I spent a week building a website using Headway Themes Drag and Drop Theme and the following is a review based on my experience. I had never used Headway before and started out from scratch. I did not use any of their templates for this review.
Headway Version: 3.8.2
WordPress Version: 4.2.2
I get a small commission for any sales resulting from some of our links. This in no way influenced my review nor does it add any cost to you. I do appreciate your support and hope you find this review helpful.
Headways Virtual Editor has two modes: Layout and Design. You use the Layout mode to layout your pages and the Design mode for customizing the look.
I found Headway easy to use and fairly easy to get started. They do have some getting started documentation and they have some Quick tutorial videos you can access through their forums, which is supported by a large community. There are also some “?” next to many of the wrap and block options that will give you hints when you click on them. Most of the questions I had were easily resolved by using Google Search, although I could have used their forums more extensively, but I tend to use Google as my preference.
The Layout mode is where you build what I call your framework. There are rows, (they call wrappers) and blocks that you can drag and drop into the wrappers to define your layout for that page. There are Shared Layouts and Page Layouts. By building your shared page layouts first, you can then select which shared layout you want to use for each page you add. Once you layout your Header and Footer in the Blog Index (or other shared layout), you can mirror those sections in your other shared layouts and pages. In the Pages layout you can customize individual pages if you want. Currently their blocks include:
Each wrapper and block can be given custom alias names and CSS classes as well as other customizations depending on the type of block. The wrappers can be changed from fixed to fluid width. After adding additional wrappers, they can be moved (drag and drop) to the location you want it in your framework.
The Design Mode is where you customize the look and feel of your blocks, wrappers and pages. Basically the CSS stuff without having to CSS code, although you can do that too.
They use an easy to use interface panel on the right of the screen where you made your changes and the page view is on the left, so you can see the changes as you make them. If you forget to save your changes, you will get a warning before you leave the page. The drop down arrow at the top is where you can select the shared layout or page you want to customize.
To select the area you want to customize, you mouse over the area and right click to get choices and select the one that is appropriate for you. The area you will be editing will have an orange border, so you can be sure you know what you are editing. The panel on the right will then display the editing options which may include (depending on the type of area you are editing):
On the top portion of the right column is Navigator and Styles which you can use to do custom CSS changes.
The Good Stuff
- Easy framework layout, including widgets, page content, custom code, headers, footers and more.
- Create any layout for your complete site. You’re not limited to number of pages and coding to layout your page(s).
- Easy style and design editing. You don’t have to code CSS but you can. Colors, fonts, padding, borders, backgrounds and more can be easily customized. Most elements on a page can be edited.
- Google Font Integration.
- You can Mirror blocks and wrappers.
- Ability to create Shared Layouts and assign them to specific post, page, categories and more.
- Responsive Layouts and Blocks (Just a checkbox to make your site responsive).
- Device Visibility – Hide specific blocks or wrappers to certain devices.
- Snapshots – roll back to a previous snapshot you saved or was automatically saved.
- Search Engine Result Preview shows what the predicted search engine preview and you can easily change the title and description (I love this feature).
- Compatible with most WordPress plugins. I installed several plugins and they all worked as expected. I didn’t run into any compatibility issues with the several I installed.
- They have a large online community that’s there to help.
- Ability to define custom CSS Classes to wrappers and blocks.
- Comes with starter template to give you a head start if you want, but not necessary.
- Users set up as Editor do not have access to Headway Options, so if designed with that in mind, this is a good option for Web Designers, as the client will be able to add posts, and pages and edit the content of them, they won’t be able to accidentally mess up the design.
- You can focus on Design, not code.
- Easily remove Headway link from footer.
- Missing Bells and Whistles – unlike some of the newer drag and drop themes that are coming out, Headway doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles such as buttons, animations, etc. However, I was able to get all the bells and whistles I needed through free WordPress Plugins and they all worked as expected.
- Add On blocks (provided by 3rd parties) are fee based, you have to buy them, so is an additional cost. I found most of the functionality of these through free WordPress plugins.
- Customizing CSS took me a bit to figure out. I had to use the browser inspector to find the CSS to edit. (The CSS editor is supposed to be greatly improved in the 4.0 release coming out in a few weeks).
- Although their marketing page says they have a 14 day money back guarantee, there are stipulations for obtaining that refund (read their FAQ carefully). I recommend you try their free demo before buying.
Note: I understand that Version 4.0 will be coming out in several weeks. They will be combining the Layout and Style modes, improving the layout so you can be more exact in the layout, adding mobile and tablet app views, improving CSS live editor and possibly adding button feature just to name a few changes. I was unable to evaluate any support, since I didn’t require any.
Headway has three packages all annual subscriptions with 1 year support and updates. Renewals are 50% off posted prices. Although they do provide email support, they encourage you to use the forums for trouble shooting. They apparently have paid moderators on the forums.
Personal: $59.00 / first year – 1 site, includes Whiteboard Starter Template.
Business: $99.00 / first year – 3 sites, includes Whiteboard Starter Template.
Developer: $199.00 / first year – unlimited sites, includes all Official Templates and Community Builder Block.
As mentioned above, I tested Headway Themes for a week and designed a full website. I made a few mistakes, not understanding the value of the shared page layouts at first, but overall found it a good experience. I later tried Divi by Elegant Themes and although it is a really great theme and had lots of bells and whistles, I kept wanting to go back to Headway, which I eventually did to design this site. Despite the negatives, I was able to accomplish anything I wanted to do either through Headway and free WordPress plugins and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting full control over design, but doesn’t want to worry about coding.