Premium Series: Headway Theme Review

In my Premium Series I’m taking a look at Premium WordPress plugins and WordPress themes that I personally use, either for myself and for others. All opinions are my own and not influenced by affiliate commissions or anyone connected to the product.

Headway is a WordPress theme that has a unique Visual Editor that lets you easily change the layout and look and feel of your blog right in front of your eyes. This makes it simple to change colors and fonts, and completely removes the need for any coding. There is a learning curve in how the system works and what the options do, and it’s not perfect (yet) in a few ways (nothing is), but is a fantastic option for the non-technical blogger.

I like it so much I use it on this site and a few others that I own, as well as for many clients, mainly because it’s so flexible and versatile.

If I want a different layout for every page, I can have one no problem. If I want different sidebars I can have them. If I don’t want to do any coding I don’t have to, but if I do there are easy hooks and a live CSS editor and other goodies to allow me to do the complicated stuff I need to do without any extra hassle.

Below is their demo video, which is obviously biased but does give you a good impression of how it aims to work.

The Headway Visual Editor allows me to design my whole site, or just a page of my site easily. It works on the concept of Leafs, which are building blocks of your site. You can have a content leaf, to display the content, and a sidebar leaf to display a sidebar. You can create infinite combinations with these and different leafs, such as a Featured Posts leaf, an image rotator leaf, even a Twitter leaf, amongst others.

It even has a quick start wizard that, once you upload your logo, will suggest colors to match for the rest of your site, and you can drag those colors to the elements you want to use them for. It’s unique and pretty slick.

It does take some getting used to, like WordPress itself or any new piece of software. But I think once you get into it, you’ll never look back, I honestly do.

There are free upgrades and it works with WordPress Multi-Site so you can install it once but use on multiple sites on the same WordPress installation. However you don;t need to get that complex, a personal license allows use on two sites you own.

Overall I’ve recommended Headway a lot to people, and while some have preferred simpler themes, those with needs to do squeeze pages, sales pages, home pages with sliders, and good old blog posts, all on the one site, have loved it. Hey, if I use 10 different themes a day, every day, and I choose to use Headway, it can’t be bad, can it?!

BTG logo Summary

Where I use this: Right here on Blog Tech Guy

Pros: Wonderfully versatile; No coding required; Lots of features

Cons: Learning curve like with any software

Cost: $87 – $162

From: Headway Themes (affiliate link)

12 thoughts on “Premium Series: Headway Theme Review”

  1. There are a lot of options, definitely. It is not a simple activate and go theme, but then you don’t want it to look like every other site out there anyway. There are quite a few designery types using Headway, best to check with the Headway folks for suggestions or in their forum.

  2. Great! That’s a difficult question as people learn differently, but usually you want a general overview of need to achieve a specific path. 

    In the Headway Visual Editor there is a Help
    option on the menu bar which has extensive help including videos. Else
    there are videos and help here: (a little out of date)

    Perhaps I should create something that goes through the theme in the order I would try to tackle it if starting afresh.

  3. I bought this when you first spoke about it awhile ago, and yes, I found it hard going to get things understood, yes, it seemed to break a lot and earlier in the release, the visual editor was buggy but there is great support for the theme from its creators and the user community. Any questions get answered by Grant Griffiths over at the wordpress forum 

    1. I agree. I especially agree with your point on the great support by Grant Griffiths. His personal and light-hearted approach was the only reason why I kept my license. I believe the framework will be truly great with time.

    2. Great, I’m glad you’ve been getting excellent support. Each release improves things and the continued development and improvements that you get certainly makes for a more enjoyable experience.

  4. Joel,
    I’m a WordPress intermediate user and purchased Headway on your recommendation!
    Can you please tell me your opinion of a sane learning path to learning Headway? What videos, in what sequence, should I study to learn Headway?

  5. A very good review Joel, nice insights as always. My current site uses Headway – however, I’m about to abandon it for Genesis later this week.

    One problem I found with Headway is the high level of manual engagement necessary to keep the site in good shape. Some leafs don’t work too well, either (e.g. Twitter). It also seems that at least some web designers hack it a great deal to bend it to their needs, and as such almost any update to WordPress breaks the site. As such, I literally can’t update anything on it, and with time I’ll be open to security risks. 

    Maybe I wasn’t lucky, or I’m not educated enough, but this has been my experience. The framework definitely has a good promise, so I may check it later again. My Headway license isn’t going anywhere 🙂

    1. I appreciate the comment Austin, and I certainly agree with the Twitter widget, so much so I code my own each time. 

      However you never need to alter any of the core Headway files, the Custom Hooks, header and footer scripts, custom_functions.php, custom.css stylesheet and even the Live CSS editor remove the need to do any editing of the core files.

      I use Genesis a lot too and I do like it, however in that I find more need to alter the child themes and get frustrated sometimes with having to copy and alter functions sometimes form the base Genesis theme. That said that also has a good custom hooks plugin and the Simple Edits plugin is a lifesaver for easy footer changes.

  6. Great review, Joel. You’re right in that it does so much that it has its own learning curve, as does any commercial theme framework that offers a lot of its own functionality. After watching a couple videos most folks seem to be able to take off quickly and our support is always there.

    Headway also has significant SEO capability and you can use it after having used All-in-One SEO pack without the need for any kind of “importer” plugin because it just works with any existing AIOSEO tables in the database.

    It’s worth mentioning too that there is an add-on system for Headway and a marketplace in the member area of the Headway site for Headway users to download the free skins and add-ons or buy the premium ones. They are pretty amazing, especially the Excerpts+ and the Gallery+ add-ons. As far as I know, no other theme framework has a community marketplace like this.

    1. Thanks Michael, I should have mentioned the marketplace myself as I’m hopefully going to adding something to it soon myself (when I have time!). 

      I do find a lot of people give up before asking for support from theme creators, it’s often like if they can’t figure it out themselves quickly in an hour then they give up, when after some brief support it often becomes clear. I’m not sure how to address that problem!

    2. G’Day Joel,
      Dare I say it! The reason so many people “give up’ is because the people who sell these things seem to know nothing about instructional design and creating learning outcomes. What’s more, they think that they do.

       “If the student hasn’t learnt, the teacher hasn’t taught” holds true, even on www. If you’d like me to elaborate,please let me know.



    3. Hi Leon. I think that is very true and like a lot of products in their first release Headway was “guilty” of this too. However now there are numerous help options, which include videos, in the Headway theme itself, a great support forum, a great ticket system, and documentation. That doesn’t include the several independent Headway theme sites with guides and tips and tricks on them. It has certainly taken time to evolve, I’m not a member of the Headway team or here to argue about what they do and don’t know, but I think impatience is a factor especially with online apps. There are many themes that are much quicker to learn and easier to use out there that are perfect for many people, but once you get the hang of Headway it’s difficult to cope with the limitations of many other themes. Just my 2 cents!

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