Freeway 5 Express – my first look

Posted: January 5, 2009 in blogging, Mac OSX, website design
Tags: , , ,

Always one to play and mess things up, i figured what the heck, lets try out another piece of software for designing websites.  I’ve read a little about Freeway and thought i’d check out version 5 – the light version, Express.  (http://www.softpress.com/products/free_trial.php)

As usual for most mac software, a simple drag and drop into your applications folder and you’ve got the program installed.  So, i opened the app up and jumped right in.  You are greeted with basically nothing.  A very blank screen.  So i selected NEW under FILE and went about choosing a template.  First impressions say a lot about an App. (or people for that matter), and i’m none too impressed with the initial screen that gives me thumbnails of the available templates.  it’s very difficult to see what they are gonna look like from the thumbnails, but figuring i can always change that later, i selected one i thought might work for me.

A couple of things jumped out at me right away.  It was not as intuitive as i had hoped, in comparison to RapidWeaver for instance, or iWeb for that matter.  I actually needed to play with things a bit to figure out what they did and then undo them, which brings me to my biggest complaint.  ONE level of UNDO.  Are you kidding me?  ick.  I frequently like to try various things and then go back and undo if they are not what i was trying to do, and many times i need to undo more than once.  The only way around this with Freeway is to save first, do your changes and if you don’t like it, Revert to Save.  This kinda ties in with my next complaint.  What about the ability to change a Theme or Template after you have started to edit it?  I wasn’t thrilled with the look of the template once i started using it, but can find no easy way to change it to a different one.

I didn’t want to write off the app so quickly as being subpar so i spent the time to read through the manual, which i rarely do.  I firmly believe that if a program needs too much explaining, then it’s not user friendly enough.  With the use of mouse-overs and a good help menu you should in theory be able to get started with any application without needing to read the manual for the simple stuff.  I didn’t find this to be the case with Freeway 5 Express.  I have to say the manual is well written and easy to follow, although it gets a bit dull after a while, so I would recommend referring to it to answer specific questions rather than reading through it cover to cover and then trying the program.  This is definitely a program that needs to be used as you learn, by that i mean with some programs you can read through the quick guide and then jump in and use it with moderate proficiency.  Not so much with Freeway 5 Express, but If you have the patience you will find it very customizable and give you lots of options to help make your site original, and in a world of pre-made templates that ability to stand out from the crowd on the web is definitely worth the time and effort to learn.  Just remember to save often every time you get a part of your site the way you like, so when you screw it up (and you will) you have something to “Revert to Save” from.

tcg

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