Xara Web Designer 365 Premium Review: Website creation made simple

Xara Web Designer 365 Premium Review – Once upon a time, learning some basic HTML and CSS commands was enough to put together a competent web page. But things have got more complicated, not least because people use a wider variety of computers and mobile devices to browse the web. So these days the best options are either to use an online service that does most of the work for you, such as Weebly, WordPress.com or (if you don’t mind paying a subscription) Squarespace. Alternatively, get yourself a web-design program like Xara Web Designer.Xara’s approach has always been to offer a wide variety of templates containing dummy text and pictures that you replace with your own – and that continues in this latest version. You can also start from a blank slate and add elements including navigation, buttons, sliders, accordion menus and forms to construct your pages. External web services – YouTube videos, Google Maps, AdSense adverts and so on – can also be inserted from a library of ‘widgets’.
Xara Web Designer 365 Premium
The Premium edition offers professional features like embedded fonts, e-commerce (selling products from your website via credit-card payments), animations (see image above right), sitemaps and Google Analytics, along with 166 business themes that were previously available to buy separately. It’s twice the price of the standard version, but even for casual users we think it’s good value. To decide for yourself see this list of the differences at www.snipca.com/20351.
The jump from version 11 to 365 refers to a new deal that gives you free updates to features and content throughout the year after you buy the program. It also gives you access to Online Designer, which lets you tweak and update your site from any web browser when you’re not at your main PC. After that first year, your software will still work, but you’ll lose access to these features (although Premium users still get a basic version of Online Designer) unless you pay an extra fee, likely to be around £45 for Premium and £25 for the standard version. If you’re using Xara’s free hosting service, rather than paying another provider to host your website, the 2GB of server space available to Premium users will drop back to the standard 500MB – still sufficient for most personal sites.
A major new Premium feature is animations, giving you the kind of slides, fades and flips you’d find in a presentation program like Microsoft’s PowerPoint. There’s also support for a number of popular design features: a ‘parallax’ effect moves a background more slowly, while the user scrolls the page; you can place navigation buttons, which let users move to different sections of the site, below a main image (known as a hero image) that stays at the top of the page when the visitor scrolls down; and ‘masonry’ layouts automatically arrange images of various sizes into a neat grid that fits the user’s screen size.
Your layouts can incorporate scalable icons from Font Awesome (www.snipca.com/20404) and 1,500 Google Material Design symbols, while new search features help you find exactly what you want. Xara’s SmartShapes (very useful for infographics) have even more chart types, text panels and photo panels to choose from, and the handles that adjust these are easier to use. More modern sliders, hover effects and overlays help to make your pages easier for visitors to navigate, and finer typographic controls let you tweak the text on your buttons.
It’s disappointing that Online Designer is still beta – not completely finished and debugged – after a year, but overall this is a good upgrade to our favourite webdesign software, and the one-year deal strikes a fair balance between a subscription, which wouldn’t suit all users, and a one-off purchase.
This is the easiest and most comprehensive way to build modernlooking responsive websites without code..

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