What are Starter Templates?

Starter Templates offer a quick method to start your website, they provide pre-designed layouts complete with content (text, images, video). Starter Templates can save a lot of time by quickly providing a starting point from which you can develop your website by further editing in WordPress. Astra have developed a range of Starter Templates and these are the ones we tested below; Before installing Astra’s Starter Templates in WordPress you’ll first need Astra’s Theme which can be downloaded via a link towards the end of this article.

Starter Template Performance Tests

We tested 65 Astra Starter Templates using three popular free on-line performance tools, we tested 65 free templates using Pingdom, GTmetrix, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Astra’s Starter Templates can be viewed on websitedemos.net where you can find templates compatible with your preferred page editor. For performance optimisation and least overhead, Gutenberg is our preferred page editor. Our website performance tests compare 65 free Gutenberg compatible Astra Starter Templates hosted on websitedemos.net, our test data can be requested towards the end of this article below.

Website Performance Tools

Performance tools attempt to measure various website performance metrics; Pingdom’s free tool measures load time, page size, requests (number of http requests to load external files or scripts), and gives the site a performance grade. GTmetrix also gives a grading plus a percentage score for performance and structure, together with values for FCP (First Contentful Paint), LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), TBT (Total Blocking Time), TTI (Time To Interactive), CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift), number of requests, and page size, these are the metrics we’ve recorded. Each performance tool presents their data in a different format; Google’s PageSpeed Insights lists some of the metrics mentioned above (Performance score, FCP, LCP, TBT, TTI, CLS) but it also uses their Lighthouse engine to emulate testing on ‘Desktop’ and on ‘Mobile’ device types, and splits the results accordingly. Pingdom and GTmetrix allow a test location to be set, our data is based on testing from a London UK server.

Data from performance tools seems to vary considerably, for instance we experienced Pingdom’s load times vary by +/- 1 second for the same website, that’s 2s between the fastest and slowest, and it can be more! Obviously many factors influence a website’s loading time; Even if the website content is static, network loads are dynamic and will likely significantly affect loading time at different times of the day; For example we notice that loading times here in the UK can be higher after midday when the majority of America wakes up and comes online increasing internet traffic.

Our performance test data, that can be requested below, is only intended as a guide to assist in template selection, you may obtain results that differ according to many parameters, for example your web server specification or your location.

Starter Template Selection

A web designer may have a custom design layout they wish to build and in that case may decide to start with the default Astra Theme without content and build the layout from scratch. However for those who wish to hit the ground running these Starter Templates are idea for providing a great starting point, a template can be selected according to your business sector and then edited to meet your business specific requirements.

However the performance metrics vary considerably across the range of Starter Templates, that maybe because some templates may require more resources depending on business type (eg more javascript files, CSS files, or plugins), for example those integrating with an LMS such as LearnDash, or Ecommerce templates that require additional WooCommerce files; Or it maybe that some templates need optimising, very often it can be just one image that needs to be compressed, without any significant quality reduction, to significantly improve website loading time.

When selecting a template obviously the design aesthetics and user experience (UX) are vitally important, but so too is page load time (see metrics FCP, LCP, TTI) and cumulative layout shift (CLS); Typically the faster a page loads the lower the bounce rate – see our previous blog article How fast should my website load in 2022? Use our performance test data to help you in your Starter Template selection, use the form below to request the data.

Best Performing Astra Starter Templates

We used three free online tools to test the performance of 65 Astra Starter Templates hosted on websitedemos.net. These tests are in no way scientific, but instead are rather ad hoc, however hopefully they offer a helpful guide as to how metrics vary according to the template and test tool used. We conducted three tests per template on Pingdom and took the best load time of the three results (arguably that should instead be an average). For GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights we only did one test per template, and all tests were at varying times of day. You may obtain different results, especially if you test these templates hosted on your chosen hosting depending on the server specification.

Fastest Load Time

Our results for fastest load times from testing 65 Astra Starter Templates on the free on-line test tools Pingdom, GTmetrix, and PageSpeed Insights our Tabulated below. The ‘load time’ recorded from GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights is LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), however Pingdom does not define what their load time is based on.

Test ToolTemplate NameLoad Time (secs)
PingdomCharity0.59
GTmetrixE-Book Author0.58
PageSpeed Insights – MobileWeb Design Agency2.4
PageSpeed Insights – DesktopOnline Programming Course0.6
Fastest Loading Astra Starter Templates

Other Metrics

As well as load times we also recorded Page Sizes in megabytes for each Starter Template. However Google’s PageSpeed Insights doesn’t measure Page Size, so the results are only shown for Pingdom and GTmetrix.

Test ToolTemplate NamePage Size (MB)
PingdomCoach0.74MB
GTmetrixSchool0.83MB
Astra Starter Templates with Smallest Page Size

Another metric we recorded was the number of requests; That’s the number of http calls to load external resources such as CSS or javascript files that are either located on the same server or on another remote server on the web. PageSpeed Insights doesn’t measure the number of requests, so the results are only shown for Pingdom and GTmetrix.

Test ToolTemplate NameRequests
PingdomGrowth Marketer40
GTmetrixSchool49
Astra Starter Templates with Fewest Requests

Our downloadable data includes additional metrics such as performance grades, FCP (First Contentful Paint), CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift), and TBT (Total Blocking Time).

Conclusions

Web performance metrics vary between test tools, particularly load times, and will likely vary according to test server location selected and time of day when tested. Also each month Astra may update templates and updates may cause variations to performance.

PageSpeed Insights tool splits results by Desktop and Mobile using throttling to emulate; High performance grades and load times for the Mobile tests can be difficult to achieve; these mobile results are estimated by Google’s Lighthouse engine using certain assumptions about the mobile network load, however when Google has collected enough user data then the real life performance data will be displayed separately and may differ significantly from the estimated results. There are other website performance tools available too such as WebPageTest, Geekflare, and Chrome DevTools that might be interesting to compare.

When selecting a template, we recommend not only considering the design aesthetics and UX but to also include performance metrics in your decision process; Starting with a high performing template should save time in optimising page load times for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). We recommend doing a performance test on any Starter Templates you plan to use. Hopefully our test data, which can be downloaded by completing the form below, will give a useful insight as to how the tested templates perform according to the tools we used.

The data tabulated above identifies some top performing Starter Templates, and according to PageSpeed Insights 97% of the templates we tested had an LCP of 1.8s or less; And according to GTmetrix ALL templates tested had an LCP of 2secs or less, which is well below Google’s Core Web Vitals target value of 2.5 seconds. Astra’s Theme is known to be lightweight for high performance, so if you plan to use any of their Starter Templates we’re sure there will be opportunities to improve performance even further!

Finally if you’re looking for a lightweight fast loading WordPress theme you can get Astra’s latest theme by clicking the link below. Once you’ve installed the Astra Theme, then install their Starter Templates plugin and follow instructions.

Get Astra - Fastest WordPress Theme
Click our affiliate link above to get Astra (opens new tab)

Want to Download All the Data?

The full data includes all the performance metrics mentioned above for our Pingdom, GTmetrix, and PageSpeed Insights tests. If you would like to download all the data in an MS Excel spreadsheet in a zip file to help you decide which Astra Starter Template to use, then simply complete the request form below and we’ll send you a download link to your inbox.

If you have a slow loading website or a website that is experiencing performance issues, please consider requesting our free Performance Report by completing our request form here. As a comparison PageSpeed Insights typically shows a load time (LCP) for WPturbo’s home page of around 1.6s for Mobile and 0.4s for Desktop with performance scores of 99% and 100% respectively; Based on these LCP results, WPturbo.uk loads faster than any of the 65 Astra Starter Templates we tested, and that’s without any expensive CDN (Content Delivery Network) service like the popular Cloudflare CDN!

Please do comment below if this article was helpful or interesting to you, or if you have some related experiences you wish to share. Which Astra Starter Template have you used and what performance results have you achieved?

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