Astra, is one of my favourite themes for WordPress. How to Make a Website for about two years worked on the basis of this theme. Today, Astra has been replaced by the KadenceBut this is only because I like changes and I am constantly looking for new possibilities for you. Since this is the case, I have to look for, analyse and test, sometimes also production-wise, various novelties in order to form my own opinion about them.
The aforementioned Kadence theme, even when it was not yet available in the official WordPress repository - it only appeared there in November 2020 - already offered its users header and footer builder. If you want to see it take a look at my YT channel at this address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdV3tHDSLzU
This header and footer builder is a tool that will surely soon become a standard among top themes. That is probably why the creators of Astra have implemented such a solution in the latest theme version numbered 3.0.
Today we look at how the new tools work and what you will gain when you upgrade to the latest version of Astra.
Watch the movie
Astra 3.0 - what's new?
Apart from the header and footer builder mentioned in the introduction, about which I will write a few more words below for those of you who prefer to read rather than watch, the latest release of the theme also means a performance boost, at least according to the authors.
The "Customise" section, which currently uses the library React JS is 70% faster. And based on the theme developers' tests, page speed on the front end using the default theme settings and default content improved by about 0.2 seconds. Is it really?
I did my test. I first installed using WordPress hosting two instances. Both, of course, analogous, that is basic WP installation, installed Astra theme version 2.6 on one site and 3.0 on the other. Deactivated caching, also on the side of the hosting account itself and zero optimization activities. Standard page after activating the theme.
I must admit that with this configuration you can't really see any differences. The theme is fast and qualitatively good in both version 2.6 and the latest version. Here are the results I got:
Astra 2.6 on GTmetrix
Astra 3.0 on GTmetrix
Judge for yourself. There is no difference because both versions work very efficiently, and version 3.0 is minimally thinner looking at the amount of downloaded data. The result with active cache mechanism on the server side for versions 2.6 and 3.0 is also analogous. The full page load time drops to below 400 ms.
So I am not convinced that Astra 3.0 is actually more efficient than its predecessor. Perhaps when testing a page with more complex content, where the time will be longer, the announced better performance will suddenly appear. With basic tests like the one above these differences are not visible.
Header and footer builder
Let's assume that the performance of Astra 3.0 is at the same level as earlier versions, despite the fact that the developers indicate an increase in performance. Whether this is the case or not, there is no doubt that Astra is one of the fastest themes out there, but it is not this factor that causes the most excitement.
Footer and header builderIt is a very practical tool, which will significantly facilitate work with websites for the majority of Astra users, or at least the part of them which does not use e.g. the header and footer builder in Elementor PRO.
I encourage you to watch the above video, because on it I show exactly how the new tool works, and now I'll just write that... it's very convenient 🙂 .
Admittedly, I have already got used to this working model using the Kadence theme, but I am very pleased that Astra now also gives me a similar opportunity.
You have three main sections for the header and footer: top, middle (main) and bottom. This gives you many more options for arranging these very key areas of the site. Each section is another three zones for dropping widgets and moving them freely by drag and drop.
The free version of Astra gives us sufficient functionality in this field to successfully use it both on private and business websites. Only when we have an appetite for something more, i.e. a greater number of possible widgets or the number of customisation options, then we have to reach for Astra PRO.
The new Astra is all about the header and footer builder, and that's reason enough to still love the theme. Not much may have changed on the speed polo, but what you can be sure of is that it doesn't get any worse 🙂
If you are working with Astra update it and use the builder, and if you are just thinking about a theme for your site, in my opinion this choice will be a hit.
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