Serif WebPlus X2 review

A one-window drag-and-drop Web design studio

TechRadar Verdict

First-rate Web design all-rounder


  • +

    User-friendly interface

  • +

    Great range of site templates

  • +

    Lots of handy features and tools


  • -

    Nothing major we could see!

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One of the biggest traumas of producing any Web site is the constant back and forth to image editors, browsers and FTP sites every time you decide on an alteration.

What makes WebPlus a joy to use is its convenience: all that stuff can be done in one window.

Edit your website with ease

Got to resize a picture? Grab its corner handles and drag. Want to swap it out? Double-click the image. Fonts, colours, background properties, transparency... all are handled with ease.

Even if you do decide that you need to employ an external application you'll be going equipped with the knowledge needed to make it a quick visit. WebPlus X2 will make a lot of people very happy.

A major strength of WebPlus is that it's entirely possible to create a smart Web site including data-driven features, Flash animations, RSS feeds and all that good stuff without writing a single line of code.

Don't worry about code

Yet while it's code-free, WebPlus feels professional enough that you don't get the impression its developers think you're stupid. If you do want to write a bit of your own HTML it's easy to do and simple to integrate.

However, WebPlus's goal is to free you from caring too much about code. The developer has decided that if you want to hand-code your SQL queries and XML handlers, you're not in the market for a copy of WebPlus.

This has freed them up to produce a brilliant piece of software for everyone bar those with a genuine need to work from the ground up.

Superior usability

There are a number of WYSIWYG Web design packages available.

There are even a couple of free ones - including WebPlus SE - but what makes WebPlus X2 worthy of consideration is its usability.

Pulling together all that functionality, hiding the code generation and still making it a snappy experience is not an easy task. Sure, the code might win not an beauty contests, but it works fine.

Smart Objects tool

Meanwhile, the Smart Objects solution to more complicated features is clever, if not entirely satisfactory for those who like to keep everything "in house". Smart Objects, you say? For Web functionality like password protection, e-commerce and analytics, server-side scripting is required.

This kind of thing is pretty much impossible to provide via drag-and-drop unless you're actually running the services elsewhere and the drag-and-drop just links to them. This is the route that Serif has chosen for WebPlus.

This choice neatly avoids exposing the innards of the process to designers and enables Serif to update the modules without causing sites built with WebPlus to need any re-working. So you have the lion's share of smart functionality while maintaining a simple design paradigm.

Useful templates

While we're on the subject of paradigms, WebPlus X2 comes with a well-thought-out selection of site templates.

Everything from blogs to shops and galleries, all with variations and options to choose from. These, while not really usable as is, provide an excellent base from which to build.

There's also a resource CD that contains some useful items - a good library of stock images, some textures, image borders and so on. Not the kind of stuff that'll shake Web 2.0 to its foundations, but if nothing else will provide you with some food for thought as you customise templates or build your own sites.

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