Xara Web Designer 7 was released earlier this year and recently I had a chance to sit down with the software to give it a really good hands on test. A recent client was looking to have a new landing page designed to attract motorcycle riders to his insurance business. While I am not, what I would call a “professional” web designer, I do have working knowledge of HTML, CSS and a bit of PhP. Xara Web Designer 7 is however a very nice software geared towards someone with little or even no web experience.
Xara Web Designer 7 has been created to help set up a website quickly with a good variety of templates shipped with the software, as well as a wonderful WYSIWYG browser. The program launches with a introduction template which makes it easy to read through how many of the features of the software work. You can work with this template or you can launch a blank slate to really make the site your own unique design. One of the newest features in Xara Web Designer 7 is the snap-to feature that helps with aligning elements on your page from text to widgets to graphics. Personally I found this feature very useful as I use it a lot with my print designs in InDesign.
Another awesome new feature is the ability to use widgets very easily on your site. We have all seen those Google Maps, Photo Galleries, Twitter Badges, etc and now it’s very easy to add those to your site. Xara Web Designer 7 also does a very nice job of handling HTML 5 video, which is the latest standard for compatible video on your site. Other animated elements are also easy to add. Allowing you to create interesting navigation and page transitions.
While the drag and drop capability of the software is really nice, there are limitations and some others cons to using this type of software as a more advanced Web Designer. One specific item I ran into was how the background boxes I used filled with a specific color turned into image elements when the page was exported. While this isn’t a horrible thing, it can slow down the loading speed of your page. So I did some editting after export to make some minor tweaks. The code was realitively clean and that impressed me. I was able to find the elements I wanted to change and didn’t find a lot of unnecessary code. That’s something a lot of web design programs with WYSIWYG tend to do. Big plus in my book for Xara Web Designer 7.
I feel Xara Web Designer 7 is a great software for a young or new designer looking to dabble a bit in Web Design. While it lacks a lot of the power that the big guns have such as Dreamweaver, it doesn’t pack the price punch that comes with those. At only around $49.99 for the standard version and around $99.99 for the premium version, which has additional tools available such as more templates, better graphics editing tools and a bunch more widgets. The price is very competitive and an economical way for someone to find out if Web Design is an avenue they want to adventure down.
You can find out more about Xara Web Designer 7 at the Xara Website: www.xara.com, where you can find a link to download a trial for 30 days and support for the software.
Xara Web Designer 7 Premium
Manufacturer: Xara Group Limited
Platforms: Windows XP (32/ 64-bit), Vista (32/ 64-bit), 7 (32/ 64-bit)
Requirements: 400MG free hard drive space