Before we get into this in-depth Astra WordPress theme review, I have something of a disclaimer to make:
I love Astra.
In the past, I’ve found it to be a versatile and easy-to-use theme that has helped me to build everything from blogs to eCommerce stores, business websites, and more, all in a matter of minutes.
Still, as much of a fan as I may be, even I have to admit that the theme isn’t perfect and may not be right for everyone.
That’s why I’m going to put my preferences aside for now and simply draw on my extensive experience as a long-time Astra user to weigh up the pros and cons of this popular theme to help you decide whether it’s a good fit your new website.
If you decide that it is, I’ll also talk you through the simple step-by-step process required to get started with Astra and put it to work to help you launch a successful blog or website.
What is the Astra WordPress Theme?
Even if you’ve never used the Astra theme for your WordPress website, I’m willing to bet that you’ve at least heard of it.
The only non-default WordPress theme to boast over a million active installations, it’s the most downloaded theme of all time. Such is its popularity that it now features right at the top of the list of recommended themes when you come to install a WordPress theme for the first time.
Look, I know what you might be thinking:
If so many other people have also used this theme, doesn’t that mean your site is going to look the same as countless others out there?
Not at all.
I doubt that even Astra’s biggest critics (not that I’ve met many of them) could deny that one thing this multipurpose theme does very well is offering an extensive array of starter templates and customizable options. This ensures that no matter how many others use the theme, you’ll still have no trouble creating a unique website for you and your brand.
What Kind of Websites Can You Make With Astra?
It’s not much of a stretch to say that if there’s a type of website, you can create it with Astra.
The theme is optimized for WooCommerce, making it a breeze to build online stores, while integrations with top online course platforms like LearnDash and LifterLMS mean it’s just as good for monetizing your site by selling courses.
Elsewhere, you can use the theme to start a blog, build a website for your business, develop a portfolio to showcase your creative skills or put together just about any site you can think of.
What’s even better is that the theme offers more than 230 starter templates catering to a broad range of different niches, including, but certainly not limited to:
- Accountants and financial services
- Authors and writers
- Bars and breweries
- Business consultants
- Coffee shows
- Construction firms
- Digital marketing professionals agencies
- Fashion retailers
- Health and beauty brands
- News sites
- Pet care services
- Restaurants, food trucks, and food delivery services
- Software as a Service (Saas) platforms
- Therapists and coaches
- Technology companies
- Transport and travel services.
- Plus dozens more.
Astra for WordPress: Key Features
The huge array of starter websites and template designs may be Astra’s most significant selling point, but this is certainly not the case for all styles and has no substance.
When you use Astra, you’ll also enjoy all of the following:
1. Performance-Optimized Design
It’s no secret that optimum site performance is essential to launching any successful website.
If your posts, pages, or products take a long time to load on a user’s browser, that user simply isn’t going to stick around. In fact, research shows us that nearly 70% of online shoppers say that page speed is a determining factor in whether or not they make a purchase, while a Google study carried out a few years ago showed that 53% of visitors would leave a website if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.
The good news is that this needn’t be a big concern for Astra users as the theme comes fully optimized for top performance.
2. Compatibility With All Leading Page Builder Tools
Another reason why Astra is so famous is that it’s incredibly easy to configure and customize.
This is all thanks to the way it was developed to work flawlessly with several top page builder tools, including Elementor, Beaver Builder, and the standard WordPress block editor, as well as the advanced WordPress site builder, Toolset.
Elsewhere, top platforms like Divi, Visual Composer, and others are supported.
These tools bring the kind of visual, drag-and-drop editing style that you’d get with leading website builders like Wix and Weely into WordPress, meaning you can create a beautiful-looking, dynamic website without having to learn a single line of code.
3. Multiple Design Options
Using the page mentioned above builders and Astra’s in-built design options, you can tweak and fine-tune every aspect of your site.
Multiple layout options are available that are purpose-built for pages and blog posts. These include
- Full-width layouts
- Fluid layouts
- Boxed designs help your content stand out from your site design.
Plus, padding and spacing controls.
Meanwhile, headers and footers can be fully customized to suit the purpose of your site.
If you’re an Astra Pro user, you can also toggle the display rules of your headers so that you can choose which individual pages to show them on and even create custom headers specifically designed for mobile users.
Beyond that, bloggers who sign up for Astra Pro will also have the option to choose between grid, list, and masonry layouts, along with other useful blogging features such as:
- Infinite post loading
- Blog structure control
- Excerpt Counts
- Date boxes.
4. Search Engine Optimization
The performance-enhancing features mentioned earlier will undoubtedly help please the algorithms Google uses to decide where to rank your content in its search results, but Astra goes one step further than that by offering inbuilt schema markup.
If you’re new to schema, it’s the term used to describe a set of tags that can be universally understood by major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
The more a search engine understands the information and intent of your content, the better job it can do at getting that content to people looking for it.
6. Other Key Astra Theme Features
Along with the highlights above, Astra also includes:
- Sticky headers
- Transparent headers
- Mega menus
- Typography presets
- Custom fonts
- Google fonts
- Responsive font sizes, which adjust text size based on the user’s device
- Above and below header style customization
- Above and below header content options
- Google Web Stories integration
- Display related posts
- Global color palette
- Left and right logo alignment options
- Custom footer bar layouts
- Customizable premade button designs.
How Much Does the Astra Theme Cost?
Astra is my pick for the best free WordPress theme available right now, as it offers a solid package of templates and tools that ensure you have everything you need to build a top-quality website without spending a penny on a theme.
That said, there are plenty of advantages to be gained by upgrading to one of the three paid plans, as the free version of Astra limits you in terms of styling options and doesn’t offer certain features such as custom headers, footers, and 404 pages.
If you’re a blogger, you may also find the free plan somewhat limited, as features such as post content layouts, pagination options, and post navigation visibility control are all limited to the premium version.
If you do decide to upgrade, you’ll have the following options to choose from:
|PRODUCT NAME||PRODUCT DESCRIPTION||PRODUCT PRICE|
|Astra Pro||Includes all the free features plus: |
Advanced header and footer builder
Advanced blogging layouts and features
Advanced WooCommerce features
CSS file generation to optimize site performance
Page background and sidebar styling
Unlimited colors, background, and typography options
Use of shortcodes
White-label tools for web developers and agencies
|$47 per year or $227 for lifetime use|
|Astra Essentials bundle||Includes everything in Astra Pro plus:|
180+ additional premium starter templates
Use of the WP Portfolio plugin
Add an extra page builder.
|$137 per year or $677 for lifetime usE|
|Astra Growth Bundle||Includes everything in the Growth Bundle plus:|
Use of ConvertPro plugin
Use of Scheme PRO plugin
Free membership to SkillJet Academy.
|$187 per year or $937 for lifetime use|
Both the Essentials and Growth bundles also include free use of Ultimate Addons for Elementor and Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder, each of which would cost you $57 if you purchased them separately.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike some premium themes which limit the number of sites you can use them on, Astra Pro has no such limitations, so you can install it on as many sites as you wish.
How to Build Your Website With the Astra WordPress Theme
1. Install the Theme
I recently wrote a detailed tutorial on the easiest way to install a WordPress theme, but if you don’t have time to go through that, let me recap the quickest way to do it.
First, go to Appearance – Themes – Add New on your WordPress dashboard.
As I mentioned earlier, Astra is such a popular theme that it should be one of -if not the- first options which appear on the Add Themes screen.
If it isn’t, you can always find it by typing ‘Astra’ into the ‘search themes’ box.
Hover over the theme to bring up the ‘Install’ button. Click that, then click ‘activate.’
2. Start the Astra Setup Process
When you first activate your new theme, you’ll probably notice that your website looks nothing like any of the templates I talked about earlier, so now is the time to make that happen.
Post-activation, a new notification will appear at the top of your dashboard thank you for installing the theme.
This notification features a button labeled ‘Get Started.’
When you do that, you’ll first be taken to a new page with a video in which one of the theme’s developers waxes enthusiastically about those excellent quality starter templates.
Scroll past that and click the ‘Build Your Website Now’ button.
3. Choose Your Website Builder
Next, you’ll be asked to pick which leading page builder tool you want to create your website.
For the rest of this tutorial, I’ll be working with Elementor, which I recently picked as my number one choice for the top must-have WordPress plugins thanks to its excellent user-friendly interface and the way it makes editing your website practically effortless.
4. Choose Your Starter Template
With your builder of choice selected, you’ll next be able to pick one of the many available templates to build your site.
Here, you can simply scroll down and browse all the options, filter by categories such as business websites, blogs, personal sites, and eCommerce, or simply use the search function if you know precisely what type of theme you want to use.
Here’s where Astra starts to lose a few points with me.
It’s not that there aren’t a lot of great site templates to pick from, it’s simply that finding the best one to use can be a chore, as those filtering options simply aren’t very good.
For example, each top-level category comes with several sub-categories, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference which sub-category you pick as each one presents you with pretty much the same choices.
That’s bothersome enough, but what may be more of a pain for users on the Free plan is that while you can also filter themes by most popular or premium-only, there’s no option to only look at the free articles.
While I understand that this is Astra’s way of encouraging more users to switch from the free version to Astra Pro, it could just as quickly have the opposite effect of frustrating those free users enough that they ultimately ditch Astra altogether.
If you’re happy with Astra so far, but you’re having this irksome experience of trying to find the best template, I’d encourage you not to ditch it as with such an abundance of templates, you’re bound to find one that you do like eventually just as I did with the template called Learn Digital Marketing.
4. Configure Your Template
Another small complaint against Astra is that there’s no way to preview your theme before you select it.
Instead, you have to click on the theme to select it, preview it on the next page, and then hit the back button if you decide not to use it.
If you opt to use that theme, your next task is uploading your logo using the box provided.
You can drag and drop this from your hard drive or upload it as you would any other file.
When you’re done, you can use the Logo Width slider option to adjust the size of your logo, with any changes you make shown in real-time in the right-hand preview.
Once you’re happy with how your logo looks, click ‘Continue.’
Still, in the same preview panel, you’ll then be able to change the color scheme for your site’s text, headings, buttons, and other features and select the fonts you want to use.
Again, all changes are displayed in real-time, so you know exactly how your site will look once it’s live in the world.
Play around with the different options until you’re happy, then click ‘Continue.’
5. Configure the Import Options
Finally, you have two simple tasks to finish before Astra puts your site together, and the first one of those is optional.
Astra will ask for your name, email, and reasons for building a website, but the only benefit is that it signs you up for Astra’s newsletter.
If you don’t want the newsletter, you can ignore that part and focus on the ‘Advanced Options’, which tell Astra which elements of your chosen template it should install.
These are all selected by default. You may decide to opt out of sharing non-sensitive data to help Astra improve its service, but I recommend keeping everything else checked. This way, you can be sure that your site will look exactly like it did in the preview panel we saw in step 4.
With all that done, click ‘Submit & Build My Website.’
Astra will get to work on setting up your template, keeping you updated on its progress all the way.
Just over half a minute later, you’ll be congratulated on a job well done and can click the ‘View Your Website’ button to see how it looks.
6. Edit Your Site With Elementor
Your newly-designed site will open in a new tab and should look exactly as it did in the preview panel earlier.
That’s a great start, but having someone else’s content doesn’t exactly help you to promote yourself or your work online, so let’s do something about that.
You’ll notice the WordPress menu bar across the top of your screen. From that menu, click ‘Edit With Elementor.’
This will open up your homepage in the Elementor site editor, where you can click on any element on the page to change it to your liking.
Click on the heading, for example, and the left-hand panel will expand so that you can not only change the text itself but also alter its size, HTML tag, and alignment, as well as add a link.
You can also customize the style of your heading by changing its color, font, and various design features. At the same time, the Advanced tab lets you configure the layout and provides other options, including the ability to add animations.
Adding a new element to your page is as simple as selecting it from the right-hand menu and dragging it into place.
For example, by adding the image element and using the background styling options for the adjacent column, I created an attractive ‘About Me’ section that grabs visitors’ attention.
Finally, you can add new sections by finding the ‘Drag Widget Here’ box at the bottom of your page.
This allows you to:
Add new basic layouts which you can fill with your content.
Add complete page templates.
Or make use of pre-made blocks for standard page features such as About copy, contact details, 404 pages, and more.
Put all that to work, hit publish, and you’ve successfully built your brand new website with Astra.
What Support Does the Astra Theme Offer?
Although Astra may offer fantastic usability, if you’re a new WordPress user, you may be relieved to hear that, if you do get stuck, help is readily available.
Astra’s developers offer an extensive collection of video tutorials that outline how to use every last one of its features, along with a full Knowledgebase of in-depth articles to help you troubleshoot anything that isn’t going right.
If both options fail, you can open a ticket to receive support via email.
As is common practice, premium users will jump to the front of the line and receive a same-day response, Monday-Friday.
If you primarily work on your site at the weekends, you may want to consider an additional upgrade to Astra’s VIP Care package. This ensures you can access email during the weekend and ensure your support requests are treated as a top priority over premium and free users.
Astra WordPress Theme Pros and Cons
Frequently Asked Questions About Astra WordPress Theme
Is the Astra theme good for SEO?
Yes, it is. Astra loads quickly and comes with inbuilt schema markups to help search engines better understand and rank your posts and pages.
Is the Astra theme suitable for eCommerce?
Absolutely. The popular WordPress theme comes with a number of high-quality templates for online stores. At the same time, Astra Pro users can also access advanced WooCommerce features such as drop-down carts, sales bubbles, and advanced gallery options to boost sales.
What are the best Astra WordPress theme alternatives?
Blocksy, Generate Press, and OceanWP are among the best Astra theme alternatives as they provide similar quality templates, easy editing options, and valuable features.
Is the Astra WordPress Theme the Best Option for Your Website? My Final Thoughts
At the start of this Astra WordPress theme review, I made no secret that I was already a big fan of this rightly popular theme.
Having just used it again on a new project so that I could show you in the guide above, I’ve seen nothing to dissuade me from saying that not only is Astra the best free WordPress theme around, but also that Astra Pro is equally one of the best premium themes on the market.
Does that mean it’s a good option for your website?
I would certainly say so.
Though the less-than-stellar filtering options on the starter template selection page may cause some frustration, and the fact that many of the key blogging features are limited to Astra Pro may be a disappointment to free users, few other themes can match this one in terms of versatility, usability, and all-round performance.
If you’ve decided you love this theme as much as I do but are unsure where to go from here, I’ve outlined the next steps to take in my I recommend the comprehensive guide on how to set up a WordPress blog.