The big problem with being multi-passionate and always having a lot of balls in the air is that there’s simply not enough time to do everything I want to do, when I want to do it.
Case in point: I recently finished a website redesign for Susan Fox of a.i.m high coaching, using the Headway premium WordPress theme (affiliate link). I’ve been wanting to switch my own site over to Headway since I bought it months back, but never got around to it, and now I’m absolutely itching – itching, I tell you – to dive in and redo my site in Headway!
But with my street festival coming up in just over a week, client deadlines (art, design and copywriting projects at the moment) and guest blog posts to write, it simply does not make sense for me to spend the better part of an afternoon or evening (or knowing me, more like a day [or week..] or two…) digging into a site redesign. Even if I keep the basic layout essentially the same. (And being a designer, of course I’m always eager for a site overhaul.)
So I rein myself in and try to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
Soon, though, soon…
And why, you ask, would I switch from Thesis, a rockin’ WordPress theme if ever there was one, over to Headway?
1) Drag and drop WYSIWIG editing functionality
Check it out: the image here (click to get a larger view) shows the Headway Visual Editor in action.
You see the site you’re building, as you’re building it.
People, for folks like me who are not native to the Land of Techie-Geek, this is seriously awesome!
Yes, it does have its own learning curve, and it’s not always as intuitive as I’d like (for example, you have to remember click “Enable Header Rearranging” before rearranging the header – doh!), but you can literally drag Leafs (content boxes – which come in various types), nav bar buttoms, etc. to create your layout.
No fussing with code.
That said, as with all things web-related, the more HTML and CSS you know, the better off you’ll be, but you do not – I repeat do not – have to be a code whiz to use this theme.
Can I tell you this rocks?
Headway also makes site-wide changes to fonts and colors super-easy – just select the item you want to edit in the Element Selector, and a panel drops down where you can change all the specifics. And because your site is showing as you edit, you don’t have to switch over to a new window to see the result.
Unlike with Thesis, Headway allows me to easily make every page on my blog or website different, if I so desire. If I want a different header on each page, or a different page layout, I don’t have to be (or hire) a code jockey to make that happen. Just click a few settings, and shazam!
3) Cost-benefit for developers
This was probably the kicker for me, the thing that pushed me over the edge to buy Headway when I already owned and used Thesis.
Here’s the deal: with Thesis, every time I want to use the theme to create a site for a client, I have to pay an additional license fee. Not so with Headway. The theme is now an asset that I can leverage to earn more money.
The ultimate of coolness.
Thesis is known for having an amazing support community, and it does. But Headway‘s support forum and direct support has been awesome so far. One tweet about building a client site in Headway brought a reply from Grant Griffiths, the developer himself, asking if I had any questions. When I tweeted back that I’d be asking some in the user forums, he told me to email him directly.
So I did, and he answered my question within minutes.
Now I don’t expect Grant Griffiths to be on call for my questions at all times, day or night, but I was pretty impressed with that level of concern about his users. All businesses should be so customer-focused.
In addition, the Headway website has a whole slew of tutorial videos, so getting up to speed is as painless as possible.
5) A full suite of other great features
From the Headway website:
Behind the oh-so-pretty Visual Layout Editor is a throbbing settings engine for Headway Configuration. This lets you get at settings that are “behind the scenes,” so you can change what you want. Headway Configuration has several tabs, so let’s take a look at what’s under the hood:
- General Tab: Contains main blog settings for feeds, Google Analytics or other scripts, and more.
- Styling/Features: If you want to disable the Visual Design Editor, then you can change your style and font settings here, via drop-downs and checkboxes. If the Visual Design Editor is enabled (the default), there’s nothing to see here. Carry on.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tab: Headway has the most thorough SEO features of any premium theme… all without any additional plugins. Here you can manage various kinds of page titles, description meta tags, nofollow settings, noindex settings, and more to boost your search engine rankings.
[Want more specifics on why Headway is so awesome with SEO? See this page on the Headway website.]
- Social Networking Tab: Here you can integrate your Twitter account into your blog without extra plugins to bog down your blog’s page load times. You can have your tweets automatically appear in a leaf on the blog, and automatically tweet your new blog posts to Twitter as soon as they’re published.
- Headway Permissions Tab: Have a multi-author blog or a team of designer/developers? Set their permissions for how much of Headway’s power they can access. You get to choose what type of user account (administrator, editor, etc.) has permission to see and use the various Headway tools, such as the Visual Design Editor or Headway Configuration. No other premium theme has these capabilities built in.
Put these 5 points together, and it only made sense to make the switch… but of course I haven’t done so quite yet…
Unless there’s a good reason not to do so, I’m building all new client sites in Headway, and as soon as I can liberate some time from my current pressing deadlines, I’ll be buckling down to redo Living A Creative Life in Headway too. (In other words, don’t be surprised it you see a new design here sometime in the not-too-distant future…)
And now I’m curious: if you’re running WordPress, what theme do you use on your blog? What do you like about it, what you don’t like about it?
(And if you don’t have a blog or website and need one, I’m accepting new clients, so shoot me an email.)