Theme

Is Astra theme the best choice to start WordPress web designing? | A critic review

Astra theme

Astra theme is one of the most beautiful WordPress themes that can be used to build portfolio sites, blogs, companies, ecommerce stores and much more. Astra theme is considered to be the best WordPress theme for the beginners. This is because it has lot of easy options like the Astra starter templates and page templates.

With the available upgrade to Astra Pro and Astra agency bundle, the theme functionality and design can be greatly enhanced.  

More than 1,000,000+ websites use the free Astra WordPress theme. The theme is compatible with most of the page builders and WordPress plugins. This lets you optimize your complete site using the WordPress theme customizer.

Astra enables you to export many high quality web site layouts, and transform your website at the click of a single button.

The theme functionalities can be increased by upgrading the theme to the pro version. However, there are several free plugins which are available to enhance your creativity which are compatible with Astra theme.

In this article we will see why Astra theme is such a popular theme. We will also walk through the free form of the plugin and check out the benefits of upgrading to Astra Pro.

1,653,898+ Websites use Astra themes worldwide at the moment. Here is an account of why this theme has gained so much of popularity and is it still the best option for anyone starting WordPress web designing.

The Astra Team

Astra theme is made by Brainstorm Force – a WordPress development corporation which is in the field of creating themes for more than a decade.

Astra theme supports plugins like the email opt-in plugin, lead generation plugin such as Convert Pro, the Schema markup, Schema Pro and the WP Portfolio.

What Exactly Does Astra Offer?

Astra theme is a highly customizable WordPress theme which has many amazing features.

It’s super light weight, the developers state that they have taken a number of steps to ensure the websites load quickly in less than 30 sec. This including scrutinizing jQuery and keeping resources under 50kb.

One thing that distinguishes Astra from a number of different designs is its native support for popular WordPress site builders.

Astra theme is compatible with most of the popular page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Gutenberg, or Brizy. This page builder support for makes Astra the most popular theme since many wordpress themes do not have this compatibility

Once you install Astra on your wordpress website, a settings box makes it possible to edit posts, pages along with other customized post types. You make changes to a number of common page settings, such as side bar display position, content is boxed or full width. Moreover, features like the header, page title, featured image and footer bar can be disabled from here with one click.

The best thing about the set up is, you can preview the changes for each of the pages.

When it comes to design, Astra has you covered. Anybody, irrespective of their technical experience, can customize their site design just by tweaking few things from the WordPress theme customizer.

Unlike may other wordpress themes, customization is super easy with Astra.

With the Astra Starter Sites plugin you can easily import amazingly designed complete wordpress website templates which you can customize and make your own design.

More than 70 amazingly designed templates are available. By using these pre-built site templates you can easily create blogs, businesses, ecommerce, portfolios, and almost any kind of wordpress website you need.

Having more then 70 wordpress website templates (or 35, if you are using the free version), can be a big time saving thing for many web developers.

Astra was originally designed as “a WordPress theme for beginners” so beginners could create professional web sites without even having any knowledge about coding. However, the theme has evolved to appeal the programmers too.

It’s ready for custom post types and it has great support for WooCommerce. The design is additionally translation and also RTL ready.

Astra theme customization

Astra theme could be downloaded from WordPress.org, or by directly through the “Add theme” option on your wordpress dashboard.

The theme doesn’t need any additional plugins to function. However, if you wish to import a page or complete a website template, you may need to install Astra Starter Websites WordPress plug in (more on this later).

You’ll notice that the ‘Astra Options’  is available under the WordPress appearance menu. This option is important while you customize the sections of the Astra theme. You will also get the premium and free plugins that extend Astra.

Astra theme

Astra theme

All of the customizations options can be found in the WordPress theme customizer, which means you are able to preview the changes in real-time. You might even switch the preview from desktop computer to tablet or mobile.

The customization options have eight top level sections and many sub-sections. This layout makes it easy to find the settings you would like to modify.

Astra theme options

Astra theme options

There are many useful options within the WordPress theme customizer too.

For blog posts, you can change the arrangement and enable and disable meta details. In the footer, you have the option to change the layout easily and insert custom text.

Colors and typography can also be modified easily, and there are quick links to your WordPress menus and widgets.

Astra Starter Sites

The Astra Starter Sites WordPress plugin is free to down load. On activation, you will see a new option ‘Astra sites’.

You’ll be prompted to select your favorite page builder: Elementor, Beaver Builder, Gutenberg or Brizy.

If you pick a design that uses, Elementor, you will need to install and activate Elementor page builder for this to work correctly. That is because each design has been constructed with page builder elements from a particular page builder.

Here, you will see premium designs are marked with an ‘Agency’ label, which refers to the Astra Pro agency bundle templates.

You will be able to see a full preview for any design.  Also you can browse the pages of any of the site templates to check the feel for the template.

You will also see a list of plugins required for the template to work correctly.

The ‘Install Plugins’ buttons near the bottom and top of the webpage will install all required plugins.

The ‘Install Plugins’ buttons will automatically change to ‘Import This Site’ once all plugins are installed.

A warning appears when you choose to publish a site design. This really is a reminder that you mustn’t perform the import to a live website and that copyrighted pictures will not be imported.

You can preview the site by clicking the ‘Done’ text once the site is imported.

Check out the Astra Starter Websites page to see that a list of all of the designs that are available.

Extending Astra using Free Plugins

In the Astra Options page, you’ll notice a box that says you are able to expand Astra with plugins. 

Astra Theme Visual Hooks displays each of the hook locations from the Astra theme. You might also see these hooks on the Astra website.

If you wish to make changes for multiple pages at a time, you may use the Astra Bulk Edit plugin. This plug in can help to decrease the time taken to make changes to the meta settings such as page name and side bar.

You may also use the “Astra Customizer reset plugin” which adds an option in the theme customizer to reset the theme settings.

Another importnat Astra-only WordPress plugin is the “Home Page Banner for Astra Theme”. As the plug in name suggests, this adds an option to add a banner to your website. It also enables you to change the manner of the banner ads, the image, the written text, padding and more.

If you are using the Gutenberg page builder, you might like to use the Ultimate Addons to Gutenberg. It includes 16 additional blocks to a page builder, like an info-box, article layouts and price list.

Sidebar Manager is a helpful plugin too. It’s really a light weight solution that simplifies the process of creating fresh sidebars and managing them.

The Unlist Posts & Pages plug in can be used to cover up certain pages on your own website from search engines like google. You may like to use the “Customizer Search” plug in to simplify the customizer search using a search bar.

Astra Pro

Although more than 200,000 sites are using the free version of Astra theme. We can easily make out that it is easy to use, has readymade templates and sites, and we can extend the functionalities by using additional plugins.

If you wish to unlock the complete potential of the Astra WordPress theme, you need to upgrade to the pro version.

Astra pro has a total of 18 pro modules. The WordPress customizers can extend and enhance the functionality of the theme. You can activate and deactivate modules as per your requirement.

The Page Headers module lets you create more advanced headers. It’s possible to display the page title against a huge background image and reveal bread crumb navigation links.

You can transform your boring old navigation menus to complex mega menus using Nav Menu.

It is possible to display menu items into columns, and use colors, use desktop images, highlight labels and more. This additional features can improve navigation as it is possible to display many more links in the same menu.

The Custom Layouts option provides you the power to save customized designs for your header, footer, 404 pages and hook locations. You can add the layouts to other areas of your website easily.

The site layouts module enhances the WordPress theme customizer by giving you more control about the design layout and width.

Scroll To Top option enables you to add a scroll to top button to the pages. You can easily style and resize the icon, change the position, and preview how it will be displayed on desktops, mobile devices.

Footer Widgets offers seven unique designs for the footer region.

You can have a complete control over the padding and width of the widget location. Color and typography settings are all available too.

Integration plugins are available for Easy Digital Downloads, Woo Commerce, LearnDash and LifterLMS. 

The last module is white-label, which you can use to rebrand Astra as your product. This is beneficial for web design agencies, because it prevents customers from knowing what WordPress theme the agency is using.

The Astra Pro package provides you most of the Astra Professional modules and usage of premium service from the theme developers.

Upgrading to the Mini Agency Bundle permits access to all starter website layouts and WP Portfolio plug in.

You can also choose either Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder or even Ultimate Addons for Elementor.

In addition to the above, updating Astra Agency Bundle provides you both of these builder plugins as well as Convert Pro and Schema Pro plugin.

So, whenever you upgrade to the Astra Agency Bundle, you obtain access to Astra Pro and other Brain Storm Force services and products.

Which Astra Pro Package Should You Choose?

That Astra Pro package is perfect for you may depend on your requirements along with your financial plan.

The Astra Pro package is perfect for those who don’t wish to use new site templates or the new plugins.

If you’re already thinking about buying a few of these plugins, then it makes sense to upgrade to one of the bundles. Otherwise, I’d recommend saving money and also staying with the basic package.

Summary

Astra is unquestionably one of the finest complimentary WordPress topics around.

The theme permits you to import many professional-looking web site layouts. Also there’s a fantastic collection of free plugins that extend functionality.

The customization is super simple as all options are available at the theme customizer too.

Astra pro gives you premium support and hundreds of fresh styling and layout options. With the an Astra Agency Bundle (Essential Bundle Package or Growth Bundle Package) you will also get access to the starter website templates marked as ‘Agency’.