Guest Post By: Lea Woodward
As an early adopter of Headway, we’ve loved every new version that the Headway team have brought out. Until version 3.0 came out that is.
When I fired it up, everything looked horribly different. Very unfamiliar, with what looked like a whole new work process to get used to and when I tried, I couldn’t even upload a basic custom header. Ouch.
This was not what I’m used to with Headway and I just couldn’t face yet another learning curve to get to grips with something that already worked well and did pretty much exactly what I needed it to. And so I didn’t even look at it for a few months – not until the latest version 3.0.5 came out, in fact.
It is only now, several months after version 3 was first released, that I have finally come to appreciate the new version and what it can do.
Naturally, as with most new software releases, there are still a few items of functionality missing – flexible headers & footers, anyone? – but as a website building tool, it is immensely powerful.
Here are a three reasons I feel version 3 has taken things to whole new level for us web designers and developers to build the sites we want…
The Visual Editor Workflow
Sure, it’s very different from the way you used the visual editor in previous versions, but the fact you configure and customize different elements of the site in different sections of the visual editor keeps things logical and distinct.
Set up the basic layout of your blocks in the Grid screen – a bit like creating a wire frame of your site. Then in the same screen (or the Manage screen if you prefer), configure the options and content for each block, before you finally hop over to the Design screen to apply your design customizations.
This kind of work flow and structure also helps to avoid overwhelm since the sheer number of options now available in the visual editor could very easily get lost and be impossible to find if contained in a single screen interface.
Extreme Level of Customization
Having built a number of sites in version 3 now, one noticeable benefit is the reduction in custom CSS required to create the designs we build. On average, instead of 6 or 7 elements of custom CSS to achieve the design we want, we’re using 1 to 2.
The level of customization available in the new visual editor (the Design screen) is fantastic – not only can you customize almost any element across your entire site, you can also customize individual instances on a specific page without requiring custom CSS.
Need a custom page title style on your sales page but nowhere else? No problem, go to the page you want to customize in the visual editor, in the Design screen then go to Blocks > Content > Title and select “Customize for Current Layout” (instead of “Customize Regular Element”) and style the title as you like.
Want a different background on every page? Again in the Design screen, just go to Structure > Body and select “Customize for Current Layout” on each page you want to customize the background. It’s really that simple.
Mirroring, Templating & Cloning
I have to admit that I never found the functionality to copy layouts of pages to other pages in previous versions of Headway the most clear to understand. In fact, in the Headway training classes we ran, linking and templating was one of the most frequently asked questions and caused much confusion.
In version 3, cloning and mirroring make this a more intuitive, logical process to use. Want to copy an entire page layout? Simply clone the page to create it with the blocks from another page, then you’re free to customize any blocks on the new page you’ve created, as required.
Want to create a new page layout and use only some of the same blocks such as the header and footer? Simply mirror those blocks for your new page and then customize the rest.
If I had to sum up the most significant thing I’ve noticed since using version 3 to build all the sites we build – both for ourselves and our clients – it’s that all of the above combine to form a significantly faster work flow process, enabling you to create your own custom designs in around a third of the time.
Once you get over that initial (re)learning curve and your fears that it just won’t be as good as v2.0.13 you’ll find that version 3 is a beast which is nowhere near as complex to get to grips with as you feared. Once again it makes building a website a fast and pleasurable task and puts the power of great-looking websites at your fingertips – with far less custom CSS and coding than ever before.
Bio: Lea Woodward is a blogger and the Co-founder of Inspiring Ventures and Startup Training School – an online school which teaches small business owners the design and technical skills they need to create their own branding and build their own WordPress websites using the Headway theme. Registration for the WordPress & Headway module is currently open until 11th February.