WebPlus X6 Software Review – Part 1

webplus-x6-review

After much anticipation, WebPlus X6 is finally here! The question often comes up: “should I upgrade from a previous version of WebPlus?”

Below, I hope to provide you with a comprehensive, honest, and unbiased review on the new features and enhancements for those who would like to know what has changed in the latest version and are considering whether or not to upgrade. In addition, it might help you get a quick start with WebPlus if you are waiting for WebPlus to finish downloading or arrive at your doorstep.

I do not work for Serif.

Hopefully my review below on the latest version of WebPlus will be helpful to you. I would sincerely appreciate your feedback below.

Mobile sites
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New mobile design themes allow you quickly publish mobile-friendly sites, or to mix and match full-size and mobile pages together in one site. Automatic device or screen-size-based redirection means visitors can be channelled to the pages most suited to their browser, and new mobile-friendly buttons make it easier to design for touch screens as well as mouse cursors!

Thoughts: This feature does what it says on the tin. Included with your WebPlus download, you will find one mobile template for every traditional template. You will need to create a second copy of your site from scratch – WebPlus will not automatically create a mobile website based on your existing site. For most users, this will not be a problem as often mobile sites do not need to include nearly as much information as the desktop version of the site and much of the information can be quickly copied from the desktop version of the website. However, for those that have huge websites which they want to have automatically updated, it may still be considerable effort to get a mobile version up and running.

In addition, WebPlus X6 now automatically adds the ‘viewport‘ tag to your site so that all WebPlus sites will look better on mobile devices. What this does is makes the browser recognize that it needs to zoom to a certain amount in order to properly display the website. Prior to X6, this could be added manually, but now it is one less thing to worry about when creating a website. To make this feature even more appealing, there are now new redirect options in Page Properties to help you redirect mobile users to the mobile version of your website.

The new mobile templates and feature additions are certainly a step in the right direction for Serif and a welcome addition for all WebPlus users, but beware of the extra work still required should you have a large site you’d like to convert. This isn’t responsive design nor a one-click conversion of your website but will certainly help you further optimize your website for mobile users.

See this feature:

The traditional and mobile templates in the Template Browser in the Startup Wizard:

A traditional template compared to a mobile template:

New redirect settings:

Social networking widgets
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Now having live feeds and Like/Follow/+1 buttons from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is truly as easy as 1-2-3… drag a social object from the studio, specify a page or account, and click OK. You can also add a social bookmarking button strip to give even more ways to easily share your page with people on other sites. These are all easy ways to help build up the buzz about your site, products or services, and help boost your search ranking.

Thoughts: There are lots of new options for those of you interesting in socially connecting with your visitors as well as allowing your visitors to share your website with their friends.

Serif seemed to go far beyond the bare minimum, adding the Facebook Activity Feed, Facebook Like Feed, Facebook Recommendations Feed, and Facebook Like Button. They also added the Twitter Favorites Feed, Twitter List Feed,, Twitter Profile Feed, Twitter Search Feed, Twitter Tweet Button, and Twitter Follow Button. Not forgetting Google, they did add a Google +1 button as well.

With the Twitter Profile Feed, I personally experienced multiple freezes of WebPlus until I was finally able to add it to the page. Thankfully, after about thirty seconds, WebPlus decided to work normally again, so I didn’t lose any work. When I previewed the page with the Twitter Profile Feed, there was a blank space where the Twitter Profile Feed should have been. Perhaps this is a

Twitter issue as it would be surprising if Serif didn’t catch this major feature before launch. Otherwise, the many other Twitter, Facebook, and Google + tools work excellentlu and as expected.

The ‘Social Bookmarking Button Strip’ works quite nicely. Available services that can be added to the strip are Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Google Bookmarks, LiveJournal, Newsvine, Reddit, and Stumble Upon. As an added bonus, Print and E-mail buttons are included. It would have been even better had Serif added vertical styling options, but overall this feature performs well.

With a few clicks, you will now be able to get social without the hassle of needing to go to any website to get the embed code. This will be a definite time saver for many users and will also help you see the many social options that are available.

See this feature:

There are a plethora of options for each widget:

The Facebook and Google+ widgets work great (unfortunately the Twitter Profile Feed wouldn’t work at the time of review):

The Social Bookmarking Strip is a slick addition:

Sliders and Banners
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Attractive sliding banners, panels and other eye-catching interactive widgets are made easy with new Sliders and a Slider Editor. Drag an example onto your page, set number of slides and timings, then customise the content on each slide right on your page. Includes accordion and other styles, and in addition to allowing the traditional use of images and text also supports interactive content like forms and videos. And they work on systems without Flash, too.

Thoughts: Admit it. You’re getting a bit sick of how your website looks. It’s static and boring. You’re wondering what you can do to fix this. The new slider feature could be the answer to all your problems. The sliders will add an extra dimension to your site complete with pleasing animations that don’t require Flash.

Sliders are described in the WebPlus help files as “animated panels”. This is, in fact, exactly what they are, and knowing this is key to customizing a slider. To add a slider, you must open the new ‘Assets’ browser, then add the slider to the page, then customize it. Behind the default images, there is an almost invisible white box which could be considered the ‘bounding box’ for the slider. If you double-click this box, you will find many slider options and the ability to add or remove new panels which will you can then add images to. I found it helpful to look at the Objects tab to see how everything was layered.

The sliders definitely took the longest to figure out and may actually be one of the most complex, yet versatile features in WebPlus. In fact, at the time of posting, I was still uncertain on some aspects of the slider. I suspect many users will find sliders to have a bit of learning curve, but Serif has included plenty of step-by-step help to help minimize this. Once you figure out how sliders work, rest assured, you’ll want to use them for everything! Without a doubt, this could be one of the best additions to WebPlus X6.

See this feature:

Modifying a slider:

 

Goto Part 2 of the review


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About the author
Brian is a long time user of Serif software and provides excellent help and advice on the Serif Forum.

6 Replies to WebPlus X6 Software Review – Part 1

  1. Ughetta says:

    Hi Brian

    We are just starting with Webplus X6 to design a site. We want to play a video we made with Windows Movie maker. It plays well on our Facebook page and we want it to look like that format (little play button etc) on our website. The “assets” button in WebPlus look like very basic objects. I don’t know if I am making any sense because i don’t know enough to ask the question properly… We do not have Adobe.

    Many Thanks
    Ughetta

    • Neil says:

      Hi Ughetta,

      Have you thought about uploading the site to YouTube or Vimeo? You can then insert the media in to your WebPlus website relatively easy – it’ll will also be accessible on most platforms this way. Alternatively you could use some thing like Flowplayer: http://serifaddons.com/flowplayer-video.html

      Hope that helps :)
      Neil

  2. Holly A. Black says:

    I have Webplus5 & actually have a hosting package with Serif but have yet to put together a site, etc. I am considering upgrading to Webplus 6 but I wondered if there are really enough new templates, etc. to be helpful with design. I also have the other Serif products included PagePlusX6. I am just beginning to try my hand at selling my handmade jewelry. My other concern is that I will be able to easily make coordinate print and web designs. I need to keep things as simple as possible but I do want to be able to create a unique branding image for my new venture. I have some images, page backgrounds from digital scrapbooking and would like to integrate them into my design. Is this possible as well as easy? Do you think it is worth the cost to upgrade?
    [P.S. I’m so glad I found your site as I will probably find good info here!!]
    Thanks!

    • M J Tait says:

      Hi Kelly

      It is really easy to design a new template on Serif WebPlus, and although the e-commerce bit may not look the way you want it to on the page you can easily adjust it to suit your own specifications.

      We recently put together a website for http://www.kerrykempster.co.uk which is a handcrafted fashion designer business. I see that you put your post up on 7th September 2012 and I would be interested to see what your website looks like now and how it is working.

      Kind regards
      Yours sincerely

      Mary J Tait
      http://www.m-press-if.co.uk
      Multimedia, Print and Internet Facilities

  3. r grant says:

    Hi, I have incorporated a lot of flash files created in drawplus x4 in my webpages and need to be able to convert them to html5 as flash is no longer being supported in mac and mobile devices?

    Also, can you import html5 webpages into webplus x6?

    Many thanks.

  4. WebWhittington says:

    Is there a way to create drop down text or toggle text in X6? I have tried several methods to no avail…any help would be greatly appreciated!

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