EverWeb 1.8.2 review: Well-crafted web design app knows its limits and often surpasses them

One of the best options for new or casual web designers.

everweb mac icon
At a Glance
  • Rage Software EverWeb 1.8.2

    Macworld Rating

    With a deep feature set and a well-thought-out interface, EverWeb is one of the best options for new or casual web designers.

No single Mac web design app offers the ideal blend of power and accessibility. But Rage Software’s EverWeb comes closer than most, helping you build attractive, useful sites with minimal hassle.

A web-design app that plays nice

Every element of EverWeb’s simple interface is easily in reach when you need it, and out of your way when you don’t. The central layout window’s surrounded by your site structure on the left, a toolbar along the bottom of the screen, and a multi-tabbed Inspector pane for adjusting individual elements on the right.

EverWeb

EverWeb’s clean, logical interface puts everything right where you need it.

EverWeb includes numerous modern, fully editable templates, each with multiple page types and a mobile version. You can also build sites from scratch with a pleasantly powerful layout engine—though I did sometimes wish for adjustable guides or a grid to keep my layouts tidy. I used the Master Pages feature to create a common header and (after some initial confusion and a trip to the help files) footer for every page on my site.

EverWeb supports full-width design elements, too, but it’s tough to center-align them with other objects. The program seems to orient itself by the center of your monitor, not its own window, so elements get shifted too far to one side.

Still, I felt like EverWeb helped me far more than it fought me. Plentiful, well-made tutorial videos make its modest learning curve even gentler, with many more answers waiting in its searchable online knowledgebase.

Simple looks, surprising depth

EverWeb lacks ultra-precise CSS styling. You can apply uniform borders, padding, and drop shadows, and its CSS-based shapes offer adjustable color settings for different rollover states—useful for making buttons. But you can’t fine-tune styles for individual sides of an object, create and manage custom CSS classes, or adjust sitewide styles beyond default link and shape colors.

EverWeb doesn’t build in blog support, though a help video promises that feature in future versions. And like many of its rivals, EverWeb doesn’t do HTML tables or bullet-pointed lists, unless you want to write that code yourself.

Still, the drag-and-drop widgets EverWeb does offer are impressively powerful and intuitive. In seconds, I assembled a decent-looking photo gallery and an attractive image slider, dropped in a Google map, built a contact form, and embedded HTML5 audio and YouTube video to a test page. All worked perfectly when viewed in my browser.

EverWeb

While it doesn’t offer precise CSS styling, EverWeb’s options are still good enough to make a slick, modern-looking site.

EverWeb’s CSS menu widget works very well—up to a point. It updates automatically based on your site’s structure, and you can easily exclude pages from it if you don’t want them listed. With little effort, you can adjust each your menu’s look, spacing, and rollover behavior. But the menu’s designed to work best horizontally; you can squeeze the options into a vertical column, but any drop-down submenus will appear awkwardly on top of the successive links. There’s also no way to shrink the menu down to a space-saving icon for mobile pages.

I was especially impressed by the PayPal widget, which hooks smartly into that service’s infrastructure to create moderately full-featured online stores. Few rival programs offer any e-commerce option this powerful, and the few that do charge extra for it.

You’ll find even more widgets hosted on or linked from EverWeb’s site. Many are free, while others come in $6 packs grouped by type and capabilities.

EverWeb also wins kudos for superbly simple asset management. You can drag images, PDFs, ebooks, and other files directly into your asset library, then easily call upon them for backgrounds or links. When you’re ready to take your site live, EverWeb will upload it via FTP, export the files to be uploaded elsewhere, or send it to EverWeb’s own integrated hosting service (whose annual cost isn’t included in the basic purchase price).

EverWeb

An impressive selection of readymade widgets, each easily customized, enable you to enhance your site with photo galleries, image sliders, and more.

We can work it out

Even when it hits its limits, EverWeb often tries admirably to offer you a way around them. The results aren’t spectacular, but they work well enough.

For example, there’s no built-in roster of web-safe fonts to use, and no simple way to add your own. But EverWeb’s smart enough to add necessary code enabling any Google Fonts you’ve already installed on your computer. (I did notice that EverWeb displayed Google Fonts oddly, pushing them farther down from the top of their text boxes than the browser did. But once you know that quirk, you can adjust your design accordingly.)

The program’s help site also links to step-by-step instructions for using EverWeb’s assets library and custom header and footer code to slip third-party web fonts into your design—a little extra work, but still more than most rivals can offer.

And while EverWeb doesn’t offer adjustable breakpoints or other responsive design features, it does provide the aforementioned mobile-ready templates, plus easy options to redirect a page to a mobile counterpart.

You’ll have to create extra pages—consuming extra server space and bandwidth—to support mobile users. And EverWeb assumes your site’s at the top of your server’s directory structure. If it’s buried a few folders deep instead, the redirect feature breaks, and you’ll have to manually specify the full address of each mobile page, rather than just picking its name from a list.

This rudimentary support’s still better than none. Compared to my experiences trying to set up responsive designs in other apps, I found it a lot easier and less aggravating to just build dedicated mobile pages here.

EverWeb

As you design, bear in mind that some fonts might not display quite the same in your browser as they do in EverWeb.

It took me about 12 hours total to build both desktop and mobile versions of a sample site. EverWeb’s resulting code wasn’t the cleanest, duplicating CSS stylesheets and JavaScript code on every page in ways that increased file sizes and load times. But EverWeb’s creators say version 1.9 will add svelter, smarter coding.

Bottom line

EverWeb doesn’t do everything perfectly. But it does enough things well, and does them in such a considerate, user-friendly way, to make it one of my favorite web apps among those I’ve tested. Pro designers will want a program with more oomph, and complete novices have even simpler alternatives that’ll still yield good results. Everyone in between should definitely give EverWeb a try.

This story, "EverWeb 1.8.2 review: Well-crafted web design app knows its limits and often surpasses them" was originally published by Macworld.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    With a deep feature set and a well-thought-out interface, EverWeb is one of the best options for new or casual web designers.

    Pros

    • Reasonably extensive abilities and drag-and-drop widget library
    • Smart design is easy to learn and use
    • Extensive, free video tutorials and free or inexpensive add-ons

    Cons

    • Limited support for mobile/responsive design or other advanced features
    • Some discrepancies between how fonts render in the app and on your site
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