Do a quick Google search for the “best WordPress theme,” and you’re sure to find Astra in the top tier. We decided to conduct an Astra theme review ourselves to find out if it really stands up to all the hype.
If you read through these lists you’ll see some common claims saying the Astra theme is the fastest, it’s easy to use, and it’s highly customizable. At first glance, it felt a little complicated. But in reality, what looks complicated are actually a plethora of customization options!
What else did we learn about this versatile theme? Continue reading to find out our take on Astra’s dozens of features.
Developer Credibility & Customer Support: 5/5
In a previous article, we talked about looking at the credibility of developers when buying a WordPress theme. This includes digging into reviews, how long they’ve been around, what other products or services they offer, and access to support.
So, this is one of the first places we looked when conducting our Astra theme review – and we have good news! The development company, Brainstorm Force, has been creating WordPress plugins for more than 10 years. They are well known in the WordPress community and have a repertoire of plugins with great reviews. So, you know you are getting a good product.
When it comes to the Astra theme, they offer an extensive knowledge base filled with in-depth articles and a YouTube channel for video tutorials. Both resources can help answer any questions you have in creating an outstanding website on the Astra theme. However, should any issues arise, you can visit the dedicated WordPress Support Forum. Or, if you’re on the Pro Plan, you can open a one-on-one support ticket.
Speed & Performance: 5/5
The Astra theme is performance-focused. It was built with speed in mind and has undergone many speed tests from WordPress experts.
So, in our Astra theme review, we asked, “What makes it so fast?”
Here’s what we learned:
Optimized Coding Practices
Astra follows the best coding standards and uses WordPress default data. This way every piece of code is optimized for performance.
Installing Astra to your WordPress only adds a mere 50KB of resource files and 9 HTTP requests, while similar themes require so much more.
- Check out these comparisons from aThemes to see how much lighter Astra really is:
- Newsmag – 848.3 KB and 37 requests
- Hueman – 582.9 KB and 21 requests
- Ashe – 1.6MB and 24 requests (file size is extra large because it uses a background cover image by default)
- Activello – 612.4 KB and 22 requests
Ease of Use: 5/5
There are two main points that stood out in our Astra theme review regarding ease of use. First, the theme is highly compatible with WordPress Page Builders. Secondly, Astra has hundreds of Starter Sites to build your website on. These two elements will help you design a beautiful and functional website in just days – not months!
Page Builder Compatibility
Not very long ago everyone needed some basic knowledge of code to customize their WordPress site. But thanks to the help of visual page builders, anyone can create and customize their site with little to no coding experience! However, most themes haven’t caught up to the popularity of these page builders, making them incompatible and difficult to design – this is where Astra really sets itself apart from other themes.
Astra was built with modern page builders as the focus. This theme is highly compatible with some of the most popular visual page builders like Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, Brizy, and more. Astra even has tutorials on how to build sites with specific page builders.
Dozens of Starter Sites to Choose From
With Astra’s wide collection of Starter Sites, there is no need to create your site completely from scratch.
A Starter Site is a template that you can customize to fit your business needs. Astra currently has more than 120 templates built for specific niches, saving you both time and money as many of them are free. To make things even easier for you, some of the starter templates are explicitly made for the Elementor or Beaver Builder page builders. This means you can start customizing your website in just a few clicks.
To take advantage of these Starter Site templates, all you need to do is install the free Astra Sites plugin. This is a full library of pre-built websites designed by professionals with beautiful font combinations and layouts. You even have the option to select complete websites, mix and match page layouts for further customization, or select Elementor blocks, which we’ll get into in the next section.
But with so many options, how do you choose? The plugin has a search and filter option to help you find the right template. They also have them categorized by niche business type, like restaurants, gyms, real estate, and more.
Customization Options: 4/5
No Coding Necessary
Once you’ve chosen the perfect Starter Site, customization is easy with the Astra theme. Absolutely no coding experience is required.
Many WordPress themes let you customize certain elements on a page, so what makes Astra different? The amount of elements you can customize surpasses most other themes!
While the free plan gives you plenty of customization options, the Pro plan will take it one step further. Think of the Pro plan customization options as bonus features. You don’t need them, but they are definitely nice to have. Here you’ll find a list of what you can customize with each plan.
If you plan to make sales on your website, Astra provides speed, functionality, and conversion-focused design with its many shopping options. These features are meant to keep your visitors engaged by making product details clearly accessible and the sales process easy to navigate.
Here are the WooCommerce-Specific features you get with the Astra theme:
- Grid Settings
- Dedicated Sidebars
- Widget Optimized
- Dropdown Cart
- Sales Bubble Style
- Product Catalog
- Color Variations
- Infinite Scroll*
- Off-Canvas Sidebar*
- Gallery Options*
- Checkout Options*
We’d like to cover the details of all these WooCommerce features in this Astra theme review, but that would be a whole new article on its own! You can get more information on how these features work by clicking here.
Made-for-Astra Plugins 5/5
Not yet convinced that Astra is a great WordPress theme? Well, there’s a plugin for that!
Well, more accurately, there are many Astra-specific plugins add-ons available from the developers themselves to extend the functionality of page builders or add different website features.
We’ve already touched on the Starter Site plugin above, but here are some additional free plugins to give you a better website design experience with the Astra theme.
- Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg: Supercharges the Gutenberg page builder with powerful editor block, page layouts, widgets, and more.
- Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder: 60+ editing modules, 100+ page templates, and 200+ row sections, need we say more?
- Elementor – Header, Footer, Blocks Template: Added functionality to customize site’s header and footer, or add blocks anywhere on the site.
- Custom Fonts: Have a really unique font? Easily embed the font file for use on your website with this addon.
- Custom Typekit Fonts: Easily embed Adobe fonts to your website.
- Sidebar Manager: Unlike standard sidebars, you can create unlimited custom sidebars and choose where they display.
- Astra Bulk Edit: Gives you the ability to edit meta settings on multiple pages or posts all at once.
- Astra Customizer Reset: Experimenting and need to start from scratch? This plugin will reset all the custom settings on the Astra theme.
- Astra Hooks: This addon lets you create cooks, which is a way to pass data between websites to get information in real-time.
- Unlist Posts & Pages: Need to hide a page or post from search results? Use this to mark it as “unlisted.” Visitors can only find it if they have the exact URL.
- Customizer Search: How do you keep track of all these customization options? The developers solved that problem as well with this search addon!
- Home Page Banner: If the Starter Site you chose doesn’t come with a banner but you’d like to add one, this feature will do the trick.
Astra Theme Review: Our Final Thoughts
It seems, with the Astra theme, the possibilities are endless!
We find it helpful to think of the Astra theme as a Lego set. You take the pieces of different shapes, sizes, and colors you need to create a fun masterpiece. If you want, you can add some Lego people or rare pieces that have different functions. Whatever you do, everything was made to fit together easily.
This is what the Astra theme and suite of plugins offers to anyone looking to build a beautiful, fast, and functional website.