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Xara Web Designer 9 Premium review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £89.99
inc VAT

Great WYSIWYG editor, but it lacks good support for mobile websites



It’s blissfully easy to create simple websites in Web Designer, and not much harder to add more complex elements and behaviour, such as layered content that responds to mouse movement. Web Designer supports pixel placement, making it possible to position and scale on-page elements exactly where you want them; guidelines appear while you’re dragging things about, making it simple align items with existing content, or even fixed references such as the page centre.

XARA Web Designer 9 Premium - Exploring Layers
The navigator shows a list of pages and the layers used within them, but it doesn’t reveal the site hierarchy

Unfortunately, however, there are some omissions. In a reflection of the target market, it’s simply not possible to view pages’ HTML without exporting them and using a browser or Notepad. The only way to view the hierarchy of a site’s pages is to add a navigation bar and view its properties, so managing larger sites could become confusing. More significantly, there’s no mention of mobile devices on the new projects menu, among the supplied themes or even within the help file. It is possible to set and lock a custom page size manually to suit a target device, but Web Designer’s use of strict on-page positioning is a disadvantage here; mobile screen sizes vary greatly, and the best mobile site is one where content is re-flowed dynamically to fit the available area. We’re not sure that a modern web package can afford to ignore mobile platforms in this way, but to be fair we had similar concerns about Serif WebPlus X6.

At its core, Web Designer 9 Premium is an excellent WYSIWYG web editor, with a wealth of powerful and user-friendly features that make it simple to build surprisingly sophisticated web pages. It comes with a wider range of more modern templates than WebPlus X6 and is slightly easier for novices to learn. Unfortunately, it misses out on useful features such as WebPlus X6’s graphical site hierarchy editor, and it lacks good support for mobile sites. Although this is good software, WebPlus X6 is cheaper and narrowly better.

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Price £90
Rating ****

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