If you’ve been using the free Astra theme for awhile, you may be considering the Astra Pro Plugin. If so, this Astra Pro Plugin Getting Started post is for you.
You may have read one of our other Astra Series posts to learn more about the Astra Theme.
Though you may be perfectly happy working with the free Astra theme, I think it’s worthwhile to explore upgrading to Astra Pro.
The main reason is that the Astra Pro plugin extends the features of the free Astra theme by offering some great add-ons that you can activate on an as-needed basis.
And these add-ons can save you time and money in the long run.
While I’ve touched on a few of the add-ons in prior posts, I thought it might be helpful to dedicate one article to exploring these options in detail.
Astra Pro Plugin: Getting Started
I must admit that I was a bit confused when I first got started with Astra.
What was confusing was the fact that the theme is always free. But for any enhanced features, you have to purchase the Astra Pro plugin.
That’s a little unconventional compared to how I’ve been working with WordPress all these years.
But once I started investigating, I began to understand the value that Astra Pro could bring to the table.
So if you’re wondering whether or not to upgrade to Astra Pro, why not take a few minutes to explore getting started with Astra Pro Plugin.
Choosing Between Astra Free Theme and Astra Pro
By following this post you’ll learn the quickest way to use the Astra options regardless of whether you are using the free theme or the Pro plugin.
Both the free theme and Astra Pro open up options that enable you to easily customize your site.
But Astra Pro gives you way more settings that you can change in the Customizer.
You’ll see how the Astra Pro Plugin can save you time and money in the long run.
I’m all for anything that simplifies web design.
So let’s see dig a little deeper with Astra Pro Plugin and getting started with it.
This post assumes that you have already installed the free Astra theme on your WordPress site.
If not, take a moment and download it now. Then install and activate the free Astra theme.
Once done, you’ll be able to easily follow the steps below.
Exploring Astra Pro Plugin
Let’s first take a look at each option in the free theme.
Then I’ll show you a comparison of additional features available in the Astra Pro Plugin.
And to streamline this article and make navigation easier for you, I’ll provide additional links to help you explore the Astra Pro options in greater detail.
So let’s begin!
Purchase Astra Pro Plugin
First you need to purchase the plugin.
Currently there are three purchasing options as shown in the chart below.
Astra Pro plugin is included for free in the Mini Agency and Agency Bundle.
Mini Agency Bundle
For a list of features for each package, please refer to the Astra product comparison.
Activate Astra Pro Plugin
Next, download, install and activate Astra Pro plugin on your site.
Once done, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
Then click on Astra Pro > Settings.
Or go to Appearance > Astra Options.
You’ll see two sections: one with Astra Free Theme Links followed by Available Astra Pro Modules.
Astra Free Theme Links to Customizer Settings
Available Astra Pro Modules
Out of the box all of the pro options are deactivated.
Decide which options you want to use and then activate them.
This allows you complete control over the assets that get loaded into your website.
And when you can pick and choose exactly what you need, you end up with a leaner and faster-loading website.
Let’s take a look at the free theme Links to Customizer Settings.
From the Dashboard go to Appearance > Astra Options.
If you are using either the free theme or Astra Pro, the following screen displays:
These links will take you directly to the Customizer settings.
Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Astra Free Theme and Astra Pro
Click on Upload Logo and you’ll see the following Customizer Settings screen for Site Identity:
You can add, remove or change your site logo as well as specify logo width and logos for retina and/or mobile devices.
And take note of the desktop icon denoted by the red arrow above.
This Customizer setting has the ability to toggle between desktop, tablet and smartphone views.
So if you click once on the desktop icon, it will toggle to a mobile view so you can adjust the logo image or width if needed like so:
And you can see that now the little icon in the lower right corner has changed from desktop to mobile.
If you click that icon one more time, it will bring up a smartphone view with the same settings as above so you can further fine-tune your site logo for smartphones:
So as you’re customizing your website, take notice of settings that display those icons to see what additional options are available to you for different devices.
Astra Free Theme
Click this link to get to base typography and heading settings.
You’ll have the option to change your basic font setting and typography for all six headers.
Astra Pro Typography Add-on
But with Astra Pro Typography Module, you can manage typography throughout your website. Not just the base typography and six headings like in the free theme.
Those additional settings are found under Appearance > Astra Options > Typography.
Once you have that module activated, go to Appearance > Customize > Global > Typography.
From there you can modify the typography for:
- Header: Primary Menu and Submenu
- Blog / Archive
- Blog Post Title / Post Meta
- Single Post / Page Title
- Footer Widgets
- Footer Bar
Learn more about customizing these elements.
Clicking Header Options takes you to Header in Customizer Settings where you have the option to modify settings for:
Astra Free Theme Primary Header
You have three distinct header options in the Astra free theme: logo to the left, logo on top, or logo to the right of your menu.
Select how you want the header area to look such as logo and menu placement for both desktop and mobile.
Choose bottom border size and color.
And then choose your mobile layout option.
Astra Pro Header Styles
You might want to explore the additional header styles that are available in Astra Pro.
I have provided links to additional Astra documentation so you can explore these premium options in greater detail.
- Transparent Header (this is now also available in free theme). Your primary header background is transparent which provides a seamless look with your menu over a large cover image.
- Sticky Header – Menu sticks to top of website when you scroll.
- Above Header – This setting allows you to show your CTA, contact info, social media icons, menus, etc. above your header section.
- Below Header – Same functions as Above Header, but location appears below the header.
- Mega Menu – Let’s you create the ultimate fully customized menu with background colors and images, highlighted labels, columns and more.
Astra Free Theme Primary Menu
With both the free theme and Astra Pro, you have the option to disable the menu altogether as well as specify the last item in the menu.
For example, you could choose the Search icon as the last item in the menu.
Or, on my site, the last menu item is an Astra Widget with my social platform icons.
Please note that you need Astra Widgets installed and activated to put your social platform icons in your menu.
For your submenu, you can specify any type of animation you wish when that menu opens such as Slide Down, Slide Up or Fade.
Astra Pro Primary Menu
With Astra Pro, you can specify typography, colors and spacing for your desktop and mobile menus, submenus or Mega Menu.
Let’s drill down a bit and see how we can edit the menu.
Wherever you see a pencil, you have the option to edit a setting.
For example, click on the pencil icon next to menu.
A second screen opens with your menu option settings.
Note how you can modify a normal link color as well as hover and active link colors from the Customizer.
And don’t forget about the device icons to the right (purple arrow). In this view we are editing the desktop link colors.
Toggle the icon to get mobile and smartphone options by clicking on that icon.
Click once and you’ll toggle to edit the mobile link colors.
Click that icon again and you’ll toggle to settings for smartphone link colors.
So here’s how you edit menu typography.
Click the pencil icon next to the Menu option.
The expanded settings menu opens and you can specify your font family and style.
Click on the desktop icon (purple arrow) to bring up the mobile menu screens so you can edit typography for mobile.
Click the icon again to bring up smartphone typography settings.
I hope by now you see how easy it is to use the Customizer.
Take time to explore these options in greater detail and watch as the Customizer transforms your site in the right pane whenever you modify a setting.
Astra Free Theme Footer Options
With the free theme you have 2 choices for your footer widget layout: none or 4 columns.
Astra Pro Footer Options
With Astra Pro, you have eight options for your footer widgets.
Depending on which footer layout you choose, additional settings will be available to you including colors and background.
You don’t need to configure footer widgets.
You might just want a Footer Bar in which case you have two layouts from which to choose.
Simply choose the desired layout and additional settings options will be available to you.
The Footer Bar is the perfect place to put your copyright notice, affiliate disclaimer, and your main menu.
Astra Free Theme Set Colors
Clicking on Set Colors takes you to a Global Colors setting.
Here you can modify your basic colors for text, theme, links and background.
You can also specify a background image.
Astra Pro Set Colors
With Astra Pro, once you activate Colors and Background, you will have additional color options in the Customizer.
Those options are:
- Global > Colors > Content
- Header > Site Identity
- Header > Primary Header
- Header > Primary Menu
- Blog > Blog / Archive
- Blog > Single Post
And you can learn more about how to use these options here.
Astra Free Theme Layout Options
With the free theme, you get a few basic layouts including full width, boxed and stretched.
Astra Pro Layout Options
With Astra Pro, you get the following layouts:
- Full-Width Layout – the main wrapper of your website page goes from edge-to-edge of the browser window.
- Max Width Layout – the main wrapper of your website is set to a maximum width. You can also set top and bottom margin so your website looks like a box.
- Padded Layout – same as Full-Width Layout with the ability to add padding to website edges so the page seems “framed.”
- Fluid Layout – the entire website goes edge- to-edge of the browser screen for all screen sizes.
Click on the layout link above for more information.
Astra Free Theme Blog Loyouts
With the free theme, you can modify your Blog / Archive structure such as whether the featured image shows above title and blog meta data or vice versa.
You can also show or hide blog meta data: comments, category, author, publish date, and tags by toggling the eye on or off:
Finally, you can easily rearrange your post structure and meta data:
The last available free theme option is a typography setting where you can only change font size for archive or post titles.
Astra Pro Blog Layouts Option
The Blog Layouts is one of my favorite features of Astra Pro and I cover it in depth in my Customize Astra Archive Page with Astra Pro.
You can specify your blog layout as a List, Grid, or Masonry:
Not only that, you have lots of configuration options for your layouts such as featured image on top of excerpt, to the left of the excerpt and more.
I recommend you check out my earlier post that covers configuring the Blog / Archive in greater detail.
Astra Free Theme and Astra Pro
You can specify a default layout such as “No Sidebar.”
You can specify additional sidebar defaults for pages, posts, and archives. You can set sidebar width:
Keep in mind that these sidebar defaults can be overridden for any post or page.
And I’ll show you how in the next section.
Override the Customizer Settings for a Specific Post/Page
The Customizer lets you set site-wide defaults for your website.
But every page and post can have their own settings.
For example, you might want a sidebar on your Contact Us page but not on your About page.
To override the Customizer settings, you would edit that specific post or page.
Then go to Document > Astra Settings.
The following settings are available to be changed for that particular document:
So once again you see how granular you can get with your website design using Astra Pro.
Additional Astra Pro Modules
To round out our discussion on Astra Pro extended features, check out the additional articles below:
- Custom Layouts: In an earlier post, I showed you how to use a custom layout to add Google Analytics into the header. Learn more about custom layouts for your header, footer, and your 404 page.
- Astra Pro Modules also has integration with WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, LearnDash, and LifterLMS. Those features are outside of the scope of this article, but I wanted to make you aware of them.
- Finally, you can white label Astra and present it as your own plugin with your branding instead.
When you purchase Astra Pro, you’ll receive one-on-one priority support.
Documentation says you’ll receive your response within 24 hours.
However, I have found that in both cases where I opened a support ticket, I didn’t get a response for 48 hours.
I’m hoping that is something that Brainstorm Force, the team behind the plugin, improves.
But despite the slower response time, I’m still quite happy with how solid and well-performing the Astra Free Theme and Astra Pro Plugin are.
Over to You
I hope that our Astra Pro Plugin: Getting Started article will help you decide whether you need Astra Pro for your Astra website.
My own website is a work in progress as I explore and learn different features and functions of the theme.
Please feel free to leave a comment sharing your experience with Astra.
Or if you have a question, please feel free to ask in the comments!
I’m always happy to help!