|Xara Web Designer is a nice, affordable little software package which promises to allow even users without coding or web design experience to create attractive websites quickly and easily. Of course, as a “what you see is what you get” editor, inevitably it will be compared to the juggernaut that is Adobe Dreamweaver. We here at website creator free have attempted to judge Xara’s offering on its own merits.
What did we come up with?
>Xara Web Designer 6 is priced at a very affordable $49. Users who already own Xara Web Designer 5 can upgrade for $36, while volume discounts for businesses are also available. Xara also offers a limited 30-day trial version.
The software is compatible with Windows 7, Vista, and XP; 256 MB of RAM and 150 MB of disk space are required.
Xara Web Designer Templates
Xara Web Designer’s entire approach is based on templates, so it’s important that the templates be plentiful and of a high standard, and they are. Xara Web Designer features 31 design themes, each of which has 10-15 layouts apiece, for a total of over 370 templates. While this may not seem like much compared to what’s advertised hosted website creator services like Intuit Website Creator and BigCommerce, some of which have template collections totaling in the thousands, the critical difference is that Xara’s templates are by and large much better looking, and you can do more with them since Web Designer is a more powerful piece of software than the web-based offerings.
Closely inspecting those 370+ templates, the art critics at website creator free have determined that there’s not a single dud in the bunch. Of course, depending on what your plans are for your website, you’ll most likely find that certain layouts are more appropriate than others. For example, the Writer theme is excellent for blogs, while the Butterfly and Ecostyle themes look primed to provide some very attractive newsletter-type sites.
There are also individual templates for things like navigation bars and buttons, headings, galleries, and more. For a template-based approach, Xara Web Designer does a very good job of giving you plenty of freedom to customize the appearance of your website.
Xara Web Designer Features
While the templates provided are very versatile and workable, Xara Web Designer takes things a step further by providing tools for creating your own images, graphics and animations for your website. The graphics creation module is based on Xara Designer, which itself is a competent competitor to Photoshop, though we at website creator free prefer to think of it as a more awesome version of MS Paint. You can even create your own Flash animations, and although there are certainly a few more powerful Flash applications out there, Xara Web Designer’s is functional and offers you a legitimate way to add a little extra zazz to your website.
Easy to use
Xara Web Designer is itself a very well-designed piece of software, with lots of little touches that help take some of the frustration out of the website creation process. Moving things around is extremely easy, as text will shimmy and slide efficiently around objects while you drag-and-drop them, and any object you add to a page can instantly be assimilated into the color scheme and design you already had going. You can also save time by setting objects to be added automatically to every page. The website creator free staff had a lot of fun playing around with Xara Web Designer, and in the process found it difficult to break anything, even when we made a concerted effort to do so.
Xara Web Designer | Help/support
Xara has an extensive knowledge base, a nice online troubleshooting function, some decent tutorials, and a very active forum where you’ll most likely be able to get a quick answer for any issue you may have. You also have the option of submitting a support ticket to Xara; Xara Web Designer is simple enough that the help and support offered is more than adequate, if not outstanding.
Xara Web Designer | Overall
We’ve avoided saying anything for this long, but yes, it’s true that Xara Web Designer can’t do everything that Dreamweaver does. For most users’ purposes (not to mention a lot less money), though, Xara Web Designer handles all the basics and does it in such a simple and smooth way that we can’t help but give it our highest recommendation.