Astra Review 2019 – A Hugely Popular WordPress Theme
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Astra is a massively-popular WordPress theme. With over 300,000 active installs, it ranks #2 in the WordPress.org theme library by active installs (as of May 2019).
So, what makes Astra so popular? This free, lightweight WordPress theme offers a lot of functionality, customization, and flexibility that makes it a great canvas for website designers looking to create beautiful websites.
In this article, we give you a thorough Astra review. What are the top features and benefits of Astra? What are the pros and cons? All of that, we dive into, in this Astra review.
Astra Review: Features
What sets Astra apart from all of the other WordPress themes out there?
There are a few different elements of the Astra theme where it stands out that we will highlight in this Astra review. These elements are:
- Page Builder Compatibility
- Starter Sites
- Astra Pro
Let’s dive in!
How lightweight are we talking?
If you were to add more on top of it, like page builder plugins, lead magnets, and such, obviously it’s going to require more resources and take more time to load. But, out of the box, it’s extremely lightweight. This makes it, in particular, a great theme to use alongside plugins like page builders (like the Offsprout page builder).
One blog installed Astra as well as another popular lightweight theme, GeneratePress, and tested load times. They found that for the Astra Pro theme, with Gutenberg, was 92 KB and took 0.9 seconds to load. That’s pretty darn good.
Page Builder Compatibility
Since we’ve already been talking about page builders, let’s dive in a bit deeper there.
WordPress page builders are extremely helpful tools for web designers that allow you to quickly and easily build your websites with a drag-and-drop front-end interface. This means that instead of having to write code to create and customize your WordPress webpages, you can instead use these user-friendly page builder tools to design the layouts and elements.
If you are looking for a way to easily edit pages on your website, having a theme that looks great, is customizable, and works well with your page builder is a must.
Astra touts that it works great with page builders. In addition to the fact that it is a lightweight theme, it has many templates designed to work specifically with page-builders that can let you easily and further customize your pages.
Pre-Built Starter Sites
Astra has a library of ready-to-import Starter Sites.
These Starter Sites are effectively fully-designed website templates. Just find the template you want from their library, download it, and import it to your account.
Starter Sites works by way of a special Starter Sites plugin that works in conjunction with your Astra theme.
Importing a template using the Starter Sites plugin will import for that design its customizer settings, widgets, menus and content, and custom settings for some plugins (like Astra Pro). So, if you have content already on your site and want to try a new layout, Starter Sites will change the layout, but should not delete or remove any of the content.
The library of Starter Sites is great. The free Astra theme and Starter Sites plugin comes with 20 free website templates to work with. If you upgrade to Astra Pro, you get up to 50+ Starter Sites. The Starter Sites are also custom-configured to work with several popular page builders as well as Gutenberg.
In addition to the free Astra theme, there is also a premium Astra Pro version as well. With Astra Pro, you get a lot of additional features. These include things like: mega nav menus, white label, custom layouts, and WooCommerce features.
On its own, Astra is great. With Pro, there’s a ton more it can do.
Site Layouts, for example, lets you choose between boxed, full-width, padded, or fluid site-wide layouts. The Pro-level header features gives you a bunch of options for header styles to choose from and customize. These include things like sticky or transparent headers. In addition, you get different header sections like above-header and below-header sections.
Overall, there are a lot of additional benefits you get with Pro. With Pro, you really get to further customize the site-wide areas and aspects. In addition, you get more Starter Sites to work with.
Astra Pricing and Different Tiers
There are many different pricing options for Astra. So, let’s take some time now to break it all down.
At the basic level, completely no-frills, Astra is 100% free. You can download Astra from the WordPress.org directory free of charge and install it on as many sites as you want. With the free version, you get the Astra theme, which includes the lightweight theme, some free Starter Sites website templates, the ability to edit live in Customizer, and integration with page builders.
Astra also has premium tiers. At the Pro level, for $59 per year or $249 for lifetime access, you get the theme plus some additional features.
The Pro level features include:
- Nav menus
- White label
- Site layouts and custom layouts for sites, pages, headers, footers, and blogs
- Sticky headers
- Color controls
- Better typography
- WooCommerce integration
- Spacing control
- 20+ Pro Starter Sites
- One-to-one support
- Unlimited usage
and more. It’s a ton of additional features, for sure. While the free version of Astra is great and useful on its own, the Pro version features adds a ton of value.
Beyond the Pro version there are two additional Agency packages – the Mini-Agency Bundle and the Agency Bundle.
In the Mini-Agency Bundle, you get all the Pro features plus:
- 50+ Starter Sites
- WP Portfolio Plugin
- One page-builder add-on for either Elementor or Beaver Builder
In the Agency Bundle, you get all of that plus:
- Both page-builder addons
- Convert Pro plugin
- Schema Pro plugin
- Future plugins released by Astra
The Mini-Agency Bundle costs $169 per year or $499 for life. The Agency Bundle is $249 per year or $699 for life.
Comparing the different tiers, the most noticeable jump in features is from the Free to the Pro tier, hands-down.
The Pro features at a ton more functionality and customization to your websites. The ability to customize site-wide areas and get designs for these areas is great. And, if you are running an ecommerce business, the WooCommerce integration is a must.
If you are running an agency, either the mini or full Agency bundle might be nice to have. The only reason not to would be if you have no need for the addon plugins that Astra provides. If you already have a preferred schema or lead gen plugin, the full Agency Bundle might not be worth it.
Let’s talk about Astra support. With the free theme, you have access to their support library. This includes a knowledge base with a staggering 241 articles, as of this May 2019 publish date.
In addition to the knowledge base, Astra has an email-based help ticket system to answer questions that you can’t solve in their knowledge base.
Beyond the knowledge base is a library of 44 video tutorials.
Astra also has a Facebook Group with over 8,000 members to discuss the theme and answer other users’ questions.
From what we could tell by reviewing the site and materials, whether you are a free or Pro user, you still get access to support via help tickets, knowledge base, video library, and the Facebook groups.
What’s the quality of the support, though? Often, that can be a worry for WordPress users, as different plugin and theme developers provide a wide range of quality. Some developers are lightning fast. Others can be extremely slow or not responsive.
Perusing some reviews of Astra on WordPress.org, most that related to support were incredibly positive:
“I contacted support with a concern about something not displaying correctly. They replied with a fix within minutes. Very impressed.”
The theme is great, its easy to create a website with tons of video instructions online. . . . We sent message to the developer, and they were super prompt in response and assisted in the troubleshooting. . . . Thanks for the support, please keep it up and it means so much for novices to build their confidence.”
“I just love how fast and helpful these guys are. Amazing theme!”
Astra Review: Conclusion
Astra is a great free WordPress theme. It is extremely customizable and plays especially well with WordPress page builders. With the powers combined of Astra and your favorite page-builder, you can easily make a great-looking site.
Have you had any experience with Astra? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below!
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