At the end of last year I took a look at the third version of the Headway Framework. I used Headway 2 on a few content websites I run so I was really keen to see how they improved it.
I wasn’t too happy with many of the changes that were implemented as I felt they overcomplicated things. As all with frameworks, there is a learning curve involved, and you only get the most from the framework once you invest time into using it. Therefore I am not really in a position to talk explicitly about the strengths and weaknesses of the framework.
One thing that may persuade me to give Headway 3 another try is their brand new marketplace. This was something that Headway had envisioned for their framework from the start of Headway 3 though it was only launched two days ago. The marketplace, known as Headway Extend, will support official and third party themes and blocks (blocks are essentially plugins for the Headway Framework).
Three official themes are currently available in the marketplace. In my opinion none of them show off the potential of Headway and look quite basic. Luxury is a simple two column blogging theme that looks quite dated.
Daily Bulletin is my favourite of the three. It is a good looking three column design that places follow and subscription links to the left and right of the site logo.
Backdrop has much the same design as Luxury though the background image can be seen through the content blocks.
The three official themes retail for $29. Apparently, since I own a Headway developer license owner, I have three credits to use in the marketplace. Each credit allows me to download one official theme. There is no indication as to what third party themes will cost when they are released. Prices could be set by Headway or they may be allowed to set their own prices (I would assume that Headway will have some say in the matter though).
Four blocks are currently available in the marketplace and all of them were developed by third party developers. All blocks currently retail for $25.
ExcerptsPlus lets you add excerpt displays, featured sliders and more.
GalleryPlus lets you add photo carousels, sliders, grids, accordions and more.
TabsPlus lets you add horizontal and vertical tab content areas, tabbed widgets, thumbs in tabs and much more.
HeaderPlus lets you improve your header with rotating images, panoramas, title formatting and more.
The third party blocks all seem to be priced competitively though the argument could be made that some of these features should be added to the core version of Headway itself.
Headway Extend only has three official themes and four blocks from third party developers. If Headway can encourage more developers to design themes and blocks for Headway then we may see a lot of WordPress users choose Headway instead of alternatives such as Thesis. At the moment Headway is still seen by many as the visual WordPress framework. That won’t change but by adding more functionality through blocks and themes they make it a good option for intermediate to experienced WordPress users too.
I recommend reading the official announcement regarding the marketplace for more information :)