search: This is a handy feature to quickly search the customizer setting you need.
Astra Bulk Edit: With this, you can edit the meta settings in bulk. For example – enable or disable page titles on multiple pages.
Astra Widgets: It lets you add an address, a social profile widget, and list icons to add in headers, footers, and sidebars.
Custom Fonts: With this, you can upload your own custom fonts to use on your site. Note that, as of now, it works with limited themes and plugins like –
- Astra Theme
- Beaver Builder Theme
- Beaver Builder Plugin
- Elementor Page Builder
Custom Typekit Fonts is the same as custom fonts addon but it is for Adobe fonts.
Sidebar Manager: With this, you can display relevant custom sidebars on the pages. With this addon, you can conditionally display sidebars on specific posts, pages, taxonomies, or custom post types.
Ultimate Add-ons for Gutenberg: With this, you can power up your Gutenberg editor with additional blocks and build the sites faster. Similar to this, Astra has developed ultimate addons for Elementor and Beaver Builder too.
Astra Free vs Pro
Astra’s free theme is very limited to build a professional-looking website. It just has limited typography, colors & backgrounds, and spacing options. That’s it.
It lacks features like white-labeling, page background styling, sidebar designing styles, custom layouts, page headers, sticky headers, WooCommerce mini-cart, and much more.
Also, modules like WooCommerce, LearnDash, LiferLMS, Easy Digital Downloads are available only with its Pro version. If you want to access these pro modules, and need a white-labeling feature, you have to go with Astra Pro.
Note: As I said in the beginning if you are highly dependent on page builders to design your website, then Astra’s free theme is enough for you. If you don’t want to make your site heavy with page builder plugins and want to design your entire website relying on the theme itself, go with Astra Pro.
Astra integrates well with WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, LearnDash, LiferLMS, and Easy Digital Downloads.
Astra Pro has modules to integrate with these plugins. You need to have the plugins installed and activated first.
These integrations let you build a course website, business website, forum, or whatever you want without thinking about the compatibility with the theme.
Astra for course creators (LearnDash and LifterLMS integration)
Astra Pro provides distraction-free learning. This removes all the navigation menu links and displays a neat and clean interface for students to stay focused.
Note that, LifterLMS users will get an additional feature – distraction-free checkout, which hides the header and the 1st footer of the website.
Astra allows you to display students’ gravatar in the primary header to personalize the student’s experience when they login to their dashboard.
Table of Contents
You can customize the boarder-radius, typography, and colors of TOC to make it attractive. You can also override the default LearnDash colors with Astra colors.
The same goes for LiferLMS, but with this, you will get some extra features like course featured images, course description, course meta, instructor detail, progress bar, etc.
Astra also integrates well with the Toolset plugin, which helps to build advanced WordPress sites with no code.
Astra integration with Easy Digital Downloads
With this plugin, you can easily sell your digital products on WordPress. Integrating Easy Digital Downloads with Astra Pro gives you enough design options and flexibility to customize your eCommerce store.
You can design the product archive pages, single product pages, and checkout pages and customize the colors, background, and typography to make them look attractive.
This is a must for any digital product sellers such as PDF, e-books & many more. Astra’s integration with Easy Digital Downloads will let you easily sell digital products by providing a downloadable link to the buyers.
Astra has both annual and lifetime pricing plans. The annual pricing starts at $59/year. With this, you will get all the pro features.
If you need an additional Astra addon to supercharge your page builder, go with the Essential Bundle ($276/year). With this you can choose the addon for the page builder you are using, either the Ultimate Addons for Elementor or Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder.
The Growth Bundle is a complete toolset available at $523/year. This bundle comes with:
- Convert Pro Plugin
- Schema Pro Plugin
- Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder
- Ultimate Addons for Elementor
- SkillJet Academy Membership
See the above screenshot, to get details on the lifetime pricing.
Astra is good at support. It has very in-depth knowledgebase articles, and video tutorials.
It also has a powerful community of Astra users.
They also have a contact form if you have any questions regarding billing, account, partnership, or pre-sales queries.
Alternatives to Astra
Astra vs GeneratePress
Astra is very easy to use than GeneratePress. GeneratePress needs some coding knowledge. GeneratePress has fewer customization options than Astra.
GeneratePress lacks integrations. Whereas, Astra offers few integrations.
You can use GeneratePress on 500 websites. Astra has unlimited site usage and it is completely white-labeled.
Go with Astra if -:
- If you want an easy-to-use theme and you have zero coding skills, as you don’t have to know about CSS to create an amazing website in Astra. For instance, you can easily add a CTA to the menu in Astra whereas to do the same in GeneratePress, you have to add CSS code.
- If you have an agency and need completely a white-labeled solution and unlimited site usage.
- You want to use pre-built templates as Astra has comparatively more templates.
- Want to design your own LMS website integrating with LMS plugins like LearnDash or LifterLMS because GeneratePress doesn’t integrate with LearnDash or other 3rd party LMS.
Go with GeneratePress if -:
- You are a tech-savvy having some coding knowledge and want to keep the theme lightweight because you will need CSS most of the time when you want to add or customize any element. Be it, the author box, post layout, etc.
- You don’t want to use any page builders instead you want to use only Gutenberg as GeneratePress + GenerateBlocks is a great combination for techies.
Astra vs Kadence
Both Kadence and Astra easy to use themes. Kadence excels over Astra with its customization features. Kadence has more features built-in in its customizer settings.
Kadence Shop Kit plugin gives advanced features to design your store. It also has additional plugins like Kadence Cloud and Kadence Conversions to take your business to next level.
Go with Astra if -:
- If you are want to use any premium page builders like Elementor.
- You have agency and need a white labeling feature.
- You want minimal design.
Go with Kadence if -:
- You need its Shop Kit, Kadence Cloud, Kadence Conversions plugin, etc.
- Need unlimited site usage without the need for white labeling.
- You want to eliminate page builders.
To sum up,
Astra is one of the best themes for WordPress available today. It is very lightweight, easy to use, and ensures fast site loading speed. You don’t need to have coding knowledge to use Astra.
- Astra Pro offers plenty of modules, and customization options to design beautiful sites. Its Starter Plugin gives access to 180+ pre-made demo sites, patterns, and wireframes to build the sites quickly within minutes. So, no matter if you are a complete newbie or a professional, Astra’s pre-built templates could easily do your work and will save you a lot of time.
- With Astra’s customization features, you can build the entire website without the need for page builders. Astra user interface is very easy and anyone can easily plug and play with Astra’s customization.
- Astra Pro integrates well with WordPress plugins like LearnDash, LifterLMS, and WooCommerce to take your online business to next level. So, no matter if you are planning to build a forum website or a course website, Astra has got you covered.
- Its white labeling feature makes it worth buying for agencies. If you are an individual, own a small company, or have an agency, Astra is worth buying it. You can build any type of website you imagine.
- It’s fast & lightweight which helps in SEO. It’s even less than 50 KB, so you can judge its size and its clean code. This helps in making your website faster.
- Astra works great with modern page builders like Elementor, Divi, and so on. If you are a page-builder lover, no theme could beat Astra because of its powerful integration with page-builders.
I hope you loved this post on the Astra theme review helpful.