Xara – Webstyle 2 review

Web graphics design tool
Photo of Xara – Webstyle 2
$69.00 (approx £45 + VAT)

Designing graphics for Web pages is not easy. Getting the right balance between file size (and therefore download speed) and quality is hard enough, while matching colours and creating a clean navigation system is considerably harder. As you can tell, it’s not something we’ve mastered here at IT Reviews – content definitely takes precedence over style in our books.

And we’re obviously not alone. Unless you’re already pretty hot with PhotoShop and the like, you’ll find the creative process a bit of a struggle; which means that you’re the target audience for Webstyle 2.

This isn’t a full-blown Web authoring package. It only handles graphics. The software comes with a good selection of templates and styles which you can either use as is or change to suit you. There are banners, logos, dividers, 3D headings, buttons, bullets, backgrounds and so on. Each category has a fair amount of choice and you can save the images in a variety of formats – GIF, JPEG, PNG – with different settings according to palette size, required download speed, etc. All images start off in raster format and are colour-reduced and anti-aliased as appropriate before being output as bitmaps.

The user interface is extremely simple. You click on a category, then click on the image you like best, after which you can change its size, alter the colour of each component (text, background, shadow, foreground) and modify the text content. The latter is particularly important, of course, and you can add text in any font that’s installed on your machine. In the case of buttons and logos, the size of the image can be set to expand or contract depending on the size and amount of text.

There are some nice features like the ability to define navigation bars built up of numerous images, each with different text. You can do this simply by typing the text in, one line after another, and Webstyle 2 will even produce the HTML snippet for you to use, complete with mouse roll-over actions that change the image (again, you have complete control over this). Banner adverts can be created, too, and it’s here that Webstyle 2 performs particularly well, letting you quickly set up animated GIFs with text and graphics features that really catch the eye.

Ultimately, though, this is a package for small businesses and home users. The graphical schemes are well produced, but they have a distinctly un-corporate theme. They’re great for drawing the eye’s attention, but they’re all a bit too chunky for the business world.

Company: Xara

Contact: 01442 350000


Verdict
As a means of quickly producing buttons, logos and backgrounds to order, Webstyle 2 is commendable. But that's all it does - you'll still need some artistic ability to put it all together on the page. It's great for amateur designers, but there's little here to tempt professionals or those designing corporate Web sites.