Astra Theme Review – Best Theme for 2020?

Is Astra a solid WordPress theme for 2020? This review of the Astra theme will help you decide if it’s for you.

Astra free theme is one of the favorite free WordPress themes. Will this pro theme be still good for you?

If you are new here, then as of now Astra has four versions of its theme: free, pro, mini-agency, and agency. The free version has got 500k+ Active users and 3000 five-star ratings.

Whereas the other variant sales figures are unknown I will tell you how good it is to build websites for your clients and for oneself.

Astra came into existence when WordPress themes were quite bulky and most themes out there had broken support for page builders. Astra claims to fix all this with its clean code, powerful customization features, and plugin support. We will see.

Here we will take a look:

  • Why Astra is a mass favorite WordPress theme?
  • Do you need Elementor pro or Astra pro?
  • Is the theme for beginners or advanced users?
  • Should you go for pro or Agency?

You will find a detailed review of features, website layouts, and, pagespeed. At the end of this review, you will know if Astra is one of the best or if it’s just marketing hype.

Link to Astra website

Import options

Easier-Safer than you think.

astra import options

There are 112 templates for Agency plan and 51 free templates for free and pro packages(more about templates). Importing website settings and templates is easy and straight forward. All you need is the free plugin named Astra starter sites.

Here only the pages and required plugins will be imported; menus & other user settings will remain intact.

How import works?

Astra theme gives its users option to import any starter template. The process is automatic and completed in seconds. It also allows you to be selective while importing any given template. You may choose to enable/disable importing of content(images, pages and posts), widgets and customizer settings.

Pros & cons of Astra import?

Pros

  • Astra makes it possible to import any number of templates to your website.
  • Each template you import will rename sequentially home, home-2, home-3, contact-1, contact-2 and so on. This is a great option to have if you need every page to be different and editable.
  • Unless specified this import system doesn’t delete any existing content.

Cons

  • Chances are these dummy pages and posts will get mixed up with your original content; Deleting them later can get tricky.

Plugins

The powerhouse of an active developer.

Free plugins made for Astra theme

Brainstorm Force, the developer of Astra theme has developed over 50 free plugins for everyone. Here take a look at the free and premium plugins they have store for you.

Free Plugins Premium Plugins
There are 50+ free plugins built by Astra team in WordPress repository. Here is the link to Astra plugins. Astra widgets, Astra bulk edit, Custom fonts, Customizer search are great plugins to have on any theme and I also recommend them for you. Free & Pro version has no premium plugins.

Mini Agency bundle comes with a portfolio plugin and a choice to pick one page builder plugin – Ultimate Addons for Elementor or Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder.

Agency bundle on the other hand give you WP Portfolio Plugin, Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder, Ultimate Addons for Elementor, Convert Pro Plugin, Schema Pro Plugin.

Which WordPress plugins are supported?
All WordPress plugins are supported by Astra theme. You have the freedom to pick any SEO plugin, security plugin or a contact form of choice.

There is no need to manually install additional plugins other than the Astra Starter sites & Astra pro(premium) plugin. The import system of Astra installs required plugins automatically.

Premade Demos

Multi-purpose websites one-click away.
astra demo layouts
At first glance you will notice Astra starter themes are tuned for professional services and individual business. There are 112+ demos if you choose Agency plan and you get 50+ free ones for the Astra Free or Astra pro.

No of templates for each page builder:

Page Builder Free Astra Pro Agency Plan
Elementor Page Builder 50 50 111
Beaver Builder 40 40 97
Brizy – Page Builder 21 21 45
Gutenberg 21 21 21

Pros

  • Designs are bold and clean
  • Amazing choice for E-Commerce websites for those having agency plan
  • Most of the free demos are for business services, personal websites & blogs.

Cons

  • Not much for portfolio, photography, news blog, squeeze landing pages.
Astra may not have a full fledged solution for every website but with the help of their massive demos you can still build one.

Theme Options

The engine that fuels Astra.

In Astra there are three ways to make website changes:

  1. Per page settings – These settings are specific for a page or a post type
  2. Global settings – Changes are made with the customizer and for the whole site
  3. Custom settings – Lets you add php code/html/shortcodes/plain text/meta to any page and also lets you specify user roles.

Now let’s take a look at these theme settings in detail.

1. Per page settings

While editing a page or a post you get Astra settings to change certain features of the website. These settings come in handy for designing custom layouts.

2. Global Settings

Astra has huge no of global settings to customize your website with the live customizer of WordPress. We will take a look at some of these features like:

  • Navigation
  • Mega Menu
  • Footer Widgets
  • Colors
  • Fonts

Navigation Settings

astra header settings

There are three header areas(primary, above header, below header) plus a page header(for image background & breadcrumbs) for the theme. You also get options to add widgets, text/HTML, buttons, shortcode, search, menu items and woocommerce cart icon to any of these header areas. All header areas are compatible with imported demo templates.

Astra provides unlimited options to customize your mobile menu and desktop menu. You can have seperate menu for desktop and mobile if it fits you.

Mega Menu

Astra mega menu

It is impressive to see that Astra mega menus makes it easier to build large menus even better than plugins like Ubermenu, WP Max menu. Astra mega menu feature lets you showcase Elementor sections as the menu item.

Astra has mega menu support with solid settings and impressive data source picker. Your next drop down menu can be an Elementor template, a widget or just plain menu. Here is a superb guide to set up Astra pro mega menu.

Footer

Like to have a simple footer with just a copyright notice or a powerful footer area with widgets? Astra will let you do both.

There are two footer areas; one is called footer bar and the other footer widgets. The footer bar is the last section and rests at the bottom of the website. It lets you add copyright text and footer menu on your website. The footer widgets is a fully customizable section as here you get to pick the number of widget areas and later add widgets or text/HTML code to them.

Colors

astra base colors

When it comes to colors Astra has the basic features to make changes to text, background, buttons and link colors. Each imported template comes with its own color scheme and the theme lets you make change to it in the above options.

Fonts

There are 800+ inbuilt fonts you can pick for your website. It also gives you options to pair fonts for body and headings. Make fonts responsive for tablets and mobile with these settings.

If you want more fonts or like to add custom fonts to the website then the developer has a custom font plugin to do it.

astra google fonts

3. Custom Settings

Page headers

Page header settings
Page header in action

With page header settings you get to create new banner with page title, background and breadcrumb. These page header can be placed below the navigation menu.

Custom layouts

Here you get four options to create unique layouts: Header, Footer, 404 and Hooks. Header and footer layouts will replace the default navigation menu and footer of any theme. 404 settings is for styling your 404 pages. Hooks, however, is a powerful tool for power users which lets you place literally “anything” in certain areas of your website. Here is a list of placement options for Astra Hooks.

You decide whom to show a certain design and even specify a page you want them to show.

Here I have compiled the full features that are essential for any theme in 2019. So you will find if a feature is missing in Astra and also how Astra performs.

Astra full features
Link to the Google sheet.

Page Builder

Astra has specific settings for page builders that makes it easy to use for beginners and advanced users. It has full support for pages, posts, woocommerce products, portfolio pages and custom post types. The theme lets you customize pages with your choice of page builder.

Pick your favorite page builder

List of all supported page builders:

  • Elementor Page Builder
  • Beaver Builder
  • Brizy – Page Builder
  • Gutenberg
  • Page Builder by SiteOrigin
  • Visual Composer
  • Divi

Astra with Elementor

Elementor is easy to use and thus making it ne of the most preferred option for beginners. Even web designers prefer Elementor as it becomes easy to educate their clients.

Apart from being easy to use, Elementor is one of the solid page builders ever created. It gives one every option to edit their pages without the need of writing a single piece of code.

Advanced users may prefer to buy the pro version for manual css options, more free block layouts and so on.

Elementor page builder in action
Responsive settings for mobiles, tablets

Astra Pro or Elementor Pro?

First thing to understand is that these are two plugins with two different purposes. Astra pro is for full website customization whereas Elementor is for building stylish pages and posts of that website.

Note: Astra(Free, Pro and Agency plan) works well with free version of Elementor. You don’t need Elementor pro to use Astra pro.

Astra with Beaver

Same as Elementor, beaver works flawlessly with any Astra beaver template. You may stick with free version of Beaver as well. Astra boosts the free version of Beaver with their plugin named “Ultimate addons for Beaver”.

Ultimate addons for Beaver is a plugin created by Brainforce team and it is available in two formats: lite and premium. With Astra agency package you get the premium version for free: others still get the lite version.

Astra beaver builder
Beaver builder in action

Building Blocks

No page builder is complete without: elements(widgets) and website blocks.

Elements

Take any page builder – Elementor, Beaver, Brizy; all of them have these building blocks called elements. Elements are widgets that can be inserted into your pages. Example of elements: images, dividers, google maps, counters etc. However, elements in each page builder differ on how advanced their editing options are.

Elementor elements

Blocks

Also called content blocks, these make it easy for you build unique pages with a few clicks. Every page builder has its own set of blocks that look and perform differently.

Elementor Blocks
Blocks: Lets you insert content into pages

A quantity comparison of building blocks in page builder:

Page Builder Free version Pro version
Elementor 25+ elements, 80+ blocks 80 elements, 235+ blocks
Beaver 5 elements, 0 blocks 25+ elements, 40+ blocks
Brizy 25+ elements, 100+ blocks  25+ elements, 400+ blocks

SEO & PageSpeed

Astra is a theme built for performance and  I wanted to show you how the core theme performs. Also, it gives you a choice to build website with or without page builders. So this basic test is essential.

Testing with no content

To start, I did a basic pagespeed test on Astra theme. The basic test comprised of the theme with no content what’s-o-ever.

Astra Desktop pagespeed
Desktop pagespeed test
Astra mobile pagespeed
Mobile pagespeed test

Testing a complete demo website

astra tested with wp caching plugins

Link to full pagespeed report

Pricing

Free vs Pro vs Agency? Lifetime or yearly?

Here take a look at what you get.

 Free Pro Mini Agency
Cost – Yearly 0 $59 $169 $249
Cost – Lifetime 0 $249 $499 $699
Premade demos 50 50 111 111
Features Low Medium High  Very High
Full support No Yes Yes Yes
Premium plugins 0 0 2 5+

Note: At any time you decide to upgrade from one plan to another; all you have to pay is the difference amount.

What if you don’t renew the next year? Will the website stop working?

No, its doesnt. You may use the theme forever, however, you will be missing on theme updates plus the security updates.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Must have for website creators
  • Fastest way to create modern websites
  • Add/edit pages whenever/wherever you want
  • Pagespeed improvements possible with a bit of effort
  • Advanced features like hooks & custom headers
  • Brilliant woocommerce support
  • Ticket support is decent for premium users.

Cons

  • Customizer can be a bit confusing for beginners
  • Premium plugins are only available for mini agency and the agency bundle; these are highly priced
  • Pagespeeds on mobile devices are not great
  • Not much styling for blog archives and single posts
  • No jQuery? Which one? This claim is hilarious

 

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Conclusion – Is Astra theme Worth it?

This review is from a developer who designs WordPress websites. I built more than five of my clients website with just the free version of Astra; it was easy.

So back to the initial questions:

Why Astra is a mass favorite WordPress theme?

The free version made it popular among the masses(including me). As of now, there are only a handful number of free WordPress themes that you can get online. Astra rocked here with its plentiful of templates, full support for a variety of page builders, and a load of features for creative exploration.

Is the theme for beginners or advanced users?

Astra theme is a great fit for both beginners and enthusiasts who build WordPress websites. Whether it is for personal websites or professional websites, Astra has all it takes to build solid websites, no doubt.

Should you go for pro or Agency?

I would recommend mini agency for designers who build websites on a regular basis so that you don’t miss out on demo layouts. For website owners who are interested in building their own website Pro plan is the best for you.

What about pagespeed?

Most of the demos I tested loaded under 3-4s for desktop users. However mobile users will find it slow without a proper caching system and a better hosting option. Astra still wins this battle when compared to the alternate themes.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, 100%. This theme is one of the top 10 best WordPress themes to date. With its advanced features like hooks, it will be quite easy to add unique sections to your website wherever you want.

Any questions? Ask in the comments below.

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