This is a review of Serif’s latest website builder package called Serif WebPlus X6.
Before I begin the review, I must clearly state this isn’t a paid review. I decided I was in a good position to give a good honest review of this software, given my many years of working on websites.
So before I begin the review, what exactly is the package?
Well it is a piece of software you install onto a Microsoft operating system, to design and develop a website and then upload to the internet onto a server. So naturally you need to also buy a domain and server space as well, to launch a website built with this package onto the internet. With the software you can drag, drop, move, stretch and configure your design, rather than writing the HTML and CSS code.
A good website requires more than a great package to help design and develop the site. So when sitting down to build a website with this package, you should take time to a) note down your site objectives b) the site requirements c) research what can be achieved with the package and see what others have produced.
There is a Serif forum where you can communicate with other WebPlus users.
So before I rolled up my sleeves and played with the software, I decided to see if there was a community, and found a friendly bunch of people discussing WebPlus X6 and previous versions of the package in a well presented and easy to use Serif forum.
Within the forum I found links to websites created with the WebPlus software. So I discovered some websites which obviously had little planning and graphically looked poor, whilst also seeing some websites that looked great and clearly presented an organisation in a good light. For example I really liked this website, although it was built with WebPlus X4, and not X6 I believe.
I decided not to initially build a live website, but instead get to know the software and create a test website, to get a feel for the package and what it can do. Straight away I was impressed at how easy it is to get going, and within minutes I had a navigation menu setup, a rough layout for a home page and a handful of other pages ready to be populated.
With any software, you should make sure you regularly save your work, but I found the software to run smoothly and I didn’t experience any problems in my couple of hours exploring and playing with it.
For me personally I’m never going to use WebPlus X6 where I require a blog, as I’m too much of a WordPress enthusiast now to go elsewhere. However this package makes setting up a website a breeze. People not in the know, might not appreciate how much hassle setting up a ‘development environment’ for a website can be, whereas WebPlus X6 enables you to get going, without the hassle of running of installing server software and editing HTML and CSS code.
For me the main benefit of this package is that your website can grow as your knowledge and experience does. What I mean by that statement is that you can quickly roll-out a basic website, that you can then update with features such as eCommerce, forms and social network integration at a later date, as you evolve the site. Just think of it in these terms, why pay a website developer hundreds of pounds, when you can build your website at your own pace, and scale it yourself? Sure you still need to have a healthy dollop of common sense, especially with the visual elements, but the choice of templates and colour palettes are good.
So what has impresses me straight away?
I quite like the Flickr gallery option, which can showcase your latest Flickr photos. Given that function and the ease in which you can integrate Twitter, it enables you or a colleague to present fresh data, without having to re-upload a page yourself! Now that functionality isn’t exclusive to the package or difficult to produce elsewhere, but it is good to see, as all too often when visiting websites, I am left wondering if the business is still active!
I’ve only taken a brief look at the eCommerce options, and whilst I’m in no position to compare them to other eCommerce solutions, I think the eCommerce functionality is a good way for a business to dip their toe into the eCommerce world.
How does it compare to other solutions?
Well I’ve used multiple ‘online’ website builders and hated them all! I find many online website builders outdated, limiting and end up driving up my blood pressure!
Then there are the alternatives such as using a CMS package, like WordPress to build a site. I love WordPress, and this article is on a WP site, but this WordPress (not a WebPlussite) site has been time consuming, such as design, development and administration, but I love WP’s blog features. I also wouldn’t use WebPlus X6 to manage a forum either, which is fine as how many people want to run a forum?
WebPlus X6 has really impressed me. It is easy to use, and instead of my blood pressure going up, I’ve been left thinking ‘ah yes, that makes life easier’, a few times already. Whether WebPlus X6 is for you, naturally depends on your requirements. Could a computer novice build a website with this package? You betcha! Also WebPlus is a time saver, and that shouldn’t be underestimated either.
In my humble opinion this software enables people to gain a professional looking website, as long as they research, plan and set aside adequate time to build their site. For example set aside an hour and you can build a basic site (if you’ve already prepared your content). Set aside a few evenings here and there, and you can build a good site, that you can grow over time. Most businesses take too long to build and launch a website, WebPlus X6 can help you launch quickly.
This package really does take the pain out of website building, but you have to appreciate that although it is easy to use, it really is in your best interests to get familiar with the package and not rush the build process. After all, if you are building a small business website, you need to treat the process as you would any other important aspect of your business.
As stated at the beginning of this article, I wasn’t paid to write this review, I’ve talked of my love for WordPress, but also how I like WebPlus X6. Also the price for the software is very reasonable and currently for people in the UK it is priced at £81.69! WebPlus X6 has impressed me, especially for the price and I know I for one, will be spending more time exploring and using this website builder package.