Xara Web Designer 6 – A Best Value

Xara already has one of the best and fastest  photo composition tools with Xara Xtreme 5 and they have just delivered a huge upgrade to their Web Designer product that elevates it to one of the best Web Design tools available. Xara Web Designer 6:
1)is the best Web-page Prototyping tool on the PC for both features and price [$49US];
2)is a must have Web Design tool for sites with lots of graphics and media on the PC;
3)Enables drag and drop usage of dozens of State -of-the-Art widgets on the PC.
Note the phrase, “on the PC” – no, there is not a Mac version. But Xara makes up for that with great direct, smart FTP delivery of  Web Pages to any site[smart delivery because Xara Web Designer will deliver only  the changed files]. And the speed and drag and drop ease of use of the program borrows very well from Xara Xtreme  [in fact, users can customize their Web Designer templates and graphics with output from Xara Xtreme].

Users of previous versions of Web Designer will be pleasantly surprised with a)the speed up again of the tool; b)the dozens of new features and capabilities; c)the notable enhancement to menu and navigation bar design; d)the many new widgets and gadgets available from major players like eBay, Facebook, Google, Jetforms, PayPal, Twitter and several others; and e)the ability to control blocks of text so that the line by line CSS editing can be replaced with text block edits with <p> or <div> tags. New comers will be pleased with the drag and drop ease of use supported by a wide range of tools and widgets.The following video shows how quick and easy one can work in Xara Web Designer 6:

Overview of Xara WebDesigner 6 editing operations

For an example of speed of design and prototyping, the above web site prototype was drawn up for a client [no, not O’Reilly] in less than 10 minutes to give the client a feel for the type of pages that could be created quickly for a rush  book sale. The web page design below [see it live here] was done in less than half an hour and is used to explore some of the new widgets made available in Web Designer 6.

Note how the public widgets work. You drag and drop say the PayPal “BuyNow” widget onto your design, Web Designer links to the vendors site where you customize the design, then you copy the embed code there and return via an INSERT button to Web Designer and the widget appears on your page – just drag and drop it into position. Now this is so easy and intuitive, one can see a Widget war developing with other Web design tools like on the iPhone apps versus Android, Blackberry, Palm and other smartphones. Xara definitely has the lead; but there are a ton of great widgets out there ready for “adoption” and Dreamweaver CS5 arrives April 12th.

Comparison with Other Tools

Adobe’s Dreamweaver has been the goto Web Design tool for at least 6-7 years. It has better coverage of CSS, PHP, ASP, and other web scripting tools than Xara Web Designer. Also it runs on Macs. But Dreamweaver is Adobe centric and has only Adobe Spry JavaScript widgets with poor  support for other JavaScript plugins like DHTMLx, Dojo, EXTjs and jQuery among the free AJAX JavaScript Frameworks. Also its drag and drop design facilities and templating are very poor in comparison to Xara Web Designer.

Activestate’s Komodo series of tools has even better breadth of Web tool coverage than Dreamweaver but also lacks  a good drag and drop design space as competent as Xara Web Designer. Aptana Studio has much better JavaScript Framework support, and a really solid web page editor  [not available in Xara]; but it too lacks the drag and drop graphic layout and powerful templates+widgets of Xara Web Designer.


Xara Web Designer throws the gauntlet down and says drag and drop layout of web pages is not only possible but can be quick and easy to do [see the upcoming EXTjs Designer for a specific approach to a Web IDE]. The clever addition of widgets in Xara Web Designer capitalizes on all the live Web design assets and mashables that have sprouted up on the Web. I suspect there will be a Web Widgets war among the various Web Development tools. Xara Web Designer does not take advantage of upcoming HTML5 features like Canvas and SVG-Vector graphics, but that may be a stones throw away in the next version of Xara Xtreme Pro. However, for sheer quickness and completeness of prototyping Xara Web Designer 6 is hard to beat – then take a look at the great tutorials, how-to movies and support – and $49 looks like an absolute bargain.

4 thoughts on “Xara Web Designer 6 – A Best Value”

  1. Very useful and informative – it has almost sold me the program, just a little more research to do re shopping baskets etc.

  2. Hai, I am in webdesign & social advertising. Original-Poster would you like to share ideas some time on Linked In. Feel free to send me a pm on my website or through a listed social network.

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