Earlier days, only few websites offer trusted content and readers did not have many options. However, the situation is completely different nowadays. People use content management systems like WordPress and create thousands of websites that offer similar content. Therefore, as a site owner, you have to focus on other ranking factors like speed optimization in addition to having great content. In this article, we will compare two WordPress themes that help you to create fast loading websites.
GeneratePress Vs Astra
Choosing the lightweight theme is one of the important aspects of creating fast loading websites. For that, you have two good themes – GeneratePress and Astra. We have used premium versions of both these themes. Since both these themes offer similar features, we have prepared this comparison article for those who want to purchase one of them.
GeneratePress and Astra follows similar business model:
- You can download the free theme with basic features from WordPress repository.
- For additional features, you have to purchase pro version from the developer’s website.
- The pro version is an add-on plugin that you can install like any other plugin on your WordPress site. For GeneratePress, it is GeneratePress Premium (GP Premium) and for Astra, it is Astra Pro add-on plugin.
- After installing the premium plugin, you can active the required modules to enhance typography, colors, spacing, etc.
- You can get support through ticket or forum from the developer website.
Though the entire business model is same, there is a one important difference exist. Tom Usborne is a single developer behind GeneratePress theme while Astra is from a company Brainstorm Force. If you are aware, Brainstorm Force has many other products like Convert Pro, Shema Pro, Ultimate Add-on for Elementor, etc. Therefore, it depends on you to go for a company’s product or purchase product from individual developer, which can affect two things:
- There is always a risk of using product from individual developer as the entire development process can have an impact depending on the availability of the developer. However, companies in general maintain and update the product well.
- On other hand, you can get precise response from individual developer for support queries as he knows the code. However, companies have support team who may work like mediators instead of problem solver.
So, based on their business models, it is purely your choice to go for Astra or GeneratePress.
At this point of time, both Astra and GeneratePress are available for $59. Most of the time during a year, you can get these themes with 30% discount and get the followings:
|Plans||Yearly and lifetime||Astra Pro, Mini Agency Bundle and Agency Bundle|
|Premium support||1 year||1 year|
|Support model||Documentation and premium forum||Documentation and ticket responded through email|
|Free update||1 year||1 year|
|Money back||30 days||14 days|
|Plugin update||From WordPress admin panel||From WordPress admin panel|
Free Theme Features
As mentioned, you can install GeneratePress and Astra themes from free WordPress repository. The basic themes are similar and you will get limited control over typography, colors, spacing and layout setting. One of the major differences is that Astra allows you to remove the copyright message and add your own. However, free GeneratePress theme does not allow you to remove the footer copyright information.
With this problem, you can use free Astra theme on professional sites while it does not look good with GeneratePress. This is also a reason that Astra has more than 1 million active installations and GeneratePress only has 300K.
Related: 10 tips to customize Astra theme.
Premium Plugin Features
After purchasing the premium versions, you have to download a plugin and install on your site. This will add additional features and enhance the existing features. Unlike many other premium themes, you will not get custom theme panel with Astra and GeneratePress. You have to use WordPress customizer and modify the settings.
Let us explore the premium features from Astra and GeneratePress to see which are best suited for your need.
The best part of both themes is that they are lightweight. Default GeneratePress theme adds mere 10KB to the page size and Astra adds less than 50KB. You do not need jQuery, which help you to get rid of render blocking issue in Google PageSpeed and other speed measurement tools. With this simple, both themes work well with AMP and other tools like Google Web Stories.
In addition, they do not offer shortcode based custom elements or blocks. For example, we have used the Highend theme previously, which offers custom panels, message boxes and 50+ custom elements. The problem is that these elements will use shortcodes and changing the theme will become a big problem.
The lightweight helps you to get high-speed score and retain customers on your site. You will not find big difference with both GeneratePress and Astra in terms of speed and code quality.
GeneratePress offers Site Library that contains predefined demo templates to start your site. You can get demos for Gutenberg, Elementor and Beaver Builder. There are around 50 templates available for Gutenberg while you will get very limited template for Elementor and Beaver. In our opinion, you have to stay away from custom shortcode based page builders to keep your site’s speed. You can see the Site Library under “Appearance > GeneratePress” section after activating the license key. You can directly import the demo without the need of additional demo importer plugin.
Astra’s pricing plans depends on the number of starter templates you can get. With the Pro version, you will get 100+ free templates. Unlike GeneratePress, you have to install a Starter Template plugin on order to import the demo. Since Starter Template is a free plugin, anyone who do not use Astra theme can also use this. You can get templates for Gutenberg, Elementor, Beaver and Brizzy page builders. Agency plan users will get complete access to the library with more than 150 templates.
Another difference with Astra template is that you can import only a particular page instead of the entire template, which is not possible with GeneratePress. For example, you can import contact page from template1 and services page from template2. In addition, you can also import the page or template with the Elementor, which can save you, lot of time.
With Gutenberg is evolving, we recommend you to go with one of the Gutenberg templates to kick-start your site. GeneratePress will be a good option with this perspective, as there is also a GenerateBlocks plugin available for creating optimized Gutenberg blocks. If you love using page builders, especially Elementor, then Astra will be a good choice.
Since both themes are already established, you will not need to use their custom support in general. However, for specific changes applicable to your site, you have to contact theme for resolving the issue.
- GeneratePress offers support through premium support forum. However, this is a public forum and anyone can see your query and the response.
- Astra offers a ticket based support and you can reply through email conversation.
If you do not like public posting then Astra should be your choice.
Custom Hooks and Layouts
There are many problems you will face with lightweight themes. Check out this article on the missing features with GeneratePress Premium version. For example, most commercial themes allow you to insert Google Analytics tracking code to header section using custom theme panel. You cannot do this with GeneratePress and Astra as there will be no custom panels. In order to overcome, these themes use WordPress Hooks API to insert the code on the desired position of your site’s layout.
- The “Elements” module in GeneratePress allows you to create hooks and custom header sections. You can use this feature to insert code like advertisement, Analytics and add custom sections to your site’s layout.
- With Astra, you have two options to use hook or custom layout. Astra Hooks is a free plugin that will add “Hooks” option in customizer. Alternatively, you can activate “Custom Layouts” module to insert code similar to hooks. It works similar to GeneratePress and allows you insert code and modify the default layout.
You have to understand a bit technical to using these hooks. Unfortunately, you will end up with handful of hooks with both themes and these hooks will not work when you change the theme. This is the big problem you have to trade off for the speed.
Both themes offers WooCommerce integration if you are using the plugin for your online store. You can add the off-canvas menu, cart button in the menu and customize the layout (like removing sidebar from single product pages) from customizer settings.
- GeneratePress allows you keep the sticky product bar when you scroll down in product page. Other than this, we do not see any special feature.
- Astra on other hand allows previous/next navigation on product pages and insert Quick View for single products.
If you use WooCommerce then Astra will look better option for you. In addition, you will also get customization for Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
Theme Customization Features
You cannot find a perfect theme that matches all your need. Here are some of the hit and miss customization features with GeneratePress and Astra themes.
- Meta data – GeneratePress by default insert author and date as meta data below post title. You can see this in single posts and archive pages. However, Astra allows you to add categories, tags and comments in the meta data. You can drag and drop and change the order of these elements. If meta data is your concern, you have to customize GeneratePress by adding filters in functions.php file or simply go with Astra theme to use it as a default feature.
- Disable Elements – this is a separate module in GeneratePress. You can hide page titles and other blocks on the page using this feature. This is a useful feature to hide content that you do not want to delete at the same time do not want to publish publicly. Astra only allows you to hide the title and not the blocks on the page.
- Breadcrumb – you need a hook to insert Yoast breadcrumb with GeneratePress theme. However, Astra allows a default breadcrumb as part of theme’s feature. In addition, you can enable Yoast breadcrumb and customize right from the customizer without additional hook or modification.
- Author Bio – GeneratePress does not provide author bio section at all. You have to use additional plugin or create a custom hook for your site. With Astra, you can simply enable author bio from customizer. However, this is a very simple author bio without social icons. Probably, you need additional customization with Astra as well.
- Custom Post Type Support – by default both themes do not support meta boxes for custom post types. You will face a problem if you need multiple custom post types created with plugins like CPT UI. Though you can add meta data by modifying functions.php file, you may need to get the developer’s support for customizing further.
- Import and Export Customizer Settings – this helps you to import customizer settings from one site and export to another site. This is inbuilt option with GeneratePress while you need additional plugin for this with Astra.
There are some more options available with Astra for mega menu, drag and drop header/footer, LifterLSM and LearnDash integration that are not available with GeneratePress.
As you can see, both themes offer similar pricing, features and templates. Sometimes, you even feel they are duplicate in nature. Though GeneratePress was released long ago than Astra, the later got the popularity from promotional efforts. In our opinion, we recommend purchasing GeneratePress Premium if you want to use Gutenberg block editor. If you like to use page builders then go for Astra that offers large number of starter templates and settings.