The popular free Astra WordPress theme just updated to version 3.8.0, offering faster performance on the backend and the frontend, improving the workflow to make it easier and faster to design a website while also making the design controls more intuitive and powerful.
Free Astra WordPress Theme
Astra is a free WordPress theme that has a rare five star rating on the official WordPress theme website.
According to the Astra theme home page, the theme is trusted by organizations like Stanford University and NASA and is used by over 1.6 million websites.
It’s popularity is due to how easy it is to design with while also being light on code to improve performance.
It is engineered to be SEO-ready out of the box, including Schema.org structured data code integrated into the theme itself.
Astra also works well with all major page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, Visual Composer, SiteOrigin, WooCommerce and many others.
One of the major reasons for its popularity is the ability to import ready-made starer templates that are appropriate for different industries and uses.
The free version of the Astra theme has been updated to version 3.8.0.
There is also a paid pro version of the theme and that one has been updated to version 3.6.8.
Simplified Design Flow
The redesigned Astra theme now features an easier design flow that helps publishers and designers make websites faster.
Thoughtful improvements to the Latest Posts Block automates design features so that it just looks right without having to fuss with little design details.
The headings, link colors and fonts all come with default states that are based on the theme style settings.
The Pull Quote block and the Quote block were also improved, fixing a style issue that kept text left-aligned even when the text within the quote was centered.
The Astra announcement explained:
“Previously, when you moved the quote to the middle-centered or right-centered position, it still showed as left-aligned. This has now been changed and looks much better. ”
More Control Over Design Elements
In addition to making some style elements automatic, Astra now provides more freedom to change how the page design looks.
For example, the newly updated theme allows users to change the colors of links, made it easier to change margins and padding, and added more control over the borders so that they can be styled according to a users preferred width, color and even radius.
Astra added the ability to disable the header area at the top of page on a global/sitewide basis.
Design controls have been updated to make them more intuitive and easy to use. For example, dropdown controls are now available through button selection controls.
There is also a new way for publishers to adjust the default content width to any desired size by adding a filter to the child theme.
“…now you have better control over the sidebar and the content layout with the visual layout designs to choose from right inside the block editor.
Page Elements where the number of toggles has been reduced or will appear conditionally which in turn will load the page faster.”
Astra continues to focus on making their theme faster than before. While the performance improvements may seem modest, even small improvements can result in more sales, conversions and page views. So this is a step in the right direction.
The improvements made are to the backend for users who are designing and also to the frontend where site visitors will have a better experience.
According to Astra:
“A study says that the usage of CSS on your website is directly proportional to the speed of your website. The more CSS you use, the slower your website will load.
With the speed of the website being one of the major ranking factors, it is very important to minimize the usage of CSS.
That’s what we have done with the block editor. We have used the built-in CSS of WordPress and reduced the usage of CSS in the theme.”
On the backend, Dynamic CSS has been reduced from 21.4 KB to 7 KB. Static CSS is reduced from 21 KB to 15 KB, and the page size on the backend is reduced from 588 KB to 547 KB.
On the frontend, CSS has been reduced from 9.77 KB to 4.44 KB and the page size has been reduced from 111 KB to 106 KB.
Other changes to the backend include moving the font customizer controls to React JS in order to make it faster to use.
Astra Theme Keeps Getting Better
The free Astra theme is trusted by nearly two million websites worldwide because it makes designing websites easy, particularly with the built-in template importer.
With the improvements to site performance and the design functions, Astra continues to earn the position of being one of the most popular WordPress themes in the world.
Read the Official Astra Theme Changelog
Changelog for Astra Free Version 3.8.0
Read the Details of Theme Improvements
Improved Block Editor Experience with Astra