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Astra vs OceanWP: Which Theme Should You Use in 2021?

Astra vs OceanWP, featured image

Trying to choose between Astra vs OceanWP for your WordPress theme?

These are two of the most popular WordPress themes of all time, so you’ve narrowed your list down to some quality options.

But how do you decide on the right theme for your unique situation? That’s the subject of this post.

To help you pick the best theme for your needs, I’ll go hands-on with both themes and compare OceanWP and Astra in detail.

In general, I think Astra is the better theme for most people because it’s the best all-around option when it comes to performance, demo sites, features, flexibility, and price. However, OceanWP might be better for tinkerers who want the most customization options. 

To learn where those conclusions come from, keep reading the full comparison!

Astra vs OceanWP: Introductions

To kick things off, let’s briefly run over some introductions to these two themes.

Astra is the most popular non-default theme of all time at WordPress.org, where it’s active on over one million sites — an incredible achievement. It’s the only non-default theme to pass the one million active install count.

In addition to having an impressive install count, it also has a 4.9-star rating on almost 5,000 reviews.

Astra theme

OceanWP is also one of the most popular themes at WordPress.org. Active on over 700,000 sites, it’s the third most popular non-default theme (only behind Elementor’s Hello theme and Astra).

Like Astra, OceanWP also has a 4.9-star rating on almost 5,000 reviews.

OceanWP theme

Both Astra and OceanWP share the same basic approach. They are lightweight and flexible multipurpose themes that you can use for any type of site, from a blog to a brochure site, eCommerce store, and more.

To help you build these sites, both themes come with:

  • Hundreds of importable demo sites for a range of different niches
  • Detailed customization options in the real-time WordPress Customizer
  • Tight integrations with page builder plugins for drag-and-drop design

But while they both share the same basic approach, they do have some important differences when it comes to features, customization options, pricing, and performance. 

Highlighting those differences is the goal for the rest of this post.

Templates/Demo Sites

Now, let’s move into the more nitty-gritty Astra vs OceanWP comparison, starting with a look at the importable demo sites.

With both of these themes, this is where you’ll probably start your experience, so it makes sense to start our comparison here.

Astra

Astra demo site importer

Via the companion Starter Templates plugin, Astra offers importable demo sites built with your choice of four builder plugins:

In total, you get access to over 280 unique demo sites, with 95+ being available in the free version and the rest requiring one of the paid agency plans.

While design is subjective, I also think Astra’s demo sites look much better and are more unique than OceanWP.

Browse Astra Demos

OceanWP

OceanWP demo site importer

Compared to Astra, OceanWP doesn’t give you quite as much selection.

First off, all of the demo sites are built with Elementor. That’s fine if you like Elementor, but you don’t get a choice to use other builders like Astra offers.

Second, the number of demo sites is lower, especially in the free version: you get 15 free Elementor templates and 185 premium ones.

Personally, in comparison to Astra, I find a lot of OceanWP’s demos to be a bit boring and dated.

Browse OceanWP Demos

🏆 Winner: Astra is the clear winner because it offers more demo sites and also gives you more choices for the builder. Personally, I also think Astra’s demo sites look better.

Customization Options

To help you customize your site, both Astra and OceanWP include a wealth of options in the real-time WordPress Customizer. 

Honestly, it’s impossible to compare every single feature here because we’re talking about hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of different customization options.

So instead, I’m going to hit the high points.

In general, I think OceanWP is a little more flexible in terms of the options that it gives you. This is especially true when comparing the free version of OceanWP against the free version of Astra — OceanWP definitely gives you more flexibility in this scenario.

For example, here are the typography options in the free version of OceanWP:

OceanWP typography options

With the free version of Astra, you only get simple typography options for body text and H1-H6 headings. (You’ll also get a few other options tucked in other areas, however.)

The difference isn’t as large with the premium versions (more on why that is later). However, I would say that OceanWP is still a little bit more flexible, though both are much more flexible than your average WordPress theme.

This isn’t universal, though, and Astra definitely has some areas where it wins. For example, Astra now offers a really useful drag-and-drop header and footer builder that lets you create custom layouts for those areas:

Astra footer builder

But in general, OceanWP is the winner here — however, one downside of having so many options is that OceanWP’s Customizer area feels a little cluttered in comparison to Astra.

🏆 Winner: OceanWP, though I think most WordPress users will be happy with either.

Page Builder Integrations/Page-Level Controls

Both Astra and OceanWP work well with page builder plugins thanks to flexible page-level controls.

Essentially, these settings let you control the canvas for your page builder designs on a page-by-page basis. 

For example, you could change how many sidebars a page has or make it full-width. Or, you can disable certain elements such as a page’s title so that you can build those elements with your page builder instead.

Astra

With Astra, you get a new Astra Settings option in the sidebar of the block editor. Here, you can:

  • Choose how many sidebars to use
  • Change the content layout
  • Disable certain elements such as the header, title, featured image, footer, and others
  • Enable transparent or sticky headers
  • Choose a custom page header
Astra page-level settings

OceanWP

With OceanWP, you get a new OceanWP Settings box (you need to install the free Ocean Extra plugin to enable it). This box gives you a ton of page-level options. At a high level, you get all of the same options as Astra:

  • Change the content layout and width
  • Choose a custom sidebar
  • Disable the title or heading, or use a custom title
  • Disable/change the footer
  • Change navigation menu or even disable specific elements such as the top bar

But you also get some really nitty-gritty options such as adding custom top or bottom padding, changing the logo, colors, and typography, injecting shortcodes at various parts of the page, and more.

OceanWP page-level controls

I don’t think most people need this many options. However, if you like having customization options, OceanWP definitely delivers.

🏆 Winner: OceanWP gives you more page-level controls, though I think Astra still gives you all the options you need in most cases.

Developer Features

For more advanced users, both Astra and OceanWP give you options to inject content using hooks. If you’re not familiar with this term, hooks basically let you inject content at different spots in your theme.

For example, you could automatically add a call-to-action box at the end of blog posts or insert an ad underneath the title of a post.

Astra

With Astra Pro, you get a really useful Custom Layouts feature that lets you create five types of layouts:

  1. Header
  2. Footer
  3. 404 Page
  4. Hooks
  5. Inside Post/Page Content

The hooks option is the most powerful because it lets you inject custom content or code at any hook location. You also get conditional options to control when to inject content, such as:

  • Target specific content – e.g. a certain post or category of posts
  • Target certain users – e.g. all logged-in users or only certain user roles
  • Choose a start/end date for when to inject the content
  • Target certain devices – e.g. mobile vs desktop
Astra custom layouts

For inserting content in posts/pages, you can also inject content after a randomized number of blocks, which is great for injecting ads or promos in blog posts.

If you’re using the free version, you can use the free Astra Hooks plugin to insert hooks from the Customizer, though it’s not as flexible as Custom Layouts.

OceanWP

The equivalent in OceanWP is the premium Ocean Hooks add-on, which is also very flexible. It lets you inject text, shortcodes, PHP and HTML code, and more into any one of OceanWP’s hook locations. 

OceanWP hooks

You’ll also get conditional logic to only execute a hook based on details such as the content (e.g. a specific page or category), logged-in status, and others. For even more control, you can add user role validation to execute it for registered users with a certain role.

🏆 Winner: Astra. While Ocean Hooks is also very powerful, I think Astra’s Custom Layouts feature is even more flexible thanks to features such as time scheduling and randomized in-content insertion.

Other Notable Features

One unique thing about OceanWP is that its premium version includes a lot of extensions to help you add front-end features such as popups and cookie notices. 

In total, OceanWP gives you add-ons for:

  • Login popup
  • WooCommerce popup after add-to-cart page
  • Cookie notice
  • Modal window (insert any content)
  • Portfolio
  • Instagram feed
  • Sticky content
  • Custom Elementor widgets

Astra’s premium version is more focused on adding extra theme customization options, rather than giving you unique front-end features like this.

These extra features in OceanWP are nice, but they are things you can solve with third-party plugins. For example, if you choose Astra, you could use a dedicated Instagram feed plugin or cookie notice plugin.

🏆 Winner: OceanWP.

WooCommerce Integration

Both Astra and OceanWP offer deep support for the WooCommerce eCommerce plugin.

First off, you get options in the Customizer to control your online store. But both themes also give you useful WooCommerce-specific features:

AstraOceanWP
WooCommerce Customizer options✔️✔️
Drop-down shopping cart✔️✔️
Off-canvas sidebar for product filters✔️✔️
Built-in product quick view✔️✔️
Custom WooCommerce popups✔️
Floating add to cart button✔️
Distraction-free checkout✔️✔️

🏆 Winner: OceanWP has a slight edge because it has some unique features, though both themes make a great option for WooCommerce stores.

Other Notable Integrations

When it comes to notable integrations beyond WooCommerce, Astra has the edge thanks to built-in integrations for other eCommerce platforms and some popular LMS plugins, including:

If you’re using one of these plugins, Astra gives you dedicated options in the Customizer to control how the plugin content looks. For example, with LearnDash, you’ll get options to control how your courses look and Astra even offers some LearnDash-powered demo sites.

However, OceanWP will also play nice with all of these plugins. For example, if you create a LearnDash course with OceanWP, your courses will still look pretty great out of the box. 

The key difference is that you don’t get those built-in Customizer settings to let you customize how your course works.

🏆 Winner: Astra has more built-in integrations beyond WooCommerce.

Speed and Performance

The last feature area that I want to consider before getting to the pricing is the Astra vs OceanWP speed comparison.

To see how they compare, I tested Astra vs OceanWP speed using just the base themes (not a demo site). While this isn’t realistic for a real site, I think it’s the fairest way to see how Astra and OceanWP stack up from a performance perspective.

Here are the results from WebPageTest for Astra:

Astra speed and performance vs OceanWP

And, for OceanWP:

OceanWP speed and performance vs Astra

Let’s zero in on the scripts and page size:

AstraOceanWP
Page Size39 KB127 KB
HTTP Requests715

So — at least in their “out of the box” states, Astra is a little more lightweight than OceanWP.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that OceanWP includes its own Scripts & Styles panel that lets you manually disable CSS and JavaScript files, which can help you shrink the page size and HTTP requests. For advanced users, this is a really nice option, but I think casual users might struggle to optimize things here and miss out on the benefits:

OceanWP Scripts and style

🏆 Winner: Astra is the more lightweight theme, though advanced users can “slim down” OceanWP if they dig into the scripts and styles tool.

Pricing

To finish things out, let’s talk about OceanWP vs Astra when it comes to pricing.

Both themes are available for free at WordPress.org. Then, if you want to add more features, you can purchase the premium versions.

Free Versions

For simple sites, you might be able to get by with either the free version of Astra or OceanWP. However, for any serious use case, I would recommend considering the premium versions of both themes.

Astra and OceanWP use different feature-lock strategies for their free vs pro plans:

  • OceanWP gives you pretty much all the Customizer options with the free version. If you purchase the premium version, you’re mainly getting new demo sites and front-end features such as popups, the conditional hook tool, cookie notices, and more.
  • Astra limits the Customizer options in the free version, but still gives you a lot of templates. To access all of the Customizer options and some other advanced features, you need to go Pro. 

In the Astra vs Astra Pro comparison table, you can see that a lot of the differences involve basic customization options:

Astra free vs Pro as compared to OceanWP

Whereas with OceanWP, the differences mainly involve new front-end features:

OceanWP free vs Pro as compared to Astra

So, if you’re specifically looking at free versions, I would say:

  • Go with OceanWP if you want the most customization options.
  • Go with Astra if you want the most demos.

Pro Versions

In terms of premium pricing, there’s one big difference between these two themes:

Here are the starting prices for each:

  • Astra – $47 for use on unlimited sites for your first year (after that, your license renews at $59)
  • OceanWP – $54 per year for use on up to three site

Astra calls the $47 price a “limited time deal”. However, they’ve literally been running this $47 “limited time” deal for over a year at the time that I’m writing this post, so I think it’s fair to just call it “the price” at this point. However, this special price only applies to your first year. If you want to renew the yearly license, you’ll pay $59.

While OceanWP has one premium version (called Ocean Core Extensions Bundle), Astra also offers bundles that include its developer’s other plugins such as WP Portfolio, Ultimate Addons for Elementor OR Beaver Builder, Convert Pro, Schema Pro, and more.

However, to access Astra’s premium demo sites, you need to purchase at least the $169 Essential Bundle. So if you want the premium templates, too, that will make Astra more expensive in comparison to OceanWP (even though you’ll get some extra plugins with Astra’s Essential Bundle, which also add value).

🏆 Winner: Astra, unless you need the premium demos too.

Astra vs OceanWP: Which One Should You Use?

Now for the important question, when it comes to OceanWP as Astra, which one should you choose?

Well, first there’s some good news:

No matter which theme you choose, you won’t make a “wrong” decision. These are both excellent themes, so in all likelihood, you will be happy either way.

However, if I had to recommend just one of these options for most people, I would say Astra is my top pick. 

Here’s why:

  • It’s more lightweight in terms of out-of-the-box performance.
  • It has more demo sites and you can choose from different builders. You also get a lot more demos in the free version.
  • While OceanWP might have a slight edge in terms of customization options, Astra still has enough flexibility for the vast majority of people.
  • Astra’s Customizer experience is more user-friendly.
  • Astra’s new drag-and-drop header/footer builder is really nice.
  • It has deeper integrations for more plugins, such as LifterLMS and LearnDash.
  • For advanced users, Astra’s Custom Layouts feature is a little more flexible than Ocean Hooks.
  • It’s more affordable if you need a theme for multiple sites since it allows unlimited site usage.

Get Astra

However, that’s just the recommendation for “most” people. I do think there are some specific situations where you might want OceanWP instead:

  • You want to use a free theme and configure everything from scratch. OceanWP’s free version gives you more customization options. And since you’re building from scratch, you won’t care about the lack of demo sites.
  • You want all those nitty-gritty customization options. OceanWP does give you more flexibility when it comes to Customizer options and page-level controls. I don’t think most people need that extra flexibility. But if you do, OceanWP might be better.
  • You’re building a WooCommerce store. I think OceanWP is a little more flexible for WooCommerce, though Astra is great as well.

Get OceanWP

To see another theme thrown into the mix, you can check out our three-way GeneratePress vs Astra vs OceanWP comparison

Or, you can also browse our full collection of the fastest WordPress themes.

Have any questions about our Astra vs OceanWP comparison? Used either of these themes? Let us know in the comments!

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