If you’re building a website on WordPress, chances are you’ve shopped around for the right theme. There are so many WordPress themes to choose from, you may be wondering which one is right for you.
WordPress themes are created by a community of designers, from amateur to professional. There are hundreds of WordPress themes on sites like ThemeForest and Themecafe. One thing is certain: Astra gets rave reviews. But, does it make the cut?
In this post, we’ll walk you through one of the most hyped WordPress themes of the past year — the Astra theme — and go over the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. We’ve also built our own example website using the theme to bring you our in-depth findings.
But first, let's start with the basics.
What is Astra?
Astra is a WordPress theme that is marketed for professionals and creatives alike. The theme offers support for portfolios, ecommerce plugins like WooCommerce, and of course, blogs. Brainstorm Force, the people who make Astra, bill this WordPress theme as the perfect base for any site.
On WordPress.org, Astra has garnered an impressive 5-star review rating, with very few 4-star reviews and only a handful of 1-star reviews. The reviews hail Brainstorm Force’s support, its fast loading time, and the fact that the theme is easily customizable.
So, let’s dive into the features, bells, and whistles to see what makes this theme so beloved.
Astra is optimized for performance.
- The Astra theme loads in just seconds, providing a smooth user experience for visitors.
- Astra is lightweight and only requires 50K of resources.
- Professional back-end design and code means that your WordPress site will be stable and functional.
- Astra employs the use of self-hosted Google Fonts and stores them locally on your server, creating a fast-acting interface.
Astra offers a wide array of design options.
- Astra’s layouts help you create a customized website without any design or programming knowledge.
- Header and footer options offer customizable menus, navigation, social links, and more.
- You can customize your page headers with rules and other unique functionality in the Astra theme.
- You can set your own unique color scheme with “Colors & Typography to match your branding and style.
- Pages can create specific sidebars that will display only on certain pages, rather than globally, allowing you to control crosslinking and content strategy.
Astra offers customization options.
- You can use “Hooks” to inject your own code into various parts of pages to perform actions, retrieve data, or other functionality.
- You can create a custom 404 page so that you can link to products, newsletters, or social media.
- You can create custom layouts within the Gutenberg page builder to easily move content where you want.
The Pros and Cons of Using Astra
While Astra is a robust theme with a wide range of customization options, some users may face limitations. To help you make the right decision, here are the advantages and disadvantages of using Astra.
The Advantages of Astra
- Astra has pre-built layouts that make creating a new website easy.
- Astra offers both a drag-and-drop builder and a way to directly edit your site’s code.
- This site theme loads quickly, so your users get your content quickly.
- Astra is updated regularly, so you won’t fall risk to cyber vulnerabilities.
The Disadvantages of Astra
- There is a learning curve for building any website. If this is your first time making a website, you may want to opt for a simpler theme with fewer features.
How to Build a Page in Astra
While Astra is as easy to use as most of the WordPress templates on the market today, it does offer some unique settings that newcomers may be interested in using to build a page.
First, navigate to Pages in your WordPress dashboard.
Next, you’ll open the Page Builder as usual. If you’re using the Gutenberg Editor, you’ll notice the Page settings as usual, including Page and Block on the right-hand side.
To access Astra’s unique page-building features, click the Astra logo in the top right corner of the screen, next to the Settings icon.
To change the Content Layout, you can choose from the Customizer Layout, Boxed, Content Boxed, Full Width, and Contained.
Expand the Sidebar accordion menu to find options to remove the sidebar, and which side of the page you want the Sidebar shown.
You can disable the Header and/or the Footer elements in the Disable Elements section, which is useful if you are creating a landing page or another lead-generation page outside of your typical structure.
Under Advanced Settings, you can make adjustments to the Header sections and transparency at the page level.
Important Astra Integrations
In addition to broad support for WordPress design elements and features, Astra offers a wide range of integrations to power your site. See some popular options below.
If you’re running an online store, WooCommerce is an essential integration. Luckily, Astra works with this ecommerce platform.
With the WooCommerce integration, you can create a standard grid layout for ecommerce category pages. You can also keep buyers on your pages with a dropdown cart, instead of forcing them to a cart page.
To play around with the features offered for WooCommerce integrations, visit the Theme Customizer.
If you’ve built a WordPress site in the past, you may have used Elementor. This drag-and-drop page builder makes customizing your site easy. The best part? You don’t have to choose between Astra and Elementor. They work together.
With the Elementor plugin, you can leverage additional customization options. That includes motion effects, multiple fonts, and enhanced background images. Soon, you’ll be on your way to building a dynamic website.
If your team already uses HubSpot as a CRM, you can add the plugin to your Astra-powered website. This integration allows your marketing and web efforts to work together seamlessly.
With this plugin, you can build forms for your site, create popup notifications, and see analytics about your site’s performance. You can also create a helpful chatbot to assist visitors with stumbling blocks.
Building a beautiful site won’t matter if no one visits. That’s where search engine optimization comes into play. SEO can help your team rank for keywords users may search in Google.
SEOPress has a plugin that plays especially well with Astra sites. You can use the team’s breadcrumb trail technique to increase your position in search.
Astra Plugins: What’s Included
In order to make the most out of the WordPress Astra theme’s features, Astra has created a suite of plug-ins that can help you along the way.
Astra recommends the following plug-ins to get the most out of your theme support:
- Astra Widgets. Create addresses, social icons, and more to help you further extend your pages.
- Astra Bulk Edit. Edit a custom list of pages and posts simultaneously.
- Astra Customizer Reset. Set your Customizer back to the default design.
- Import/Export Customizer Settings. Clone an Astra website that you have already built.
- Customizer Search. Find settings easily within the Customizer without opening tabs.
- Sidebar Manager. Make sidebars that are tailored to your pages and theme.
- Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg. Get all kinds of fun blocks for the Gutenberg editor.
You can use the Astra WordPress theme without additional plug-ins, but they can help you with workflow, usability, and design features that you want to implement.
Astra: Pro vs Free
One of the most attractive features of the Astra WordPress theme is that it offers a free version to help you keep the overhead of your website down. But, you’ll find there are limited options for extending and customizing your website when you use the free Astra WordPress theme.
If you do decide to upgrade to the Pro version of the theme, you can expect to pay $47 per year at the time of this posting. You can purchase a lifetime license starting at $239.
Here are a few of the attractive features that are available if you upgrade to the Pro version of the Astra WordPress theme:
- Abundant site, blog, and footer layouts.
- Over 800 Google fonts included.
- Customize color and background.
- Access to multiple header designs and layouts.
- Use plugins like LearnDash and LifterLMS to offer courses.
- Excellent customer support.
Get started with Astra.
Astra is a powerful and extendable WordPress theme available in 2023. The reviews are in — both from this WordPress theme reviewer and the community. More than 5,000 users have posted a review of the Astra theme on WordPress.com, and the theme has earned its 5 stars.
From premium customer service to easy-to-use features and customizations, Astra is one of the best themes available for WordPress. Give it a try, and see if it works for you and your website.