One of the biggest issues I see with people building their WordPress websites is deciding on a theme. There are so many questions to answer: is it reliable, is it fast, will it do everything I want it to?
And when looking to add WooCommerce functionality, will the theme hold up? There are options to look for in a theme, like number of columns for products, width of the archive page, even number of products per page.
Every theme should be tested not just for ease of use but for performance, included features, good support, and reliability. It takes time to answer all the questions that need answering.
Then there are bonuses to look out for: does it work well with page builders, is there a free version, is the free version or paid version usable without having to purchase a ton of add-ons?
The answer to theme problems
The answer to all of these questions lies in one of the most well-rounded options available. The answer lies in the Astra theme.
Disclaimer: As of August 8, 2020, Astra has been removed from the WordPress repository for a minimum of 5 weeks.
Astra is a light-weight and highly customizable theme that helps you create fast, feature-rich, beautiful websites and WooCommerce stores with minimum setup. With Astra, you can customize your store easily without writing a single line of code. But it’s created with developers in mind, so it’s got a child theme ready for anyone who wants to add to it.
You can decide to put a sidebar on your WooCommerce pages and an add-to-cart option in the header menu. All of the things you would want to customize in a theme without having to dive into the code to do. And with the pro version, you can customize with product categories, a sale bubble, two-step checkout, and so many other options to really make your WooCommerce site stand out.
When the themes aren’t updated to work with the latest versions of WordPress, or when they end up breaking after their updates, they create nothing but disruption. This theme was created to solve a problem that most developers encounter when dealing with themes purchased from individuals or marketplaces.
Works with everything
Page builders are one of the main concerns for a lot of people. They make websites easy to create and maintain for anyone from beginners to professionals, but they can get complex, bloated, and confusing, especially when you start to add on things like WooCommerce.
Astra is a great theme because it does all of that without having to use an additional page builder. They have starter themes so you can get a great layout without starting from scratch, and they’ve done a lot of work to incorporate the Gutenberg editor into their workflow. They’ve even made a whole Gutenberg library available to download for free.
An important distinction is dedicated email support. Since WooCommerce websites can add complexity to a website, making sure you’re getting the most out of the theme is important. With their in-depth articles and video tutorials, you won’t have to spend unnecessary time learning the theme and can focus on the rest of your site.
But the best part is that if you do have a page builder you love or feel comfortable with, Astra will work with those too. They even have specific add-ons for two of the most popular builders, Beaver Builder and Elementor, to make them do even more together, and add-ons for integrating with the two most popular learning management systems, LifterLMS and LearnDash.
Gives you what you need (and want)
What I love most about Astra is that they’ve taken the time to figure out exactly what websites need, like lead generation and email conversion, and focused on those features. They aren’t trying to fill every hole. Instead, they integrate with products that do what they do best, and provide the glue to hold it all together.
They prove their dedication to development quality by offering things that build on the excellent framework of WordPress, like their schema markup system. It might sound like something super techy and complicated, but it’s basically just information about what’s on your website so search engines and other platforms can see it and interpret it.
And they prove their dedication to their end product by solving one of the most common problems and uses for websites: portfolios. They’re something that can be used by almost everyone, and it’s one of the easiest ways to showcase skills. So Astra created a comprehensive stand-alone product that fills that need in the best of ways.
And it works with WooCommerce too
It has built-in integration for WooCommerce that provides full compatibility to your store with elegant design. With WooCommerce, there’s a delicate balance between options and overwhelm.
Astra allows you to choose things like content width, product columns, products per page, and sidebar options. You can even put an add-to-cart option in your website header menu. But these options are easy to understand, easy to use, and easy to leave as default.
And all of the free options provide great control over exactly what you need. With the Pro version, there’s even more you can do.
For the designers and developers out there
Everything you need to do can be done with the free version. The pro version only expands on the free version or offers features that are nice-to-haves and can be done with the child theme or other plugins.
Control font families, responsive font sizes, and font units. Control global design options. Everything you could want or need in a fully optimized theme.
They’re fully transparent about what you get in the free version compared to the pro version, with a grid comparing both. There’s also a grid comparing their different pricing plans. And they do a good job on their website of explaining everything and then giving those full page grid explanations for whoever wants to dig in deeper.
Everything is laid out up front. There are no secrets, no annoying up-charges, and no messing around. Just solid code for whoever wants it.
You can’t go wrong with Astra
Astra theme now powers over 700,000+ websites and has over 3,300+ five-star ratings on WordPress.org, and there’s a reason for that. Especially when it comes to WooCommerce websites.
Of course, there are options for controlling the responsiveness of the themes. You can manage as much or as little as you want for each size: desktop, tablet, and mobile.
It passes all of the speed tests and has been recommended by a ton of people from the industry, including Chris Lema who is the VP of Liquid Web and Ben Pines who is the CMO of Elementor.
They have a thorough knowledge base and great support to turn to when you need it. There are video tutorials, and there’s a great blog to learn additional things about WordPress and managing a website.