Serif WebPlus X7 review

Serif WebPlus X7 review

Makers of website design software are having an increasingly difficult time, with direct competition from off-line applications and the rise in popularity of online providers, such as WordPress and Moonfruit. See also Group test: what's the best web-design software?

Serif chooses Website Designer and Adobe Dreamweaver as competitors in its WebPlus X7 comparison chart, but there are many more it needs to fend off. See all web design reviews.

WebPlus continues with its traditional front-end interface, with the page under design positioned centre screen, menus across the top and palettes of colours and objects down the right, with drag-and-drop assets – like buttons and menu bars – on the left.

The design process is very like using a desktop publishing editor and there is a wide range of predefined templates, where you can take an existing design and change the text and pictures to complete a personalised site.

The two main improvements in the X7 version of this long-standing website designer are HTML5 compatibility and a separate 64-bit engine, said to provide faster performance. Both these upgrades are 'behind the scenes', though, so not particularly easy to appreciate.

HTML5 is the emerging de-facto standard for website design, with the advantage that it's good for designing pages which display as well on a tablet as on a PC. It produces cleaner code with increased compatibility and is designed to cope better with low-power devices. And it should obviate the need for the dangerous Adobe Flash plugin.

There are features here which go some way beyond the enthusiast level that Serif has always aimed WebPlus at before. For example, you can now set up the dynamics of slider controls on a page though, to be honest, we don't believe many visitors will notice the difference.
 
Serif draws your attention to the fact that WebPlus X7 has a one-off price of £90 with no annual subscription; that you don't need to be online to create or edit a page; and that you're free to post your site with whichever hosting provider you favour.

You can also use the same app to design and maintain multiple sites, rather than having to subscribe separately for each one.

You need to balance this against the convenience of having your site design tied directly into the hosting so you can update and edit from any device with internet access and a web browser.

Perhaps a better play would be to highlight the wide variety of editing facilities and widgets that can be applied to a site without the need for any coding.

The new version includes improved support for video from YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. There's also WebPlus's own video player, a drag-and-drop asset which enables you to play MPEG-4 videos of your own in a professional-looking embedded app.

You can now add interactive Google Maps to your pages so you can, for example, lead customers to your premises. Commercial assistance goes further, if you're running a hotel or B&B, with the Accommodation Booker. This works from Serif's server to enable viewers of your site to check available rooms and to make bookings, so you don't have to use third-party services.

Serif WebPlus X7: Specs

  • Windows XP SP3 (32-bit only)/Vista/7/8, 32/64-bit, SSE2 support in processor, 1GB (32-bit) 4GB (64-bit) RAM, 340 MB drive space, DVD drive, 1024 x 768 min res display, Internet Explorer 8 or above (other browsers supported)
  • Windows XP SP3 (32-bit only)/Vista/7/8, 32/64-bit, SSE2 support in processor, 1GB (32-bit) 4GB (64-bit) RAM, 340 MB drive space, DVD drive, 1024 x 768 min res display, Internet Explorer 8 or above (other browsers supported)

OUR VERDICT

If you want more than the fairly simple facilities provided by online design apps, Serif WebPlus X7 has maintained its position as the designer of choice in the sub-£100 market. With its adoption of HTML5, it outdoes some much higher-profile applications, by supporting the web protocol which is likely to become standard over the next few years.