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This is a review of XPRS— the new website builder from IM Creator (the old version of IM Creator is still available as “classic”). XPRS websites are built by stacking sections on a web page. Example sections include photo galleries, forms, team listings, logos and maps.
Once you choose a section you are free to edit the elements (reorder them, delete them etc.) but you are unable to move them. Most sections look really beautiful— and there is a wide selection of sections. The downside is that since you can’t move elements around by hand, sections feel a bit cookie cutter. (The upside is that this structured format will ensure your website looks great on mobile.)
While XPRS seldom feels cluttered I found it to sometimes overwhelming to use. Learning XPRS takes some getting used to— there are lots of icons floating around around. And even if you hover the icons you don’t get an explanation for them— instead you mostly have to figure it out for yourself.
As I explored different sections I kept running into complex structural problems. For example, straightforward things such as editing a form are complex. In this form (form), in order to edit the success message of a form you have to click one of the inputs (for example: name) and then click the form settings icon. That seems like an odd workflow.
It was the same story in the blog editor. Simple tasks such as managing blog posts was done in a strangely complex interface— why not just have a simple list of posts that allows you to order and delete? (Editing individual posts was also confusing.)
I found strange bugs. For example, simply hiding and re-showing the subtitle of this form caused the elements to become really skinny (they were full-width before). And pressing the align-right button caused the form to hug the side of the page— and I couldn’t figure out how to fix that.
Over all the XPRS interface is very slick. There are some beautiful animations and interactions. But while there is some ideas I like (for example you can copy sections and paste them on other pages) I also found it could be confusing and difficult to get the hang of (especially when building structured elements such as blogs and ecommerce).
There is a blog— but it’s only a blog in name. It lacks typical blog features: no drafting posts, no publishing posts in the future, no comments on posts, no RSS feed and post dates are not published. Why is it missing all this? I think it’s because rather than create a blog database, XPRS actually just creates text and images that look like a blog, but aren’t an actual blog database (I’m not 100% sure). There are some nice options for customizing the blog layout (ie: number of items per row, spacing between rows) though I would steal clear of the the Layout options— I touched one layout option and was unable to return my blog style to normal. Unfortunately the post manager is messy— there are much better ways to organize a post manager. Show Screenshot
XPRS uses Shoprocket, a 3rd party shopping cart provider for ecommerce. Unfortunately the integration is really confusing. I had trouble figuring out how to do simple things like set prices (it turns out that changing the price in XPRS doesn’t change the price— you have to login to Shoprocket and set the price separately).
The form builder is simple— you can only add text and multi-line fields. No radio buttons, checkboxes, file uploads or select boxes. Form submissions are sent to an email address but not saved elsewhere (so make sure you don’t delete the form results). You can edit the success message of a form (but you can’t set a custom success page). Show Screenshot
Strangely the XPRS website says an iPhone app is “coming soon”— yet one is already available in the app store. The app is a full website editor— which means you can add text, videos, blog posts, photos and more from your phone. Nice!
Images displayed sharp and crisp on retina screens (iPhones and Macbooks).
There are newsletter signup elements you can add that look nice. Unfortunately they don’t integrate with any mailing list providers (such as Mailchimp). So you’ll have to manually add each submission. Show Screenshot
Yes, if you deleted all elements you could build your own design from scratch.
XPRS shines with it’s themes. There are a wide variety of themes to choose from— and all feel fresh and contemporary.
There’s some neat theme customizations. For example, there is a handy spacing editor for your header and footer to increase spacing. There are also some nice customization for menus— you can set the menu as side, fixed, overlayed, minified or up top. Elements are individually styled but there is no global style settings (so creating a consistent look and feel will mean manually editing multiple elements at the same time).
I was able to buy and cancel with ease.