Headway Theme Review 3: In Premium WordPress Themes, Pure Power
UPDATED: July 18th, 2014
Headway Themes is five years old so, is celebrating with a special discount offer from Thursday July 18th to August 1st, 2014.
Headway launched on July 31st, 2009 with version 1.0.
It’s incredible how far Headway has come from version 1.0. Not only has Headway matured as a product over the last 5 years, the company and staff has grown too.
Just a few weeks ago they pushed out version 3.7. (A review is coming with this new version)
And here we go:::: 35% Off Everything!
And we mean everything. All Headway licenses, license upgrades and all Headway Extend add-ons will be 35% off. So don’t procrastinate!
Time flies when you are having fun and before you know it, it will be August 2nd.
To get 35% off, use code headway5
Finally, my Headway Theme 3 review is here! This has been a pending task since my last review about WordPress Headway 2.0.13, and I want to do it before 2012 ends.
Much water has flowed under the bridge, well really “tech water”.
I’ve just baked a new blog, mostly dedicated to WordPress plugin and theme reviews, as well a brand new newsletter.
The newsletter covers themes, for both blogs.
When I chose Headway theme framework for this blog, it was for the following reason:
Other several WP themes allow customization, changing basic things like colors, fonts, position of only some elements, etc., without touching the core files of the theme. But if you want more, you need to enter deeply into the core files and coding of your theme.
According to the framework you chose, depends a lot on how deep you need to enter to allow those modifications.
Not with Headway.
Good coded themes should have pre-installed in their files, functionalities that avoid installing the less quantity of extra plugins as possible, to do the customizations.
Headway, Thesis, Genesis, and others have for example, SEO functions that allow your site to improve your SEO and without adding, necessarily, extra plugins.
But if you want to change the layout of each of the pages of your sites, does your theme allow that possibility?
The answer with Headway is YES. Pages, Posts, 404 Error pages, About, Contact, etc., each of them have that possibility.
Headway WordPress theme allows those layouts in a simple manner, without coding. Few other themes allow those changes, but you need to code for that, and for me, less code is better. Or if you can afford it, you need to add skins or child themes to accomplish those functions, at extra costs.
In the case of the actual Headway Theme, I used it for other sites I developed only Headway Base, without an additional block or child theme.
With the launch of Headway Themes 3.0 this situation was improved in an exponential way. However, at an initial stage, it had certain costs and I’m not referring to monetary costs, if not to “technical costs”.
I’ve a policy, a rule of thumb, when I speak about technology and software. If I can, I don’t like to try first versions of anything until has passed some time to fix bugs and to improve things that are not working like were planned.
You’ll not see me doing a large queue of 24 hours to buy the new gadget at a store. This new device, or the same in the case of software; possibly there will be some things to fix and to enhance.
Competence and marketing is the answer, my friend. The pressure of the markets tends companies to release stuff – before the competitor – and this can be problematic, because probably that product wasn’t tested enough to be live yet and tends to buggy.
For that reason, I waited to try Headway 3+ until several updated new versions and I wasn’t wrong.
My contact with Headway theme 3, was since 3.15 version onwards, and it was a good decision. I’ll extend this explanation further, later in the article.
Now, let’s tackle the actual version of Headway theme (today 3.3), with this unbiased Headway 3 review plus screenshots 🙂
What’s new on Headway 3.x?
First of all, Headway theme 3 was totally re-coded from scratch. There are many functions that were before, now enhanced, and of course, there are new stuff too.
Headway Grid New System Allows You to Easily design Your Website
Now you can draw rectangles called blocks, with the drag and drop interface, creating a custom layout, at your taste and flavor, without coding.
You can put blocks anywhere, in your sidebars, navigation bar and so on. You’re able to customize pages individually with those blocks.
The visual editor seems to be faster than the previous 2.0 versions, and it’s more user friendly in Headway 3.x.
Headway Base comes with 9 core blocks: Header, Navigation, Breadcrumbs, Content, Widget Area, Footer, Media Custom Code and Text.
Headway Design Editor
In the new Headway’s Visual Editor –> Design you can:
Easily customize backgrounds, fonts, colors, borders and more design elements viewing them live, after saving. Now the save button has a green color when there is something to save. If you wish, hit preview before saving, and have an idea how it’ll look your site, in real time.
Drop shadows; add rounded corners in your layouts.
Style different elements like blocks, widgets and so forth. Maybe, if you want sophisticated effects on your layout, you’ll need a little of CSS, with the live CSS editor.
For developers, the Live CSS editor is still there, today with the possibility to create their own custom block types, and to sell them at the Headway Extended marketplace.
Search Engine Optimization on Headway
Headway Theme 3.0 comes with SEO features already installed. This means, you’ll need fewer plugins for SEO purposes giving better loading time and at the same time, having fewer headaches with a smaller amount of plugins in your site.
You know the problem isn’t the quantity of plugins in your site, if not the quality of the code of each of them, and with more quantity of active plugins, more chances to have some incompatibility issue with something.
You don’t need using additional SEO plugins, because Headway takes care of this theme with pre-set values and are customizable too.
Even you’ve a page preview, in the writing post editor, where you see how this page would look in search engine results.
In other words Headway is SEO-friendly, right out of the box.
Responsive Grid (Mobile View)
Since Headway Theme 3.0 onwards, if you activate the Responsive Grid, your mobile visitors can view your site in a mobile-friendly way.
Your visitor will have at the footer, a link to go back to the desktop version if they want to. Your website will automatically resize to the correspondent device.
With the myriad of smartphones and tablets coming everyday to the market, and with more and more users navigating with them, is vital to have a mobile version of your site.
Headway 3.0 Problems
I want to distinguish three different stages, to clear up the situation.
Initial release of Headway 3.0
As I explained before, often I prefer to wait some time to dig in new software versions.
When Headway theme 3.0 was pushed out, reading and talking with friends the overall experience was that this initial version was buggy.
I think it was rolled out raw, a beta-alpha version and the Headway staff should have tested more, giving it to the public, later.
There was not full material and videos to read the new functions, and at that moment, that 3.0 version was frustrating for several people.
There was complains in the support forum, that things were not working as it was supposed it should be.
Also from the commercial standpoint, not having a refund in case you wanted it, wasn’t a good policy.
(Today, you’ve a full demo to test it before buy)
Thesis 2.0 right now, is having the same problem like it had Headway 3.0 before. Bugs, complains, to be complicated to use for all the new functions (it was built from scratch), lack of documentations and tutorials of the new items, etc.
The concept is the same, it seems the Thesis team rushed their release, but as time goes by, I suppose that it’ll be improved until they will fix those points, with new versions.
Headway 2.0.13 vs. Headway 3.x
Now I want to give the standpoint of a Headway 2.0.13 user compared to Headway 3.x.
- I’ve this blog still on Headway 2.0.13 and I’m waiting the upgrade path from 2.x to 3.x, which has been delayed for long, long time.
I don’t want to try manual methods to waste time in tests, doing it myself.
- Headway 2.0.13 has easy hooks to add code without touching core files. Headway 3.x until now, it doesn’t have it and it seems it’ll not have it. I think it is a drawback, anyway with a plugin I corrected this point on Headway 3.
- On Headway 2.0.13 to make fluid headers & footers is with one click, now it takes more steps to accomplish the same effect. As I read, this item will be added again in new versions of Headway 3.x and I hope it’ll be a standard again.
Nevertheless on the other side, the advantages of Headway 3.x vs. Headway 2.x are huge! You can compare them reading my Headway 2.0.13 review.
Most of my new projects and sites are built in Headway 3.
If you’re a potential new user of Headway 3, those comparisons with Headway 2.x are useless for you (it’s old story), so move on with the actual Headway 3.
Today Headway 3.3 is stable. The Headway team has been working day and night to release constant updates, fixing bugs and adding new stuff in each of them, so this is a good signal from the point of view of a user.
There are lots of documentation, videos and a codex Wikipedia-style, with detailed explanations.
Also, they added a Headway demo to have a full access to 36 hours to experience yourself, all the potential in your WordPress site.
If you’ve in your hands the best sport car, like a Ferrari or Aston Martin or Porsche, you know that you can accelerate to incredible speeds in a few seconds, btw, feel the wind??
But this process can be a “problem” also, because you need some time to control and get accustomed to these cars full of horsepower.
Headway is the same case in terms of Headway WordPress themes, is like a sport car (but not sooo expensive 😉 – you need to get accustomed to it, in some days.
There is a learning curve to know the different areas, grid, manage, design, cloning, mirroring blocks, templates, read the tutorials and so on.
Is Headway hard to play with? No, but don’t think that you install it and in a few minutes, you’ve a professional site completed. However, you can build a simple site in 15 minutes or less, using the new default blocks that the system suggests to you.
Once you get beyond that initial learning curve, you’ve the potential to create professional, customized sites with the less custom CSS and code possible.
Update: Headway 3.4x is live and improving, plus evolving with new additions:
- Block titles, block subtitles
- Changed the media block for the slider & embed blocks
- Ability to export and import block settings
- Visual Editor, padding and margins are now supported in Design Mode
- Design Mode now allows exporting via Skins, parts of the site to add it in another Headway site
The Headway team is adding more stuff, frequently.
Update: April 13, 2013
The list of additions and improvements is extensive, plus are constantly coming. Also, some bug fixes that appear from one version to another are corrected by the Headway Team.
Just one addition to mention, from the big list:
- Design Editor – Added a new right-click menu for the inspector. This allows you to choose exactly which element/instance/state you wish to edit.
*** UPDATED: July 18, 2013 ***
After releasing Headway 3.5 you’ve the option of Multiple Wrappers and Fluid Wrappers!
You can customize the layout of each wrapper, and can be styled differently in Design Mode to spice up each of them (great for instance, to have a fluid header and a fluid footer)
There are tons of additions and improvements on these new versions, improving speed and the overall experience with the Visual Editor.
Here is a screenshot of the Headway 3.5.5 with the fluid wrappers:
Pst! Headway 3.6 is coming..
Headway Theme Support
I know that immediately after realizing Headway 3.0, support was overwhelmed and at that moment things didn’t work as they should.
My own experience is good with the team support, answering in working days from one day to another, or in a few hours.
As always in web design, there is not a clear fine-line when is support and when it’s a complete customization of a site.
On those cases, when the customization/modification is too much, you might need to hire a web designer with experience in Headway or perhaps it takes longer to receive an answer for that particular cases.
For example in my case, designing a brand new site, I had a problem with that site because the navigation block was adding an empty space below of hundreds of pixels. Later this empty space, started to appear in all the blocks, and it wasn’t pretty at all.
After checking several suggestions, possible culprit plugins (none of them), and other stuff, the issue was still increasing and spreading for the entire layout.
Lastly, as the site was just started, I received from support the suggestion to reset Headway and taking it to default. Bingo!
For some unknown motive, my comings and goings of my designs didn’t like to the database, so when I started with a fresh Headway all the problems disappeared.
Generally speaking, Headway support includes basic features of Headway, bug fixes, basic WordPress help and help with simple customization. There is also a large selection of docs and video tutorials, at your disposal.
The long-waited Headway new market with prebuilt child themes and modular blocks, has arrived.
There are official Headway child themes & blocks, plus also others coming from 3rd party developers, adding even more resources to the Headway inventory.
Are those Headway child themes or blocks necessary for your blog?
The answer is no and yes, at the same time.
Until now, I used only Headway Base in all my projects and I didn’t need a child theme.
But perhaps, your necessities merit a child theme for your specific design, or a specific block that speeds up your design process. So, it’s your call on that point.
I saw good ones, but I didn’t try any of them, even I’ve some credits to use.
If you use a special Headway child theme or block, tell me your thoughts about them, in comments.
Is Headway Theme 3 worth every penny you spend?
I think the answer is a positive yes. If you’ve a blog network or you’re a developer who needs to develop different sites with each client, Headway Theme is ideal. Personally, most of the sites I’ve built until now were done on Headway and all of them look different.
Headway benefits include a great interface for non-developers allowing you to design in a visual way, with the less code possible.
Save time and dedicate your time to other tasks that your site or blog, deserves like writing, social media, etc.
Headway Themes regular prices are:
Headway Base (Regular $87): drag and drop framework, unlimited use and installations for Life, updates and support, for a period of 1 year.
Headway Developer (Regular $174) drag and drop framework, unlimited use and installations for life, updates and support, for a period of 1 year, more Headway Extend Credits ($116 Value) for official themes and blocks from Headway Themes.
In any case, if you decide to renew your license for an additional year, you can do it for 25% off the original price.
You’ve also a demo to test Headway Theme 3.x a full, valid for 36 hours.
My recommendation is if you have 1 blog/site, you can get the Headway Base and don’t need anything else. You can upgrade in the future, if you want, for more sites.
If you’re a developer of sites for clients, directly go to the Headway Developer license.
Really, you can save some money and time with Headway Themes.
What about you?
Have you got an opportunity to check Headway 3.x out?