Astra is the most popular free WordPress theme. It has been built by Brainstorm Force. According to the WordPress repository, it is used on over a million sites. Elementor is the top page builder WP plugin. It has millions of users. It comes with a free template called Hello and a Theme Builder tool that enables you to customize various sections of the website.
If you’ve come across Astra and Elementor recently, you might have this question in your mind – should you use the page builder or the theme? Below, we’ve shared a comparison that will answer this and many more questions you may have about these two WP products.
Astra is available for download on WordPress.org. Its free edition provides features you won’t find in many themes. Brainstorm Force has launched its Pro version as well. Elementor is a WordPress page builder plugin that comes with more modules than any other free page builder that you will find in the WordPress repository. Its developers have introduced the premium version of the page builder. The two WP products offer more functions than their free versions.
Differences between Astra Free and Pro
Megamenu: The free edition of the template ships with a basic drop-down menu and its Pro edition comes with a mega menu.
Sticky menu: In Astra, you cannot make the navbar sticky unless you use a plugin that allows you to do so. APro has the option to make a menu sticky.
Spacing controls: The template’s free edition doesn’t let users adjust the spacing between some elements. Its Pro version gives you full control over the spacing of items.
White label: The white label function of APro lets you rebrand the plugins that come with the theme. You are also allowed to rebrand the premium version of the template as your own. You can use this feature if you’re building websites for clients using Astra plugins or themes.
Breakpoints and mobile headers: APro enables users to set breakpoints for mobile menus/headers. When the browser’s width is lower than the breakpoint you’ve set, the template will show the mobile header.
Performance: This feature is available in the free and premium versions of Astra. It makes the template serve Google fonts from the user’s server instead of the Google CDN.
Highlighting the first post: Users can configure APro to highlight the first post on the page.
Width: You cannot adjust the content width in the free edition of Astra, but you can do so in the template’s premium version.
Learn dash and LifterLMS: APro supports integration with popular plugins LearnDash and LifterLMS plugins.
Navigate to the top: Astra doesn’t have a move-to-top icon/function, but the Pro version has this feature.
Demos: APro and free versions let you import and customize over 180 well-designed “Starter websites”.
Layouts: The theme lets you disable the sidebar if you want to use the full-width layout. You can configure it to show the sidebar on the right or left side of the content. APro supports max-width/full-width site layouts. It also supports padded and fluid site layouts. In the free version of the template, you can manage sidebars, but you cannot design/create them. APro ships with different styles of customizable sidebars.
Elementor Pro vs free
Each premium plan of the page builder comes with the following features:
Drag and drop: The tool’s most important feature is its drag-and-drop page builder, which highlights the changes you make to the theme or page in real-time.
Templates and widgets: These two items are the heart of the page builder. Unlike the free edition of page builder, its Premium version ships with over 90 basic and Pro widgets. Templates make the job of designing or creating web pages or sites easy. Elementor gives its premium users access to over 300 of them.
Website kits: The website kits of the tool let users build a complete website quickly. Elementor’s Expert, Studio, and Agency subscription plans have 20 website kits each.
The free/premium edition of this tool comes with the following modules/elements:
- Inner section, heading, image, text editor.
- Video, button, divider, spacer.
- Google Maps, icon, posts, portfolio.
- Gallery, form, login, slides, nav menu.
- Animated headline, price list, a pricing table, flipbox.
- Call to action, media carousel, reviews, countdown, etc.
Drag and drop builder
Astra shows the drag-and-drop module only when you open its header or footer builder tool. Once you install and enable Elementor, you will find an option “Edit with Elementor” when you open the page/post editor. When you click this button, you will see the drag-and-drop builder of the page builder. If the section or an element is compatible with the page builder, it will add a cyan color border to the section/element when you move the mouse’s cursor over it. You must then click on the element/section to customize it. Elementor lets users change the column structure of a section.
Astra free version lets you customize the footer and header of the theme. The footer and header builder tools open a panel that is divided into three rows. Each row has 1 to 3 columns. You can add widgets of your choice to the column or any other element that Astra lets users add to its header/footer. The BSF template supports up to 8 columns.
Elementor Pro edition ships with a Theme Builder tool through which you can design the header/footer using its drag-and-drop interface. The Theme Builder also enables users to build a single page, single post, search results page, product page, etc.
APro, despite being a feature-rich template, is very fast. Astra free edition is fast as well. The two templates let users enable/disable modules they want or don’t want to use. As Elementor is used on a WP theme, you can expect your site to slow down unless you are using a powerful caching plugin. The tool will or may slow down your site because of the CSS/JS code it adds to the site’s HTML. The browser will execute the JS code and the insertion of Cascading Style Sheets in the header or footer will increase the number of HTTP requests.
Astra Pro subscription plans start at 49 dollars. It doesn’t come with the Ultimate Beaver or Elementor add-ons. The Essential Bundle and Growth bundle are subscription plans that ship with Beaver or Elementor addons. In addition to add-ons, the Essential and Growth bundles come with the WP Portfolio plugin. The Growth Bundle offers two additional premium plugins – Schema Pro and Convert Pro. Schema Pro is a powerful, rich snippets plugin for WordPress that supports various types of schemas. Convert Pro is a lead generation plugin.
The base plan i.e. the Essential plan, lets users use the plugin on one website. It is priced at 49 dollars. The Expert and Studio subscription plans support 25 and 100 websites, respectively. The Agency plan of the page builder supports 1000 websites.
The big difference between the subscription plans of the two WordPress products is that when you buy APro, Growth/Essential Bundle, you can use the theme, add-ons, or plugins on unlimited sites.
When should you use Astra?
If you are a blogger and you’re fed up with your current WordPress template and want to get rid of it, you can switch to Astra free or Pro. If you’re using the free version of the template and you want to add more customization options to your site, you can purchase its Pro edition.
When to use Elementor?
If you want to add more customization options to your WP site without changing the theme and your theme is fully compatible with Elementor, you can use this page builder.