My Experience As A New Headway User
Although I’ve been aware of Headway (Headway Themes) since it’s first beta release, and in spite of knowing some strong Headway enthusiasts, this is my first foray into trying out Headway (I’m currently using Headway 3.2.3).
I’m an experienced web developer and website designer with WordPress. At first I was fairly impressed with the capabilities, being able to drag-and-drop widget areas onto a page, then assigning a widget, or adding a code block in similar fashion. Well, after a few weeks of building a website with Headway…I’m still impressed. Headway has come a long way from the ‘beta’ days, and is very promising.
BUT…I’m also finding out that having a lot of options within a visual interface, when I’m used to programming code into ‘hooks’ and using a lot of CSS, is becoming a huge learning curve that is taking me about 5 times longer to build this current website project of mine than would normally take when building a website with the Genesis theme framework for example (that I’m much more familiar with). And now I also have to install and configure a whole new shopping cart since WooCommerce is currently not supported…not good.
One of the hardest things to learn within Headway seems to be figuring out where to make changes…what affects what…should you edit an element in Grid, Manage, or Design mode? Does the element have an attribute within the visual editor? Or after looking there and trying all of the various options do you end up using CSS override anyway since perhaps thats either easier (due to familiarity) or the attribute can’t be found because they don’t exist? Although Headway has done a good job to cover the most needed options, not every possible attribute for every element on the page that you may need to adjust exists as an editable option within Headway. That part has sucked up a lot of my time, so in a lot of cases I just jump into CSS override mode anyway and skip the visual editor, but that kind of defeats the at least part of the point of Headway. At this point I’m using an external style sheet so I’m not even taking advantage of Headway’s Live CSS feature…maybe in time that will change, or maybe I’m too much a coder at this point to ever use that feature…time will tell.
Getting used to the difference between Templates and cloned Pages and how and when to assign them took some time to learn too (really still learning that part).
There are a small handful of child themes currently available for Headway (4 as of this writing), but I started with a blank slate on my first Headway project, and that means more time making customizations. In the past I’ve typically started with a good child theme from StudioPress or WooThemes, so starting with a blank slate is taking much more time to build a website than I’m used to.
In the end I think I came up with a good skin. I’ll have to post the link to my first Headway site when it is live, I think it’s coming out well…here’s a screenshot of phase 1:
I’m pretty sure that most of the extra time and effort I’m spending with Headway is simply because I’m not used to using the Headway environment, and I’m hoping that the development time for future website building will become much faster if I continue to use Headway (I’m hopeful anyway).
I think users who aren’t already very familiar with and closely tied to another theme framework may be able to get through some of the learning curve a little quicker, and probably be able to take more advantage of Headway visual design features than I have thus far.
At this point the jury is still out…I haven’t made up my mind whether I’m going to be using Headway as one of my TOP theme frameworks when building websites. If things go well in the near future I may even LEAD with Headway for most new projects.
One thing that is definitely NOT in Headway’s favor is the fact that Headway currently doesn’t support integration with WooCommerce.