Headway Word Press Theme: Drag and Drop Greatness for CSS and PHP-phobes

Let me get one thing established right off the bat – I’m not a coder and I don’t normally review Word Press themes. Thing is, Headway made building a website so remarkably simple I just had to sling down a few words.

If you’re a blogger you will already be aware of Word Press and know that Theme’s are basically frameworks that allow for a varied amount of customisation in order to get the look and feel of your site sorted.

There’s plenty of free themes out there and, for the most part, will do the job – but, when you want to up your game then the search of a good premium theme is on!

When you start looking to fork out your own money on a theme the little things suddenly become very important.

I was asked to put together a professional looking site that was clean, uncluttered and suited the business environment that it would be aimed at.

Not having any real background in site building I decided that I’d use the familiar territory of WP with a premium theme – the chosen theme is Headway.

Headway Themes launched in late July 2009 and you can grab Headway through two options, Personal and Developer ($87 and $164 respectively).

 

 

Configuration

Configuration of Headway was totally painless with a selection of options such as the Feed URL, favicon location, etc. Headway also bundles in a comprehensive search engine optimisation configuration panel so there’s probably no need to add an SEO plug-in. The site I was building wasn’t going to be a blog site so the Feed wasn’t used.

Where most themes that I’ve used will give you options to configure how many sidebars your site will have, which side they’ll sit as well as their width not so with Headway. That kind of thing is all taken care of via the Headway Wizard and/or the clever Visual Editor. The visual editor has taken the place of the visual display options normally configured from the back-end of WordPress allowing the configuration page to be strictly tied to the behaviour of the theme.

 

 

Headway Wizard and Visual Editor

The Wizard is pretty neat and gets you to define your basic layout – where your content panel and sidebars are going to sit, colour schemes, and the option to upload a header image – the latter prevents a great deal of head scratching and coding. To be honest this is the first theme that I’ve seen that actually gives the user a full-on WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor. The Visual Editor does just that and practically, all you have to do is drag a content box here, sling a sidebar there and so on.

If you’ve used WP text widgets in order to add html links and the likes to sidebars (this is how the links, etc in the left sidebar on this site was created) then you’re going to love Headway’s Leafs. Leafs are content boxes that exist between the header and the footer and allow for Text/HTML/PHP. I’ve only just started playing with this functionality but can see how the more code-savvy could go to town with something like this 🙂

Headway also includes Easy hooks – If you’ve ever used Thesis then you’ll be familiar with its Open Hooks – pretty much the same deal here and it is a fairly simple way to add content to your site that would otherwise be tricky and generally involve messing around with Custom CSS folders and such. Very dangerous for a dabbling like me! 😉

Conclusion:

I realise that I’m only just scratching the surface of what Headway is capable of and if you have decent design skills coupled with code knowledge then Headway will get you where you want to in no time at all. Granted the site I’ve cobbled together is fairly simple and about 99% finished (I will be adding more images, etc) but this site went from drafting the copy to being live in about 12 hours – and that’s by someone who at best can be described as a blogger and at worse a bass-player! That is truly the extent of my website building and coding knowledge.

I learned how to use Headway as I went and it really is that intuitive. The Wizard and Visual Editor are god-sends as positioning the menu bar and everything else that generally requires some coding is as easy as click-and-drag.

The more I’ve been tinkering with Headway and uncovering how it can be used as a blog and not just a static site the more I’m considering moving GadgetyNews over to Headway!

Headway is the one to get if you answer yes to:

  • Do you panic when you have to make changes to PHP code or customise your WordPress blog via CSS?
  • Do you want to be able to control every element of your site without having to know any code?

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Update – 1st March 2011:

As of the above date GadgetyNews.com is now running on Headway.  There’ll be updates and tweaks to the design along the way but this just goes to prove how different two Headway powered sites can look even when built by the same code-phobe 🙂

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