Astra Theme Review
In this Astra theme review, I’ll be going over the difference between the Astra free theme vs the pro version and talking about some of the major differences. Most importantly, I’ll try to help you figure out if you truly need the pro version to build your site.
Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes in the WordPress repository. In fact, it ranks just behind the default themes installed alongside WordPress itself. And that popularity is not without merit.
What is Astra
The Astra WordPress theme itself is a free theme that can be downloaded from the WordPress.org repository and used on any WordPress website. Astra pro is essentially a paid plugin that adds another layer of premium functionality to the free Astra theme.
I built WordPress sites for a few years before ever trying Astra. I only really looked into it once I saw how popular it was in some WordPress groups I had joined on Facebook. Design companies in particular seemed to use Astra for every type of website you could imagine.
Astra Looks Clean and Professional
The way your website looks to a potential client is critical. Even out of the box, Astra is a clean and professional-looking theme from top to bottom.
It also comes with a bunch of free templates built by real web designers that can help you churn out a website super fast if you don’t feel like designing from scratch.
Astra is Fast
The default installation of Astra with default WordPress data loads in just 0.5 seconds and scores 100% on Pingdom.
Now you can change that of course. If you add a bunch of heavy plugins or use a lot of larger-than-necessary graphics, you can slow down any theme – but that’s not Astra’s fault.
Astra is Highly Customizable
This is not a statement I make lightly – every theme claims to be ‘highly customizeable’ but the reality is that you almost always find something need to to do that the theme can’t do without custom code or CSS. Astra delivers on this.
Like most website designers who use Astra, I typically use the pro version (I’m using it on this site) but I started off with the free version. I’ve yet to find a free theme that comes with as many customization options as Astra.
Incredible Font Selection & Global Styling Options
Astra provides in-theme access to hundreds of Google Fonts. Now, a lot of themes have access to Google Fonts but what makes Astra so special is their Global Typography section in the Customizer which lets you get as granular as you need.
This is a feature that’s hugely lacking in other themes, but not in Astra.
You can set font type, size, line spacing, weight, bottom margin, and even text transform, for every text style on your site from H1 all the way down to paragraph without ever having to write a line of CSS.
In addition to font styling, you also can set your global colors, container size, and button stylings all from within the Customizer:
I have yet to find a free theme that provides you this type of control over the core design elements of your site the way that Astra does.
Footer Customization in Astra
Unlike most free themes on the market, Astra doesn’t hold your footer credits hostage to a premium version. For lots of theme developers, the option to remove their developer credits from your website is something you have to pay for. Astra, on the other hand, trusts the performance and features of the theme to convert users into paying customers.
Not only do you get control over the credits in the footer, you also get access to some good design features not normally available in a free WordPress theme. There are 2 different layouts to choose from and Astra also provides 2 different layouts for 4 widget sections in the footer.
Header Customization in Astra
The header customization options in the free Astra theme are almost too many to list. I’m not kidding, even after building a dozen sites using Astra, it’s easy to get lost in all the options you can set.
You can choose from 3 different header layouts and 2 mobile layouts. There’s even an option for a transparent header with tons of features.
The menu options in the header section are also highly customizable. You can set everything you can imagine from sub menu background colors to hover effects.
Astra includes a whopping 8 different widget areas built into the theme. They also offer a free plugin that includes a ton of widgets specifically built for Astra.
Page Builder Ready
As flexible as the Astra theme is, its developers have built it with page-builders in mind. Astra is one of the most compatible themes I’ve ever used with Elementor, surpassed only by Elementor’s own Hello theme. The Hello theme however has zero styling and you must use Elementor to build the site whereas the Astra theme allows you to use Elementor to add elements to an already great theme.
Astra also works with Beaver Builder & Grizy. They even have free template designs that have been built using just Gutenberg (which is pretty rare to see).
In addition, the developer’s free plugins that go along with Astra allow you to create headers & footers using Elementor without needing the pro version of Elementor (which is absolutely worth the price on it’s own).
While most themes can boast of being compatible with WooCommerce, Astra’s developers clearly spent significant amounts of time making sure the theme would be a perfect choice for eCommerce stores.
The Customizer includes a rich feature set of options specifically for WooCommerce. You can choose how individual product listings look and also how the catalog looks. Astra is one of the few themes that gives you granular control of all aspects of your shop.
Astra Free vs Pro
Upgrading to Astra Pro is really where things get interesting. Astra pro is an add-on plugin that adds features to the free theme. You can purchase it as a yearly subscription and they also have a lifetime option.
One great feature that helps to make Astra Pro one of the fastest themes around is the ability to fully disable components that you don’t need from within the theme settings. This helps to ensure your website isn’t firing unused code every time your users load a page.
Some of the great features that come with Astra Pro include:
- Sticky Header (you can do this with some custom CSS too in the free Astra)
- More customization options to Mobile Headers
- Custom Page Headers for different pages or areas of your website
- Mega Menu
- More colors and typography settings
- More site layout options
- Multiple blog layouts including grid, list, and masonry
- Infinite Scroll for WooCommerce
- Custom 404 Page
- Custom layouts with display conditions
- White Label options if you build sites for clients
- Email-based support
You can see a full feature list right over at wpastra.com that breaks out which features are pro and which ones aren’t. This list directly from their site (accurate as of April 2020) also breaks it down quite nicely:
Astra Free or Astra Pro – Which One is Right For You?
Every project is different, but here are a guiding questions that can help you decide.
Do you need a theme that runs super fast?
You don’t need Astra Pro to have a fast theme. The free version runs plenty fast!
Do you have Elementor Pro?
Elementor Pro can reproduce many of the features that come with Astra Pro. If you’re using Elementor Pro, there may be no reason for you to use Astra Pro.
Note: I use both Astra Pro and Elementor Pro. Mainly I use both because I happen to like the way certain elements render in Astra instead of how they look in Elementor. I like Astra’s menu customization much better than Elementor’s if I’m just building a basic header menu.
Do you need a sticky header?
If you absolutely need a sticky header, you can do it with CSS in the free theme, but there are lots of other options in the sticky header menu only available on the pro version.
Do you need infinite scrolling in WooCommerce?
Infinite scrolling tends to increase time on page metrics, which increase the potential to make sales. If this is a feature you need, then you definitely want to buy Astra Pro.
Do you need a mega menu?
If you need to have a mega menu and don’t want to do it with another plugin, then you’ll want to buy Astra Pro.
Do you need different headers for different pages on your website?
This is one of those features you didn’t know you needed until you realized that it was possible. Give some good thought on this one because there aren’t a lot of ways to do it without a paid product. Elementor Pro does it as well – so if you already have Elementor Pro, you can skip a lot of Astra Pro’s features.
Do you need access to support staff?
I’ve only ever needed to use support for Astra once, but it was a great experience. The answers I got were clear and thorough. If you have a lot riding on your website working properly, the support team is great and may be worth the money itself.
If you’re looking for a fast and customizable WordPress theme, then Astra is a wonderful choice. Used by over 800,000 websites, Astra is popular because it’s simply that good.
If you find that you want to take Astra to the next level and go with the pro version, then you definitely won’t regret your purchase.
If you found this Astra theme review to be of use and decide to purchase Astra Pro, use the banner below to head over there right now to get it!