In this review I will offer my opinion of XSitePro 2 upgrade and especially the following aspects:
1. Is the software easy to use?
2. Can you design a professional looking website with it?
3. What extras are there?
4. Are the extras worth more money?
Having used XSitePro quite happily for a year I was in two minds whether or not to pay for the May 2008 upgrade to version 2. The aspects that I liked about this website design software were the ease of use, speed and the quick analysis of my website pages for optimisation.
The downside has always been not very good templates and a recognisable same as look for many XSitePro sites. Despite that I found the software quicker and easier to use than Dreamweaver or Frontpage.
Temptation got the better of me and soon after the upgrade was mine I was redesigning one of my older websites. As some far more professional looking templates had been added I used one of those for practice after completing the website building tutorial.
Next I imported another of my sites but added my own banner and used one of the 30 navigational menu designs provided and changed it to my own colour selection to blend with the banner. I then started to build a music site using one of their templates and am now building a travel site from scratch with my own design.
I’m really pleased with all of the websites; to my eyes they look good and even my own designs look more professional than they would if I used Dreamweaver or FrontPage. The XSitePro sameness is a thing of the past. For someone like myself who has the aspirations but not the ability of a professional website designer and wants to design their own sites XSitePro 2 is a great tool.
There are several new features that I am enjoying experimenting with. 30 different navigational menus with colour selection I have already mentioned, but you can now easily place your choice of menu at the left, right or bottom of the page or as an info bar at the top. Your navigational menus can be added to more than one place and easily altered if you want to change the design.
New pages can be added easily and you are prompted to start optimising them for the search engines straight away. Article pages are new, there are 11 different styles that you can further customise or you can use a blank page. You can choose when the content is published, for instance you can set up an advertising campaign to automatically come online on a pre set date.
A new feature that I’m finding useful for the travel site that I’m building is that you can have a different right hand margin for every page. As each page has a different destination I am using that feature for my hotel affiliate links for those particular destinations.
Adding Google ads is still easily done but now you can add Amazon ads in the same way and customise the ads to integrate with your website. You can store your publisher ids and channels, so once they are stored a couple of clicks and your site is monetised. You can also store your affiliate links and you don’t have to visit Paypal to set up payment schemes. These features save a lot of time from having to search while adding your advertising.
I’m quite taken by the Mobile Site Wizard. In a couple of minutes I created versions of my sites that are automatically optimised for viewing on mobile phones or Internet able PDAs. I wouldn’t have thought of doing that but now my websites are available for viewing to a wider audience.
There are tons of graphics that you can use and it’s easy to upload your own graphics. A form wizard with different form designs that you can use to capture email addresses is new, also a banner rotator – and one of my favourites an image gallery creator. There is now a selection of social bookmarking icons that are easy to add to the pages and an RSS feed creator that can be used on the pages that you want syndicating.
You can now choose to add 3 different site maps and use siloing to help with the search engines. Redirects, customisable search boxes and pop ups are quick to add and I nearly forgot – you can have streaming audio and videos on your web pages.
There are so many new and improved features with XSitePro version 2 that it’s impossible to mention them all here. So I’m going to finish with my absolute favourite the Links Page Wizard. In the old version your links page was just a list of sites and descriptions, now you can do a lot more. You can customise the links pages to blend in with your site design, add your own text or ads to the pages and best of all split into categories and include a longer description and screenshot.
The screenshots get my vote – apart from it being more appealing to other webmasters to exchange links with you; every time those web pages are updated you get fresh content to help keep the search engines happy. Although this is my favourite feature it also holds the only downside that I’ve found so far. I wanted to add the XSitePro company website to my links pages but the software has problems with the screenshot for their site and it won’t view duh!
Is XSitePro Version 2 Worth The Asking Price?
For somebody who only wants one or two websites then I would say no. There are plenty of website designers including XSitePro users advertising on the Internet. Or there are lots of ready made free or paid for templates or free site building resources available on the Internet.
I believe that it is absolutely worth the full asking price if like myself you want to build multiple big websites with constant content updates, sales pages or smaller sites. Or if like me you wake up one morning and think that your site looks as messy as your hair and you want to change the design throughout as quick as it takes to get your hair restyled. It’s also easy to change your site design back when you realise that you should have woken up properly first with a cup of coffee!
I am having a lot of fun with XSitePro 2 and am finding using it refreshing after spending several months struggling to learn how to use the rather more expensive Memberspeed membership site software. It may not be fair to compare them as they have different functions, but although excellent in it’s own way I find Memberspeed hard to use and very time consuming and frustrating in comparison. Maybe that will be the next review.
What Upgrades Would I Like to See in the Future?
Although I got far more than I expected with the upgrade and am having a lot of fun using the software it does no harm to have a wish list. I think what would be the most useful is more interactivity with site visitors, perhaps the option of visitors being able to add comments. A shopping cart and a way to add members built into the software – you never know what they might surprise us with next!