Sometimes it can be difficult to review a product when you are not an active user. When I was asked to review Xara Web Designer 9, I sat down with an active user of previous versions of the product to get their opinion about the new features and other improvements. I’ll share those thoughts with you first and I have also included a copy of the press release at the bottom of this post.
Just to give you a short summary, many users refuse to spend the time to learn how to design Web sites using traditional tools. They try their hardest to force a product they know to do the job with awful results. Xara Web Designer provides a familiar visual design environment which can also output relatively clean HTML/CSS code. For those who need to design Web pages and sites, Xara Web Designer provides a much smaller learning curve, relatively clean output and a friendly price.
Changing the colors of items in any design can be very important. It can be a hassle if there are numerous elements that need to be change. Xara Web Designer allows you to define theme colors that are then assigned to elements throughout the design. Using the color picker, you can see the color changes live before you even click on the color you desire. Look carefully at the screenshot below and you’ll see the cursor hovering over a red color that is used throughout the masthead as well as the heading text on the page.
Designers always want to use whatever font they desire. A frustration for many designing for the Web is the limitations of using only a few fonts that are common on all systems. Using a wide variety of fonts is easy in Xara Web Designer as it takes care of embedding the needed fonts on the page or site. There is a direct link to Web fonts from Google with 620+ fonts available. With such a high number of available fonts, you have a lot more flexibility.
Adding some elements to Web pages can be frustrating to those without at least some HTML knowledge. For example, what if you wanted to add a button to purchase something with PayPal or Google Checkout? What about adding an ad block for Google AdSense? Xara Web Designer provides widgets for a number of these common types of tasks. At right are just a few of the many widgets included. Just drag and drop the widget you desire to the desired location on the Web page and the code needed will be added behind the scenes automatically.
This is just one of a number of features where you can simply drag and drop elements into position. Of course it is also important to understand the traffic that comes to your Web site. Google provides the free Analytics service that offers a plethora of information about how someone came to your site, how long they stayed, what pages were visited and much more. Of course this requires that you insert a snippet of HTML code on each page. Xara Web Designer now has the ability to take care of this for you in the Web Properties palette shown below.
As you can see from the screen shots, adding information for Google Analytics is one of the many things you can adjust in this one palette. While using Xara Web Designer may offer a shorter learning curve than learning HTML and CSS, there are still a huge number of features you’ll need to learn to use effectively. Those who refuse to learn to use their software should simply hire someone to do the work for them.
If you want to give Xara Web Designer a try, you can download the free trial. All features are enabled, but only a selection of templates are editable. You’ll certainly find it to be one of the most affordable and powerful tools for Web design. Below is the press release with even more product details.
New Release Xara Web Designer 9 Premium – the Jargon-Free Way to Create a Website
Xara announces the release of Xara Web Designer 9, a web authoring tool for Windows, aimed at both graphic designers and anyone wanting a high quality website, without the need to know HTML coding, scripting or the usual technical jargon.
The usual limitations of HTML web authoring simply do not exist in Xara Web Designer. Users have the freedom to use any font, to place anything anywhere on the page with pixel precision, the freedom to automatically repel text around irregular shapes or alpha-channel images, the freedom to draw vector graphics on the page, with transparency, and for all of this to just work.
Xara Web Designer 9 Premium comes many innovative new features:
- HiDPi or Retina compatible websites – automatically
- Direct integration of 620+ Google Web Fonts
- HTML 5 and CSS3 support (websites are automatically backwards compatible with older browsers)
- Improved Google Analytics integration
- A 32bit and a 64-bit version for 64-bit Windows. No more memory limits.
- Bundled web hosting, with simple no-FTP-jargon publishing.(1)
- A Free top level domain for one year. (e.g. a .com, .co.uk or .de, etc)
- 100+ new business-specific website templates available (2)
The world is rapidly moving to HiDPI or Retina screens. Creating hi-resolution compatible websites the traditional way can be technically complicated and time consuming. With Xara Web Designer it’s as simple as a single check-box. It automatically creates two versions of all graphics and photos, and corresponding script code so that the right image resolution is shown on each device.
Charles Moir, founder and Managing Director of Xara said, “The dual nature of Xara Web Designer separates it from the myriad of simple website creators. We have professional website and graphic designers who use it as the fastest way to create custom designs. It’s the perfect rapid prototyping tool, but unlike Photoshop, you get a real working website, not just a mock-up. For everyone else, the template approach means you can take one of the hundreds of website templates and customize the content, fonts and colours to create a unique final design.”
Web Designer is Xara’s most popular product and this version 9 is a big step forward. With automatic Retina compatibility, support for leading edge features such as Google fonts, HTML5 and CSS3, super-smooth hardware accelerated transition effects such as pop-ups, and all websites being compatible with mobile and desktop browsers makes Xara Web Designer an ideal choice for novices as well as professional designers.
Xara Web Designer Premium 9 retails for $99.99
An entry level (reduced feature) version, called simply Web Designer 9, is available for $49.99, ideal for customers who are completely new to web design.
Existing Xara Web Designer users can upgrade for as little as $29.99
Xara Web Designer 9 operates on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and requires a minimum 500MB of RAM and a minimum of 300MB hard-disk space.
(1) Web Designer Premium customers gets 2Gbytes of free hosting space and a free top level domain for one year, provided by MAGIX Online World. All customers can get 500Mbytes free hosting ‘forever’ with no subscription.
(2) In addition to 20 new general purpose website themes bundled with this new release, we have made available more than 100 business specific template designs, as ready-to-use websites (just edit the contents to suit) including relevant stock photography. Web Designer 9 Premium customers can select one design for free, additional business designs costs just $15
(3) Web Designer is available under both the Xara and MAGIX retail brands.
Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.