It’s a rare business that doesn’t have a website these days, but not everyone wants to pay for a professional designer to create one. The solution most people turn to is a template based design program.
Incomedia’s Website X5 has been around in various editions for many years, but the latest version 12 launched this month. It has improved eCommerce features and the ability to create responsive sites that are compatible with any device or screen resolution. Does this make it worth considering or are there better options available?
The program is aimed at allowing beginners to create a website without any knowledge of HTML. The sites it creates are compatible with all of the main browsers and can adapt to being displayed on various devices.
Starting with a template it uses a drag-and-drop interface to create pages. Features like blogs and online stores can be added and it’s possible to create things like password protected members areas. The Professional version also offers a FeedReady app, this is available for iOS and Android and links to the blog or RSS Feeds on a website so visitors can be invited to follow updates.
So far so good, but how does all this work in practice?
As with a previous versions the latest Website X5 takes a 5-step wizard-driven approach to site creation, these steps being General Settings, Map Creation, Page Creation, Advanced Settings, and Analyse and Export.
The first step allows you to select basics like the site title and choose the template you want to use. There’s a decent selection of basic templates included in the package grouped into various themes. Once you’ve selected one you can customise it by changing the menu position and tweaking the various graphical elements, colours, fonts and so on. You can also choose display features like showing tool tips on mouse overs.
The Map Creation stage lets you select how many pages you want to have and how they link together. This uses an explorer-style interface which is okay but not as easy to use as the family tree type view used by some other tools – NetObjects Fusion for example.
Page Creation is where you can begin adding your own content. This works by dividing the page into a grid, you simply drop an icon relating to the type of content required – text, image, video, Flash, etc – into a box then double click it to add the actual content on a separate screen. You can add HTML code for things like adverts and affiliate links too. Again all this works reasonably well but feels a bit restrictive compared to WYSIWYG editors that allow you to see the page taking shape. If you want to take a look at how things are developing in Website X5 you have to preview the page in a separate window.
The final two options give you the chance for more fine tuning, this includes the ability to add a tracking ID for Google Analytics and some basic SEO information. You can also set up blogs and RSS feeds and add a shopping cart. Finally you have the ability to check your work for errors and then export the site either to disk or via FTP.
Once you’ve started to design a site you can jump around the options as you wish, you don’t have to follow the steps in the order that the program presents them.
Website X5 is easy enough to use once you get to grips with its quirks, and it produces decent looking websites. The latest updates keep the sites produced standards compliant and ensures they look okay on any device. The eCommerce features are also pretty comprehensive, you can create a product catalogue, manage stock availability through the control panel and set up payment methods or apply discounts.
This isn’t enough for us to recommend it though. By the standards of other more recent web design tools it feels restrictive, the lack of a WYSIWYG editor being a particular pain. Yes, it’s aimed at beginners but you’ll quickly outgrow its capabilities so you may as well buy a more sophisticated tool in the first place.
WebSite X5 Professional 12 costs £139.00 or there’s a cheaper Evolution version with fewer features for £49.99.