Headway 3.4 Review

Review of: Headway Theme
Version:
3.4
Price:
$87

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On December 16, 2012
Last modified:September 25, 2013

Summary:

Headway is a powerful drag and drop WordPress theme that will be most suited for people that don't have much experience with programming. All in all, I think Headway is a solid theme that can be used for beginner and intermediate WordPress users.

Our last review of the Headway Theme was written some time ago with version 2.x.

With new improvements that have been released in version 3.4, it’s about time Headway receives an updated review.

There are several features in Headway 3.4 that I’d like to cover: Grid Editor, Design Editor, Responsiveness, and Blocks.

For this review, I’ll cover each of these features to give you an overview of Headway themes. Then I will give you my overall opinion at the end of the review.

The Grid Editor – Drag and Drop Design

This feature is the bread and butter of the Headway theme. Drag and drop is what makes Headway such an attractive theme, and I’ve got to say that they make this feature fairly intuitive and simple. When you navigate to the grid editor, you will see a screen that looks much like this below:

Headway Grid Editor

You’ll notice that there is a grid that you can drag and drop boxes on to. You can then resize those boxes. I was really glad to see this grid, because it will make the drag and drop process cleaner. Trust me, you do not want to have to worry about being pixel perfect when dragging to resize.

By default, Headway let’s you resize in 40 px increments, due to the 20px column width and 20px gutter width. This can, of course, be changed.

Once you’ve placed a few boxes on your canvas, you can then decide what those boxes do by selecting the block type. This makes creating things such as a widget or a Gravity Forms box insanely easy.

Headway Block Type

All in all, I believe the grid editor to be a very simple tool to use to build layouts. Kudos to the Headway team for that.

Design Editor – Design Without Code

For those of you that hate to touch code, you may fall in love with the design editor for Headway themes because it will allow you to easily change any part of the design with a graphical interface.

Once you decide that you want to change something, you just click that element on the page, and change the design settings for it in nifty drop down boxes like these below:

Headway Design Options

I must warn you in advance that the design editor is going to have a bit of a learning curve because there are a ton of options. Headway does do a good job of organization on this though.

Responsiveness – Take Advantage of the Huge Surge in Mobile

I have read reports that put the total amount of mobile web traffic between 15% and 20%. Having a website that is optimized for mobile browsers will allow you to create a better user experience for your readers which could lead to more page views and less bounce.

Headway makes it super easy to create a responsive website. All you have to do is click one button in the grid editor. Once you have done that, your entire website will be optimized for mobile visitors. Even for templates that you create yourself.

Possibly the best feature of Headway’s responsiveness is that readers are given the option to opt out of the mobile version of your website via a link in the footer. I can’t tell you how many websites I have been to where the mobile version made it hard for me to get content and all I wanted to do was see the desktop version of the site.

Headway’s combination of responsiveness and the grid editor make it, in my opinion, one of the best responsive WordPress themes on the market!

Blocks – Easily Extend Your Website

Headway is a good theme for people that do not know how to code. A large part of what makes Headway easy to use is blocks. Blocks allow you to quickly add functionality to your Headway theme. Blocks for Headway are very much like plugins are for WordPress.

Headway Blocks

When you combine the ease of blocks with the power of the skin editor, you can easily create powerful websites.

Overall Thoughts

Headway is a powerful drag and drop WordPress theme that will be most suited for people that don’t have much experience with programming. I will warn you though that if you plan on doing something special, you will likely still need to do some custom programming, whether that is CSS, Js, or PHP.

In regards to the blocks, I think they are a brilliant idea and easy to use. But, I believe that some of the blocks are overpriced considering there are existing code tutorials for things such as tabbed content, Facebook comments and likes, etc. But, for those that do not want to muck around with code, a $25 block is probably well worth it ;)

All in all, I think Headway is a solid theme that can be used for beginner and intermediate WordPress users.

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Written by Eric Binnion

Eric Binnion is a computer science student at Midwestern State University. When Eric is not online, he is usually volunteering in his community or enjoying time with his family. You can find Eric on Twitter.

Comments

  • Chris Langille says:

    Glad to see you update this review because I’ve been wondering about these guys for a while now.

    Headway was the very first premium theme/framework I bought when I first started using WordPress. I had zero knowledge of how to configure it though, and they were really new on the scene, and their support left much to be desired (at that time) so I asked for my money back which they were cool about.

    I’ve been wondering recently though after buying Thesis 2.0 and the fact that it has very little documentation, whether I should try Headway again. I really like the idea of the dragging and dropping with the visual editor, which Thesis does too, but in a different way I guess.

    I kind of felt like at the time, their ecosystem with support, boxes, etc., wasn’t there yet, but it looks like they’ve made some serious strides. Might have to hop back on the wagon!

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hey Chris,

      From the last week I’ve been playing with Headway I’d say that it’s a very solid theme and worthy of your attention. I have not had the time to thoroughly test their support since I have not needed it yet.

      I will say that Grant and Clay seem to be pretty responsive to support issues that have been brought up on AOB though.

  • Derek says:

    Nice well presented post, and I agree that Headway has evolved into a very intuitive theme that is both easy and fun to use. I love the drag and drop, the design editor and the responsive theme. I’ve taken it a stage further for mobile viewing by adding the WPtouch Pro plugin which gives an even more customized smartphone looks and feel and plays beautifully with Headway. I’ve recently uploaded a video of how I use the two together here:
    http://wiredintotheweb.com/creating-mobile-websites-with-wptouch-pro/
    What I do like is the way you can mix an match between Headway’s responsive grid and the WPtouch Pro theme so that for example I use the desktop (Headway theme) for iPad and the WPtouch for mobiles. There’s even an option to not display the sidebar in Headway when viewing on an iPad in portrait mode. Brilliant!

  • To be fair, my Facebook block is only $10. ;)

    I’m glad the review was updated, as I love headway and have been using it since 2009. I use it for all my web products, and it’s only gotten better with each version. Now that the “kinks” of 3.0x are worked out, I’m always excited to see a new feature. I hope this doesn’t sound like some paid ad, but I didn’t even understand responsive that well until I saw it work with the Headway grid.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      You are right, the prices are variable on the blocks. :)

      As I said, blocks are great for people that don’t know or don’t want to mess around with code. People in that situation would likely be happy to pay even $50 for some of the blocks!

  • Keith Davis says:

    Hi Eric
    Thanks for a well balanced review.

    Good to hear you say…

    “will warn you though that if you plan on doing something special, you will likely still need to do some custom programming, whether that is CSS, Js, or PHP.”

    I think that applies to any any WordPress theme framework you want to customise.

    I am a Genesis user and I dabble a little with Catalyst and whilst both give you great results straight out of the box, if you want to customise, you need to have some coding skills.

    I do have a licence for Headway and after reading this review, I may take another look.

    Have a good 2013 Eric.

  • bobschecter says:

    I just purchased Headway, after trying several other Frames. I had high-hopes, but I still think Ultimatum is better. However, in the world of WordPress, it’s more prudent to stick with a company that’s been around, so I gravitated toward the more established ones.

    That said, when a company that’s been around, like Headway, feels the pressure of their competition breathing down their necks, like Ultimatum and Builder, they begin to “throw” things out there, “put” things up, before they’re ready, or even before they’ve been invented. So one has to be careful, not to pay for something that one can’t get – hmmm. How does that work? For me it doesn’t. And though I’ve asked for a refund or change in my plan, so I don’t feel taken advantage of, they’re obviously not as new to the scene as they once were, so it looks like I’m stuck with a Base plan at Premium prices.

    I’ll play with it and get back with a “real” review. No offense Eric, but a review after toying with it doesn’t really give prospective users a realistic idea of what they’ll run into. They all look pretty nifty at first blush. Which is of course why these review sites are to be taken with a grain of salt, I imagine.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hi Bob,

      I don’t quite understand your frustration with my review, but after seeing your Twitter profile, I can clearly see that you are frustrated with Headway.

      Your last paragraph is condescending, regardless of the fact that you typed, “no offense”. And although your dislike of Headway is clear, your reasons are vague in this comment. So, please allow me to leave a general response.

      First, I covered what I believe are the most important features of Headway. If I felt that a feature was lacking in some area, I mentioned that. For example, when I mentioned that the design editor will have a learning curve because of all of the options. I also warned that for those wanting to do “special” things, they would likely need to know some programming.

      Second, just because you believe that Ultimatum and Builder are better themes than Headway, that does not mean that Headway is not a solid theme.

      Headway makes it super easy to get a layout going for those who do not understand things such as floats, clears, and box-sizing. Yes, it does help if you have a basic understand of a grid framework, but it’s still pretty simple. Sure, there are improvements that could be made, but I think Headway could be a great piece of software for a significant segment of the WordPress market.

      I’m always up for discussing why you don’t like Headway, and I’m even open to inviting Clay or Grant to come chat in the open.

    • Wow, Bob, that’s pretty scathing. My concern is that you haven’t stated any specifics about your experience and your comment is a bit more venom than substance. I agree that each framework stands apart from the others, and honestly, I wouldn’t call “Ultimatum” competition for Headway. Especially considering their entire design and parts of their TOS look awfully familiar…

      I work everyday to help people use Headway to achieve their online goals, so I would love to hear any specifics you have on your challenges with getting started and where in the process you got lost. I know that, for me, although Headway has a learning curve, it’s been my favorite framework in terms of workflow and community.

      And I’m not saying that as an affiliate, those guys helped me find my calling (teaching). So, my $0.02.

  • bobschecter says:

    Whoa, what’s with the venom nonsense or the scathing hyperbole. And I said “like” Headway, and was clear that I felt it was at epidemic proportions on the internet. It’s a recurring issue (beta) that I’m guessing Google started a while back as they pushed out one disastrous thing after another and foisted it upon their audience – their unwitting and all too willing testers.

    My issue was that I purchased something that was in effect non-existent. And still, I intend to work with Headway because, and the reason I made the purchase in the first place, the frame seems to have more potential than any of the others that I’ve toyed with. And while, based on a cursory exam only, believe that Ultimatum has more features built-in and accessible, and as part of the theme’s package, as I noted, my money is on Headway to be there for the long term.

    And last, though it is admirable that you would jump to defend Headway, and jump down my throat in doing so, you should be aware that they agreed with my premise and we worked it out amicably.

    Now, I’m off to play with my new toy. (smh)

    • Well, your first review (and correlating tweets) seemed to be about feeling ripped off and like Headway wasn’t fully ready and that other themes were better, and that this review and others you’d seen weren’t telling the whole story. To quote…

      “And though I’ve asked for a refund or change in my plan, so I don’t feel taken advantage of, they’re obviously not as new to the scene as they once were, so it looks like I’m stuck with a Base plan at Premium prices. ”

      And about this review…

      “I’ll play with it and get back with a “real” review. No offense Eric, but a review after toying with it doesn’t really give prospective users a realistic idea of what they’ll run into. They all look pretty nifty at first blush. Which is of course why these review sites are to be taken with a grain of salt, I imagine.”

      So yeah, “scathing” and kinda venom-y if you don’t base the whole tone on the word “like.” Nevertheless, I’m glad that you’ve worked it out though, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the theme. Like I said before, I love the theme, and I love when people gel with it.

  • bobschecter says:

    Hmmm. Trying to figure out why you feel compelled to read into my comments. Yes, at the time I did feel like I’d been taken. I was being honest, not exceptionally critical, and open to dialog, which is why I joined the thread on Twitter rather than just Tweeting away randomly. No secret, I said it clearly – I was disappointed. You’ll also note in the thread that Clay responded quickly. That’s good reputation management. I’d cast no aspersions, I merely stated the events as I was experiencing them – aka. my opinion. I can see that this blog isn’t about discussion or opinion, it’s all about you. I’ll leave you alone then – don’t want to spoil your party.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Bob,

      We’re definitely discussing. I do believe your first comment on this post was premature and not well thought out.

    • I thought your comment was interesting and wanted to answer. Eric (the author) said “hey check this out” and check it out I did. Like I said, I like to participate, and I really was interested in a conversation and trying to understand your experience. But I can see I’ve offended you so I’ll go on my way then.

  • Jac says:

    Great run-down eric.

    As a non-techie, non-coding person, I have had a great experience with headway.

    As you mentioned there is a learning curve to using the Visual Editor, but when you can customize just about anything and everything on the site through a very comprehensive editor, what do you expect?

    I find that Headway has come a very long way since version 2.x and is great for beginners and advanced web designers alike. Since version 3.4, I can say that they have stepped it up even more.

    Btw, I read a report that states that “by the end of 2013, over 50% of web surfing will be done on a mobile device”. So, the responsiveness that is included in the theme comes in very handy.

    All in all, though Headway seems to have gone through a rough patch, things are running much more smoothly. I wouldn’t change now that things are going great, and if I had to start from scratch again, this would definitely be my theme of choice.

  • Brian Cotsen says:

    Hello Eric. I’ve been taking my time and looking around for a good easy to manipulate drag and drop WordPress blog builder for some time. Although I do html and CSS design it’s not my main thing and so didn’t really want to mess around building a site from scratch, or at least altering a standard WordPress theme. Your review along with Chris Lema http://chrislema.com has all but decided it for me. It’ll be interesting to see just how intuitive this theme will be … I’ll let you know. My main focus, and indeed the subject of the new website is SEO so I am particularly interested to see the backend of Headway to see how heavy it is and if the code will get in the way of the SEO … only one way to find out. Thanks again for the review. Brian

  • Vikk Simmons says:

    I struggled with old version of Headway and now this new 3.4 is really giving me fits. Everyone says it’s easy but…. I’m having trouble doing something as simple as resizing a header.

    I can’t find the height in any of the options. When I drag and drop it tells me things are overlapping but when I think they aren’t it says they are. All I want to do is change the header from 80 to 150. Isn’t there any place to just add the numbers? :)
    I hope I can figure this out but I’ve spent well over an hour on this. Learned about manage only to learn manage is gone, etc.

    I got Headway because I am clearly not a techie but this has its own problems.

    Thanks, Vikk

  • Jake Tanner says:

    I have used a lot of different themes and I still think Thesis or Genesis are the best out there. I’m also not that great with custom progamming php or anything so maybe that’s why I like a theme with a child theme right our of the box.

  • Steve Glick says:

    I purchased Headway soon after it was released. I found the concept intriguing and I liked the flexibility that it promised. I was not exactly disappointed but I was frustrated by some bugginess. I had some initial disasters when it would change my design all around and I’d be unable to move blocks back where I wanted them. However, Headway is vastly improved overall. Each update corrected many bugs and offered incremental improvements in its user interface. New features and power were also added each time.

    Online documentation is improving but could still be better. However, they’ve built in more help, hints, tooltips, and intuitive controls. As an instructional designer, I appreciate that.

    With the latest release (version 3.5.5) I can strongly recommend it. It’s even fun to work with and to experiment with new designs and layouts.

    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for sticking with us!

      We’re very excited about Headway 3.5 and the new capabilities it brought to the table.

      The future is certainly bright. We have many things in the works :-)

    • carl says:

      I agree with your review of Headway, I must say I really love headway themes, though I use other themes framework like pagelines but Headwaytheme ( the new Version ) help me turn out website quickly and the only limit for anyone will be there their imagination.

      • Eric Binnion says:

        Thanks for the comment Carl!

        I noticed your website is in maintenance mode. I’m looking forward to seeing your design :)