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VINE VOICEon July 15, 2010
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I bought this product directly from Serif and got this copy as a gift. A super easy, non-technical program that anyone can use to build remarkable websites with. This program comes chocked full of templates, graphics and other resources that can be used by even a novice to simply get the job done - but done well. It saves me so much time I've put away other more expensive programs like XSitePro and use this as my principle software for websites. I know one person who shelved Dreamweaver and uses WebPlus now.

Serif also has add-on kits for additional templates, fonts and resources for this program. No other web building software in my experience (and I've tried dozens) does as much, as easily and as well as this one. Most of us want to be about our business, not becoming programmers. Webplus gets the job done. Sure Dreamweaver and other professional grade software are more feature rich - but they have very steep learning curves. This program is plug and play. Pick a template, enter your content and publish. Updates to your site are a breeze. This program hits on all cylinders, including a fantastic manual and support documentation.

I waited until this new edition came out because Serif had let WebPlus get behind other venders in terms of speed and functionality. No longer, this program jumps ahead of the pack - and at half the price. The additional templates and resources are icing on the cake. If you've wanted a website but they cost too much to outsource (have others create) or were too technical for you to create yourself the solution is here.
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VINE VOICEon July 23, 2010
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I truly did want to enjoy this product, however, for this review I'll report the issues but you'll have to decide. Right off, understand I didn't pay for this product out of pocket. Next be aware that I have and do design websites. I don't use devices to code for me - I do it all manually, HTML and CSS, etc. I only make mention of this so you, the reader, will understand I'm not a novice. I started "WebPlus essentials" with the frame of mind of the average internet user with less than advanced skills. The program installed easily without difficulty and I went through the procedure to begin building a website. Right off a window popped up asking me to register, and I followed the procedure by calling the appropriate number. I thought this a bit odd as usually everything can be done without having to speak to a "salesperson". I went along with it though and my call was placed on hold for a while - not a long while but a few minutes and frankly I'm not fond of that, but....anyway, eventually a congenial salesperson came on the line and asked for the required package ID and inquired of my internet skills. I indicated my skill level as a bit above beginner and the salesperson explained that the product I had gotten from Amazon was some six years out of date and that I might do much better with an upgrade which would cost an additional fee of $29.99. I didn't go for that and was placed on hold again in order for the salesperson to acquire a registration number for which I had to supply an email address. I did all that as I've literally hundreds of email addresses, however, most people haven't and providing yours to other people could invite spam. The salesperson came back on the line after a short while and provided the registration number. After this exchange I went back to installing the program and registering the product provided me with an additional download of suggested useful options, at no cost. I eventually continued my website building with "WebPlus essentials" and found the process a little more difficult than expected, in fact somewhat confusing, so I viewed a few of the tutorials which I honestly found quite helpful and I got back to putting it all together - not an easy task for a novice. As an example, not all the templates work as expected and I had to do some right clicking here and investigating there. The program provides simple design templates that can be used along with all the coding necessary to get your website on the net; they even provide a free of cost domain name and one year hosting plan. For $30. plus tax, you might think not bad. But, frankly, it all seemed to me a bit beyond the skills and really confusing for the average internet user and I think a consumer would be wiser using someplace like godaddy where you can be up and running in no time with 24/7/365 available help. Bottom line, for me, I found the registration and upgrade scam despicable.
44 comments|24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon February 22, 2011
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've been struggling with this product for several MONTHS. I boot it up, start using it, and then say "NO. I'm NOT going to recommend Serif, no matter how good the product might be."

Here's why:

Serif has a unique marketing / product registration process. Once you've purchased a Serif product, you MUST call a toll-free number to register it and receive your product key code - you need it in order for the product to run. You're actually connected to an - ahem - "Customer Support Specialist" in Nottingham, England (Serif's home base.)

Before you get the product code, you are subjected to THE, and folks, I do mean THE hardest high-pressure-close, hold-a-gun-to-your head sales pitch you've heard since the insurance industry came up with the Whole Life Policy. IT IS UTTERLY DESPICABLE - they don't take "NO" for an answer; they are RELENTLESS.

You say "But wait a minute Mark... I'm confused... I ALREADY bought the product... what are they trying to sell?" EXACTLY! Can you say UPGRADE? There's nothing inherently wrong with their extending you the offer. But when you say "no, thanks", they should simply leave it alone. But they don't.

And it becomes INSULTING both to you as a Customer, and frankly to Amazon. Here's why: They begin by offering you an upgrade that's priced identically to what the "deluxe" version product sells for at Amazon. In other words, you bought the entry-level version. The price you paid for it + the price of the upgrade = Amazon's price for the "deluxe" version.

But the longer they keep you on the phone, the sweeter the deal gets. These guys just plain wore........ me......... out........! I finally said ENOUGH!!!, and bought the upgrade at a ridiculously low price.

The entire process left such a "bad taste in my mouth" that I simply have to say "NO." I CANNOT possibly recommend this product, so I'd be a HYPOCRITE to use it. First nice day this Spring, it's going the way of the yard sale.

I did get a little deeper into this program than I'd like to admit, and I tend to agree with the folks who gave it just one or two stars.
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on October 15, 2011
This product is really 2 products: (1) a webdesign software, and (2) a free webhosting plan.

I had the choice between this webdesign software, namely WebPlus Essentials, at roughly $15, or the more powerful Serif WebPlus X4, at roughly $25. What made the balance tip in favor of WebPlus Essentials is not the $10 difference between the two softwares, but rather the free webhosting plans that accompany them. With WebPlus X4, you get 18 months of free hosting with an address of the type you.webplus.net; with WebPlus Essentials, you get 12 months of free hosting with more space and a free .com domain name, i.e. an address of the type you.com. I guess I'm a sucker for free domain names, because that's one of only two reasons why I chose Essentials over X4--the other one being that I didn't need the added functionalities of X4 over Essentials.

(1) About the software: I see no problem with it. To me this is a very complete (which also means not overly simple to the neophyte) WYSIWYG webdesign software, with very interesting options. Everything is done for you. There are perhaps not as many templates as I would have liked, but the ones that are already in the software can do the job for most people interested in this software I'm sure, including myself. Overall I am very satisfied with this software, and at ~$15 this software is worth the buy with or without the free hosting plan.

(2) About the free webhosting: As compared to other typical web hosts, this one is WORTHLESS, and surprisingly expensive. Webplus.net is a webhosting service geared towards the hosting of sites produced by WebPlus Essentials/X4/X5 ONLY. For instance, believe it or not, they do NOT take PHP! Also, the free .com domain name, when used with their web hosting service, is *highly limited*: only 10 email addresses, no control panel whatsoever, no possibility for subdomains (e.g. subdomain.you.com), only one FTP account, only one site hosted on your web space, etc. All of this for $60 per year after your first free year, which is more than what you would find with most other high-quality, highly-rated hosts. Then perhaps you are thinking, let's have my domain name registered for free (a ~$10-12 value) and pay for a "real" hosting plan and use my domain name there instead; not so fast: there is a $30 fee to transfer the domain name to another web host.

I've had further problems with this free hosting plan. As it turns out, the voucher that came with the software, which was--according to Amazon's customer service--given to Amazon.com by Serif, was not the right one! This voucher was only good for a "silver" package instead of their promised "gold" package, the one with the free .com domain name and more space. And getting this situation rectified was not an easy task with their customer service. I even called to their customer service, based in England, to try to get a new voucher, one that would give me the promised .com domain name. The guy I talked to was very reluctant to give me a new voucher because of the price I paid on Amazon ($14) instead of their proposed $50 (!). That guy told me he would get back to me on the next Monday, after having talked to his manager. No such luck. Never heard of that guy again--for all I know, he just might be dead. So I had to send a message to their customer service, online this time. It took 1 day and a half to receive a response, which told me to upgrade my plan from Silver to Gold, and that I would be reimbursed the price of that upgrade ($24.11). So after maybe 5-6 days of purchasing the software and trying to get my promised hosting plan and .com domain name, I finally got it. The good news is, I was indeed never charged for the cost of the upgrade.

The bottomline is twofold:
(1) The software does exactly what it says it does--WYSIWYG, i.e. easy visual designing, with great functionalities--and does it great. If you are looking for a surprisingly (given its quality) cheap webdesign WYSIWYG program, this one is very good.
(2) Don't buy the software for the free hosting and/or the free .com domain name.
11 comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I used to build websites years ago using HTML before WYSIWYG style web building programs were available. Although I used to work with HTML a lot, I could not remember how to do it anymore. Due to high stress factors in my life the last two years, I was unable to build a web site for some space I had been renting. I just did not have the time to study and do it like I used to.

I am a creative person who likes to build a unique site different than the run-of-the-mill sites that are all over the web. This is not easily accomplished as HTML is not "creative-friendly" without some significant code manipulations.

I was so frustrated that I gave myself one more year. If I did not put up a web site soon, I was going to give up. All was lost until I was offered an opportunity to try out a web site building software from Amazon. I was not optimistic as so many of these programs are bloated in code, over rated and not easy to use.

Well, I was shocked- yes shocked at how amazing that Serif WebPlus Essentials is as a web site builder. What put me off for over a year was suddenly put up and running on the internet IN FIVE DAYS!!!

As a graphic designer, I have used Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, and several other programs.
I tend to prefer Corel as it is easy to use and I have consistently gotten fantastic results with my graphics and photos. Serif WebPlus Essentials is like using CorelDraw! I have used several other web site building programs and nothing is this nice - nothing!

No book comes with the program just the disc. Here is a summary of things in the box:
-Program disk
-Code for online registration (covers on desktop and one mobile computer)
-Code for 12 months of free web hosting

The program is very intuitive. Some of the buttons and features are a bit tricky to locate at first, but with online tutorials in video and written form, online support and help, as well as online forums which provide FAST replies, it is relatively easy to get help if you need it.

Yes, it helps to understand basic structure of web sites, but the tutorials are excellent in explaining what you need to know. Not only was the site amazing to set up, you can also test the site prior to uploading to the web, you can preview the site or each page in any browser you have loaded on your system, and you can also easily work between pages of your site.

A few bumps in the road:
--Registration- you have to call on the phone to register- annoying, and you will have to talk to someone who will push hard to sell you the Pro version of the software. If you are not interested in a heavy duty E-commerce type site, you may not want to do this. WebPlus Essentials has plenty of stuff in it to build a really nice web site.

--Uploading was a little bit of a challenge. Some of my graphics folders ended up outside of the public_html folder and had to be manually loaded into the correct folder- even though I filled out all of the fields correctly.

All in all, I am completely thrilled with this program. I have a site up and running that has many people asking me how I did it, and although pretty basic, I was able to be creative and make this site unique very quickly and easily. I plan to expand it greatly in the future and am confident that with this program it will be pretty easy to do.

Updating the site is easy - after the initial upload of your site, you make the changes in the program and then upload to change what is new only by the press of a button if you like.

Despite the few bumps in the road, I highly recommend Serif WebPlus Essentials. It truly turned my frustrations around in under a week!!!

I will post the site address in the comments section since it will not be shown in the review due to editing by Amazon- just in case you would like to see what I did with this program.
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on July 21, 2011
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a bit of background, I have never set up a website or a blog or anything remotely technical. Imagine my dismay during set up of this product finding out that I had to call a number at Serif to get a registration number in order to use the product. Why would Serif sell this product and then make a pitch to buyers saying that for $29.99 more, I could get one that REALLY WORKED? As part of Amazon Vine, I didn't have to pay for the privilege of hearing this information, and I suggest that no one reading this review pay for it either...do as another reviewer suggests and use godaddy.
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VINE VOICEon September 22, 2010
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't know if I'm in the minority or the majority, but I really needed a manual with this program. I requested this program because I really need to replace an outdated web site. Serif WebPlus seemed like exactly what I was looking for.

I had "issues" with the registration process - I don't like getting something and finding out it's not what was advertised, and paying add'l $$ is the only way to bring things up to speed. After dealing with that I wasn't very happy especially when using the program wasn't as swift as I'd hoped for, and wasn't as intuitive as what I've previously used. I felt using some of the more intuitive site builders would be a better move for many because of the ability to get the site up and running more quickly and with less frustration. I've had this program since late July, it's now late September, and I still don't have a site running, and although I wouldn't say I'm an experienced site builder, I've put a couple of pretty easy sites together. Granted, there were periods of time when I couldn't work on my site, but that was more because what I was doing didn't meld with trying to put together a site with this somewhat cumbersome product - e.g. I took it on vacation, and didn't want the frustration of working with the program.

Serif does give you templates, but you have to go in and physically remove everything on their pre-built templates instead of giving you a blank slate with which to build. Once you've removed their templates even the font-types don't remain - which you might very much like, so you have to figure out what configurations they've used to build each particular font. Simple things like that were very frustrating, especially when you know there are free web site builders, and blog builders that are simple, intuitive, and have great components and tools.

At first glance Serif's WebPlus Essentials looks really cool - all the pretty colors, screens, videos, and templates, but I'm "help screen" challenged. I can't go to a help segment of a program to learn the program. I might be able to glean things from a program if first I've been able to go through a manual step by step. I wasn't able to put things together that way - I kept going around in circles - finding myself back in the same place and no further along than I'd been an hour before.

All in all I've been disappointed with WebPlus Essentials, I don't think it's a beginner product at all, but I will keep trying. I'm not throwing up the white flad yet, and I'll continue to update as I go along.
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VINE VOICEon August 8, 2010
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I ordered this software from Amazon.com Vine because I was in need of a website building program for my husbands band. This one offered 12 months of hosting, doc com and said "No HTML required." That was exactly what I needed.
Well, I've built other websites in the past with free or low-costs hosting/domain name/template packages and this was by far the most frustrating to use. First, I had so register the software to receive addtional templates, tech support, etc...you can only register by phone during office hours??? What's the point in that?? Not having online registration is baffling for a website builing software company.
Second, when you do upload the templates, you can choose from a wide variety (the reason for the two stars), but when they load and you view them, the wording in the templates is all nonsense wording that makes it confusing as to where you would want to put in your own wording. The "cart" let's say looks like "diel."
Third, this software caused my computer to freeze 3 times while using it. I had to go to task manager, stop the program and then reopen and start again before I completed only 25% of the website.
I had a much easier time using [...] site builder and for that matter, even Window's Publisher.
This was just too confusing, not user friendly and had to be restarted to many times to be useful.
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on July 27, 2010
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First, Serif is a bit of a pain with registration. They tell you to call them to register the product, but you can also register online through their support site. You will need the information on the registration screen within the program, but it is very easy to do if you know to do it. I have gotten Serif software before and had forgotten that you can do it online. I made the call to their registration line and since I live in the pacific time zone by the time I called at around 6pm, the line was closed (they close at 8pm eastern/5pm pacific). I have a day job and rushing home to register software isn't a priority.

After finishing the registration process, I went about trying to put together a web site. I write lots of book reviews and have a blog that I use through a pre-done blogging site, but figured I would try to create my own and even register my own domain name since Serif includes 12 months of web hosting with the software. I used the "Book Club" template to begin the process. If only it were a bit more simple to use. They have plenty of tutorials online to explain how to do it, but even the design templates seemed complicated to modify. Plus, all the templates are in Latin, so they don't give any good ideas on what you should put in certain places. I had trouble replacing the hyperlinks already created and going through and changing everything was quite a pain (there was a list of "book reviews" that was long and a pain to delete or replace). I finally gave up on using the program because it was just taking too much time and didn't quite seem to make enough sense. I decided to just stick with the online blogging setup. It does enough for me and I can always register a domain name on my own.

I can see how this might be helpful to set up a site that is exactly like one of the templates (like the family picture gallery, baby site, or a club site), but if you want to deviate from it a little, it is not a simple click or two and all ready to go.

Overall, I was just not to happy with how the software works. It is more complicated than necessary and honestly, the Latin on all the pages just bugs me. I used FrontPage many years ago and even though it was not perfect, I prefer it to this.
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VINE VOICEon August 10, 2010
Platform: PC Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have mixed feelings about this product. On the one hand, it is a tool that enables someone with no html skill to build a functional website, including pretty much all the features one could want, from simple text pages to embedded videos to commerce tools. On the other hand, it's by no means as intuitive or as easy to use as they claim.

I built a poor website in my first sitting. The site name (free) includes a [..] extension, which is clumsy, but acceptable for my casual purposes. It took me a while to figure out just how to manipulate their master pages. I use programs like InDesign and Quark professionally, so I was not expecting the way you can use more than one master page template on each web page. As I used WebPlus more, I found it to have a lot in common with PowerPoint. Unfortunately, that's a program I'm not a fan of, due to it's clunkiness, but at least I understand it well enough to inform my use of WebPlus.

What I like about WebPlus, in contrast with iWeb (another program, for macs though, that this is similar to), is that I can update my site incrementally. Unlike the way you have to upload your entire iWeb site to an ftp (if it isn't hosted on a rather expensive .mac site), you can publish only the changed elements of a WebPlus site. So, if I only add one new page, I don't have to upload every other page with it, making site updates a breeze.

So, in the end, I don't love this program for creating a website, but I do like the way it updates once you've got your site established. It can take some getting used to, but if you're willing to put in some time to accustom yourself with their set-up, there's a lot of potential in WebPlus.
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