Review: MAGIX Website Maker MX
|Platforms:||Windows XP/ Vista/ 7, Max OS X 10.5 or higher|
|Requirements:||Internet connection (DSL 2000 recommended, faster the better), IE/ Firefox/ Opera/ Chrome, Flash Player 8.0 or higher, Java 2 RE 1.4.2 or higher|
Building websites is easy. Building good websites? That’s definitely more of a challenge. So if you need to construct a site of your own, but don’t have the necessary skills, then one possible alternative is to install a WYSIWYG site construction tool like MAGIX Website Maker MX.
Unusually, the program runs as a Flash applet, inside your browser (IE, Firefox, Opera and Chrome are supported). Otherwise, though, it works much like any other WYSIWYG development tool, and for simple applications at least, is genuinely easy to use.
Would you like to build a site to record a recent holiday. say? Choose the Vacation site category and you’ll see 22 possible site designs. Click on text boxes to replace the default content with your own words; do the same with the images, adding your favourite holiday photos; and you can then publish the site in a couple of clicks.
There are plenty of other site categories, too – “Friends & Family”, “Business”, “Leisure & Sports” and more – and each of these have a similar range of templates on offer. Which can be a problem, actually, as the small thumbnail browser doesn’t let you get a good look at an individual design, so you have to select each one manually. And some of the templates are a little old-fashioned, too, but most categories do have several high quality choices available, so if you’re hoping to produce an impressive-looking site in a hurry then MAGIX Website Maker MX really can deliver.
You’d like to do more than just tweak someone else’s web templates? No problem: MAGIX Website Maker MX also allows you to start with an entirely blank page, then customise the site with all the media management and playback tools, animations and other widgets that you might need.
And there really is a huge amount of choice on offer here. This new build supports more than 150 styles of intelligent navigation bar, for instance. There are multiple ways to present media files: thumbnail galleries, image sliders, film strips, photo tables, media and music players, a YouTube player and more. You get decorative Flash animations, picture frames, shapes and so on, and Website Maker MX now extends this further with its ability to insert custom HTML code, enabling you to embed almost anything into your pages.
Adding one of these elements to your page is as easy as a quick drag and drop, but then that leads you on to even more customisations. Choose a “Filmstrip”, say, and you can add the images it’ll be playing back; the filmstrip’s size, alignment, and playback speed; and you can add effects, filters and blend options and links, set the player’s opacity, or even change the filmstrip’s skin (there are six stylish options on offer).
But the program isn’t just about the flashy side of web development. The Text Tables section, say, contains 12 tables which come pre-styled in various ways, and the Text Templates section includes basic page text suitable as an intro for particular site types (Business, Garden, Family and so on). So whatever you’re doing, there are tools here to make it easier.
And once you’ve finished, MAGIX Website Maker MX provides more publishing options than the previous edition of the program. So you can make your site available on a magix.net URL (your-name.magix.net, 5GB space available), or your own personal domain, and there’s now even an option to embed your site as a Flash object on another site. (Complicated? It can be, but don’t worry, the program generates the necessary HTML code for you.)
There are some complications and issues here, which for the most part are due to Website Maker’s Flash-based origins: the interface just doesn’t provide all the features you’d expect with a regular application. We were forever looking for a tool to help us zoom in and out on the current page, for instance, but there isn’t one, which became a little frustrating.
And of course there’s the fundamental problem with all of these services, in that once you’ve started building your site this way, you’re locked in. If you decide not to pay your Website Maker subscription at some point in the future then you don’t get to use and edit your site elsewhere; it’s gone forever and you have to start again.
This probably won’t matter for many casual websites, though, and there’s no doubt that Website Maker does get a lot right: it provides a stack of well-designed templates and piles of configuration options, while allowing you to build simple pages in a few minutes, or more complex sites over an hour or two. If you’re looking to build a small, professional website, in a hurry, but just don’t have the skills, then MAGIX Website Maker MX provides all the assistance you’re going to need, and for a very reasonable price.