Maybe you have a current website or blog but want to update your WordPress theme to Astra. Or maybe you are a brand new website owner and want to start off on the right foot with the Astra theme for WordPress. But how do you decide on the right Astra Starter Template for your website?
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By outlining your needs and requirements for your website or blog, you can more easily determine the best WordPress Astra Theme Starter Template to install on your website.
Why Choose the WordPress Astra Theme?
Astra is installed on 1M+ sites and is fast, customizable, and lightweight. See a little more about the theme here.
We personally use this theme on all of our sites and for most of our clients.
Which Level Do You Want to Sign Up for With Astra?
Why does this matter?
There are a lot of Astra Starter Templates to choose from that are completely free!
But when you search through the Starter Templates, there will be some labeled as Agency. These are only available with an Agency level license.
Astra Pro (paid) is a plugin that will be added to your website and add additional ways to customize your site. It is absolutely not necessary when you first start out – focus on launching your website to focus on what truly matters: CONTENT!
See one you like that is Agency level? Check out our Kit Blogs to get access to our Agency license!
Which Page Builder Do You Want To Use?
Astra includes a few different page builders within their Starter Templates. There is no right or wrong choice but some require a little more advanced tech savvy and/or optimizations for site speed:
- Elementor (free): our preferred page builder for ease of use. Yes, there is a learning curve with any new software, but we have used 7+ page builders in our time online and still prefer Elementor over any other.
- Beaver Builder (free): this page builder is very integrated and perfect for those a little more tech savvy. Our experience is that Beaver Builder is a larger learning curve than Elementor.
- Gutenberg (free): this is the native WordPress page builder. (“block editor”). Yes, this is 100% going to be the fastest page builder, but customizing your pages takes some advanced know-how and isn’t as user friendly. It will improve over time! But for now, Elementor is still our preferred choice.
- Brizy: we have no personal experience with this page builder. It’s not as popular as any of the other page builders listed so may have less resources (like YouTube) than the others.
Once you decide on a page builder, you can filter your search results within the Astra Starter Templates to see which templates are available.
Which Style Matches Your Brand and Audience?
Some Starter Templates are more “business” feeling or “warm and tingly” feeling (I know that second one isn’t a great description).
If you already have your brand style designed (brand colors, fonts, logo, etc), now you just need to determine the overall layout of your website.
Ignore the fonts, imagery and colors (unless you like them). These can all be modified – it’s a TEMPLATE!
And unless your brand is dark and your readers (audience) likes it, the rule of thumb is to make sure you have lots of white space so your website doesn’t feel claustrophobic!
AND, remember to look at the mobile version of the template!
You don’t hear “mobile first” for nothing!
Depending on your business/niche, most websites now will receive a larger number of visitors on mobile than on desktop. On my own sites, I receive 75-90% mobile users!
Even as you test and modify your site, always check out your mobile website to ensure it looks good on all screen sizes.
What Do You Need On Your Website?
Whether you are a business or blogger, the WordPress Astra theme has a template that will work for you (or one you can modify for your needs).
While it would be great to get everything set in a single Starter Template, there may not be the exact combo you are looking for (and in the style you like).
Every site can be modified to meet your needs! Astra Starter Templates are merely a jumping off point.
The entire point of a Starter Template is to get you started, not to be the exact layout and template you have to stick to moving forward.
But don’t only think about what you currently need – think about what you hope to add down the road:
Do You Need A Blog On Your Website?
Here’s the secret: ANY website on WordPress can have a blog!
This is built-in WordPress functionality.
So even if you don’t see an Astra Starter Template that includes a blog, you can add one easy!
Here is all you have to do:
- Create a Page called Blog, Publish
- Go to your Dashboard > Settings > Reading and select your new Blog page as your blog
Does Your Website Need A Shop?
Do you plan to sell products (digital or physical) on your website?
Astra had many themes that come with WooCommerce installed automatically. This is a very popular plugin that is fairly easy to use…but it can be an immense resource hog on your website (meaning your site speed may take a hit).
Now, if your website will be ALL for shopping (no blog, etc) you can install any Starter Template and be ready to go!
But, if your website also includes a blog and may also eventually include courses, you’ll want to house your shop on a subdomain.
A subdomain is a separate site linked to your main URL. An example is yourbloghere .com with a subdomain of shop.yourbloghere .com. This is something you set-up at your host.
You do NOT have to use WooCommerce! Depending on your needs, here are a few other shop options to look into:
If you need a cart only for individual purchases (with built in sales funnels), check out my review of ThriveCart, the tool Kit Blogs personally uses for digital products, courses, and clients.
Does Your Website Need A Services Page?
Are you a service provider, coach, or someone providing services to your readers?
No, you do NOT need to use a Starter Template that includes a page for services, but that would make it easier with a template already built for you.
If you have Astra Pro, you have access to TONS of templates to build a services page from scratch.
Does Your Website Need To Integrate With LearnDash?
LearnDash is a popular Learning Management System (LMS), meaning it is a plugin that allows you to create and publish courses directly on your website.
And Astra has Starter Templates made specifically for those who have purchased LearnDash.
Much like WooCommerce, I always suggest using LearnDash on a subdomain (example is yourbloghere .com with a subdomain of courses.yourbloghere .com) unless your site is specifically for courses.
No, it is not as resource heavy as Woo, but it can be depending on how you build it and how many resources you use within LearnDash (and any plugins you may use to further customize the user experience).
However, even if you want to try out this LMS down the road, you do NOT need to choose a template that includes LearnDash. Kit Blogs personally uses LearnDash on a subdomain and did not use an Astra Starter Template that was specifically for LearnDash.
The LearnDash Starter Templates are there to help, but you don’t have to use them in most cases.
See my post about potential courses platforms to see other options than LearnDash!
How Do I Install an Astra Starter Template?
To make things easy, here’s a video walking you through the steps:
Which Astra Starter Template is Right for YOU?
Here’s the thing, there is no right answer. You are going to be looking at and working on your site A LOT.
But the first thing you need to worry about is merely to launch your site!
I’m completely serious.
The Astra Starter Templates are there to speed things along, not create more work for you to delay getting your site live on the internet.
My last piece of advice is to remember your end user (your reader or potential client). Your website is for THEM, not for you. So everything needs to match what they would want more than what you want.
Have any questions? Place them in the comments!