Despite the countless WordPress themes available on the market and the hundreds of agencies offering design services, picking up the right theme for your new, or already working website is a daunting task.
You have so many themes to choose from that your choice always seems wrong no matter what you select. Usually, when you find a theme you like, you check the demo, ask the person who build the theme a couple of question and you proceed with the purchase. Here’s where it gets complicated. Most of the times, the demo you previously saw is way different from what’s actually happening in reality. You hoped for a clean and easy to use theme, but you actually got a slow and full of options piece of software that even the author doesn’t know how to configure. I’ve been down this road far too many times. Actually, that’s why I’ve started this site: To help you with your decision and hopefully save you some time with the configuration of the theme you’ve chosen.
Today, I will review one relatively new WordPress theme. The theme is called Astra and it’s designed by BrainstormForce. The guys who build ConvertPlug, now called Popup Plugin For WordPress – ConvertPlus. This plugin actually helped me increase my email subscribers by 412% in a week.
Astra WordPress theme, as pretty much everything they create, is a stunning piece of art. On top of everything, it’s free. Yes. You heard me right. The theme is free and available for download directly from the WordPress repository. I mean, you can access your WordPress and directly install the theme from the Appearance section. Well, there is an option to upgrade and get access to more features but more about that later.
In this detailed review, I will walk you through the most important things of the configuration process of this stunning theme and hopefully convince you to try it out for your next project.
Well, here it is, Astra WordPress theme in action:
Who is this theme for? And is it for you?
Before you go on a journey to find a theme for your site, you should sit down and actually think about your project.
Astra, in general, can be a solution for different websites mainly because they offer a lot of different templates and layouts. You can use the theme for your personal blog, eCommerce, company site, small agency, local business. There isn’t like a restriction and the best part is that Astra is fully customizable. You can change every little pixel to fit your needs and make your competitors jealous with little to no effort.
There will be few things that you’ll need to be aware of but I will cover everything in my detailed review. So, the first step will be to actually make the installation. Let me show you how:
Installing Astra WordPress Theme
As I mentioned, the base package of the theme is free and fully accessible from the official WordPress repository. You can either go to their website to download Astra or follow my instructions.
The first step will be to access the admin page of your website and go to Appearance > Themes > Add new:
Next, type inside the search bar the name of the theme. The screen will load for a few seconds and it will show the theme we’re looking for. Click install:
Once the installation finishes, you can activate your copy of Astra:
Super easy, right?
How to Install Astra WordPress Theme Demos?
Astra currently offers 48 demos to choose from – yes, I counted them all. However, you can only use few of those when you’re using the free version – 23 to be exact. Not a bad number but as you can imagine the best templates are only accessible when you purchase the paid version of the theme.
So, how to install a demo when using Astra? Let me show you. Actually, it’s really simple. The guys from BrainstrormForce have really optimized the whole process for us.
Once the installation of Astra is done a new option will appear inside your Appearance section. It’s called Astra options. Access this section and click on the button below the following text: “Import your favorite site one click and start your project in style:”
Now, click on the newly appeared link: Library link.
On this screen, you can choose your favorite page builder. Each demo site is powered by one of those two page builders. Even though both Elementor and Beaver Builder are good choices, I will go for Elementor in my example. When you select the desired plugin the available demos unfold:
The header allows you to chose the best template depending on the site you will be building. One more thing to mention here. Do you see the tags on the top right of the different demos? If there is a tag called Agency, this means that this demo is available only for their Agency package, which is $249 for one year:
I will install one of the free templates by hovering over one and by clicking Details & Preview:
The screen will load and it will show you the preview of the demo and the required plugins. When you click the button Install Plugins, this will automatically install and activate all the above-mentioned plugins:
Once this process is done a new button will appear: Import this site. A notification box will show with important info. Keep in mind that it’s best to import a demo on a fresh WordPress install. Once you click OK the process will be triggered and it will take a couple of seconds everything to load.
When the demo import finishes you will see the following button:
Click it to see how your site looks now. Exactly as the demo:
Within 1 minute your website is basically ready for your content.
Getting Started With Astra WordPress Theme
Even the free version of Astra WordPress theme comes with a lot of cool options that will help you transform the basic WordPress installation to a marvelous looking website.
The theme options panel is accessible from two places:
1. If you click Appearance inside your dashboard, you will see a new menu called Astra Options:
These are basically quick links to the main customization panel.
2. When you go to Appearance > Customize, you will see all the available theme options:
There is also a link to the paid versions of the theme but I will tell you a bit more about their packages at the end of this post.
Adjustable Site Layout
Astra WordPress theme is equipped with a really cool feature. Something very few themes offer. You can tailor the size of the text box and adjust it to fit your needs. Let me show you how it works:
Go to Appearance > Customize > and choose Layout from the available options. You will see a couple of options here:
- Default Container: This is the default container, obviously. You can basically adjust the size of your pages/posts from here and set everything else to use this default size.
- Container for Pages: You can set custom container width for pages.
- Container for Blog Posts: Respectfully, you can set custom container width for posts.
- Container for Blog Archives: The same applies for your archives page.
Let see how it works:
The Container Width number is representing the size of the text inside the box below. This is how your blog posts will appear when set to width 850:
Not really cool. I will change it to 1200.
Now’s much better. If you remove the sidebar you will probably need to make the value a bit higher but you got the idea.
Next, let’s see what are the available options inside the above-mentioned options. Since I’m editing a blog post, I will play with the Container for Blog Posts section.
The boxed layout is putting everything in boxes:
As you can see, even the widget attributes are in boxes.
Content Boxed Layout
This means that only the content will be boxed. Like this:
This type of layout focuses on the content, which is probably the preferred option.
This removes all the boxes but keeps your text nicely aligned in the middle of the screen:
As you will see, there aren’t any boxes.
This type of layout stretches everything. If you ask me, I will never use this type of layout for my content – blog posts. It’s a good idea to use it for landing pages, though:
It’s really stretching your content, which is not a quite good user experience for reading a blog post. I will recommend using the first two options.
Different Header Options
Astra allows you to easily customize your header navigation. With only a couple of clicks, you can move your logo, add social media icons, search bar, etc.
These options are available again inside the Customization panel. Once you’re inside, go to Layout > Primary Header:
Here, you can set the desired position of your logo and menu items, or completely disable the menu if you desire:
The Custom Menu Item drop-down allows you add something special to your header:
- Search box.
- Social media icons.
- A big attention grabbing button that will make people click.
I really like the last option. You can get more people to join your mailing list by adding a big button to your menu. Simply choose Text/HTML and type the desired text and link.
CREATING A LANDING PAGE WITH ASTRA WORDPRESS THEME
The authors of the theme made Astra fully compatible with Elementor and Beaver Builder as I mentioned previously. Thanks to those two plugins, you can create the perfect landing page.
Once you’re about to create a page with Astra, you will see an options panel on the right side. This panel allows you to disable elements that you won’t need for your new page. Remove the sidebar, choose the stretched layout, disable the sections shown below:
These settings basically give you a blank page, which you can adjust to your needs. I will only leave the footer sections because I want them at the bottom of my page. Click on Edit with Elementor to start tailoring your page.
Add new section:
Choose the structure:
Start adding items inside.
The first thing I would like to add is a background to the section. To do so, click on Edit section and select a Stretched section and Full Width:
Next, go to Style and add a background color:
Divide this full section into two parts by adding columns:
I added Heading and Text to the left side:
The right side I will leave for one picture. Simply click on the little cross in order to load the elements menu and drag and drop the image section:
Choose an image, select the size, decide if you want a caption of the image and you can also select if you want this image to link to another page:
I decided to add a button on the left side, right below the text to make things a bit more symmetrical:
Once the button is added a new menu will appear revealing all for this button. Of course, you can add a text, link, change the size of the button and even make it full width.
The options are basically limitless. Astra and Elementor work perfectly together and you can create a stunning landing page for your products or for your homepage really fast.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR POSTS AND BLOG SECTION WITH ASTRA THEME
Adding a blog section on your website using Astra is quite simple. You simply add a couple of posts, go to the menu section inside your WordPress and add the category to the menu:
On the website it will look like this:
You can additionally customize this section from the Theme Customize section > Layouts. The one we mentioned earlier. I mean, you can change the size of the boxes and even remove the sidebars if you like. These are the basic options, but more are available if you acquire the pro version of the theme. The paid version will allow you to change the layout to grid, add date box, and more.
Another cool option I would like to mention is the adjustable content width for single blog posts. As I mentioned before, you can easily change the layout of the whole site. However, this may interfere with the looks of your single post layout.
For example, I disabled the sidebar for my posts and made the layout boxed but I also want to adjust the layout width:
This is available from Customize > Layout > Blog > Single Post. I don’t want the text for my post to appear like this:
It’s too stretched for me. The guys from BrainstormForce are allowing you to change the width of your posts. Simply click Single Post Content Width > Select Custom > Adjust the size:
Now it looks better.
Something really cool, which is only available on the pro version, unfortunately, is the option to remove the padding of the features image of your blog post. This empty space here:
This padding is kind of ugly and makes the picture really small. Well, that’s why is available only on the pro version.
WHAT IS THE PRICE OF ASTRA WORDPRESS THEME
Astra WordPress theme is free and you can install it directly from your WordPress dashboard. All of the configurations mentioned above are done on the free version of the theme. Of course, as any other design agency, the guys from BrainstormForce are trying to make a buck and are offering a paid version of the theme for people who want to extend the functionality of this amazing theme.
The prices are as follows:
- Free with limited capabilities
- $59 a year or $249 one time – Additional options to customize the theme.
- $249 a year or $699 one time – BrainstormForce top selling plugins and a library of prebuilt websites.
To be honest, the prices are quite reasonable.
ASTRA WORDPRESS THEME PROS AND CONS:
- Customizable layouts
- Clean design.
- Ready to use demos.
- Easy to configure.
- Free version.
- Fast and SEO friendly
- Doesn’t have email subscription form.
Astra theme is relatively new theme on the market. It was introduced to the world in August 2017. Basically, last year. After only one year, the theme now has more than 60,000 active installs. Quite a lot compared to the best sellers on ThemeForest, for example.
I will definitely recommend this theme to everybody who is starting his site now and he’s not convinced which theme to use. Even though there are a lot of free WordPress themes available, there aren’t a lot who are really worth trying. Well, Astra is not one of them. It’s fast, clean and fully customizable. You can start your new site with this theme and later upgrade if you need more functionalities. Even if you keep using the free version, you will still have one cool looking site.
What are your thoughts about Astra WordPress theme? Have you ever used it?