I was excited to test the new version of Web Designer Premium. One of my first steps is always to see how easily files from the earlier version come into the new version and, as expected, files made the transition without a bump.
One thing I always do is review what’s new and check out any demos available that illustrate upgrade features. The demo pages on the Xara Web site were an eye opener. At the first look, I couldn’t help but compare the demo’s look to popular WordPress Web site development themes. The smile, however, was knowing that by using Xara Web Designer, the constraints that WordPress sites impose on designers is nonexistent. Xara’s WYSIWYG environment gives you complete creative control without painful WordPress CSS revisions, PHP code alterations and having to create child themes that even with extensive modification, still may not work exactly as you’d like.
The new design toys?
These are elements that stay in view while the rest of the page scrolls under them. This feature works like a charm, and stickies stay wherever you tell them to. These are especially useful for headers, navigation and social media icons
Pages without page boundaries are a breeze as you can now use images, photos or backgrounds to fill browser windows.
A new Web Animation dialog lets you animate objects in many different ways. They’re cued on mouseovers or revealed when the object comes into view or is triggered. The term “objects” includes graphics as well as text blocks and groups that combine both graphics and text. Some of the many animation effects include slide ins, fades and motion on click or touch. Some of the clever mouseover animations includes wobbles, bounces, spins and more.
Two new features were impressive for this tester. The first is Document Sync using Dropbox or Google Drive. You now have the ability to sync files in either cloud platform. This is especially useful if you have Xara Web Designer 11 installed on multiple computers and need to edit then save changes to all machines. As advertised, the file is updated in Web Designer on the other computers. And, as stated, Dropbox and Google Drive maintain older versions of your files, so this gives you easy viewing and reverting back to earlier file versions. It’s a safe, easy and storage-saving way of maintaining multiple versions of your Web site files and especially useful if maintaining a site with one or more developers.
The second new feature is Online Editing With cloud.xara (in beta). With a few painless steps, it allows you to view, edit and update the content of your Xara Web site using a Web browser on any computer or tablet. The interface is clean and intuitive. It worked well with my PC and laptop. Don’t use a Mac (they say it will work) but tried it with an Android tablet and yes, you can edit content on the fly (see below) then re-publish the Web site. This feature has it’s limits – you can only revise text and replace simple pictures. You can’t edit text inside groups and the image editing is very basic. However, if you need a fast fix and have a mobile device handy, you can get the job done.
I spent more time with the Mobile Variant features and while it is not totally an automatic process, the control over the mobile variations (see below) is still impressive. Really appreciate the ability to fine tune the appearance of each variation, without loosing any site design functionality.
As always, Xara packs this program with a wealth of design features. They added more than 30 new site Themes that all include new mobile variants. I still love their Content Catalog that allow you to get a great look at all that’s available. This version is packed with even more photo galleries, clip art, seamless texture/backgrounds, Web icons, buttons, navigation bars and widgets.
If you are looking for a program that can put it all together and more, Xara Web Designer 11 Premium is hard to beat.