Xara Web Designer 11 Premium

Web Designer was already excellent, and incremental updates keep version 11 at the top

There’s usually acres of HTML, javascript and other arcane code behind even the most minimal websites, but the majority of us would probably rather not peek behind the curtain. Xara’s Web Designer provides a great way to build websites with a simple WYSIWG editor. As with earlier releases, Web Designer 11 comes as either a standard version containing a generous set of core features, or the bells-and-whistles Premium which we’re reviewing here.

The first bit of good news is that the price has fallen slightly since our last review: the standard software costs £35, Premium is £70, and upgrades to the latter from earlier releases cost from £30-£45. There are no dramatic changes in this version, but several new features reflect trends in web design toward fewer pages, increased scrolling, and sliding, fading or other animated elements. More significantly, Web Designer 11 Premium introduces a beta version of cloud.xara, a cloud-hosted platform for simple editing via the web.

The excellent interactive introduction document, Web Designer 11 Premium

 

There’s been no obvious update to Web Designer’s interface, but it still looks fresh and, given the huge amount of features to cram in, surprisingly uncluttered. At the left, a large pane holds the preview of the page you’re working on, while to the right the Page & Layer gallery lets you navigate between the pages of your site, drill down within their structure and show, hide or lock layers. Expanding galleries docked at the right include the all-important Designs gallery, which is home to a large amount of free content including graphical elements, buttons, widgets, themes and so on.

The interactive introduction document which loads automatically when you first open the software is ideal for novices. This five-page website walks you through common web design concepts, shows you how to create, modify and preview them on the document itself, and gives an insight into some of Web Designer’s more advanced features.

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