Review - Xara Web Designer v9
I know I don’t normally do a review of Xara’s stand-alone Web Designer program, but the latest version is so packed with great features I had to give it a try! Keep in mind this is a program aimed directly at the web designer market. For those looking for other combos of designer tools, I’d suggest looking at their Page & Layout Designer or Photo & Graphic Designer programs; both of which have also undergone recent upgrades.
The v9 of Web Designer includes several web oriented enhancements, so it is hard for me to pick and choose those to talk about. Foremost is built-in support for Google Fonts, which provides over 600+ (by my last count) of license-free typefaces that can be imported into a site. Gone, in other words, are the days when there were less than 10 font family choices one could use! The @font-your-face module for Drupal has been around for a while now. Now I can easily constructing my wireframe previews utilizing the very same fonts intended to be used on the web server for a more accurate representation. All of which adds up to less work on my part and therefore reduced costs I can pass on to my customers.
I must also mention the improved HTML 5 standard support. As of the time I write this (June 2013), it is still cited as a W3C Candidate Recommendation. Like many others, I’ve been waiting for a very long time for this recommendation to come out; with that being the last fact I’ll mention on that topic other than to extend my appreciation to everyone for getting this standard to this point! HTML 5 should make the job of any web designer so much easier with its increased support of multimedia content and mobile devices. For designers wishing to check the current support status of the browsers they are supporting, I recommend using the HTML5Test site.
Getting back to Xara’s Web Designer, what this means is – where possible – your exported HTML/CSS will contain optimized code for the best browser support and minimal usage of graphics. This is quite important in the support of mobile devices that really dislike standard graphic types. Keep in mind that one of the beauties of HTML 5, as a standard, is that it degrades so nicely in older browsers. This approach is also in keeping with Ethan Marcotte’s Responsive Design concept.
Xara Web Designer 9 - Xara Ltd. www.xara.com Microsoft® Windows® XP | Vista® | 7 | 8; 32-bit or 64-bit versions available. Intel® Celeron® or AMD® Sempron® or newer processor. 500 MB RAM, 300 MB hard disk space for program files. $99 to $49 but discounts available to those upgrading.
Irene M. Kraus does custom web programming and multimedia productions while acting as a writer on various subjects. She heads up Computer Erie Bay User Group (CEBUG) based in Erie County, Ohio, and owns Design Works Internet.