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Astra – Fast, Lightweight & Customizable WordPress theme

category:  WordPress

For WordPress website, there are three main parts to build the WordPress website.

  • One is the WordPress core which you can download from WordPress.org.
  • Two is the WordPress theme which you can download for free from WordPress themes portal. Or you can buy the premium themes from Themeforest which I recommend. Or you have a lot of time and your clients offer a ton of budget, you can create your own theme following WordPress Codex.
  • Lastly is the WordPress plugins which you can download for free from WordPress plugins portal.

WordPress core always improve and update new functionalities. I am been working with WordPress since 2013. I see many improvement regarding the loading speed, new functionalities for all users and security improvement. WordPress core is very fast with the default theme. However, often you want to pick the theme you like to meet your needs and reduce the developing time. Pick the right theme is very important. It effects the loading speed, security and ability to customize the theme. Plus, the outstanding theme will come with the best support who can support you 24 hours with the expert team. That’s why today, I write about Astra theme, the fast, lightweight and customizable WordPress theme in the market.

Loading Speed

One of the main benefits for using Astra theme is the loading speed. Your theme is loading fast, it means your viewers see your website quickly. It gives your viewers the first impression from your website. Specially, the viewers view your site from their mobile.

So I am a curious person and I want to test how fast the Astra theme performs. I setup new subdomain and install fresh WordPress. Then I install and activate the Astra theme free version. I don’t use any cache plugin.

Next, I check the speed test by Google PageSpeed Insight tool. Below is the result. 

astra-speed-check-1
Loading speed test by Google PageSpeed Insights - Astra theme

As you can see, the loading speed is very fast with Astra theme. The web hosting I use for testing, it is not the best performance yet. It is the budget web hosting that you can buy only $140 for 3 years. It is good for the small business, personal blog or portfolio website. But you see the point. I use the budget web hosting which locates in USA and I am calling my site from Thailand. The site is loaded pretty fast.

Why Astra theme load very fast?

An Astra team builds the theme with performance focused in mind. More than a decade, WordPress themes offer the abilities to customize the theme for all users. The heavy stylesheet files and jQuery library are added to the theme. The result is the WordPress site is loading slow on the frontend. Plus, users mostly install a bunch of plugins in order to add more functionalities they need on their sites. Those plugins will use their own stylesheet files and jQuery library. And that will add more loading time for the website. You may say the solution is simple. You just buy the high performance WordPress hosting (KinstaSiteGround). It is true. It will help your website speed up. But remember, theme is a second important part for WordPress site. Pick the fast theme, it will speed up your website either on budget web hosting or high performance web hosting.

No jQuery

In Astra theme, it uses vanilla Javascript instead of jQuery library. With vanilla Javascript, it prevents render blocking jQuery which affect your website performance. 

Less than 50KB

Astra theme requires less than 50KB of resources which is very small to compare with other WordPress theme.

Optimized code

Astra theme uses default WordPress data and follows the best coding standards. This way, every piece of code is optimized and that makes the theme loads very fast.

Loading only the necessary asset files on the page

I notice Astra theme will load only the asset files that need to perform on the page only. Some WordPress themes I work with in the past, they load all asset files on every page. Even though some pages don’t need it. To load all unnecessary asset files, it will reduce the loading speed and yet, it effects the SEO ranking and user experience.

Instantly improvement

With performance focused in mind, Astra theme always improve the performance and add new functionalities to the theme. All news from Astra team can be found in their blog. And their tutorial can be found in their docs page.

Customizable theme

For WordPress developers, the ability to customize anything from the theme without adding extra code, it saves a lot of time. With Astra theme pro, you can customize every section such as header, content, footer and sidebar without any extra code. It is a huge time saving.

Here are all sections you can customize to meet you need without any single code line.

  • Designs
  • Site Layouts
  • Typography
  • Blog Layouts
  • Full Control
  • Woocommerce
  • Integrations
  • Custom Layouts

Read more about Astra theme features.

Starter Templates

Starter templates is another feature that all the modern themes offer nowadays. With the starter templates, you can build your website very fast. I can build the simple business website from PSD file within one day. In the past, it would take a few days because you need to test the website on all devices(desktop,tablet,mobile) and test on all major browsers(safari, chrome). With the starter templates, you will pick the templates that is similar to your design. Once the starter templates are installed, all customize settings for the theme are set for you. You just need to adjust a few things such as color theme and fonts. Then you will start to change the content and logo. Finally, you may install some plugins if you need to add more functionalities to your website. 

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a popular plugin for shopping online store for WordPress. Astra theme pro provides many Astra Unique widgets for working with Woocomerce. Those widgets help you customize your store in the way you want. Plus, Astra theme always does the optimized for mobile sales which is the most important nowadays. You are able to configure the options for mobile, tablet and desktop devices without single code line. This configuration will ensure the best experience on every devices for the shoppers.

Checkout design is another important feature for the shopping online. If your checkout page is not user-friendly, you likely have a chances  over 50% of losing the sale from the checkout page. Astra gives you the tools to cut the cart abandonment rate by offering a customizable. See more what Astra theme pro offers for Woocommerce.

Support and Documentation

For me, the Astra theme settings are easy to play with. I don’t need to look at their documentation all at. In my opinion, Astra UX/UI design for the admin area is great. However, if you want to get the support(24/7) or have any questions, you can always go to the support section.

Astra 3.0

Astra theme always makes the improvement. Two weeks ago, Astra team announced Astra3.0 which introduces the biggest update. One main feature is added to Astra 3.0 for both free and pro version, is Visual Header Footer builder which is a great great feature. It allows you to customize all elements you want for header and footer. Plus, you can manage what elements will visible or invisible on specific device too. And you can choose what mobile menu will appear either stack or flyout. All settings can be found in “Appearance>Customize” section at WordPress admin.

Because Astra theme customize will be done in “Appearance>Customize” section at WordPress admin, the team improves the speed by using ReactJS which makes the customization very fast at the Customize section.

Furthermore, Astra3.0 improves the page loading speed as well. Like I mention above, Astra theme has the performance focused in mind. Stay with Astra theme, you site will improve time to time.

Ready to try Astra theme? Go for it. Do you know that Astra theme offers annual and lifetime price. Not many outstanding themes would offer lifetime option with instantly improvement. Try Astra theme and see the amazing performance like I did.

Conclusion

There are so many themes out there and they always claim they are the best WordPress theme. But how many themes offer the performance focused, instantly improvement and always listen to your feedback. Plus, support team is always for you.

When you pick a theme for your site or your client sites, you want the theme will work as it should and won’t give you any headache after WordPress core updates, server configuration updates and plugin updates. Astra theme is a great theme choice for you. Give it a try and see by yourself today!