The Bottom Line
- Drag-and-drop makes it easy to add and change elements on your page
- Color pickers, photo galleries, and other tools automate a lot of the difficult features
- Dozens of beautiful templates to choose from
- Templates include blogs, ecommerce, and standard Web pages
- No need to know HTML or CSS
- The generated code is very convoluted, you won't want to edit it outside Web Designer
- Some features didn't always work after the first iteration
- Changing menus were hard to understand at first, as they kept changing
- No HTML tag editing or CSS style editing
- No secure FTP
- Web Designer is a WYSIWYG editor with drag-and-drop functionality for placing and managing objects.
- Add, move, crop, and resize images right inside the editor.
- There is a tool to automatically optimize JPG images for faster downloads.
- Change color schemes in themes by simply dragging the new color onto the page.
- Lots of included widgets for ecommerce, movies, and more.
- Include external HTML by just pasting it in.
- Publish only uploads the files that have changed.
- You can save multiple named FTP profiles and associate them with your documents.
- Built in photo slide-show tool
- Anchor graphics so that the text flows around it or beside it.
Guide Review - Xara Web Designer 6
I spent several hours just playing with the dozens of different templates that Xara Web Designer offers, and I could easily see using this for a small business site. You just choose the design you like, drag your images to replace the placeholders, and paste in your text. If you've already got the images and text, you can have your website up and running in an hour or so.
Ironically, one of the problems I had at first was caused because I was over thinking the software. I couldn't find a way to import images - there was no "button". But who needs a button when you can simply open a file manager window, browse to the image you want, and drag it onto your site. Once it's there, Web Designer will offer to optimize it for you (if it's extremely large), allow you to resize and crop it, and move it to the exact location you want it in. You can even set up a thumbnail that will automatically open to the larger image when clicked.
Some of the features I found most interesting were:
- There were literally dozens of templates I could choose from in the designs gallery. As I said above, I spent a lot of time just playing with those.
- A "bitmap gallery" shows you all the images on your site
- It was easy (see below)* to add images, turn them into thumbnails and then create a pop-up gallery of photos.
- If you use Xara templates, a "Made with Xara" link is added to the bottom. This isn't interesting. What is interesting is that you become an affiliate partner of Xara and can send any earnings you make to charity if you so choose (or keep it yourself)
But there were some frustrations as well:
- I couldn't put a shadow on my image using the drop-shadow button. I had to put a box behind the image, and then put a drop shadow on that.
- The menus change every time you go to a different tool, which was very distracting. I think ultimately I would get used to this, as it's a common feature in software. But just starting out I would lose my place and think "wasn't I able to do Y?" and not be able to find the button.
Overall, I think Xara Web Designer is a great WSYIWYG editor for people who don't want to delve too much into programming or extremely dynamic Web design. Most professional Web designers won't find this software useful, but hobbyists and small business owners will like it a lot.