An On-line Presence
Now up to version X7 (that is version 17 for those not versed in current marketing speak), WebPlus is Serif’s latest offering of a web design package for those looking to create their own on-line presence. Rather than dropping the user into the deep end of learning the necessary coding language, this program uses a drag-and-drop approach to placing elements on the page as required. Later, if you so wish, some minor coding tweaking can be carried out to add some final spit and polish.
Using the normal practice associated with Serif products, the installation routine allows you to select the destination for the main program files and also where the files created by the program will be stored. A check will be made when firing up this program for any updates that might be available. In my case, an update was located and I was a tad disappointed to discover that you will manually need to restart WebPlus once the updates have been implemented. Really this should have been covered as part of the normal update process.
Serif likes to start its various programs with a Quick Start menu and this title is no exception. The opening screen gives you access to a range of activities that include a web-based Quick Start video. This video has its own narration presented by a pleasant UK voice. Later you can dip into a series of learn options that include tutorials dealing with specific topics (again a UK voice), support features and the products User Guide.
Other options available from this Startup window allow you to open an existing project or start a new one either from scratch or using one of the supplied templates. By default you get 34 Serif produced templates covering some basic topics. Each template consists of nine pages for personalisation as you wish. Versions are available for either a desktop or mobile browser situation. If none of the free templates suit then additional ones are available for purchase from the Serif Web Store.
When opting to start from scratch or from one of the pre-designed templates, you will be presented with an interface that is the same, although the template route will have various design features already in position ready for you to begin work. Familiar type menu and tools bars will be located across and down the left side of the screen. Tabbed panel areas are positioned either side of the central work area with both vertical and horizontal rulers to help with the positioning of various elements.
The left tabbed panel covers text, layout themes and assets which are categorised as graphics, pictures and resource files amongst others. On the right, the tabbed panel allows you to quickly switch between options dealing with colour, objects and style issues. Your work area occupied the central area and combines drag-and-drop features with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) approach as you create the look and feel of your on-line presence.
Along with support for 64-bit and the HTML5 standard, Serif has added some new features to this version of WebPlus. You can now save more objects as assets which can be re-used in other projects. As well as the actual objects, you can also save the associated settings and actions linked to that object.
With video playing an increasingly major part of websites, Serif offers users a choice of delivery mode with an enhanced YouTube player or its own video player. With the former, WebPlus X7 allows you to add streaming Vimeo video with playlists to YouTube playback. Removing the need for a Flash plug-in, the WebPlus video player uses Flowplayer technology with the latest HTML5 standards for playing MP4 content. Player options and customisable controls are supported.
While perhaps not appealing to everybody, the new Accommodation Booker allows you to set up an on-line booking system with support for confirmation emails, different room types, telephone bookings and search features. You can also design your own forms using the new Form Designer tool that has easy data collection facilities built in.
Priced at £90, WebPlus X7 produces code that passes the W3C tests. While experienced coders might look down on this product, it is suitable for those taking their first steps in website design. Minimum system requirements call for a 1GB of RAM, 340MB of hard disk space with IE8 and later running a Windows XP (SP3) 32-bit system and better.
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