Astra has been one of the most popular professional themes for WordPress for a while now. It is versatile and powerful; It is packed with customization options to make our lives easier. Plus, it's incredibly fast.
However, since Astra saw the light, several other well-developed Themes have come out: Hello, blocksy, Neve, and GeneratePress are just a few of the competitors that prove to be solid and well accepted templates.
It's that, to stay in the technological speed competition, no Theme can rest on its 'old' successes. And Astra 3.3 proves that it wasted no time: one of the fastest Themes on the market just got even faster.
In our note on Aster 3 we were discussing the impressive improvements with the new Dynamic Customizer and technology react. If you still don't know anything about Astra or are not aware of the improvements introduced in its third generation, we recommend you start reading from there.
Soon, the first update of generation Three i.e. Astra 3.1 brought us the coolest customizer and with excellent scoring performance. Version 3.1 included even more controls over elements of the Footer and Header generator, a new element of language switcher and new customization options for the elements of Trolley, Buttons Y Seeker.
As of March this year, AstraPro 3.2 allows us to add a custom layout inside Gutenberg. This makes it possible to include calls to action (call-to-action) on our website freely and easily. Another new feature of 3.2 was that the developers behind Astra joined those responsible for the plugin Google Web Stories to achieve integration and reciprocal compatibility to the 100%.
Which brings us to the threshold of version 3.3…
Its own developers have defined the improvements of the new version of Astra as 'small changes that generate huge performance advantages'. Basically, the improvements can be grouped into four main sections:
- improvement of the marked as much of HTML like CSS reducing final file sizes.
- Replacing the font icons with the SVG vector format. This greatly reduced file requests.
- A Theme Customizer that is now twice as fast.
- A new strategic element: button desktop toggle.
It should also be clarified in advance that Astra 3.3 is compatible with WordPress 5.7, its latest version as of the date of this note.
Next, we will analyze these four points in detail.
Blazing fast websites with enhanced HTML and CSS markup
We developers know very well the truth of this maxim: the cleaner the programming code of a Theme, the faster the page load time. By clean we mean brief, efficient, without redundancies.
With each update that benefited Astra over time, its programmers were reviewing, modernizing and optimizing your PHP code. In other words, the number of programming lines was progressively reduced.
This 'pruning' had a favorable impact on the load of the sites that use Astra, something that any administrator could notice with each upgrade. It should be noted that the improvements always included increasing reinforcements in the security and compatibility of Astra.
In particular, in the new Astra 3.3 version, we worked on optimizing the HTML and CSS markup of the front end (public part of a website, what visitors see).
This fine-grained markup optimization not only helps increase the speed of Astra sites, but also improves the overall user experience.
It is not a joke: Astra developers audited every single line of code looking for room for refinement.
As a result, countless files were cleaned up, shortened and improved. This resulted in a significant improvement in the performance of an Astra site globally.
The templates that benefited greatly are:
- Last entry of the blog
- Single Entry
- All the Records
- Page of WooCoomerce Store
- Product Presentation Page in WooCommerce
- Single Product Page Easy Digital Download (EDD)
- LifterLMS: Presentation page of all the Courses and Pages of a Single Course
- LearnDash: Presentation page of all the Courses and Pages of a Single Course
Icons in SVG format
Until the arrival of this version, the icons used in Astra (menu, cart, account, etc.) were loaded from the source file astra.woff. As of 3.3, the icons were completely replaced by icons in vector format SVG.
SVG icons are a lot lighter, but they also look sharper in the various devices that exist today. As if that were not enough, SVG, by its nature vector, provides greater scalability at a smaller file size.
Switching to SVG icons is a move that reduced the need to upload additional fonts to design. In parallel, sites on Astra now load faster due to the replacement of WOFF with SVG.
In case anyone doubts the improvement that this change represents, here is a comparison using GTmetrix on a model page:
In the example, in the previous version Astra 3.2 sends requests to load the page where the loading of fonts implies 12.5% of the loading time.
In the current version, Astro 3.3. has reduced this 12.5% to 0%
Astra 3.3's Site Customization screen is twice as fast as its predecessor version.
Astra's Layout Customizer is not only one of the most generous on the market for its flexibility and number of options, but it is now also one of the fastest. Among the performance improvements we find:
- Optimized customizer controls- From switching between tabs to faster transitions, adding and customizing elements with a speedy Header and Footer builder. Astra 3.3 feels faster in all configuration and design actions via its customizer.
- Improved customizer update time- Every time you make a change in the customizer, you will be able to see a live preview of the modifications as you update the respective section. Update time via the “publish changes” button has been significantly improved.
- Optimized database options: The process of saving our custom changes in the WordPress database has been improved. This improves the efficiency of the customizer in whatever action is performed.
Chrome's developer view shows us perfectly:
As can be seen, the refresh time of the page after applying the changes has been reduced by half.
New Header/Footer element + toggle button for Desktop
The Header and Footer generator introduced in this third generation of Astra keeps getting better and better. Admins will find that creating and editing these portions of our site are much faster than before.
But the developers also knew how to listen to their users: that's why Astra 3.3. incorporates the most requested item to your Header/Footer Builder and it's the Toggle button for desktop.
The following video best illustrates this:
The new button allows you to display various content (such as menus, buttons, search fields, and so on) within a slider area (off canvas) of alternation. The button is typical 'hamburger' icon (three parallel horizontal lines).
With the help of this new element, developers can design a powerful menu on the Desktop without having to worry about positioning, positioning or adjusting the navigation around a full screen image or graphic (as in the video example).
We can add this slider area ('hamburger' button) inside the header (via the Header/Footer Builder) and include all the menu items we need without sacrificing screen space. Without a doubt, this new tool allows us to scale and even reimagine our designs with greater freedom and strategy.
The people behind Astra are not improvised, much less lazy. The Internet is a changing scenario: what is new one day is standard the next, and old the next. If a Theme (or plugin, or whatever) is to stay current, it must not only embrace the new technologies but also keep a polished codeprecise, conscientious. Y Astra does all this well.
Version 3.3 is, compared to 3.2, much faster. It hardly deserved to be called Astra 4, but the truth is that, while generation 3 is updated, the developers have already announced that they have been working on great improvements and new possibilities for a long time. Given the progress that the new version 3.3 represented, we are sure that great things are on the horizon for Astra.
aster in its latest version is a Theme included free in our Managed WordPress Plan. We move your site to our WordPress optimized servers, speed it up and update each of its components.
If you liked the note, do not stop considering it.
Good luck, and thanks for reading.
We are Duplika