Headway Themes Appears to be Dying a Slow Death

It’s been seven months since Grant and Clay Griffiths, founders of Headway Themes, apologized to customers for failing to communicate on a regular basis and provide adequate customer support. In the apology, the founders admit that the company was experiencing financial difficulties and noted that competition in the WordPress drag-and-drop page-builder space was tough. The duo vowed to communicate more, provide better customer support, and continue to develop Headway 4.0. Has anything changed since the apology was published?

Headway Themes Migrates to FlyWheel Hosting

In December of 2016, Flywheel hosting acquired Pressmatic, created by Clay Griffiths. Soon after, Headway Themes migrated to Flywheel hosting which caused a few hiccups such as site downtime due to DNS propagation, login issues, and an issue with the Headway Dashboard. The acquisition raised questions on how it would affect Clay’s ability to work on Headway.

“This acquisition and employment will provide myself and my family much more stability than we’ve had in a long time, and will allow me to better focus on Headway in my spare time,” Griffiths said. “This includes rolling out the upcoming 4.1 release, and working hard to make sure the support and other outstanding issues are resolved for all our customers.”

Influx Confirms Communication Issues With Founders

Soon after the apology, Headway Themes began to use Influx to provide first-tier customer support. Influx provides customer support for companies, including those in the WordPress ecosystem such as Advanced Custom Fields. Any issues that Influx couldn’t solve are escalated to Clay and Grant. In February, Gary Bairéad, a former Headway Themes employee, contacted Headway Themes support about the status of Headway 4.0 and received the following response.

Influx Responds to Customer

Influx couldn’t answer the question because Headway developers had not informed them of its progress despite inquiring about it. Influx notes that there may be a beta released in the near future but not to be quoted on it because a similar promise was made five months prior. In January, the official Headway Themes Twitter account confirmed that Headway was being supported and that 4.0 would be released soon.

Around the same time period, another Headway Themes customer submitted a support request asking about the status of a longstanding issue they were having. Influx explained that there was a lull because the main developers were failing to communicate. The support representative also pointed out that it seemed the only way for customers to get information about Headway Themes was by emailing support.

Influx Repsonse 2

Influx says it tried multiple times to contact Headway Themes developers about the issue and said it was lobbying hard to get it rectified.

Payments Stop for Third-Party Block Developers

In February, Bairéad published a request to third-party block customers to not renew through Headway Themes.com and to instead, purchase and renew directly from the developer’s sites. Chris Howard, founder of Pizazz WP, and Chris Rault, co-founder of HeadwayRocket, confirmed they are owed money from customers who purchased and renewed blocks through Headway Themes.com.

I reached out to both developers to see if they’ve been paid since February.

“I’ve sent Clay a bunch of messages, but he’s completely ignoring me and hasn’t paid over another cent since the last long delay,” Rault said.

“It’s down to only 2 or 3 renewals a month, but I’m not receiving anything still. I’d estimate they still owe me around $2,000,” Howard said.

For Howard, the issue of not receiving payments has been going on for months.

Former Support Staff Still Owed Money

Headway Themes’ apology does not mention the former support team who the company failed to pay on time for months. Since the apology, members of the team have received small payments but are still owed thousands of dollars. Receiving payments from Headway Themes is often a difficult process.

After not receiving a payment in February, a former team member sent a flurry of emails to Grant and Clay Griffiths inquiring about the payment. Clay eventually responded that they would send out payments when they’re able too. After a week of questioning when that would be with no response, the team member received a payment.

Influx Says Headway Themes is Restructuring

A Headway Themes customer recently contacted support to ask about the status of Headway and published Influx’s response to the company’s support forums. Here’s their response:

Hi [Redacted],

Thanks for reaching out.

Currently, Headway is going through a restructuring phase to resolve the challenges being faced at this time. We do not have the full details here at support but the main stakeholders are working to return Headway to its rightful mode of operations.

Please let me know if there are any more questions that I can answer for you. Kind Regards.

To learn more about the restructuring process and what’s going on with Headway development, I reached out to Grant and Clay Griffiths. Both have not responded to my request for comment.

Blox Picks Up Where Headway Left Off

Last year, when it appeared the future of Headway Themes was in jeopardy, Maarten Schraven forked the Headway 3.8.8 codebase and named it Blox Builder. Blox Builder is 100% GPL Licensed and is a direct replacement for Headway. Schraven recently answered a number of questions related to the project, one of which is how easy is it to transfer from Headway to Blox.

There are different ways to convert your Headway Theme to Blox Theme. The best way is to export your template, you get an .json file. In this file you have to change hw to bt and headway to blox. If you have a large website you also can change the database tables. Some of our users have Blox Theme and Headway Themes side by side and switch between them. The last way (not yet available) is our conversion script. This script can do two things, change the database or do the same search and replace. This script will work automatic or as standalone.

Or, if you think this is to difficult, you always can ask us for the conversion, we can discuss this on e-mail or skype

There’s no time frame on when the conversion script will be available. If you’re a fan of the way Headway Themes works and are looking for a similar replacement, check out Blox Builder.

Many in the Headway Themes Community Have Moved On

A number of devoted fans and customers of Headway have switched to other page builders like Divi, Elementor, and Beaver Builder. What was once a vibrant community-run Slack channel for Headway Themes enthusiasts has turned into a ghost town. There is little hope among them that the company will be able to rebound.

Not Much Has Changed

Unfortunately, the issues that prompted Headway Themes’ founders to issue an apology are still present. There is a lack of communication on the company’s blog, social media accounts, and to Influx, the company it has outsourced customer support to. The apology dated Sept 13, 2016, was the last post published to the company’s blog. Former employees and third-party developers are still owed considerable amounts of money and there has been little if any development on the Headway code base.


13 responses to “Headway Themes Appears to be Dying a Slow Death”

  1. I can understand any small software company running into troubles. The business environment changes all the time. And change in the WordPress business environment has been accelerating for the last two years.

    Crappy things happen. Companies make mistakes.

    But what is unforgivable is Headway continuing to take money from new customers when they are unable to serve their current base.

    Even after months of woes, Headway is still offering their product to new customers.

    Ethical companies don’t do this. Many software providers limit their intake of customers so they don’t go beyond their capacity.

    All companies are guilty of making mistakes. Ethical companies don’t take new passangers while continuing to drive toward a cliff.

    They should have stopped taking new sales many months ago.

  2. HeadwayThemes is such a great product. Blox Themes is pickup up the ball and extending the Headway code base. That’s great as I have many sites on Headway to migrate to Blox.

    Still, if Headway 4 would be completed, that would be a leading contender. Headway is for serious WP site builders and does well with page builder plugins from Divi or BeaverBuilder.

  3. Why doesn’t someone just go to their house and ask them what’s going on? It’s not like they are difficult to find and doorstepping might be more effective than continuing to ask over electronic channels which they’re obviously ignoring.

  4. Thanks, Jeff.

    What is unsaid here is the emotional toil this placed on all of us who’d built livelihoods around Headway, whether we be support staff, third party devs, or web site designer/developers.

    At the height of Headway’s success, many people were making solid incomes based on it.

    However, their (unnecessary) failure hit us all hard, and indeed the plummeting income I experienced was a factor in the failure of my marriage. Fortunately, my last plugin, Architect, was theme agnostic but with all the crap of last year, it’s marketing, development (and support at times) has been neglected. Slowly getting that back on track.

    There is no satisfactory reason for Headway’s demise, other than Grant and Clay didn’t have the skills to grow the business as it desperately needed, and nor did they seem to make the effort to learn or bring in those skills.

    Headway could have easily competed against the rise of the page builders with aggressive marketing, supporting its community and development of a thriving third-party add-on ecosystem.

    Headway had the potential to set the standard for WordPress page builders instead of trying to play catch up. Headway v4 should have been about more seamless integration with the WordPress post/page editor.

    Unfortunately, at its height of popularity, Clay and Grant did not put enough revenue back into strengthening the business.

    Although, in truth, Headway’s demise should have been expected after the debacle of the version 2 to version 3 process, when they released v3 without a converter for sites on v2, promised they would but never delivered and showed scant regard for customers caught out by that.

    They lost a lot of web designer/devs after that, and these are your most import allies in this space. Their loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing are gold. It’s exactly why Beaver Builder has succeeded.

    Headway provides a salient reminder to us all about how not to run a business, and, for me, not putting so much faith and trust in one income source.

    • Headway’s owners cashed in during the theme gold rush, but once that ended, it exposed how poorly the business was run.

      They should have sold it when they had the chance, instead of letting it wither away.

      It’s still unbelievable that they fraudulently sold support licenses without providing support for almost 4 months. then lied to customers when they asked about it (which Grant and Clay have still never admitted to or apologized for).

      It’s difficult to see how Headway could recover from that without a change of ownership.

      Grant and Clay had an opportunity to begin rebuilding trust with users following their “apology” last September, but they promised a v4 update “within the next month” – and no update ever came.

      Most of the few remaining Headway users have moved on, and it looks like has Clay has too with Local and Flywheel.

  5. @Chris, Well said. It’s a shame for many reasons and the domino effect hurt many people.

    Headway had a lot of loyal supporters. Transparent communications and an honest approach would have gained what ever support they needed to get over the hump of their challenges. I won’t repeat the list of failings, but do think twice about any technology that I use for projects, especially about factors relating to long-term utility and support.

  6. I love this theme and use V.3 for all my sites – it’s the best of all the builders I’ve tried. I hope that I can continue to use it for a long time to come. As long as I don’t need support I’m hoping I’ll be okay for the foreseeable future.

  7. I agree with @DannyBrown the company stopped being responsive and instead of standing up and saying we messed up they seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. Making a post once every 6 months isn’t going to instill consumer confidence considering how they have been treated in the past by the company.

  8. Apologies to Clay and Grant, I should have noted sooner, that not long after this article they did pay me a part of what was owed. Very appreciated. If they’re reading… would love to get the client data of everyone who bought my add-ons through the HW shop. ;)


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