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Xara Web Designer 9 Premium - Offer Professional Flair At A Realistic Price

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We test drives the latest update to Xara’s Web Designer 9 Premium

The idea of setting up your own website can be a daunting prospect, yet there are programs that can simplify the process. Xara Web Designer is just such a product, adopting a different approach to the problems that new designers face. It achieves this by moving away from the conventional methods of web design, handling all the complexities of HTML, JavaScript and image optimization internally. Leaving the designer to get on with… designing.

Xara Web Designer 9 Premium

Xara Web Designer 9 Premium

Xara has just released version 9 of Web Designer, a product that shares many of the common features found in Xara’s excellent Designer Pro application. This review is based on the Web Designer 9 Premium product that comes with more content, free web hosting for 12 months and over 30 other features that are missing from the standard version.

To get you started the program ships with 20 new professionally designed templates; these were originally sold for $18.12 each. That makes over 60 themed designs that are in fact complete website structures, meaning that they come with multiple pages full of placeholder text, graphics and animated slideshows, etc. All you have to do is exchange the placeholders for your own content. To complement the templates there’s also a large collection of clipart and web specific graphics. Everything from simple buttons and social networking icons, to photo galleries and fully developed Flash animations - so it's pretty straightforward to get your first website up and running.

“The program ships with 20 new professionally designed templates”

To get you started the program ships with 20 new professionally designed templates; these were originally sold for $18.12 each

To get you started the program ships with 20 new professionally designed templates; these were originally sold for $18.12 each

Yet there’s so much more to the program than that. If you want to start with a blank canvas, you can certainly do so, picking objects from the different galleries, or designing from scratch using the built-in toolsets. Because of its graphic nature and the background it sprang from, Web Designer 9 has a range of rudimentary drawing and effects tools, making it a more complete product than many of its competitors. For example, if you want to enhance an image, you can fix red-eye problems, adjust the color, brightness and contrast directly on the page. You can also add a very nice bevel or drop shadow with a single click using the dedicated tools.

One of the major technical improvements to this version is the move to 64-bit processing. If you’re already using the 64-bit version of Windows, you can address the full amount of RAM in your machine. This improves the overall speed and fluidity of Web Designer 9, consequently making the designing process more enjoyable. If you’ve upgraded to Windows 8, this version is already optimized for touch-screen devices.

 
Because of its graphic nature and the background it sprang from, Web Designer 9 has a range of rudimentary drawing and effects tools, making it a more complete product than many of its competitors

Because of its graphic nature and the background it sprang from, Web Designer 9 has a range of rudimentary drawing and effects tools, making it a more complete product than many of its competitors

While using lots of different fonts can make your website more interesting, it can be a problem if the visitors don’t have those fonts installed. Most browsers will try to display a compatible font, but sometimes it will mess up your whole design. Web Designer 9 now includes two methods of dealing with this problem. Firstly you can embed the font within the website itself (if your license permits), and secondly it provides direct support for Google Fonts. These are a collection of over 600 open-source fonts, which you can use and embed within your website to overcome the original problem.

Other notable features include drag-and-drop navigation bar replacement, an easier method of recoloring grouped objects and compatibility for devices that use the new high-resolution 'Retina' displays. What’s clever about this is that the web pages are smart and will load the correct resolution graphics for the browser being used.

 
Other notable features include drag-and-drop navigation bar replacement, an easier method of recoloring grouped objects and compatibility for devices that use the new high-resolution 'Retina' displays.

Other notable features include drag-and-drop navigation bar replacement, an easier method of recoloring grouped objects and compatibility for devices that use the new high-resolution 'Retina' displays.

If you’re setting up a commerce website, then the method used here for adding things like PayPal etc., were a bit long winded, compared to the method employed by Serif’s WebPlus X6 that I reviewed recently.

Finally, the Xara website has some tutorial videos you can watch, you can also download a trial version to try before you buy.

A simple to use website design suite, which offers professional flair at a realistic price

Details:

·         Price: $135.88

·         Manufacturer: Xara

·         Website: www.xara.com

·         Required spec: Intel Celeron or newer, or AMD Sempron or newer, 300MB HDD space, 500MB RAM, Windows XP or later

Scores:

·         Quality: 9/10

·         Value: 8/10

·         Overall: 8/10

 

 

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