Detailed REVIEW: OptimizePress 2, Headway, Genesis, InstaBuilder, Ultimatum

50 replies
(Updated 8 APRIL 2015 with latest experiences)

Hi,

Some sharing...

What's the point of this review? To share my experience (as pro web designer / programmer / copywriter) for the "best" WordPress all-in-one package that'll design ANY type of winning website.

I'd like to give you the bottom line based on my experience of using them extensively, in detail and spending considerable time with each.

If you disagree, great! I'm only sharing my subjective point of view... from someone who absolutely needs to analyze to exhaustion... each and every component through extensive comparison and testing.

My criteria for testing is: Show me any site on the web. No matter how professional, sales-lettery, modern 3.0ish, traditional, etc the site is... I'll be able to copy and design an exact replica in record time and enjoy the process.

So the question is: Which builder online allows me to do this? That's exactly the point of this post.

In summary - if you're in a hurry: Get this combo: HeadwayThemes + Shortcodes Ultimate

All the plugins/themes I've used and tested: OptimizePress 2, Headway, Genesis, Dynamik Website Builder, Visual Composer, Ultimatum, Pagelines 2.4 Framework, Pagelines DMS, Shortcodes Ultimate, Intense Shortcodes, InstaBuilder.

(I also use Dreamweaver CC 2014 with DMX Bootstrap 3.0 Extension. This method to create sites from scratch gets 10/10! More on this below if you're into Dreamweaver)

I haven't used, but closely analyzed from videos: Thesis, Catalyst. And read almost 80% of reviews on all themes/plugins on this page. So my evaluation is also based on others testing.

Now for the notes on my experience. I won't go in detail. For that, see their respective websites.

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HeadwayThemes: ver 3.7
===============


I'm only interested in popular themes with a BIG community around it and lot of plugins. Because this tells me they'll be around for many more years. Face it, 90% of themes are built as a one-time money maker by the ego-driven author. Or author has no real business plan for future updates. Or author has a divorce and loses motivation to live, let alone continue updating the plugin. That's what you DON'T want!

Knowing that...

Headway is the ONLY theme I found that understands web designers needs, order, steps and logic of working... so you get the site designed from scratch to finish... as fast, efficiently and smoothly as possible.

It's the Dreamweaver of WordPress theme web design. Meaning you can edit ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. It's extremely easy and straight forward once you've invested at least 3-5 days playing with it. So yes, there is a learning curve. But it's a fun one. Not the technical, painful, boring one.

For example, you can right click on absolutely any component, text, element on your Wordpress page and change dozens of variables about it. No coding! You can also apply manual CSS.

I totally got hang of it in 1 day... attempting to replicate a premium ThemeForest theme (Porto - Responsive HTML5 Template Preview - ThemeForest) from scratch. Did 100% replica in 3 hours.

It's code and template is clean and small, so loads super fast... in fact Headway has FASTEST loading time from all themes tested. And has ZERO conflicts with any plugin I threw at it. (Except OptimizePress 2.)

What's more... ANY template from OP2, LeadsPages, 10 Min Pages, ProfitsTheme, Premise, Kajabi... can be replicated in Headway in under 1 hour. Another reason to love Headway.

In my opinion:

I rather create my own theme (which is what Headway is - a theme creator)... then use a predefined one (like you'd find hundreds on ThemeForest, StudioPress, WooThemes, etc).

Because with Headway you can change anything, anytime. EG: I'm never happy with my theme. Always making small changes inspired from other Themes/sites. With Headway, you're not mercy to styling preference of someone elses theme design.

Also, Elance has tons of Headway theme designers. So can outsource theme creation by telling them to replicate any blog/page you like on the internet.

All in all: Headway is for you if like web design, enjoy expressing your creativity, and are a control-freak. Otherwise if you just want a money-making site/blog ASAP... then I 100% recommend Optimize Press 2.


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InstaBuilder V1 PLUGIN (This does NOT apply to V2 as I haven't tested V2)
===============


This is the most perfect, trouble-free plugin I ever used for building sales letter-y and high-converting optin pages pages. No bugs, no layout inconsistencies with themes, nothing but pure "It just WORKS!" perfection.

It's obvious author put their heart and care into this project.

However, I don't use InstaBuilder at all anymore. OP2 and LeadPages is years ahead of InstaBuilder.


UPDATE 20 FEB 2014: InstaBuilder adds extra 100KB of file size to your site. Meaning it slows down page load time significantly. For this reason alone, I'd never use InstaBuilder - and simply replicate it's awesome sales letter designs using Headway or OP2... and it's awesome shortcodes using free plugin "Shortcodes Ultimate".

For those who think 100KB is nothing are still living in a narrow-minded world of ADSL2 near their home. You obviously haven't traveled to 3rd world countries and spent weeks there running your business every day. Or been to villages in your country with ADSL1 like speeds (very slow). This will ALWAYS be the case. Amazon.com said just 1 extra sec of load time on their site equates to 4 million dollars loss per year. YES IT'S THAT SIGNIFICANT!!!



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Shortcodes Ultimate
===============


I spent days searching for every shortcode plugin I could find.

Shortcodes Ultimate is clear winner. It allows you to insert any "Twitter Bootstrap 3.0" like component. Adds things like: Tabs, Accordion, etc...

Basically: Use this to insert super modern components throughout your pages/blog.

What's more, "Shortcodes Ultimate" has smallest file size when activated. It's only 18kb on average. Meaning it won't affect your page load at all.

(I've also used "Intense Shortcodes" from Codecanyon. Avoid this! It adds extra 180kb to your pages just when you activate the plugin. That's suicide to your page load times.)


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Optimize Press 2
===============


Want to cut all the review B.S, and only care about high-conversion templates... and just want to make money ASAP? Then go for OP2.

(Or) Go for LeadPages. I see both of them pretty much the same and use them both.

However, here's what I noticed about OP2:

1) OP2 Plugin: I tried all it's components. 80% of them broke with any theme, except OptimizePress 2 theme. Here's what I mean: http://i.imgur.com/n3zutqo.png

So it's incompatible with Headway.

Also, OP2 level of customization is only 50% capable of Headway. Meaning you're greatly limited in customizing the styling in OP2.



===============
LeadPages:
===============


What got me into buying monthly membership to this is the fact that all templates are proven high-conversion designs. Meaning I don't have to worry about colors, style, fonts, etc.

Meaning, LeadPages appears to be by far the FASTEST and surely the easiest way to put up a webpage for your product/service - with least amount of knowledge required in web design on your part.

I still more prefer OptimizePress 2.0, because it's very similar to LeadPages, with added benefit of it being a WordPress Theme, hence allowing so much more personal customizing of components, CSS.

Only reason I'm with LeadPages is it's reassuring having membership that contains proven WINNER money-making designs that I can replicate in OptimizePress 2.0 or Headway.


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Ultimatum
===============


Second choice after Headway. Ultra loaded with all the right stuff to make any site.

My issue with it: Too hard to use at the start. Not intuitive and takes way longer to build something by the way it's made. At least nowhere near to Headway's speed, efficiency and structure. This is subjective of course and my experience ONLY with it.

Also, I'd rather resort to something else that's clearly run/maintained by MANY people and has a LARGE popularity online. Hence another reason why I was biased towards Headway instead. But I almost ended up sticking to Ultimatum.


===============
Visual Composer
===============


Besides seeing here what this is: WordPress - Visual Composer: Page Builder for WordPress | CodeCanyon

... it's one of the most popular visual page builders for WordPress.

NOTE: It's used to align content and insert content into your pages. It's not a THEME builder like Headway. Meaning you CAN use the 2 together.

Summary 20 Feb 2014: I don't recommend this anymore. Shortcodes Ultimate is 1000x better, faster because it's code is tons smaller.


===============
Genesis/Dynamik Builder
===============


Headway 1000x quicker and more fun to accomplish the same thing. And Headway has tons more customization options.

Dynamik Builder: Yes, I get it. It's hundreds of fields that allow you to enter values in order to customize the look of your theme. To me, this is ridiculous. Because...

Most people are visual... and need to see LIVE and INSTANTLY how changes look like in a LIVE PREVIEW. Just like you'd see in Dreamweaver or Headway.


===============
Pagelines/DMS
===============


Same case as Genesis/Dynamik above.


===============
Dreamweaver + DMXzone Bootstrap 3
===============


Bootstrap 3 is awesome. Some of most popular sites in the world are built on Bootstrap framework. Because it's so reliable, flexible and mobile responsive.

Knowing this, I now make sites using Bootstrap inside Dreamweaver. It gives power to replicate absolutely any design in the world ever made since beginning of internet, in record time and 100x better looking. That's the power of using this combo to build your sites.

Because why on earth would you create a single page WordPress site? That's when you'd use this Dreamweaver/Bootstrap combo.

So you'll need these 3 plugins:

DMXzone Bootstrap 3 - Extensions - DMXzone.COM
DMXzone Bootstrap 3 Elements - Extensions - DMXzone.COM
DMXzone Bootstrap 3 Navigation - Extensions - DMXzone.COM


Get those 3. When you do, install them to Dreamweaver. Now you can design a PRO looking site in 10 minutes. Compared to professional coders who would take 3 hours to do by hand coding.




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In conclusion:

=======
Advanced / Intermediate or those who care and love their businesses and put lot of time, energy, money into it - and have big plans to expand their service/product empire in the future...
=======

Get this combo: HeadwayThemes + Shortcodes Ultimate


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Beginner / Guy who likes to make cash FAST and a LOT of it by churning out their good/crap products to the market...
=======

OptimizePress2 (or) LeadsPages.

If you need membership capability, go for "Wishlist Member". Which is light years ahead of OptimizePress2 or InstaMember membership plugins.


* Yes, I also recommend "Wishlist Member" as #1 choice for membership sites. Extremely intuitive, with superb control over your members, content and payments. Also it's 100% compatible with all reviewed products in this post.
#designer #genesis #headway #instabuilder #optimizepress #wysiwyg
  • Profile picture of the author Mercynew
    Thanks for this rewiev.

    It has helped me!
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    • Profile picture of the author smak
      Thanks 4 the review of these programs. Can I check if you have used LeadPages as well. If so, would be interested in your feedback/review of that too, since u seem to be a impartial reviewer. Cheers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ruwan
    Thanks for the review. I've subscribed to Elegant themes but was looking for more flexible options.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    I tried Headway before settling on OP2.

    I can't help but feel like I was incredibly stupid, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to use it.

    When I spent a comparable amount of time in OP2, the clouds opened up and sunshine came pouring through.

    It's too bad, because I had heard nice things about Headway. If they had a better new-user walkthrough, I might still be with them.
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  • Profile picture of the author gatorjack
    I've been looking over Instabuilder and OptimizePress. For squeeze pages, etc it seems Instabuilder is a nobrainer. Intense Shortocdes and Visual Composer seem really nice as well. The one feature on OptimizePress that seems really nice is the ability to run membership sites. Basically allowing different levels of access to content, including creating "courses" and showing how much a person has completed. I've looked over InstaMember (made by the same that created Instabuilder) and it doesn't seem to have ability to sell access to downloads like OP does.

    Does anyone know of a plugin that can allow content access management such as OP?
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    For membership sites, I'm using "Wishlist Member". Phenomenal plugin. Smooth integration with any theme.

    Also, I wouldn't use OP2 Membership module. Even if I was using only OP2 theme.

    Because it's membership flexibility, or level of control you've got, is only half of what "Wishlist Member" does.
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    • Profile picture of the author leanfang
      I use instabuilder and it is very good - you probably don't need anything else aside from a main theme for your site.

      My best advice - choose one of these only. So lead pages or instabuilder or OP. They are 90% the same. But you can lose dozens of hours "researching" the latest and best plug in or theme when you could be building something that is 95% perfect but works.

      I have the 'scars' of lost income to prove this :-). Don't waste 90% of your time on making a project look 5% better.

      cheers

      Fraser
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      • Profile picture of the author gatorjack
        The WishList plugin looks really good. I've read on other sites the issuesthe OP2 plugin has with other templates. I design my own templates for the most part and don't want to spend most of my time trying to get a plugin to work with a simple template. I've e-mailed them a couple basic questions. Once I get to the point of a member site I'll purchase the single license.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    Premise? Not recommended per this detailed review: OptimizePress 2 vs. Premise vs. InstaBuilder vs. Alternatives - Review
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  • Profile picture of the author mhdeaton
    I've been using Optimize Press for 5 years, I just converted to OP 2.0 and initially I was so excited, but my excitement quickly turned to dissapointment.

    YES, its buggy, and right now after 50 hours into a sales letter Im stuck and waiting for support to get rid of a text box editor that pops up and won't allow me to continue???

    HENCE, me, searching for a new alternative.

    I've been using OP and DAP for years Im so good with these tools that I'm afraid to change!!! :-)

    But I must say, OP2.0 was not ready for release just yet. Hopefully Jason is busy fixing the bugs, because getting stopped in your tracks while editing text is absolutely unacceptable.
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  • Profile picture of the author donhx
    Helpful reviews, but Headway has a deal killer. From their site: "All licenses require renewal after one year (365 days)."
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    • Profile picture of the author gatorjack
      Originally Posted by donhx View Post

      Helpful reviews, but Headway has a deal killer. From their site: "All licenses require renewal after one year (365 days)."
      I think it depends on what you are using it for. If you're mainly using it for personal sites where you'll make little to no money then I might see hesitation. I used to have the mentality where I did my best to avoid any software that require license renewals.

      When I started to get to to creating my own software (personal/myself, not yet commercial) I thought about it. A person buys my software once and that's it. I have to bust butt to get more people to purchase a license and still support the people that have already purchased my software years back.

      To me it makes sense to have a license renewal. This way you are helping financially support the developer. Helping support them so they'll come out with more features. One software I purchased has a renewal license fee of 40% of the original cost. To me that's not bad at all. It's a software I plan on using years to come.

      I was looking over a membership management plugin for Wordpress. It costs $20/month. A few years back I would have immediately left the site as I never was crazy about software with a monthly fee. The way I see this is that I'm paying a fee to use that software. It's continuing the support of the software. Instead of me paying one fee and they have my money, I'm reminding them each month when I pay for it that I'm a customer. Plus, for those on a tight budget it only costs $20 to start a site up. Proper planning and one can start their site up at a very low cost compared to having to purchase outright hundreds of dollars of software.
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      • Profile picture of the author donhx
        Originally Posted by gatorjack View Post

        When I started to get to to creating my own software (personal/myself, not yet commercial) I thought about it. A person buys my software once and that's it. I have to bust butt to get more people to purchase a license and still support the people that have already purchased my software years back.

        To me it makes sense to have a license renewal. This way you are helping financially support the developer....
        Well, that is the difference, isn't it? If you are a buyer, you want to pay once and get the support you need when needed. That is a reasonable assumption for a buyer and represents a business model that has worked well for buyers and sellers. Many developers, on the other hand, always think they are underpaid, always want more money, and they expect others to pay for future development that may or may not actually happen.

        Many developers expect their buyers to be cash machines so they get money on a regular basis. I think that's wrong, a poor business plan, and one that ultimately leads to failure for developers. Some developers limit functionality or start displaying an advertising backlink when people do not renew. I think such tactics are a form of extortion.

        The fact is, support is only a problem to those who create a crappy product. A solid product with top-notch documentation does not attract a lot of support requests.

        Along with most others, I think the business model Ultimatum Themes uses is the best. They advertise, "Ultimatum membership is for life time without any hidden or recurring fees." I'd say they are going to make bales of money because they put customer needs and expectations first.

        Another acceptable business model is to charge for support after 90 days, or charge 1/2 price for major updates after the first year. Customers have a choice that way.

        I never want any of my site functionality dependent on the marketing whims or schemes of some third-party developer. Developers need to offer a good product at a fair price and they will make lots of money without the need to try to enslave their customers.

        Forcing someone to renew a product license they already purchased is wrong, IMO. I buy lots of online products, but I always reject such marketing schemes no matter how good the product seems to be.
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        • Profile picture of the author gatorjack
          Originally Posted by donhx View Post

          Well, that is the difference, isn't it? If you are a buyer, you want to pay once and get the support you need when needed. That is a reasonable assumption for a buyer and represents a business model that has worked well for buyers and sellers. Many developers, on the other hand, always think they are underpaid, always want more money, and they expect others to pay for future development that may or may not actually happen.

          Many developers expect their buyers to be cash machines so they get money on a regular basis. I think that's wrong, a poor business plan, and one that ultimately leads to failure for developers. Some developers limit functionality or start displaying an advertising backlink when people do not renew. I think such tactics are a form of extortion.

          The fact is, support is only a problem to those who create a crappy product. A solid product with top-notch documentation does not attract a lot of support requests.

          Along with most others, I think the business model Ultimatum Themes uses is the best. They advertise, "Ultimatum membership is for life time without any hidden or recurring fees." I'd say they are going to make bales of money because they put customer needs and expectations first.

          Another acceptable business model is to charge for support after 90 days, or charge 1/2 price for major updates after the first year. Customers have a choice that way.

          I never want any of my site functionality dependent on the marketing whims or schemes of some third-party developer. Developers need to offer a good product at a fair price and they will make lots of money without the need to try to enslave their customers.

          Forcing someone to renew a product license they already purchased is wrong, IMO. I buy lots of online products, but I always reject such marketing schemes no matter how good the product seems to be.
          Developers that charge a renewal every year or whatever their model but produce little to no updates... Or produce updates with little to no gain for the end user usually won't last long as buyers will see, and rightfully so, their money going down the drain.

          I've never been much of a fan of advertisement within the software. At most, templates I design will have a link back to my site. However, full source available. I don't believe in encrypting or encoding (e.g. base64) any part of the template. I usually see that on the footer code. This annoys me as a regular user when I want to make simple edits to the footer.

          My plans are when a license comes up for renewal the person will be sent an e-mail as a reminder. I feel a less annoying approach is when the person attempts to update beyond the expiration date then they are notified that their license has expired. I do not believe in charging full price for license renewals. As I mentioned in my previous post, one software I use charges only 40% of the original purchase price as a renewal fee. To me that's reasonable.

          While I don't expect my customers to be personal ATMs, the fact of the matter is that developers do have to make a living.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dracor
      Originally Posted by donhx View Post

      Helpful reviews, but Headway has a deal killer. From their site: "All licenses require renewal after one year (365 days)."
      This renewal is not for the use of the software, but a renewal for another year of support and access to new releases. Just fyi

      "* For the above plans, you get access to updates and support for a period of one (1) year. At that time you will be required to renew your membership to receive product updates and support for another year."

      from: Terms of Service – Headway Themes
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    I love the fact that authors charge a yearly fee. It tells me they won't go out of business abandoning their fellow loyal customers. As nearly ALWAYS happens with one-time payment themes.

    UPDATE 20 Feb 2014: Headway just got even BETTER. Recommend it more then ever.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    Hey mobilesuccess,

    I'm also noticing that a lot of premium themes under $60 are coming out with drag and drop visual editors that actually seem easier to use than Headway.
    100% true. Many themes have visual drag-drop builders that are better then Headway/OP2/InstaBuilder combined together.

    But I still would NEVER use it (and I used many of them). Because you're still limited to theme pre-set components. Meaning you can hardly customize it, and victim to how much functionality the theme offers you. Which is like 5% compared to 100% in Headway.

    Difference is:

    Headway: Customize color, texture, shape, size, aroma, personality, etc.

    ThemeForest Visual Drag-Drop Themes: Customize color.


    Above becomes way more prevalent when you design many sites, not just 1 site.
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  • Profile picture of the author ScrooG
    Thanks for the great comparison.
    I tried Thrive Content Builder and found it extremely finicky and buggy. Has anyone else found that to be the case. I'd have refunded it if I'd gotten 'round to trying it before the 30 days trial was up.

    I am wondering what the learning curve for Headway themes is for someone who's NOT a web designer by trade? I have used 4-5 different themes or templates and have found that all of them have too much of a learning curve for my liking, but maybe that's just the nature of the beast.

    I found Thrive Content Builder to be super easy to understand and use, EXCEPT that it was too finicky and buggy - like I would try to add a button and it would add just fine and then when I'd try to edit the text it would not want to allow me to, then I'd click around here and there and maybe finally after messing with it for a couple minutes it would allow me to do what I wanted to do!

    Just curious how difficult it is to learn Headway...?

    Oh, and I have and use Instabuilder and I find it very easy to use. I really like it, and am sorry to hear it is slowing up my site! I did notice it took a long time to upload the install but I figured that was because of all the graphics within it, but I don't see why that would slow up my site unless I was using ALL the graphics on my pages... ? Are you sure Instabuilder caused your site to load slowly? I just read another review comparing Instabuilder to Opt Press II and others and the reviewer shows a chart in which Instabuilder loads very fast.

    I thought it was another plug-in that was slowing up my site, not InstaBuilder.

    Well I am definitely interested in Headway. I was thinking of buying Optimize Press but am thinking it's mostly for sales pages.

    As for Lead Pages, it looks great but WAY too expensive for someone who's just starting out and isn't making $50k or more per year online... imho. Optimize Press is at least affordable and allows you to upgrade by just paying the difference from one level to the next, which is nice. It's also a one time buy in, which is nice.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
      Originally Posted by ScrooG View Post

      Well I am definitely interested in Headway. I was thinking of buying Optimize Press but am thinking it's mostly for sales pages.
      Scroll up and read my post from 1/11/14 to see what happened when I bought Headway hoping for an Optimize Press-like experience.

      You would be better off saving yourself the trouble and just getting OP2 in the first place.

      All of the design elements that you want to put into a web site are easy in OP. I found Headway to be very unintuitive and lacking when it came to that.

      I am certain Headway is a great tool for more advanced designers. But for someone who wants the theme to make building a nice-looking site much easier, there is no contest.

      P.S. PM me if you want to see the three sites I built in OP2 with minimal effort and ramp-up time.
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  • Profile picture of the author ScrooG
    Just found this which is why I will not be buying Optimize Press:
    https://optimizepress.zendesk.com/hc...Themes-Plugins

    "
    Incompatible Hosting Services
    • GoDaddy* - although OptimizePress will run on GoDaddy hosting, their hosting environment is quite restrictive and we often find sites run slower on GoDaddy
    • SEOHosting - Some customers have reported strange errors when editing their sites whilst on this hosting"
    Wow! Godaddy? REALLLY?! Seems they should work with Godaddy to resolve this!


    Oh well. The search goes on...
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    • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
      Originally Posted by ScrooG View Post

      Just found this which is why I will not be buying Optimize Press:
      https://optimizepress.zendesk.com/hc...Themes-Plugins

      "
      Incompatible Hosting Services
      • GoDaddy* - although OptimizePress will run on GoDaddy hosting, their hosting environment is quite restrictive and we often find sites run slower on GoDaddy
      • SEOHosting - Some customers have reported strange errors when editing their sites whilst on this hosting"
      Wow! Godaddy? REALLLY?! Seems they should work with Godaddy to resolve this!


      Oh well. The search goes on...
      I find it interesting that after reading this, your initial reaction is to blame OP.

      If you look at it objectively, maybe GoDaddy is the poor choice in this equation...

      Of course, it is reasonable to assume that in most cases, one uses GoDaddy hosting because their domain is registered there. That is a whole other topic of conversation (which has been had here several times, btw...)
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      • Profile picture of the author ScrooG
        Originally Posted by Jack Gordon View Post

        I find it interesting that after reading this, your initial reaction is to blame OP.

        If you look at it objectively, maybe GoDaddy is the poor choice in this equation...

        Of course, it is reasonable to assume that in most cases, one uses GoDaddy hosting because their domain is registered there. That is a whole other topic of conversation (which has been had here several times, btw...)
        I don't know. I think if I were OP2 I'd do my best to figure out a way to make my theme/plug-in work with godaddy simply because:
        a) I believe it's the largest hosting company in the world (I could be wrong on that but it's certainly the most well known and has many many new customers I think as compared to others.
        b) if other themes and services don't have issues with godaddy (and I've never heard of any that do, though I don't doubt there may be a few others), why can't OP2 resolve theirs?

        I have tried other hosting but found that when I had a problem, it was a nightmare to get any help from them. With godaddy I place a call, I get through within 5 min or less usually, on any given day, and I get an American who speaks perfect English and knows what he or she is talking about and is able to resolve my problem very quickly and easily. With the other hosting I tried that was not the case. (Apologies to the OP for veering off on to this subject but you do recommend OP and I think it bears mentioning and discussing that they don't play well with godaddy.)
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    Thrive Content Builder: Don't know. But also, I don't care how good of a theme/plugin is. You *MUSt* take into account if it's popular, has large community following. Because in 10 years you realize one big lesson: Every seller is Full of S#$@ until they can prove they've been updating their product constantly for at least 5 years.

    Literally 99% of great products are built to fill sellers bank account so they can F$#$ off to Bahamas... screwing all their customers. (Typical 99%: WSO's!)

    The 1% is who I'm interested in.... the genuine folks who are in it for the long term.

    Always consider if that HOT, WONDERFUL plugin/software/theme you found has been around for ages and has active community around it.

    EG: OptimizePress, Headway has been around forever. The 1% to trust.


    ----

    Headway: If you're a webdesigner, are technical, a control freak and love to express your creativity.

    OptimizePress 2: If you're an impatient learning, want a awesome high-conversion, proven design ASAP... and want to see money coming in in shortest time with least effort. But lets fact it - you'll still need 1-3 days of playing around with OP2 until you learn it.
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    • Profile picture of the author ppPaul
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          • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
            Originally Posted by ppPaul View Post

            ALSO - i have just realised that the free version of the Pagelines' DMS system that is available on the themes repository of WordPress is actually the DMS2 version. Pretty impressive..

            I am going to make a purchase today and will update on how it goes if anyone is interested?

            OP posted a comment on this site Why I Went With Headway - Headway Themes prior to this topic..
            Very much interested in your future experience with DMS2. I picked up a copy myself but it may be a month or more before I get around to using it.

            No one here has mentioned "composer". I forget the name but it is a drag and drop builder and I just heard about it - it comes as a bonus with some themes, I am sorry I forget the full name of it and themes it comes with. But it looks very good.

            Headway may be great for web designers but us marketers want something easy-peasy, but with the most ability to customize - that balance is hard to find. I find something like OP2 to be a little TOO "pre-fab" looking for many projects (not to mention that it doesn't play well with godaddy, which - by the way - I have had NO problems with in over 3 years of hosting, plus I love their tech support!).

            I just got Instabuilder THEME too which I will try in the near future. I like their plug in a lot so decided to try their theme. I also picked up a trial copy of Avada which looks very interesting but I am skeptical about how easy it's going to be to customize.

            I LOVE the CONCEPT of things like Instabuilder and Thrive Content Builder and if Thrive had the ease of use of Instabuilder it would be perfect. However Thrive, as mentioned, has lots of little annoying bugs in it. Again, maybe in a few months or a year it will be clean and reliable and great to use...?
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    • Profile picture of the author ScrooG
      Originally Posted by AndreVas View Post

      Thrive Content Builder: Don't know. But also, I don't care how good of a theme/plugin is. You *MUSt* take into account if it's popular, has large community following. Because in 10 years you realize one big lesson: Every seller is Full of S#$@ until they can prove they've been updating their product constantly for at least 5 years.

      Literally 99% of great products are built to fill sellers bank account so they can F$#$ off to Bahamas... screwing all their customers. (Typical 99%: WSO's!)

      The 1% is who I'm interested in.... the genuine folks who are in it for the long term.

      Always consider if that HOT, WONDERFUL plugin/software/theme you found has been around for ages and has active community around it.

      EG: OptimizePress, Headway has been around forever. The 1% to trust.
      ----
      Headway: If you're a webdesigner, are technical, a control freak and love to express your creativity.

      OptimizePress 2: If you're an impatient learning, want a awesome high-conversion, proven design ASAP... and want to see money coming in in shortest time with least effort. But lets fact it - you'll still need 1-3 days of playing around with OP2 until you learn it.
      I agree with you that it's good to use a web designing software that has years of experience and support behind it. However, every company has to start some time, so I also think new companies can be considered if they a) have well reviewed software/templates/whatever you want to call them; b) have been in business at least in other capacity (such as software) for awhile.

      As to Optimize Press 2, yeah, I think they are pretty great, in general. However you didn't address my point, which is even their own site says they don''t play well with what I imagine is the world's largest seller of hosting (godaddy).

      Also while I have not used OP2, I have read multiple reviews of users who loved 1 but don't like 2; that 2 is slow and clunky to build with; considering one of it's main selling points is that it's quick, that's not a good criticism for it to have among so many of it's former and current fans. They say the new building "wizard" makes it difficult to go back and change things, that you have to go through a whole series of steps with each change. Sounds like having to climb up and down a ladder each time you want to get a new tool for a job instead of having all the tools at your side...

      As to Headway, I got very excited about it after reading this review but my research (again I have not personally used it, yet) says that it's really not that user friendly for newbie or non-dev type people. (i.e.; marketers who just want to build a nice site, not get into heavy designing).

      I heard from several people who did not find Headway easy to use at all! After researching Headway all over the net in forums and such for a couple days I decided against buying it based on the above and am looking at some themes that have a builder built into them. Will report back after I try them.

      Oh, by the way I really love InstaBuilder, it's easy to use and very intuitive, and I just got their Theme to try out. As to it being a "slow" theme, I saw a test done on another review blog that said the load time with InstaBuilder was about average as compared to some other builders and themes. I have always gotten decent support from InstaBuilder as well and so far they've kept it updated now for what? a couple years or so I think. Avada (?) is another theme that I am interested in that is said to be very fast to load and easy to build with.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    I always get called out "promoting" for reviewing a product, even though I'm not promoting it nor affiliated with it in any way. I can't help it. I'm a copywriter. It's how I write. I write to sell. And this comes across when writing a genuine review of something you're using to make a living.

    Summary: Not affiliate with Headway in any way.
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  • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
    After reading one of your other reviews I came to the conclusion that you are just a fan of Headway, not affiliated with them, so it doesn't surprise me that you say so.

    That said, I read a lot of reviews from people who are not developers or web masters who find Headway difficult to use. It seems a certain amount of css knowledge and such is required to make it work well.

    I just saw an awesome sales page made with Avada and am interested in trying that.
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  • Profile picture of the author pxjenkins
    My impression is that this is a constantly shifting target.

    To create my latest sales page, I've used a combination of Instabuilder, Landing Page theme and Page Theme plug-in which has worked really well.

    That said, having used Genesis for a long time I am using Fastline more and more as a solution; not least because it minimises the amount of baked-in shortcode in a site, has ready-made page templates that make slinging up a site incredibly fast, and appears to be very compliant with the WordPress Codex.

    At the end of the day, the golden mean here seems to be to find a front-end page builder that enables flexibility and speed in design, while minimising the kinds of interventions that will slow down the site in the short or long-term.
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  • Profile picture of the author Yuma
    Thanks OP.

    I have some css/html skills (slightly rusty, though). I tried Genesis and the Dynamik builder for customising the theme. I found Dynamik too difficult, and you have to poke around the old CSS alot! Plus the backend isn't too intuitive, neither. Will probably ask for a refund, and try Headway instead.
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  • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
    OP: Thanks for the update to your Original Post.
    I see that you now have a recommendation for those who are not advanced users, to use Optimize Press 2 and Lead Pages.
    I am intermediate but still like "fast and simple".

    I may look into Shortcodes Ultimate though.
    I am also going to try Themify which I hear very good things about!

    I have tried Visual Composer and I like it in theory but found it a little bit buggy - not as buggy as Thrive Content Builder, but still a bit buggy.

    I haven't given Optimize Press 2 a thorough try yet but based on the quick exposure I had to it, I will indeed be giving it a go soon as well.

    I am dubious as to whether an extra 100k is going to make InstaBuilder load a second slower, and whether 1 sec. slower is really going to slow down conversions that much.
    I have used Instabuilder on a site and I don't find it to be that slow. In fact I think if you are using shared hosting, it usually isn't that fast anyway, or is sometimes a bit slow due to that, and/or other plugins you have. So I am dubious as to whether Instabuilder really slows down a site that much, in every case. It may do so in some cases but still I doubt it's that big of an issue. I really like Instabuilder for it's graphics and such. I do NOT like Instabuilder theme though, it's klunky and ugly. I like the plug-in.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dr Dan
    OP 2.0 sucks hard!

    We went back to using OP 1.0 for membership sites and webinar replays and leadpages for squeeze pages.
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  • Profile picture of the author ThePathToFreedom
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    • Profile picture of the author Emir Hayric
      Awesome review thank you! I was about to purchase OP 2.0 but read so many negative reviews I think I will pass. I am using a squeeze page generator product I purchased for cheap. It works pretty well for quick opt-in pages and could probably work well for sales pages although I do a lot of my graphics in PS and just drop them in.
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  • Profile picture of the author winebaer
    Thanks for this great detail here. I have been using the InstaBuilder/InstaTheme/Instamember package, and notice it slowed significantly a few months ago. Now I know why.

    I've used Headway in the past. Perhaps I should take another look again.
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  • Profile picture of the author EddieBlog
    I tryed them all to and i ended up using Ultimatum and Pagelines DMS and i had a few other paid month to month theme i ended up dropping. I found many things i can not do in Pagelines but what i did do was easy but i can do all if it in
    Ultimatum with no problem.

    The new Ultimatum is set to be out this week sometime so i am hoping for some new features to make things more easy as some things i will say take longer then i would like to get done but they do get done and work very well it has so many features its almost over load.
    I like Visual Composer and all the extra ad ons that are included as well and the other ad ons that are all included.

    For Headway last time i fully checked it out around 6 months ago i did not like it and that i would have to keep paying every year plus they try selling you templates and other extras that you can make with Ultimatum for no extra cost.

    Just looking at a few of the templates just now they do not work well for a cell phone not very good responsive sites so if that is what you can expect from Headway then to me its still not up to speed VS Ultimatum. All the sites i make with Ultimatum are 100% responsive.

    Just my point of view
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  • Profile picture of the author ScrooG
    Original post states:
    "UPDATE 20 FEB 2014: InstaBuilder adds extra 100KB of file size to your site. Meaning it slows down page load time significantly. For this reason alone, I'd never use InstaBuilder - and simply replicate it's awesome sales letter designs using Headway or OP2... and it's awesome shortcodes using free plugin "Shortcodes Ultimate"."

    100KB?? How does 100KB hurt anything?

    I like Visual Composer but I have been told and it's been my own experience that some of these builders work better with Chrome than with Firefox. I must say I tried Visual Composer with Chrome and I like it.

    The new kid on the block is Beaver Builder or something like that and my friends are raving about it. Will post back here after I've tried it myself.

    Have also heard good things about Themify and I plan to try it as well. For now it's Visual Composer in the lead after trying ALL of the above except Headway and Pagelines.


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  • Profile picture of the author Magnatolia
    Thanks for the great review. I remember I had Headway a while back. Might take another look at it. Curious why you recommend Shortcodes Ultimate over Visual Composer? I was thinking of buying Visual Composer.

    The reason being it sounds a lot simpler to use a visual creator than a shortcode based one? What do you think? Is there an advantage to using a visual one?

    Also, I didn't notice much speed loss from using Intense...

    Thanks!
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    • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
      Originally Posted by Magnatolia View Post

      Thanks for the great review. I remember I had Headway a while back. Might take another look at it. Curious why you recommend Shortcodes Ultimate over Visual Composer? I was thinking of buying Visual Composer.

      The reason being it sounds a lot simpler to use a visual creator than a shortcode based one? What do you think? Is there an advantage to using a visual one?

      Also, I didn't notice much speed loss from using Intense...

      Thanks!
      I realize you didn't ask me but I'll give you my 2 cents anyway:
      Visual Composer is very easy to work with and I recommend it.

      However I REALLY like BeaverBuilder which has templates built into it which can really speed up building , especially if you're not too too "picky" about design elements; i.e.; you can accept some "off the rack" templates as opposed to having to heavily customize stuff.

      To me, visual builders are the way to go. Compare BeaverBuilder to Visual Composer. I like the former better.
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  • Profile picture of the author EddieBlog
    I just spent a few hours creating a page using every item they offer in the Beaver Builder Demo and moving things around and changing colors and everything i could find and i must say i love it.

    Its is super easy to use and i was able to create a page faster then using Visual Composer and everything seems to load a lot faster to.
    Visual Composer has more to it but Beaver has most everything you need for most sites and is easy.

    Going to buy it tonight its on sale at 25% off for Cyber Monday
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    • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
      Originally Posted by EddieBlog View Post

      I just spent a few hours creating a page using every item they offer in the Beaver Builder Demo and moving things around and changing colors and everything i could find and i must say i love it.

      Its is super easy to use and i was able to create a page faster then using Visual Composer and everything seems to load a lot faster to.
      Visual Composer has more to it but Beaver has most everything you need for most sites and is easy.

      Going to buy it tonight its on sale at 25% off for Cyber Monday
      Yeah, what's not to like?
      BeaverBuilder is just awesome.
      I have no financial or other interest in writing this, I'm just saying I love BB!
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  • Profile picture of the author ERPConsultant
    Originally Posted by AndreVas View Post

    (Updated 25 Aug 2014 with latest experiences)
    ===============
    InstaBuilder PLUGIN
    ===============


    This is the most perfect, trouble-free plugin I ever used for building sales letter-y and high-converting optin pages pages. No bugs, no layout inconsistencies with themes, nothing but pure "It just WORKS!" perfection.

    It's obvious author put their heart and care into this project.

    However, I don't use InstaBuilder at all anymore. OP2 and LeadPages is years ahead of InstaBuilder.


    UPDATE 20 FEB 2014: InstaBuilder adds extra 100KB of file size to your site. Meaning it slows down page load time significantly. For this reason alone, I'd never use InstaBuilder - and simply replicate it's awesome sales letter designs using Headway or OP2... and it's awesome shortcodes using free plugin "Shortcodes Ultimate".

    For those who think 100KB is nothing are still living in a narrow-minded world of ADSL2 near their home. You obviously haven't traveled to 3rd world countries and spent weeks there running your business every day. Or been to villages in your country with ADSL1 like speeds (very slow). This will ALWAYS be the case. Amazon.com said just 1 extra sec of load time on their site equates to 4 million dollars loss per year. YES IT'S THAT SIGNIFICANT!!!

    Since InstaBuilder 2.0 is being promoted now, will appreciate if you can update this for InstaBuilder 2.0.

    Thanks.
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    Focusing on the minimum things you need to do to setup a decent online business

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    • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
      I contend that if you're selling to the USofA and Canada there is no issue with 100kb extra on WP.
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      • Profile picture of the author ERPConsultant
        Originally Posted by seosoldier View Post

        I contend that if you're selling to the USofA and Canada there is no issue with 100kb extra on WP.
        Is 100kb extra the only issue with InstaBuilder ? The reason I ask is the OP says:

        Originally Posted by AndreVas View Post

        OP2 and LeadPages is years ahead of InstaBuilder.
        So, are there other things that make OP2 and LeadPages better than InstaBuilder. If so, now that InstaBuilder 2.0 is out, I am interested in knowing if it has overcome the other unmentioned issues.

        Thanks.
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        • Profile picture of the author seosoldier
          Originally Posted by ERPConsultant View Post

          Is 100kb extra the only issue with InstaBuilder ? The reason I ask is the OP says:



          So, are there other things that make OP2 and LeadPages better than InstaBuilder. If so, now that InstaBuilder 2.0 is out, I am interested in knowing if it has overcome the other unmentioned issues.

          Thanks.
          Honestly I have not used OP2 nor LeadPages so I don't know. If you are just building thin one page sales pages I think any of them will do. LeadPages is expensive I think, and OP is not cheap. I believe BeaverBuilder is cheaper than both and it can make some pretty nice sales pages, as can Instabuilder.

          I sound like I'm "promoting" BeaverBuilder. I'm not. (If I am, then where are my affiliate checks??!) I just think it's a nice builder.

          I have used Instabuilder (the first one not the new one) and it builds decent optin pages and sales pages very nicely. I imagine the new version is probably worth it as was the first version.

          OP and LeadPages are just too expensive for my taste.
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  • Profile picture of the author LifeIsGood
    Thanks for the review.

    We've been using Headway for a few years now, and you're right - it's sophisticated, professional, intuitive, awesome. The developers really "get it."

    That said, we were looking at InstaBuilder for a few other projects, but you may have convinced us otherwise. By comparison (to the elegance of Headway) it appears rather "clunky" and the radical changes leave little consideration to their previous purchasers. (We'd recently bookmarked their product to purchase it, only to find they'd "closed the doors" abandoning the previous version altogether.)

    While the product seems really useful with great features, I get the feeling they are more into the product launch, scarcity take-away, leaving us to wonder if they'll yet again "close the doors" on the new version as well. Not convinced the support is in it for the long haul.
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  • Profile picture of the author wondering2
    I have traveled the same path and reached the same conclusion as AndreVas. Also tried Divi, Make and a few others. Question tho: How do you get Shortcodes Ultimate to work with Headway? All my Headway "blocks" (plugins) are accessed via the grid editor and other plugins I have (like Visual Composer) don't appear there--only in the wordpress plugins menu... Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreVas
    One way to get Shortcodes Ultimate code in Headway is to create an ordinary WordPress page (outside Headway design). And put/customize your Shortcode Ultimate plugin. Then copy-paste that code inside your Headway editor.
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    • Profile picture of the author wondering2
      Thanks. Found another way too: just pop the shortcode into a headway custom code block which can be positioned anywhere.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dracor
    Any thoughts on the new Headway 4.0?

    There's a 40% off purchase code too: headway40
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  • Profile picture of the author BeechHill
    It looks like Headway Themes may be on the ropes. This according to customers, employees and a further investigation by staff at WP Tavern.

    Former Headway Themes Employee Goes Public: Staff Has Not Been Paid and Customers Are Not Receiving Support

    https://wptavern.com/former-headway-...eiving-support

    I believe something or someone had to give as this field is becoming saturated and highly competitive.
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