Astra Becomes the Only Non-Default WordPress Theme With 1 Million Installs

On Tuesday, Brainstorm Force announced its Astra theme passed 1 million active installations. It is the only non-default theme in the official WordPress theme directory to reach such a height.

Popularity breeds popularity. Once the theme broke 50,000 installs in January 2019, it was a quick hop and skip to 500,000 in October and 1 million less than a year later. With the winds of momentum at its back, the theme may become an unstoppable force. It is anyone’s guess when growth will begin to plateau.

“We recognize that this is not an ordinary feat,” wrote Sujay Pawar in the announcement post. He said the team has no plans of resting at this point. “1 million is just a milestone in our journey.”

Many WordPress plugins have long ago passed the million-install milestone. Several have multi-millions. However, this is a much tougher feat for themes. One of the limiting factors is that users can only activate one of them at a time. There is no limit when it comes to plugins, and users often have dozens running at once. One million active installs is a level of popularity that is almost unheard of in the theming world.

“There is a huge gap between Astra and all others,” said William Patton, a WordPress Themes Team representative. “Hitting 1 million is pretty astounding honestly.”

This is not simply a major milestone for the Astra theme. It is huge for WordPress. For a third-party theme creator to reach a number that only the default themes can boast is the sort of thing we should all rejoice in a bit. It is a testament to how much WordPress has grown over the years.

Aside from the default themes that ship with WordPress, there are currently five themes with more than 100,000 active installs:

Once that first theme passes the 1 million mark, it is only a matter of time before others start breaking the barrier. OceanWP has the shortest striking distance and could be next. However, Hello Elementor is moving fast and earned its install count in a year and a half.

Regardless of the next theme to hit the milestone, this is one of those moments we should look back on in a few years to see how far we have come. Perhaps 1 million active installs will merely be a stepping stone to even greater heights for large numbers of themes.

What Makes Astra Special?

Screenshot of the Astra WordPress theme.

The default Astra theme is not anything particularly revolutionary on the surface. Out of the box, users are given a nearly blank canvas. It seems little more than your run-of-the-mill WordPress theme that would not garner much attention. However, it has one of the easiest setup processes that I have ever experienced with any theme. At the click of a button, end-users can pick from a plethora of starter templates.

There are hundreds of starter templates for Elementor and Beaver Builder. The Brizy page builder gets a little love too. There is even a modest 20 starter templates for Gutenberg. The theme’s block editor styling leaves a lot to be desired, but I would wager that Brainstorm Force is serving a primary audience of Elementor users. The team probably won’t have a huge incentive to change that anytime soon. And, there is really no need to. Elementor passed 5 million active installs in May and is showing no signs of slowing down. Smart theme development businesses are making sure they support the plugin. Elementor support is where the money is right now.

Astra’s starter templates are not merely templates. The theme will install and activate plugins needed too.

Many of the templates are free, but some are available for purchase. The theme allows users to filter the search between free and “agency” templates, so there is no trickery going on as is often the case with similar themes from the directory. They clearly label any upsells in the admin. At a time when the WordPress Themes Team struggles with theme authors circumventing advertising guidelines, Astra seems to be hitting a sweet spot that is both user-friendly and within the directory rules.

While good marketing and business plans go a long way toward getting installation numbers up, you cannot keep those numbers without building a product that users will continue using. Its simple import process makes it an easy go-to choice for anyone who doesn’t relish the idea of spending hours trying to make their site look like the demo.

The theme’s users can probably best answer the question of Astra’s popularity. Brainstorm Force is clearly doing something right.


43 responses to “Astra Becomes the Only Non-Default WordPress Theme With 1 Million Installs”

  1. I have made a comparison video between Astra, GeneratePress, OceanWP, and five others free version themes in cheap share hosting share hosting environment, about $10USD per annually. The video in Indonesian language

    My expectation, GeneratePress will be the winner. In fact, Astra is the winner as the fastest theme, 1.083 seconds and 1,708 seconds.

    Maybe the people prefer to pick Astra because there is a copyright footer removal option in theme customization. It is very helpful for beginner user without touching the code or additional plugin. Small feature with big impact.

    However, I am GeneratePress user free versions and 100% happy with that. Astra free will also my option for my next project.

    Congratulation for Astra team. And keep going GeneratePress.

  2. Together with OceanWP and GeneratePress, Astra is one of the few freemium themes in the repository that is usable in its free version, something that cannot be said about the majority of “themes” there. No wonder it has the number of installs it has.

  3. I realize you qualified this with “only non-default theme in the official WordPress theme directory” but there do appear to be some paid themes outside of the directory that have at least a million installs, such as Divi and Avada. It seems to me that should be mentioned.

    Also, Storefront is essentially the default WooCommerce theme as the installer promotes it.

    • Yes, it’s very possible there are paid themes outside of the directory with those numbers. There is no official record or count of those as far as I am aware. I don’t see it as necessary info (when I don’t have hard numbers) for celebrating the first free theme in the directory to hit that milestone. It’s probably worth exploring for another story though.

      Storefront’s number actually surprised me. I assumed it would have a higher count.

  4. What I like most about Astra is that the free version offers a ton of features for users who do not wish to upgrade to the paid version yet. And coupled with the starter site templates and its awesome speed, I feel that team Brainstorm Force deserves kudos for developing the Astra theme.

  5. I am a web designer and use Astra Theme for my own website and for those of my clients. Easy to use, easy to edit and compatible with most builders, especially the elementor which is my favourite builder. The starter templates are additional resources that distinguishes Astra Theme from the rest themes. In addition, the installation of Astra Theme comes with required plugins thereby saving you time, cost and energy involved in gathering and buying themes for a website under design.

  6. No doubt why Astra could hit the million is a very short time. I have my two blogs designed using Astra and I must say, it is the best WordPress theme ever. If you use it with Elementor, Any kind of blog design you can have.

  7. Hmm, these stats can’t be right.

    If you ask the theme review team, accessibility is important and something end users care about. It is why they’ve made the decision to force theme creators to implement accessibility into current themes in the .org repo.

    Yet, Astra has no mention of accessibility in the theme description on the .org repo, doesn’t have the accessibility tag and there is no mention of accessibility anywhere on the Team Brainstorm blog post. They even included testimonials about the theme from their users and what their users were looking for in a theme yet still no mention of it.

    I guess the majority really aren’t concerned with it at all when you see the actual data!

    • Maybe it is not as a priority as you wish it to be. Keep in mind these stats are global, not a lot people around the world have laws and even worldview that accessibility is a priority or thing at all. These are just facts.

    • I’m unsure if the Themes Team has claimed that end-users care about accessibility. I’d wager the vast majority of users do not even know what accessibility is. It is not something that should be in the forefront of the average user’s mind. They should simply be able to create their content. It is the tools they use that are primarily responsible for making sure that content is output in a way that is accessible to everyone.

      The team has claimed that accessibility is important. It is important because WordPress is about democratizing publishing for everyone, including those that have a disability or other issue that makes it harder to use the web. It is important because it is simply the right thing to do as a decent and caring human being. We should always strive to be as inclusive as possible with our technology.

      And, if that’s not enough, there are existing laws, such as the ADA in the U.S., in place for making sure that businesses meet accessibility standards. Most small businesses cannot afford a web developer, so they must rely on, quite often, free themes and plugins to have an online presence. The Themes Team is aware of all this and has been slowly implementing accessibility guidelines.

      As for the accessibility of Astra, I have not looked into the theme deep enough to know where it stands. I do know that many themes meet the accessibility requirements of the Themes Team without tagging their theme as such. This is because it triggers an additional review and takes more time to get approval to use the tag. It is a long-standing issue of not having enough reviewers trained to handle those reviews, so many theme authors simply skip it. I’m not sure if that’s the case here, but it should be mentioned for context.

      You are likely correct that the majority are not concerned with accessibility. Awareness is a large issue, and we should be doing better with that. I guarantee this would change if there was a huge global push about the issue outside of web development circles. That means governments, businesses, and grassroots-people-led activism must play a part in creating that awareness.

  8. Hi,
    Well I recently bought Astra Pro for my new affiliate site in law of attraction niche, one thing in mind that Astra pro has unlimited themes but later I got to know even I paid 50 USD just for starter templates and I can’t get agency, there is no template which is related to law of attraction niche so I’m just decided to get my money back and try free versions of MTS or generate press themes.
    Any suggestions welcomed.
    My2 cents.

  9. Astra was maybe the best theme a year ago. Among the fast themes if not the fastest one.

    Since kadence theme came out, Astra is not the best free theme any more.
    With features like global colours and header builder, it shows what astra should have done since day one.

    When I start my new project, I consider using Kadence free even though I have the pro version of the Astra.

    Hopefully they will add some of those features soon.

  10. Hi Guys,

    The 1,000,000 installs are due mainly to this Mega Popular tutorial about “How to Make a Website in 10 mins” –>

    Why ? –> Because in this video tutorial they are using the “Astra theme” and the video has more than 9 million views “9,082,881” and increases every minute.

    So, All that Beginners that are following this tutorial are installing and using the Astra theme. So, at least 80% of the 1,000,000 active installs are beginners who come to Astra through this tutorial and not professional users.

  11. Astra theme is one of my top 3 favorite themes which I used it to build for my business website. No.2 is Hello theme & No.3 is Suki Theme.

    What I like Astra theme :

    • Their Support Team response fast ( this is the main reason I concern )
    • Buy 1 time Pro version can use for unlimited websites ( save more money )
    • Simple to use and fast theme ( good for beginner user like me & I’m not a coding guy )
    • Pair with Elementor & Woocomerce ( so far no conflict when I update to the latest version )


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