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Serif WebPlus X7 review

Kat Orphanides
8 Jan 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
inc VAT

WebPlus X7 makes it easy to construct a fully functional website without having to write code

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Specifications

WebPlus X7 is a feature-packed web design package for users who want to design websites visually using drag and drop elements, although you can tweak the code of your website to a limited extent. The websites you can create are static websites best employed when you want to create a site to promote your shop or organisation, for example, rather than a blog. If you want to create a front-end for a website based on a content-management system such as WordPress, you should look at a different product.

WebPlus X7’s WYSIWYG interface lets you build a fairly glossy looking site using just templates and drag and drop elements. It's worth noting, though, that few of the templates are what you'd consider examples of cutting edge design. Many are distinctly twee, even those that are supposed to be for businesses. The same can be said for most of the template packs that Serif sells on its website. Although some very stylish templates can be bought from third-party sites, there's nothing like the range and variety of themes available for popular web content management systems.

The template browser shows all the themes and templates you can choose from as thumbnails. A magnification slider lets you increase them in size to a point where you can get a reasonable idea of what each looks like before you load it. Each template comes with a few pre-generated pages you can include, such as a front page, location map and contact form. You can also apply a variety of pre-defined colour schemes to the templates, or create your own with the colour scheme designer. Serif has provided templates for sites designed to be viewed on mobile devices as well as those designed for desktop browsers. Unfortunately, all the template styles we saw were dependent on fixed width layouts, so making a site that looks good on both mobile and desktop browsers is a hard task unless you're prepared to make separate websites for both targets.

WebPlus X7

If you're designing a site from scratch, WebPlus's helpful interface may become a hindrance. WebPlus X7 doesn’t create pages of editable code. Instead, WebPlus X7 keeps everything in its own inaccessible proprietary project format until you export your site.

This frustrated us even when we performed simple tasks. We’re particularly keen on WebPlus X7's ability to take a selected text box and turn it into an image, for example. However, you must export the entire site and open the image from the exported files in order to edit it in another program. If you want properly integrated image editing beyond a few basic adjustments, you'll have to buy Serif PhotoPlus X10, which is well integrated with WebPlus X7.

To its credit, WebPlus X7 outputs neat, correct code that passes W3C's conformance checker perfectly. Conveniently, WebPlus X7 adds comments to code that it has generated, which makes editing and understanding the code at a later date much easier. This is quite an achievement given the relative complexity of HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. We're not fans of WebPlus X7’s built-in HTML editor, though, because it doesn't give you free rein to add hand-coded elements. You're encouraged to add them with a HTML code fragment tool instead, and you're restricted in where you're allowed to make additions. We'd have liked its HTML viewer to wrap text, too.

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