July 28, 2020

Astra WordPress theme review

Following our series of in-depth analysis on the best of WordPress going around, now is the big moment for an Astra Theme review. And as we usually do, we are not just going to say how sweet everything is and buy it, as a lot of useless websites are doing lately.

We want to give you an Astra Theme Review with useful information. So we are not only going to describe what you can do with it. We emphasize those aspects that made Astra a couple of months ago become the first non-default WordPress theme with more than one million downloads.

With all this massive community of users approving the product using it, there is doubt that it worth analyzing how Astra is attracting so many people. Of course, these kinds of themes are always some steps before work with code. But some work environments are just better.

We also want to know what about moving forward to the Astra Pro version; whether worth to do it or not, in what context and what offers to their customers. We are going to check the pricing and the type of licenses to try to guide your final decision.

Brainstorm Force: the history of Astra Theme Creators

First and foremost, we are going to know something about Brainstorm Force.

The year 2009 had some exciting events. Bitcoin was created, Slovakia officially got into the Eurozone, Cuba celebrated the 50 anniversary of the revolution, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became Prime Minister of Iceland and also the first lesbian in charge of a country, and yes; Brainstorm Force was created.

As we said, Astra is a creation of Brainstorm Force. They are developing for WordPress for more than a decade, growing their products and company and making WordPress a better place. Their 60 workers are proof of their success. Also, when this kind of company succeeds, there is only one possible explanation: customers satisfied and sales.

One exciting aspect of the work of Brainstorm Force is that they not only work for their own Astra Theme project, but also are the talent behind the Ultimate Addons for Elementor plugin, and Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder extensions.

Their products are designed from the experience of the best WordPress Themes available in the market. Their accurate understanding of page builders was built not only for Astra experience but also from Elementor, for example.

However, WordPress Astra Theme is their most important project. We will see through this review how the identity of this product is very close to the easy-to-use concept.

Brainstorm Force developed other exciting products like Convert Pro -lead generation and email opt-in-, Schema Pro -Schema markup plugin- and WP portfolio WordPress theme.

There is always news related to Brainstorm Force in the WordPress developer's social media community. WordCamps is a place when they often participate, sharing with developers from all over the world, which means that they are really connected to last discussions among experts to make their products better.

There is no doubt that Brainstorm Force is passionate about what they do, with a young spirit and commitment to renovate the theme world with creativity and efficiency.

Astra Theme: What you can do with it

As you will through this review, there are various interesting features to highlight. Customization options and page builders are, of course, two that define this kind of multipurpose theme and how Astra sites look.

However, we want to start with something that, for us, is a significant advantage of using Astra Theme. We are talking about is weight, which is also related to its speed.

Astra Theme developers promise that an average site, with the amount of content that usually a website has, you might get no more than half a second of loading time. They reached this impressive figure disabling jQuery and working with resources that never goes over 50kb weight.

The result of a site with this loading page time is not just satisfaction from future users. It means an invaluable asset for SEO positioning, which is the most precious gift that a website developer can give to its clients. To be found easily by Google is maybe the most important thing for a new website.

Another critical feature of Astra Theme is its learning curve. Taking into account that being easy to use is mandatory for every one of the most popular multipurpose themes that offer demo importing and drag and drop page builder, Astra theme is maybe over the others in terms of simplicity.

Its design is consistent with the complete concept. Themes like Astra, featuring such a powerful Free Version, usually work very hard on usability, becoming a major asset for the life of their customers and inviting them to purchase the pro license.

This situation is a win-win for both companies and users: you get a free version as powerful as other paid themes for building your site, and also, they attract potential clients with the most effective marketing tool: the product itself. We are going to dig into this feature further across the review.

Astra Theme: Page builders

Astra Theme has a particular integration for website page builder. Instead of featuring an in-built drag and drop page builder as most of the top-notch multipurpose WordPress themes, Astra Pro and its free version are also designed to work with different tools.

Integration of Astra Theme works perfectly with any of the best page builder plugins you can find. Beaver Builder, Gutenberg, Thrive Architect, Divi Builder, Brizy, or even Elementor. If there is a reason to combine it with one of these, you can do it and expect excellent results.

Nevertheless, you will have to choose between Gutenberg, Beaver Builder, Elementor, or Brizy in the beginning. With one of those, you will be able to use the importer.

In these kinds of features, we can see all the identity and experience of Astra Theme developers. The support for working your site with one of these page builders is something usually mentioned in the good reviews that users left online for Astra. The reason is simple: other WordPress themes are just not designed to work properly with these powerful tools. Neither a beginner nor a pro developer wants to find themselves in the awful situation of activating their WordPress themes and find out that the page builder they wish to use is just not working.

Installing Astra Theme

If you already decided to try Astra Free Theme or Astra Pro Theme, your next move is to install them appropriately to your WordPress site.

Firstly, in your WordPress page dashboard, go to Appearance, Themes option in the left sidebar. Then, click add new, and simply write down the Astra theme in the search bar.

Click in the options, and you will find the "Child Theme Generator." You have to create a Child Theme and download it. After this process is complete, upload and activate it to your website.

Notice that a Child Theme is some sort of a clone version of your theme that is used to work on it without risking the original version of the central theme. Using it with your site allows you to go back to the former theme if you feel it's necessary at some point in your development work.

Customizing Astra Theme

Once you finish the activation process with the child theme, go to Appearance - Astra Options. You find that in the sidebar at the left of the WordPress dashboard.

Here you will find all the customization options and starter sites that you will need to use to build your website project. Unlock options related to customizing fonts, video, logo, footer, header, and colors for your site.

If you create a page, you will be able to test each one of them. For example, you can select the location of your sidebar or the structure of your content, whether it is full width or boxed. Disable or enable some other elements of the website, in case you want that specific page look different.

There are reasons why you would like to have a page that has a different structure are various. A landing page is usually one of them, but depending on the project, and especially on your client, if you are a developer, this can vary a lot from one site to another one.

How do I use a WordPress theme Astra?

As we said, in terms of design, when you're using Astra Theme, you find it equipped with all the tools you need to give style to your website and to do it in the easiest way possible.

You don't need any coding knowledge to put your hands on this immediately. The customization options you get are enough to make real some of the style ideas you have in your mind for your site.

Also, you find an invaluable asset called the "Astra Starter Sites Plugin." If you think that your project is not very different or unique than other similar, you can use this tool to import one of the 35 or 70 premade starter sites, whether you are using the free version or Astra Pro theme.

It is no joke that many developers are still dubious about using WordPress multipurpose themes for considering them limited. But it is unnecessary complexity what can be a real limitation at developing. Especially when your goal is to have an average website with standard features. To code from scratch can take precious time if, in the end, you have to do something similar to this premade templates.

More features of Astra Theme

Some other things you can expect from Astra Theme for your website is support for WordPress WooCommerce, with no reported problems related to its usage, which is good news if your project is related to an eCommerce shop.

Astra WordPress Theme checkmarks all related to WCAG 2.0 standards. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines specify how web content should be done to be more user-friendly, considering all the physical diversity of internet users.

A little earlier in the article, we mentioned something about the load speed of a site made with Astra Theme. This improvement is one of a series related to SEO best practices that Astra incorporates raising a site as high as possible in Google results.

Finally, but not less important, Astra is open-source. Every freelance developer that wants to take a look at its code can do it using the Github platform site.

Is the Astra theme mobile friendly?

Astra sites can be seen correctly in any mobile, in the correct proportions initially designed for desktop screens. There is a complete responsive control within its page builders.

Since Astra version 1.4.0 and above, the WordPress theme provides a feature to design manually and separately Mobile Header for responsive devices.

You will find here a new set of options like adjust Header Breakpoint, set different logo, choose different Menu Styles, and set Colors separately for the menu.

If you want to reach the Mobile Header Options with Astra Theme, from your WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance - Customize - Header - Primary Menu. There are some tabs below listing Mobile Header options.

Is Astra theme free?

Something about Astra Theme that helps the project to became massive quickly is the free version that offers to the users. It's a precious feature if you are interested in having a look at your site before going for Astra Pro. You will have an extensive perception of its potential, even if you’re using it without paying.

Even though some other essential WordPress themes also have a free version to offer, we have to say that Astra starter sites allow you to have a real developing experience and pro website as a result.

The business model of Astra relies on the value of the experience they are offering to several users of the free theme. On the one hand, they have to fall in love with their experience with the theme, but on the other hand, they should know and see what more it would be possible purchasing the Astra Pro.

There is substantial risk in this strategy related to the answer of the users to the free version. It isn't easy to decide how many things you will include in this free version, and how many go with the Astra Pro. You have to make the free version good enough by itself, and at the same offer, Astra Pro as a must to have the ultimate experience.

If the balance between Free and Pro is not perfectly executed, good vibes and reviews for Astra, but bankruptcy is coming. We don't have to forget that, like you, developers don't work for free. The reason why you have that beautiful free version is that there are several conversion to the Astra Pro version. The success of the entire company relies on this.

Astra free version is already giving a chance to its users to create a website with the essentials. You can test the whole usability of Astra, which by the way, is not only easy to use because its the free version, but because it is an essential part of its concept.

You find available up to 32 pre built templates, designed to satisfy the needs of the most common projects required. Most of the plugins are available too, but of course, you have to check if they are free as well, especially those who are developed by third-party companies. Elementor, Beaver Builder, and another similar page builder could be affected by this.

Why should I buy Astra Pro?

 

If, for some reason, you're using Astra free version and you can't live with the idea of missing the next level, the next step is to purchase and upgrade it to the premium version, which came in a particular add ons system.

The advantages of the move to Astra Pro are various. Firstly, you will see a pleasant surprise related to the starter pre built site design library. Now you will have access to the best version of this tool, refreshing your ideas to make your site better.

You will see as well how your module set completes with a total of 18 pro modules exclusive for premium clients. Your customization options will become more powerful and sharp, which means you will be able to use new tools to create a unique site.

But to enjoy all of this nice stuff we are talking about, you have to understand how something called Astra Pro Addon will be your bridge between your free and Pro version of Astra.

What is Astra Pro Addon?

Astra Pro Addon is no more than the essential plugin that will transform your Astra theme into Astra Pro, extending its functionalities. It is a way to keep the core of the theme code as clean as possible, only with the things that the free and the pro version share.

With the new features of your Astra Theme, you will have some stuff to check out. Some of these new addons can be activated or not, depending on your needs. The idea of optional deactivation is to keep your site as fast, as usual, avoiding any chance that the website gets bloated.

You can find your path to Astra pro in the official theme site, specifically on the pricing page. If you select the Astra Pro package and purchase it, you will download the plugin and then install it in your WordPress site like any other regular plugin.

The next move is to activate your license to make your purchase valid and register it. The license key, also known as "purchase key," will be required with the updates, in the support center, and some other moments only reserved for premium users. It would be nice to use it only once, but it is like it is.

Finally, activate the plugin, and you will be ready to go.

Astro Pro Modules

As we said before, the new premium modules offer several options. The thing is that we don't use them in every single project, so take a look at them, see what you can really use, and deactivate the rest of them to keep your installation in the lightweight division.

Design modules

This module gathers all the layout options concerning to style and design of your site. Colors and Background Module controls the settings for the entire website color pallette; The Spacing Module is everything about margins and padding of every element, and Typography lets you chose the style for writing.

Mobile Header

Most of the best page builders feature auto responsiveness for Android, iOS, and Tablet. But sometimes you may think that the best is to do it manually, taking care of details. With Mobile Header, you can deal with this and be sure that your website looks fine all time.

Mobile Header module it's a fantastic way not to lose control of your design with responsive feature. You can make more adjustments thinking in the characteristics of each screen when your site is going to be visited.

There are some extra tools if you expect from your header to take a more active role in your website layout. You can divide your header and add a new section below or above if you need some space for a banner, a featured link, or any content you want.

Header Sections adds a new section, which is useful for adding banners and other content. These customization options work perfectly with the Sticky Header module, which allows you to fix a secondary header at the top of the page.

And if you are still not satisfied with all the things you can do with your header in Astra premium version, Page Headers module offers more advanced headers.

Blog Pro

It's widespread for small businesses that the company's owner uses a blog site within the website. It doesn't matter how creative you are; there is not much to innovate in a Blog.

The Blog Pro module is a tool to make this process fast and clean. You can show a fancy little bio underneath blog posts, select how older posts are going to be visible, or have a featured image in each post.

Nav Menu

If you are not sure if there is too much to do with the navigation menu of your site, maybe you get some ideas after getting in contact with the Nav Menu module.

With the Astra theme, you have enough tools for creating a unique navigation menu with the appropriate mix of colors.

You can build menu items with background images, columns, colors, and all the usual stuff: display items in columns. Settings for colors, background images, and highlight labels are available too.

Custom Layouts and others

It's increasingly common that the best page builders of the market include tools like Custom Layouts. And this is something that a review can't miss: this module is going to save you precious time.

The Custom Layouts module is a tool for saving premade work you made on some elements of the site. You can create a custom header, footer, 404 pages, o save custom layouts for them. That layout can be easily activated in other places of that site project, saving you from making the same work again from the beginning.

The Site Layouts module enhances the WordPress theme customizer by giving you more control over the design's width and container.

Scroll To Top lets you add a scroll to the top button to the bottom-left or bottom-right of pages. You're given full control over its styling and the icon sizes, as well as whether it's displayed on desktops, mobile devices, or both.

Footer Widgets

Footer Widgets is a simple module with seven different pre built layouts for your footer area. There is not too much scope of action with this one, but you have at least some settings to choose from.

You will control the basic settings for design and layout options like color, typo, padding, and width of the widget area.

Integration modules

It is a lovely detail from Astra's developers on how they designed the integration modules. It's a way of making things even more comfortable for a user when it wants to integrate WooCommerce, LearnDash, Easy Digital Downloads, and LifterLMS.

These modules are designed to create a small set of options that are directly related to the way that those third-party plugins are integrated with Astra themes.

White Label

White Label is a very particular module that is the living proof of the young and smart approach from BrainstormForce team to Astra, and how good they know their Target Audience.

You're a developer, and you are searching for a theme to make your workflow faster. You find Astra. And you can not only deliver top-notch websites quicker but also the chance to rebrand your Astra theme with your logos, making Astra's contribution invisible.

The reason why an agency or a freelance developer would like to make WordPress and Astra branding invisible is because some clients can confuse and feel insecure when they see third party branding involved in their projects.

This backend detail will give developers the opportunity to project a clean image of their freelance branding and the agencies they are representing.

Astra Pro Pricing

 

If you are enjoying this far Astra free version and you decided to take to the next level, you can make your page builder go to the premium version. You will see hundreds of new possibilities, and what you love about Astra reaching its maximum potential.

To make this final move, you will have to buy a license, but we think that the prices are quite reasonable. You can choose among three packages, all of them with the premium features but with licenses for different uses and different time-lapse.

The Astra Pro costs $59 per year, the Mini Agency Bundle costs $169 per year, and the Agency Bundle costs $249 per year. These packages can be purchased on a lifetime basis with no yearly fees at the cost of $249, $499 and $699, respectively.

Astra theme offers its clients the chance to regret the product in a 14-day no fuss 100% money-back guarantee. And definitively the best of Astra: the lifetime license includes support. This offer makes Astra one of the best deals among top themes, maybe with Divi, regarding pricing.

If you pick the Astro Pro package, you will get all the pro modules of this WordPress theme and one more precious thing: unlimited access to premium customers support. Another big pro for Astra that it gives users a lot of value for the purchase.

Mini Agency Bundle license has some special features like access to starter pre built site website designs and BrainstormForce WP Portfolio plugin. With the purchase is included the chance to select either Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder or Ultimate Addons for Elementor. Both of these plugins work smoothly with Astra Pro, so they are an excellent addition.

The Agency Bundle license includes both Elementor and Beaver Builder, together with Convert Pro and Schema Pro. The entire BrainstormForce pack, designed to provide a website developing agency everything it needs.

Which Astra Pro Package Should You Choose?

This question is very interesting to answer for a theme like Astra.

Let's say that you want to build a starter site, or this is your first website. You don't know how to code, and you are going to use maybe one page or two, header, and full width footer. Also, you need some social media buttons, a contact page with blank fields for name, email, and one featured image in the next section.

If this is the case, you probably don't need even to go Pro. A super basic website is something that the free version of Astra WordPress can provide, without code.

What if you are a junior WordPress developer, and you also have some special requirements very well detailed in a handmade sketch. You need eCommerce, several styling all around the site, and maybe different header on some specific page. Of course, you don't want to code, and Astra page builder add ons meets your expectation.

In this latter case, for sure, the Astro Pro package sounds like the best choice. It is not expensive at all, not the yearly license, not the lifetime license.

Concerning to add ons and plugins that Astra Pro works with, WP Portfolio costs $49 per year, Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder $69 per year, Ultimate Addons for Elementor from $49 per year, Convert Pro from $99 and Schema Pro from $79.

If you’re using already or buying some of these plugins, it makes sense to upgrade to one of the agency bundles. If not, I'd recommend saving money and sticking with the entry-level package. There, your site or WordPress page can be developed in peace.

What is the best WordPress theme?

Recently, Astra Page Builder became the only non-default WordPress Themes with over one million installs. They are now the number one worldwide, with 400,000 more downloads than the second.

Brainstorm Force, the company that develops this product, announced the good news. It's impressive numbers if we consider one thing: that only in January 2019, Astra put a stain in its reputation when their theme broke 50,000 WordPress installs.

Nonetheless, it was an epic comeback with a grow up to 500,000 in October and 1 million less than a year later. BrainstormForce has its momentum, and the theme is becoming an unstoppable force. At least at the moment that this review was published, there is no sign that this growth is going to stop soon.

Sujay Pawar wrote in the announcement post, "We recognize that this is not an ordinary feat." He said the team has no plans of resting at this point. "1 million is just a milestone in our journey."

False modesty? Arrogance? Let's say in this theme review that they are workaholic, people that love what they do. That's why they reached this crazy figure. One million active installs are something new for the entire theming world, an unheard level of popularity.

William Patton, from the WordPress Theme Team representative, said, "There is a huge gap between Astra and all others (...) Hitting 1 million is pretty astounding honestly."

The entire WordPress community is observing with interest in the evolution of this story. For a third-party theme creator to reach a number this huge, is the proof of how much WordPress is growing lately.

So yes, one thing we can say now is that among free versions, Astra is by far the best theme around. Not only because of the numbers and the reviews but because it is a lot what you get without spending a single dollar with the free version.

What Makes Astra Special?

Maybe Astra Theme is not very original or super unique, but it has the two vital elements for success: easy to use and for free. How to compete with that?

Astra is super easy to use from the beginning. With one of the easiest and intuitive installation process, you have to click once literally, and that's it. And is a quite known fact in the market of digital products that the first moment when a lot of potential customers go is on a long or puzzled installation process.

As you know, Astra works with several page builders. You get templates for Elementor - Beaver Builder and The Brizy page builder gets a little love too, but only 20 starter templates available for Gutenberg.

If you are not an Elementor user, you probably can find that the developers are serving a primary audience of Elementor users, especially for some options that only make sense there. Well, Elementor went over 5 million active installs in May, and it looks like it is still growing. Elementor support is where the money is right now.

Astra's starter templates are not merely templates. The theme will install and activate plugins too. A lot of them are for free, which doesn't mean at all that you are going to notice that in their quality.

This risky business model, with an adorable free version, is paying off. Brainstorm Force is clearly doing something right, and we think that is the combination of cheap, quality, and free. With those players, your time always wins.

Astra Theme: Pros and Cons

From a starter site to a complex one full of elements, any site made with Astra will inherit its virtues. As most of the multipurpose page builder themes, it will make easier and faster the process of developing websites, no matter how often you do it, and how expert you are in the field of informatics.

Also, its free version is maybe the best that you can find without payment involved. Be the first non WordPress default theme with more than 1,000,000 downloads is users saying to BrainstormForce: guys, we love your product.

Astra Theme is probably the multipurpose theme with the best usability in the market. It's just so easy and smooth that it gives you a very nice feeling of being faster for something you were much slower one week ago.

In the downside, we can mention that support is not at the level of other similar themes. Nevertheless, we understand this: being cheap and having such a beautiful free version with the insane amount of users they are absorbing and lifetime licenses they sell, something had to suffer. And in this case, is the wait time for support.

Also, we have to say also that header and sidebar modules related to layout and design, are maybe not as good as in other top-notch multipurpose themes.

Astra Theme Pros

Good WooCommerce support

LearnDash support

Decent speed of work

High navigation speed

Very powerful free license

A good number of demo sites

Flexible Mega Menu feature

Custom Layouts Options

Lifetime use and support for paid licenses

Astra Theme Cons

Poor styling for header - page - comment

Blog Post Styling Is Basic

Slow response time in support

TRY ASTRA

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