Astra and GeneratePress are well-established and popular WordPress themes. While Astra has clocked in more than 1 million installs, GeneratePress has 400,000 active installs. But what about the Blocksy theme, the new entrant that is generating rave reviews?
The Blocksy theme has been developed by Creative Themes and was launched in February 2019. In just over 2 years, it has managed 30,000+ installs on WordPress.org with more than 500 5-star ratings.
Also, if its daily download stats are an indicator, it will soon become one of the most popular free themes on WordPress.org.
I have already written a detailed comparison of Astra vs GeneratePress. In this article, I will compare the Blocksy theme to the Astra and GeneratePress themes.
I will cover the following topics in this Astra vs Blocksy vs GeneratePress comparison: Features, Performance, Usability, Pricing, and Gutenberg blocks compatibility.
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Theme Installation and Setup
All three themes are available for free on the WordPress repository and can be easily installed using the Appearance>Themes tab in the WordPress dashboard.
The settings of each theme can be accessed from the WordPress Customizer. Additionally, the Blocksy theme features a dedicated Theme Settings panel that lists shortcuts for jumping to the different theme options in the Customizer.
You can also install the free Blocksy companion plugin that provides useful extensions like Newsletter subscribe widget, product reviews template, and some other widgets for free.
The GeneratePress and Astra themes do not provide a free ‘companion’ plugin as Blocksy. But their premium versions provide many options in a theme options panel similar to Blocksy.
Astra vs Blocksy vs GeneratePress: Starter Sites
Starter sites or site templates are real-time-savers as you can install one of the templates on a fresh WordPress install and then customize the site design from thereon.
All three themes provide starter templates, however, GeneratePress provides starter templates only in its premium version. Astra and Blocksy provide free starter templates. You will need to install the Blocksy companion plugin or the Importer plugin in Astra to use a starter template.
Presently, Blocksy provides 11 starter templates for Gutenberg, Elementor, and Brizy page builders. On the other hand, Astra provides more than 50 starter sites for Gutenberg, Elementor, Beaver builder, and Brizy as I have noted in my Astra theme review.
I liked the fact that both, Astra and Blocksy, provide free starter sites for eCommerce stores.
Page builder and Gutenberg compatibility
All three themes are fully compatible with leading page builders like Gutenberg (default WordPress block editor), Elementor, Brizy, and Beaver Builder.
While Astra provides starter sites for all 4 page builders above, Blocksy and GeneratePress provide stater templates for 3 page builders of which Gutenberg and Elementor are common.
If you wish to use a page builder like Elementor to build your website, Astra is the way to go as it takes a back seat and lets your page builder do the heavy lifting.
On the other hand, GeneratePress premium when combined with the free GenerateBlocks plugin turns your website into a block-based site. You can use the full power of the Gutenberg block editor to edit every aspect of your website. Read more in my GeneratePress theme review.
Explore our WordPress Website Design service that is based on the GeneratePress theme to experience the power of Gutenberg blocks first-hand.
Blocksy falls somewhere in between Astra and GeneratePress when it comes to page builder compatibility. While you can use any page builder with the theme, the native features for block-based design are limited.
It falls short of GeneratePress that offers extensive WordPress blocks features in the premium version. Rather, it suggests some useful Gutenberg blocks and Elementor add-on plugins to customize your website.
But you should know that Blocksy is a relatively young theme and new features are constantly being added by its creators. Over time we should see deeper native integration with WordPress blocks.
Even Astra offers solid Gutenberg features via its Custom Layouts feature in the Pro version. Read more about it in my Astra theme review.
🥇 GeneratePress – Ability to create a block-based website in the Premium version
🥈 Astra – Extensive blocks support in the Pro version
🥉 Blocksy – Good support for Gutenberg and Elementor page builders
GeneratePress vs Blocksy vs Astra: Free Features
Now let’s compare the theme options available in the free version of these themes.
GeneratePress is practically a demo in its free version. You can customize only a handful of options in the free version. For instance, you cannot modify the blog layout or the blog page meta-features. Also, the color options are very limited and can best be considered a preview.
Further, you don’t get access to any of the WooCommerce features in the free version. For more details, check out my comparison of the free and premium versions of GeneratePress.
Astra is far more generous with its free features. You get access to the drag and drop Header and Footer builder as well as the Global options for layout, colors, typography, and buttons.
The meta settings for single posts and post archive pages are also customizable. It also provides limited WooCommerce features, including, shopping cart options, product catalog, and price bubbles.
But neither Astra nor GeneratePress match Blocksy, which arguably provides more free version features than many premium WordPress themes.
The list of features in Blocksy is quite long and I have summarized the main ones here:
- Multiple layout options for blog pages, search page, pages, author pages, and single posts
- Full control over the blog meta features
- Extensive design, typography, and color settings for all Customizer options
- Header and Footer builder
- WooCommerce options
Both, Astra and Blocksy, provide native breadcrumbs feature as well as a full-featured drag and drop header and footer builder.
The header and footer builder is quite intuitive to use and you can create multiple headers and footers using this feature for displaying on different areas of your website.
I liked Blocksy because it does away with the need to install separate plugins for the author box, popular/trending posts, cookie consent, and social sharing widget.
But the fun doesn’t stop here. It also provides support for Google Analytics v4 and you can simply plug in your tracking ID to start analyzing your traffic in the Analytics dashboard.
🥇 Blocksy– Highest number of features in the free version
🥈 Astra – The free version packs in quite a punch
🥉 GeneratePress– The free version is more of a demo than a full-featured theme
Performance comparison of Astra, Blocksy, and GeneratePress
All three themes are lightweight and claim ultra-fast speeds. To test their claims, I tested the speed against the Core Web Vitals (CWV) parameters of Google.
I used only the basic theme install without any addon or cache plugin to keep the competition fair. And here are the results.
- LCP: Largest Contentful Paint
- CLS: Cumulative Layout Shift
|Theme||LCP||CLS||Blocking Time||Fully Loaded|
No surprises here. Clearly, Astra is the fastest of the three themes. I have tested Astra against many themes and every time, it emerges the fastest in any speed comparison.
Astra also has an optional feature to load Google fonts locally to speed up the website performance.
However, among Blocksy and GeneratePress, it is more of a tie. While GeneratePress has lower LCP it takes more time to fully load the home page. On the other hand, Blocksy has a higher LCP but a lower fully loaded time.
But going strictly as per the Core Web Vitals (CWV) benchmarks, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) accounts for 25% of the performance score. Hence, it is more important than the total page load time.
So in that sense, GeneratePress is clearly faster than Blocksy.
Curiously, GeneratePress also resulted in a slight Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) of 0.08 on mobile devices. It’s not alarming but interesting since CLS directly affects the mobile responsiveness of websites.
The good part is that all three themes reported a Total Blocking Time (TBT) of 0 seconds. The TBT measures the time the page is unresponsive to user input. This implies that the theme is not getting in the way of user interactivity with your web page.
No theme comparison can be complete without comparing the built-in support for WooCommerce. In this round, GeneratePress loses out since it offers WooCommerce features only with its premium version.
On the other hand, Astra and Blocksy offer basic WooCommerce options in the free version as well. But which one provides better options for free? Let’s find out.
Let’s start with Blocksy. With the free version, you can boost your WooCommerce store by activating AJAX add to cart feature, and using the advanced layout features.
It’s good to get started but really not much. To dig into the meat of Blocksy’s WooCommerce offering, you should check out its Pro version.
Astra offers far more comprehensive WooCommerce features for free like Grid settings for WooCommerce pages, Dedicated product sidebars, Dropdown cart, Price bubbles, and Product catalog.
You can read more about Astra’s WooCommerce features here. Its premium version offers a lot more for your WooCommerce store.
🥇 Astra– Offers most comprehensive WooCommerce features
🥈 Blocksy– Offers some basic WooCommerce features in the free version
🥉 GeneratePress– Offers some useful WooCommerce features in the Premium version
Blogging features: Astra vs Blocksy vs GeneratePress
I’ve compared numerous aspects of these 3 popular WordPress themes. But if you’re specifically looking for a blogging theme, which one of these 3 should you pick?
GeneratePress offers limited blogging options in the free version. For instance, you cannot set a grid layout for your blog page. Also, there is nothing to tweak with the post structure or show/hide the meta terms.
But you do get a handy Scroll to Top button, some color styles to choose from, typography control, and basic layout options. It’s only when you upgrade to the premium version that you can unlock many blogging goodies.
Now let’s turn to Astra.
Perhaps the best free feature is its drag and drop Header and Footer builder. Not only is it dead simple to create nice-looking headers in a matter of minutes but you can also make the header transparent.
Astra also offers native breadcrumb functionality that I have already mentioned earlier. Coming to the actual blogging features, Astra lets you play around with the structure of your blog layout and meta terms.
You can rearrange as well as turn and off the layout and meta elements for single blog posts and blog archives. But, interestingly, even Astra does not permit a grid layout for displaying your blog posts in the free version.
However, you can completely customize the look of the buttons on your site and also tweak the typography settings. For customizing the color of the headings, however, you will need to upgrade to the pro version.
All in all, Astra is a well-rounded blogging theme with generous features on offer in the free version.
Finally, it’s the turn of Blocksy, the most feature-rich blogging theme in this comparison. I have already summarized the list of features in Blocksy earlier, so I will not repeat them.
I will just focus on its blogging features and how they can benefit you.
Blocksy comes with many free extensions like:
- Newsletter Subscribe: Display a newsletter subscribe widget or block. The free version supports Mailchimp and Mailerlite APIs
- Product Reviews: A custom post type for creating product reviews. How thoughtful!
- Trending Posts: Display a trending list of posts, products or custom post types like product reviews at the bottom of your pages
- Widgets: Blocksy offers multiple widgets, including, Popular/Recent posts, Advertisement, Contact Info, Social Icons, etc.
Wow, that’s a lot on offer for free. But this is just the beginning. When you head over to the Customizer, you can select from 4 different layouts for single posts and 5 layouts for blog archives.
Further, you can also customize the appearance of the meta terms on the blog items (card elements) and rearrange the card elements. The Blocksy creators have not skimped on design options either. You can customize the appearance and colors of practically every aspect of the blog items.
Separate layout options have also been provided for pages, author pages, search pages, and custom post types like product reviews. These are a lot of options to keep you busy for a long time.
Coming to typography and colors, Blocksy provides lets you customize every heading and text along with their colors in the free version. This is a big plus when you compare with Astra and GeneratePress that do not provide color customization options for headings and text in their free versions.
The Header and Footer builder operates almost the same way as in Astra but the advantage is that Blocksy allows two menus in the Header builder as compared to one in Astra.
🥇 Blocksy– The best theme for blogging among the three by a wide margin
🥈 Astra– Offers generous blogging features in the free version
🥉 GeneratePress– Very basic blogging features in the free version
All three themes are backed by solid free support over the WordPress.org support forums. Blocksy even provides free one-to-one support on its website.
If you upgrade to the pro version of these themes, you can enjoy premium support via a ticket system for Astra and Blocksy.
GeneratePress provides support over its premium support forum for the paid users.
While I have nothing against ticket-based support, I prefer forum-based instead since you can simply search for your query that someone might have raised earlier and received a solution. It’s much quicker than waiting for hours to receive a reply from the support agent to urgent problems.
Astra, GeneratePress, and Blocksy are freemium themes that can be downloaded for free and also offer a premium version. The premium version of all three themes is a plugin that unlocks many additional features and options.
But how much does it cost to upgrade?
GeneratePress offers the simplest pricing plan. For $59 a year, you can use the premium version on up to 500 websites. The lifetime plan costs $249.
Blocksy Pro costs $49 annually for use on a single website. The 5 site license costs $69 per year while the unlimited site license costs $99 a year.
Astra Pro costs $59 for unlimited site usage. The Essential Bundle costs $169 annually with which you get access to over 150 starter templates. For $249 per year, you can upgrade to the Agency plan that includes some premium plugins from the BrainstormForce stable.
Of the three themes, GeneratePress premium offers the most value for money. For just $59 a year, you can use it on 500 websites, whether your own or your client’s sites. You also get access to all premium website templates.
Astra Pro is also a good choice. For $59 annually, you can use it on unlimited websites. But you don’t get access to the premium starter templates on this plan.
Arguably, Blocksy Pro is the costliest of the three themes. For $49 annually, you can use the Pro version on a single website only. If you wish to upgrade to an unlimited site license, you will need to shell out $99 annually, which is pretty steep according to me.
All three themes enjoy 5-star ratings on WordPress.org.
Astra is the most popular of the lot with more than 1 million active installs and almost 5000 5-star ratings that testify to its build quality and performance.
GeneratePress is active on more than 400,000 websites and enjoys 1200+ 5-star reviews.
Blocksy is the newest of the three themes and is active on more than 30,000 websites. But what’s fascinating is that it has a perfect 5-star run to date with no 4-star or lower reviews. So, it’s receiving a lot of love from its users.
Astra vs Blocksy vs GeneratePress: Conclusion
I compared these three themes not just because they are very popular but because each theme is unique in its own way. Each theme is more suited for a specific purpose than the rest.
Astra is an outstanding multi-purpose theme that offers useful features for all purposes like blogging, e-commerce, WordPress blocks, etc. Apart from this, it blends perfectly with page builders. Not to mention the numerous free and premium starter sites to choose from. Also, it’s the fastest loading theme in this comparison.
If you plan to use a page builder like Elementor to design your website and want your theme to play a background role, then Astra is a perfect choice.
GeneratePress offers limited features in the free version, but it turns into a full-fledged block-based theme in the premium version that can accomplish almost anything. If you wish to build your website using the power of the WordPress block editor to customize every aspect of your site, GeneratePress premium is what you need.
Blocksy offers the highest number of features in its free version. In fact, about 80% of users will not feel the need to upgrade to the Pro version. This is how powerful the free version of Blocksy is. It is an excellent blogging theme with hundreds of settings to customize.
If you want to use a powerful free WordPress theme and do not plan to upgrade to the pro version then you should go with Blocksy without a doubt.
This was my comparison of three amazing WordPress themes. Which theme are you using on your website and why? Let me know in the comments below.
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