Xara Web Designer
• Excellent graphics capability
• Lots of freedom in design
• Superior photo editing & animation capabilities
• Great collection of widgets
• No technical support by telephone
• No advanced reporting or SEO tools
If you want more choice in web design but don’t want to deal with HTML code, Xara Web Designer gives you freedom to place text and graphics wherever you want them by dragging the elements around the page. With a powerful photo editing tool and customizable graphics, you’ve got the opportunity to be really creative. Xara Web Designer is not as simple to use as other programs so is perhaps best suited to intermediate or advanced website creators.
MAGIX has really paid attention to the extras in the website creation process – features for graphics, photos, images and animation are all top-class, particularly in the Web Design Premium version of the software.
Web Designer comes in a Basic and a Premium version. Both start off with an uncluttered template which you build on until you’ve created the site to your own needs. It's not as easy to make a start with this software as others. Beginners may find it a little difficult to locate features and there isn’t a straightforward set-up wizard.
WYSIWG & HTML editing - No HTML required to create web pages with Xara Web Designer. The design process takes place with drag-and-drop functionality from a main design interface, similar to graphics programs.
Templates & graphics - The templates included are professionally designed and you can use one if you need to get up and running quickly. You can browse through the templates easily; you can also filter the results based on a particular color scheme. When you select a template you will see a preview of the different page templates (i.e. about us, contact pages).
The graphics and images are fully customizable. The software allows you to create your own vector graphics as well as edit your pictures with a powerful photo editing tool. There’s a collection of widgets in the Design Gallery to upload into your site. The Premium version allows customizable animated text and images.
Navigation & layout - The pre-built templates are ready linked with multiple pages. You can add extra pages by dropping a copy of a previous page into the template, or adding a new one. Colors match across the pages automatically, or you can change them if you wish. Automatically stretching buttons make it easy to add extra navigation features to the site.
Photo gallery - The drag-and-drop process of adding photos is very simple and effective. We like the rollover display mode where your photos display large as you rollover the thumbnails. There’s an option to add Picasa photo albums and slideshows.
Video & Adobe Flash - Insert movies and video clips into your website by dragging and dropping the files from your computer into the site. With the Premium version you can create Flash graphics and imbed them on your site.
Blogs - Embed a blog, or another site, on your website with the Embed a Website feature.
Google maps - Add Google maps to your site by dragging the widget from the gallery into your page. You can also add forms, news feeds and many other widgets.
Search engine optimization
There’s no detail on how Xara Web Designer and Web Designer Premium are optimized for search engines. The software is not aligned with SEO, and is more of a straight website/ graphics creation package.
The ecommerce widgets such as PayPal and Google Checkout are only available with the Web Designer Premium version. With Premium you can create a full store with all the necessary shipping and ordering options.
There’s a free hosting offer with MAGIX if you haven’t already got a hosting solution – 500MB of space.
Xara Web Designer doesn't include any advanced reporting statistics so you are rather limited to the programs you use from outside the software in order to see how your website is doing.
Ease of use
Xara Web Designer is easy to use when you’re creating pages. Drag-and-drop text, PDFs, pictures, graphics and tools into the page and move everything around to your liking with the mouse. There are some minor issues to do with difficulty finding certain features and the interface is not as intuitive as some other software.
Help & support
There’s a reasonably comprehensive collection of articles and FAQs to browse through but the one problem is no telephone support. You can submit a ticket to the help desk but there is no live chat or personal support available.
Xara Web Designer is great for graphic designers, businesses with design-focused websites and individuals who want to show off photos and videos to their best advantage. Xara Web Designer also works for regular text-based webpages but it’s the graphics element of the software that makes it stand out. This comparatively more expensive software is best for intermediate users.
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