WordPress blogging is constantly evolving. It’s no longer advisable to pick a random theme and customize it for your specific needs. Rather, you need a theme that offers well-rounded features without compromising on performance and design. Two themes that are wildly popular among WordPress users are Astra and GeneratePress.
Both are outstanding and popular themes. Also, they offer many similar features. However, they are not identical. In fact, they offer distinctive features targeted to different audiences. Which one you pick depends upon what you’re looking for in a WordPress theme.
But since you can use only one active theme on your blog at any given time, you have to choose between Astra and GeneratePress. Also, as I have used both the themes on this blog for a fairly long time, I can help you select between Astra and GeneratePress, depending on your specific requirements.
Stay with this comparison till the end where I will help you to choose the right theme for your needs.
In this Astra vs GeneratePress comparison, we will look at the two themes from the following standpoint:
- Design and Layout
- Site templates
- Page builder compatibility
- Widget control
- Header options
- WooCommerce support
- Custom layouts
Such a broad comparison will help you to resolve your Astra or GeneratePress theme dilemma more easily.
Astra vs GeneratePress: Detailed Comparison
As you can see, both the themes are lightweight and quite popular. Also, they follow a freemium model. This means that the free version can be downloaded from WordPress.org and if you want more features then you can upgrade to the premium version of these themes. The premium or pro version of Astra and GeneratePress is a plugin that adds many functionalities to the basic theme framework.
Astra vs GeneratePress: Design and Layout
Both these themes also make use of the WordPress Customizer to provide the theme settings instead of a separate theme options panel.
The layout options are arranged quite logically in the Customizer and are easy to reach with a single click.
Astra offers more features in its free version than GeneratePress. So, if you’re not planning on upgrading to the paid version of either theme, then you would be better off with Astra since it offers more in almost every department over GeneratePress for free.
One such example is the Primary Menu. Astra offers the option to include a widget or HTML/text or Button as the last item in the primary menu. However, GeneratePress does not have an option to add a button in the header area without using some custom HTML.
So, as far as the sheer number of features are concerned, Astra is the clear winner. But, you will soon realize that this does not necessarily make Astra the better theme. As we did eventually, when we switched over to GeneratePress.
Mobile responsiveness is a given nowadays so it’s no surprise that both these themes are 100% mobile responsive. But what about support for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?
The good news is that both Astra and GeneratePress are AMP compatible. You will need to install the free AMP plugin to experience the benefit of AMP with these themes.
Astra also has dedicated documentation on using AMP that you can check out.
Astra vs GeneratePress: Pre-built templates
Both the themes offer a host of pre-built templates to get you going if you’re launching a new blog. Additionally, Both the themes provide templates for specific page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder.
Here is how the Astra site library is organized with a helpful search bar at the top.
And this is how the GeneratePress site library looks like. No search bar here.
Here is side-by-side comparison of the templates offered by these 2 WordPress themes.
|Gutenberg (default WordPress editor)||52||50|
While Astra offers more site templates on paper, you should know that many of their templates overlap between different page builders; while in GeneratePress, these are page-builder specific.
Also, Astra offers free site templates as well. However, GeneratePress offers site templates only with its premium version.
Compatibility with page builders like Elementor
Astra and GeneratePress are 100% compatible with page builders. In fact, Astra claims to be a theme built for page builders. If you’re using a page builder like Elementor, you can let the theme handle the global options like colors and typography and let the page builder handle the rest of your blog’s design.
You can also design a custom header and footer using Elementor for your blog that will replace your theme header and footer. Practically, the sky is the limit here.
The onboarding for page builders is more user-friendly with Astra. As soon as you activate the site-library importer plugin, it will ask which page builder or none (default editor) you would like to use and it presents the starter templates as per your selection.
To summarize, Astra offers more starter templates and for more page builders than GeneratePress.
However, GeneratePress is geared more towards the Gutenberg editor and includes some unique theme-building features that I will reveal later on in this comparison.
Layout and Control
I mentioned in the beginning that both the themes use the built-in Customizer to control the theme design and settings.
Astra offers an additional module to search for any setting in the Customizer quickly. GeneratePress does not offer a search feature for the Customizer but it includes helpful navigation links in every panel to quickly jump to the linked settings.
There’s a slight difference in how these two themes handle the settings. While GeneratePress includes all the settings in one panel, Astra divides the settings into two tabs: general and design.
Also, the color settings for different elements are included under a separate panel in Astra.
These are minor differences and you will get used to one type once you settle into either of these two WordPress themes.
As far as control is concerned, both Astra and GeneratePress, allow complete control over every aspect like the colors, spacing, typography, and backgrounds in their premium versions.
But as far as the free version is concerned, Astra offers more layout options as compared to GeneratePress, whose free version is more of a demo.
Both of these themes allow 5 footer widget areas as well as widget areas in the header section. Apart from this, GeneratePress allows finer control over the sidebar widgets.
You can choose from multiple sidebar layouts for blog archive pages and single posts. Astra lets you choose from among three options: no sidebar, right-sidebar, and left sidebar.
You can customize every aspect of the typography and color of the sidebar widgets using Astra and GeneratePress.
You can also control the page layout while creating and editing a post in the WordPress editor. GeneratePress lets you choose between the default layout or selecting a different layout for that specific post or page using the Layout menu.
Astra adds similar page level settings in the WordPress editor. You can say that both the themes are almost identical as far as page-level layout options are concerned.
Astra and GeneratePress offer detailed header options like a sticky header, transparent header, header widgets, multiple menus, etc.
Additionally, Astra offers the option to include a Call to Action (CTA) button in the primary menu, lacking in GeneratePress.
If you wish to add a CTA in the header area in GeneratePress, you will need to add a custom HTML widget in the top bar since it lacks a drag and drop CTA feature.
Header and Footer Builder in Astra
Astra has recently introduced the Header and Footer builder. Using this feature, you can simply drag and drop elements into the header or footer areas with zero coding skills required.
The best part is that you can create multiple headers and footers for display on different pages. Also you can add different menus to your headers. Quite a useful feature for free.
GeneratePress lacks such a feature but you can design and add elements in the header or footer area using the Elements feature that I will explain in a minute.
GeneratePress vs Astra Performance Test
I compared the free and pro versions of Astra and GeneratePress with multiple images on the homepage to find out the raw speed of these two themes.
I did not use any other plugin since I wanted to track the load added to the page size and the number of HTTP requests by the premium versions of their plugins.
The test was conducted on www.webpagetest.org and the results are highlighted below.
|Theme||Page Load Time||Page Size||No. of Requests|
|Astra Free||0.91 S||113 KB||10|
|GeneratePress Free||0.95 S||198 KB||16|
|Astra Pro||1.31 S||161 KB||16|
|GeneratePress Pro||1.06 S||201 KB||19|
Some points are clear from the above test:
- Astra adds a lower number of requests to a page as compared to GeneratePress
- The free version of both themes load equally fast
- GeneratePress Pro loads quicker as compared to Astra Pro
We are using GeneratePress Premium on PassionWP for some time now and the GTmetrix speed test is quite amazing.
Overall both the themes are pretty even when it comes to performance and it’s difficult to pick one over the other.
Support for WooCommerce
Both of these themes offer dedicated WooCommerce modules. I have reviewed the Astra theme’s WooCommerce features in-depth, and you might want to check it out.
You can activate the WooCommerce module by installing the WooCommerce plugin.
However, there are some important differences between the WooCommerce functionality offered by these themes.
For instance, Astra offers limited WooCommerce features even in its free version. But GeneratePress offers WooCommerce features only in the pro version.
Further, the WooCommerce features available in the premium version of Astra are far more comprehensive than those available in the pro version of GeneratePress.
These include Off-Canvas Sidebar, Quick View, Price Bubble, Image zoom effect, Cart upsells, multiple layout options, etc. lacking in GeneratePress.
GeneratePress offers comparatively limited WooCommerce functionality at present like Store Notice, Product Catalog, Product Image support, and Checkout options.
If you’re planning an e-commerce website or blog, then Astra is the theme you should pick. There’s no doubt about that.
Custom Layouts vs Elements
The Custom Layouts (Astra) and Elements (GeneratePress) feature is what sets these two themes apart, which is what I had mentioned at the start of this GeneratePress vs Astra comparison.
Note: This is a pro-only feature in both the themes. Also, this feature only works with the block editor.
At first look, it appears that Elements is merely a different name for Custom Layouts but it is not so.
Custom Layouts in Astra allows users to display any text, blocks, HTML, or custom hook in any location of the website using powerful conditional logic.
The following layouts are possible:
- 404 page
- Inside post/page content
You can let your imagination run wild here and create custom blocks, header, footer, or custom hooks and display in specific locations or posts/pages.
Further, you can also create a custom 404 page. Additionally, you can create custom blocks for display inside your posts/pages and select the number of blocks after which the custom block should be displayed.
The use cases are many like displaying a banner, special offer, opt-in form, notice, etc. on your posts and pages. Pretty neat feature.
To use the Elements feature in GeneratePress, you will need to install the free GenerateBlocks plugin.
You can create the following types of elements:
The combination of Elements and the GenerateBlocks plugin turns the GeneratePress theme into a block-based theme and helps you accomplish almost everything that a page-builder can.
For instance, you can insert dynamic content in the Elements like last updated date, post title, post terms (category, tag, etc.) author info, etc. using the GenerateBlocks plugin.
I have explained the Elements feature in detail in my GeneratePress Free vs Premium comparison.
Right now, it will be sufficient to cite a few examples on PassionWP that have been created with the help of Elements feature and GenerateBlocks.
- Our homepage has been created using the GenerateBlocks plugin
- Our blog page is an example of the Content template element
Further, the top bar and the eBook call-to-action (CTA) on this page are also good examples of what the Elements feature in GeneratePress can accomplish.
In short, you can do much more than create a custom block using the Elements feature in GeneratePress premium. Using Elements, you can completely do away with your page builder if you wish.
Additional features in Astra
We’ve compared the main features of Astra and GeneratePress. Now, let us check out some minor but, nonetheless, important features present in one theme but absent in the other.
GeneratePress does not offer native breadcrumbs and author box functionality built into the theme as offered by Astra. You will have to use a third-party plugin like Yoast SEO or RankMath to implement breadcrumbs on your site if you’re using GeneratePress.
Astra also offers a basic author box, missing in GeneratePress, but it can be easily added using the hooks function. It can be further styled using the Additional CSS box in the WordPress Customizer.
Astra vs GeneratePress: Support Comparison
Now let’s compare the support available with these two popular WordPress themes. You can get free basic support over at the WordPress.org forum if you do not plan to upgrade to the premium version.
But if you need advanced support for your technical queries with fast turnaround times, you will need to upgrade to the premium version of one of these themes.
Astra provides one on one email-based support while GeneratePress provides forum-based support to its paying customers.
Having experienced both, I found that the forum-based support of GeneratePress is more user-friendly and quick at resolving issues than the email support provided by Brainstorm Force, Astra’s creators.
The problem with email support is that the support person is often located in a different time zone from you and it takes a long time to receive a reply to your query.
Moreover, there’s a lot of back and forth involved in an email where you need to explain your problem in precise detail to get a resolution.
On the other hand, in a forum based support, chances are someone has already asked and received a reply to the exact query you have in mind. So you don’t need to create a new thread for it.
Just search for your particular issue in the forum and find the answer to your problem. It can’t get easier than this.
Apart from this, both the themes have extensive documentation detailing every aspect of the theme used on their websites’ help sections.
So, I will rate the support of GeneratePress higher than Astra for its quality as well as response times.
Astra and GeneratePress Price Comparison
Now that we have compared the main features of Astra and GeneratePress, a comparison of the price of the premium versions of these themes is in order.
GeneratePress has a straightforward pricing plan. The yearly subscription to GeneratePress Premium costs $59 you can use the premium plugin on up to 500 websites. Additionally, you get access to the entire library of site templates.
The lifetime plan costs $249 with the same features.
Astra has multiple pricing plans. The Astra Pro plugin costs $59 annually for unlimited website usage. But you will not get access to the premium starter templates with this plan.
To get access to the premium starter templates, you will need to subscribe to the Essential Bundle that costs $276 annually that bundles the premium starter templates along with the WP Portfolio plugin. You also get the choice of one page builder addon – Ultimate Addons for Elementor or Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder.
Finally, there is also a Growth Bundle which costs $523 annually and comes with few additional plugins from the Brainstorm Force stable.
You should know that the pro version of these themes is a plugin that you need to install separately to activate these themes’ premium features.
In terms of pricing, GeneratePress clearly offers greater value for money. For just $59, you get unlimited site usage and access to the entire library of site templates.
Astra does not offer the premium starter templates on its pro plan. But remember, it offers many free starter templates that you can use with the pro plan.
Both the themes offer frequent discounts on all their plans. So make sure to check them out to take advantage of the discounted offers.
GeneratePress vs Astra: Which one should you choose?
If you’ve reached this far means you have gone through the pros and cons of both these WordPress themes and wish to know which one to pick over the other.
At this point, I want to remind you that it is not a question of which theme is better rather the question is which theme is more suited for your specific needs?
Both, Astra and GeneratePress, are outstanding themes that have a lot to offer. At the same time, each of these is more suited to particular situations which we will go through now.
Scenario 1: If you’re looking for a well-rounded free theme and do not wish to upgrade to the premium version then go with Astra. Its free version offers many more features than GeneratePress free.
Scenario 2: If you wish to let your page builder do the heavy lifting and let the theme take a back seat, then again go with Astra. It’s a theme primarily built for use with page builders. Also, Astra offers free starter templates for page builders which GeneratePress doesn’t offer.
Scenario 3: If you wish to take advantage of the power of Gutenberg blocks and create custom block-based templates without using a page builder plugin, then go with GeneratePress Premium. Version 3.0 of GeneratePress has turned it into an amazing block-based theme. This is why we use it on PassionWP.
Scenario 4: If you’re running an e-commerce store and are using the WooCommerce plugin, then go with Astra Pro. It has advanced WooCommerce features lacking in GeneratePress.
Scenario 5: If you want a value-for-money theme that offers great support then go with GeneratePress. It has a simple pricing plan, the forum support is quick, and you get access to the entire library of site templates in one plan.
There you have it. The most complete Astra vs GeneratePress comparison. Hopefully, I was able to ease your decision of selecting between Astra and GeneratePress. If you found this comparison useful or you feel some points are missing, please let me know in in the comments below.
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