Have you noticed? I changed the look of my blog using a premium WordPress theme called Headway. Premium is a nice way of saying you have to pay for it. I thought I would share my unbiased experience and review with you.
First a little background is in order. I started blogging almost a year ago. After some research I decided WordPress was the way to go. I am fairly computer literate and have some experience in programming. This experience, however, is woefully out of date! It is mostly related to COBOL (anyone remember that?) and dBase programming. I know nothing of css, ajax, php, html, etc. other than being vaguely familiar with the terms.
Until now, I used free themes. First I used NeoClassical. It had a clean look, with great readability, and rotating headers. Eventually I wanted a smaller header, and couldn’t figure out how to do that easily. Next I used Carrington Blog. I really liked that one. It had a lot of options and settings that you could change from within WordPress including the ability to use your own header image. One of the features I especially liked in this theme was a navigation bar with your blog categories. But I get bored easily, and I wanted a new look. I decided I didn’t want to keep searching for a new theme each time I got bored. Instead I wanted the ability to change things around whenever I wanted. I wanted a theme that would grow with me. That’s where Headway comes in.
After reading some reviews about Headway, I paid my $87 and jumped right it. Headway is unique in that it features a visual editor. No need to learn css to get your page looking the way you want it. I will admit that I was frustrated the first day. I wanted a three-column layout, and just couldn’t get it to work. Drop and drag didn’t work quite the way I expected it to. I thought it would be like moving objects around on a PowerPoint slide. Not so much. Obviously you can’t have items overlap on your blog page. I had to learn that size and alignment affect the behavior of the columns. I never did get the 3 columns set up the way I wanted so I went to plan B which turned out well. Someday I will revisit the three-column layout and give it another try.
Headway has a lot of options and a lot of potential. After working with it for a week, I know that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg. The core of Headway revolves around what are called “leafs.” Leafs are basically predefined containers that you place on your blog page. For example there is a widget leaf to contain widgets, a leaf for text, a leaf for images, and others. You can place as many of these leafs as you want on your blog page. You also have control of font type, font color, line height and more. With Headway each page in your blog can have a different layout. I love that!
Headway also allows you to add custom css for even more customization. As I mentioned, I don’t know css. But knowing me, I will eventually get around to trying some of this out. It helps to have a little knowledge of html code. I couldn’t get the text in my About box to line up properly until I added a paragraph code. I don’t know html code but I was aware that there were formatting codes in html. I did a quick google search on it, threw in a
code, and it worked!
So the bottom line is….
If you are new to the world of blogging and WordPress, find a free theme that has the look and feel you are going for. But if you want more control and the ability to set up your blog as a website with different page layouts, then Headway is the answer you are looking for. Headway is relatively new, and it looks like they are still tweaking it. It can only get better. The one other piece of advice I would give is to be sure to read all of the documentation on the Headway website, and watch a few of the videos before you start using Headway. I could have saved a few hours of time had I done this. Oh and just so you know, I’m still tweaking my blog design as well.
UPDATE – 5/23/12
At the moment I am very disappointed with Headway Themes. They upgraded to a new version late in 2011. It is a major overhaul. No upgrade path was provided from the version I have. Though Headway Themes has said that an upgrade path is a priority, they will not commit to having an upgrade path ready any time soon. They won’t even commit to saying it will be this year. So the only thing to do at this time is to live with what I have and miss out on new features and capabilities, or redo the site from scratch in the new version. You can see why I am not happy. I’ll let you know when (if ever) they provide an upgrade path.