This program will get your website online quickly, but the modular design approach is limited and templates are mostly cheesy.
We first reviewed Website X5 Evolution just over a year ago.
At the time, we praised the program’s simplicity and ease of use, but we were less happy with the quality of the designs it turned out. Its modular approach limits the user’s options, with the result that all your pages have the same blocky layout.
This latest version adds lots of new features, some of which are actually quite good. For your £60 you can now install the program on two computers rather than just one. You can add a blog to your site that allows readers to post comments, and you can automatically insert more pre-written snippets of HTML code, adding page counters to your site, for example. The built-in image editor has also been improved with new filters, frames and masks. If you simply need to crop your pictures, compensate for under-exposure or carry out other simple touch-ups, it does the trick. Anything more sophisticated than that, however, and you’ll need a separate photo-manipulation package such as Photoshop Elements 7. We particularly liked the ability to create password-protected pages in a few simple steps, allowing you to reserve some content for authorised users only. The new photo slideshow feature is also pretty good – and you can add these to a page with just a few clicks.
Some features feel unnecessary or out of date, though. For example, the programme now supports HTML tables, which would have been news back in 1995 but is nothing special today. Similarly, the page creation process now allows you to preview each object on the page without opening it. This may feel like a great leap forward for long-time users of Website Evolution, but anyone who’s ever used other, more flexible programs will simply wonder why it took so long to add this obvious feature.
The aspects of Website X5 Evolution that have always been good are still good. This easy-to-use, wizard-based program really can get a site online in just five simple steps. To make this possible, however, it limits the number of design choices available. Each page is divided into a number of cells, each of which holds a single piece of content. Even though the design is entirely CSS-based, the resulting pages look as if they’re part of a site from the mid-1990s that was created using frames. This problem is exacerbated by the almost universally cheesy templates that are included with the program.
There’s a lot to like about the new version of Website Evolution. Many of its new features make designing a website easier and allow you to add fairly sophisticated new features. Fundamentally, however, the changes merely make it quicker and easier to design sites that look and feel old fashioned, no matter how many whistles and bells you add to them. The program needs a complete overhaul in which the templates and layout options are updated to reflect modern aesthetics. In the meantime, if you want a straightforward program that comes with web-hosting space, we recommend Mr Site Takeaway Website Beginner – it costs only £20, and you get a domain name thrown in.