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Rapidweaver 8.6 Review
Technology should make our lives easier
• Hundreds of themes and templates
• Easy to customize
• Good value
• Powerful add-ons
• Add-ons cost extra
Rapidweaver 8 is a package for the Mac. While there are no massive improvements in this version over previous versions, Rapidweaver remains a good value piece of software that enables anyone to build and update websites without using any code. Options for customization also make the Rapidweaver package suitable for more advanced designers.
The Rapidweaver software is a good alternative to a free blogging site for people who want to create a simple website on the Mac, and it also provides opportunities for advanced customization which should keep more experienced users happy. We’ve looked at the software to see how it functions and where it works best.
Set up is relatively simple and has some improvements over previous versions, being easier and more straightforward. You can try out the software by downloading the trial version of Rapidweaver, and then buy the full version through the Rapidweaver website or the Apple App Store.
Designing a website with Rapidweaver gives you the best of both worlds – use the preset templates or customize them with code. If you want to go down the quick and easy route, pick a theme and a type of page (contact page, blog entry etc) and add your text and images. There are 11 page types included in the package and more than 45 pre-designed themes. Six themes are new for version 8 of Rapidweaver.
The themes are constructed with CSS which is good news for designers as it makes it simple to customize. You can add the code directly into the page, which does make it easier to integrate video or add-ons into your site.
The code generated with the Rapidweaver software meets web standards and works with popular browsers. The navigation menu is generated automatically and, as a bonus, Rapidweaver keeps a watch over the links and updates them as you move between pages. You can drag and drop pages in the sidebar in order to reorder the site and the navigation menu.
You may or may not like this approach, but with Rapidweaver if you want extras on your website you have to add them from third-party suppliers. The plus side is the amount of apps available from comments to banner advertising, from forms to stores - the bad news is you have to pay for most of them.
You can add blogs and photo galleries by choosing the blog or gallery page type and inputting your text and data. Some users found the galleries difficult to manage, and the blog functionality is no better or worse than what free blog sites provide.
One improvement Rapidweaver offers over previous versions is the addition of an FTP bookmark manager. The idea is you don’t need to search around for previously published media files and PDFs, you save them into the manager so you can open them easily when you need them again.
Search engine optimisation
This same technology that helps you find your previously published files more easily also helps the search engines find and index your site, increasing its success in the search results. The XML sitemap makes it easier for Google and other search engines to keep track of your site.
If you want to set up an online store for your Rapidweaver site you’ll have to purchase one of the add-on packages that are available from third-party suppliers. It’s not quite the same as having the functionality already embedded in the site but at least you can easily access the technology should you need to expand your website with payment and credit card functionality.
Publish your newly created site using your own host or through an Apple MobileMe account. You shouldn’t encounter too many difficulties uploading your site as the software includes support for FTP and SFTP uploads. Rapidweaver has links with Little Oak hosting if you don’t have any idea who to host with.
Making updates to your site is also easy because Rapidweaver exports and uploads the changes you make, and only the files that are actually different.
You can easily embed Google Analytics or add GoSquare LiveStats (ad-free usage of the basic package) to your site in order to track visits and web stats. This process is simple and you’ll have a good base from which to monitor visitors to your site over time.
Ease of use
Rapidweaver is not the most user friendly web design program, simply because you have to switch between edit and preview views any time you want to check how your content looks on the internet. This is a little clumsy, but you’ll get used to it.
The layout and the interface are clear and clean, and the method of creating a website is straightforward.
Help & support
There are a few ways to get help from Rapidweaver if you need support. Email the software developers, or visit the sections online that give you a selection of FAQs, a user manual, and video tutorials. Alternatively, you can start a discussion in the community forums. There is no telephone support option.
Create a wide range of websites with the Rapidweaver software. Rapidweaver 8 makes it easy to switch between code and drag and drop templates to make a customized site. This website design package falls somewhere in between the complex and expensive Dreamweaver and basic blogging and website creation packages.
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