Quality web-creation program adds better support for mobile websites.
Xara Web Designer is a drag-and-drop web-design program that works rather like desktop-publishing software. You choose a template, pick a colour scheme and then set about replacing the placeholder content with your own text, pictures, links and so on. Then, you can add more interactive elements, including contact forms, video, navigation bars, and various widgets for web services such as Google Maps, PayPal and Google Checkout.
This latest version adds a couple of new features.
First, it can now create websites that automatically adjust their content and navigation to suit the device they’re being displayed on, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or a 27in monitor.
This is no mean feat – it repositions menus, and resizes images and videos.
On top of that, visitors to your site will expect certain navigational capabilities, such as swiping between photos, rather than tapping forward and back buttons. All this is known as a responsive web design and is crucial if your site is to attract visitors, given how many people now browse the web on smartphones and tablets.
Of the 70 templates on offer, 23 are responsive. When you open a responsive template, the different versions – say for smartphones and tablets – also open in tabs along the top of the window (see top screenshot), letting you quickly flick
Windows XP or later • Intel Celeron or AMD Sempron processor or newer • 500MB of memory • 300MB of available hard-drive space www.snipca.com/12230 between them. Certain elements are shared, so changing a piece of text or photo in one layout changes it in the other layouts. Other elements, such as headers, are not shared and must be changed in each template version individually. This is confusing and makes the process of creating your site more long-winded than it should be.
You can also now create what Xara calls a ‘Supersite’ (see bottom screenshot), either as a single long page that scrolls smoothly (vertically or horizontally) or a more traditional page-based site, albeit with fancy animations and transitions between pages. There are 29 supersite templates and the results are surprisingly effective, but they’re best suited for relatively short, graphics-led websites, such as portfolios and brochures. A website can’t be both responsive and a supersite simultaneously.
The Premium version reviewed here includes a number of significant and useful elements that are missing from the standard version. Among them are support for a sitemap, Google Fonts, Flash animations, HTML5 video, Google Analytics and even an FTP program. There’s also 2GB of free web space for a year.
Xara Web Designer Premium deserves its reputation as a powerful, easy-to-use web-design program. Its ability to create responsive websites is the most notable new feature in version 10 and while the results look good and work well across different screens sizes and devices, creating them is a clunky, drawn-out process. It’s a good start, but improvements are definitely needed which is why Xara Web Designer Premium 10 just misses out on our Buy It! award.