Xtensio Review: An Essential for Business Documents?

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Creating attractive business documents can be challenging. Ensuring that multiple people can collaborate effectively in their creation is even harder. This Xtensio review looks at a product that promises to fix these problems, and allow you to create beautiful, functional documents in a matter of minutes.

So, does it live up to its claims and is it worth investing in? Let’s find out.

Unique selling point from Xtensio Review

What is Xtensio?

Xtensio is a document editor that focuses on creating documents for screens, not paper. While you can export PDFs of the documents you design, the attraction of Xtensio lies in how easy it is to create living web documents.

To a large degree, Xtensio is a visual design tool. It is very easy to design on-brand documents with very little experience. Professional designers are likely to find the tools available limited. But Xtensio is essentially seeking to replace designers rather than serve them.

Xtensio provides a platform for teams to quickly and efficiently collaborate on business documents. You can forget about sending drafts back and forth between different team members. All you need to do is establish which members have access to the documents. Besides, Xtensio provides templates of key business documents to make the whole process smoother.

Sounds good, right? Let’s see what it costs.

Pricing: How Much Does Xtensio Cost?

Xtensio works on a subscription model. It has a variety of plans divided into three categories: individual, business, and education.

Prices range from free to an eye-watering $500 per month for 20 users (Agency Plan) when paid yearly. Additionally, Xtensio offers a 50% discount to startups and non-profits on their popular Business Team plan.

Plan prices from Xtensioreview

The free plan is a great way to learn more about how you can use Xtensio. Having access to all the templates for unlimited users is incredibly generous. You can try it out here.

The company seems confident that this plan will convince you to invest in one of the paid plans – and they are probably right.

When I set out to write the Xtensio review I was rather sceptical of the value that it could provide. After experimenting with it for a while my questions now revolve more around which plan best suits my needs.

Businesses with a small number of workers that have no real design or web skills, but which need to produce a lot of documents, are the most obvious beneficiaries of a tool such as Xtensio.

You will need to carry out a careful cost-benefit analysis before deciding to upgrade to a paid plan. Whether Xtensio provides good value or not is going to depend on multiple factors:

  • The number of documents to be produced.
  • The number of users.
  • The knowledge and skill level of the users.
  • Whether this will replace other tools or perhaps even employees.

Xtensio Review: Our Experiences

When I was assigned to do this Xtensio review, I’m not sure whether the editor knew I was probably the ideal candidate for the job. I have no real design experience. My web skills are adequate. I know my way around writing business documents. But I still have a few things to learn.

I am Xtensio’s target market. Well, to be more precise, a team made up of people like me.

The Interface

Xtensio runs in a web browser, which is to be expected given its heavy emphasis on creating documents for the web. The interface runs very smoothly unless you create a very large folio (how Xtensio labels documents).

To be fair, you would not normally create very large folios. We did because we really put Xtensio to the test by using it to create a White Paper for our recent survey. Even if you do end up designing a large folio, you will receive warnings about its size along with a recommendation that you split it.

Overall, the user experience is excellent. The toolbar is fairly intuitive, and the videos in the Help Center provide sufficient guidance to help you figure out anything a little more complicated. If you somehow find a way to get really stuck then there is also the option to contact Xtensio’s chat support.

Templates

It would be unfair to write an Xtensio review without mentioning that you won’t find any “Lorem Ipsum” text in Xtensio’s templates.

Aside from the design layout; these templates provide useful guidance for the content of each type of business document. The value of this alone is huge if you have little experience working with these types of documents!

Seasoned businesses will benefit less from the content of the pre-designed templates. Still, they are more likely to enjoy the ability to create their own templates.

While Xtensio does not provide an exhaustive list of templates (a white paper template would have been nice for us!) it does allow you to request new templates.

Designing and Editing Documents

While the templates can provide inspiration and make document design much faster, it is really easy to create a folio from scratch.

Folios are made up of sections which are like unique digital slides. The content for the section is inserted in the form of modules which can be organized into columns by using canvases. It might sound complicated but it is surprisingly easy.

Screenshot of the Xtensio toolbar

The modules available include text, images, video, task lists, charts, graphs, email forms, tags, and social. You can also submit a request for a new module.

I’m sure I probably missed one or two tricks while working on my review of Xtensio, but I loved how easy it was to do the following:

  • Create a custom colour palette.
  • Drag modules from one location to another.
  • Modify the background of sections and modules.
  • Duplicate modules and even sections.
  • Copy modules or even export them as PDFs or PNGs.
  • Move sections around and export them from one folio to another.

What I did not enjoy was the limited functionality of the graph and chart modules. You are essentially limited to choosing the primary colour. This is particularly problematic if your colour scheme does not work well with the graph labels.

I also found that with the horizontal bar graph you actually have to draw the bars yourself. This is not an issue when creating a visual representation of the characteristics of a user persona, but it definitely makes an accurate representation of survey results difficult.

To make matters worse the Undo and Revision History functions are not as good as I had hoped and I did sometimes find myself painstakingly redrawing bars on occasion.

At the end of the day, if you are unhappy with the graphs and charts on offer you can easily create them elsewhere and import them as you would an image. Not ideal but not a deal-breaker either.

Collaboration

This is where I believe Xtensio shines. I thought that real-time collaboration on the design of the document would be slow and awkward…and I was totally wrong.

I teamed up with Ben to do some fast and furious editing and was delighted to see how seamlessly it worked. It is easy to see how this feature could save businesses a significant amount of time.

Still, collaboration on Xtensio goes far beyond the collaboration which may be involved in the initial creation of a folio or template.

Xtensio intends for the documents you create to be living tools that will help you improve all areas of your business. Many of the templates are actually for inward-facing documents such as social media content calendars, meeting agendas, customer success plans, and reports.

If I were still working in a corporate setting, I would definitely want access to a tool like Xtensio for creating reports with information from multiple business areas.

Ensuring all company documents are appealing, on-brand, and easy to update is certainly beneficial but ultimately, I think the value will be determined by individual or company practices.

Sharing Documents

The ability to design beautiful documents means nothing if you cannot share them in the way intended.
Xtensio has many ways for you to share your documents on the web. Aside from web links, you can present your folio as a digital slide show. This was an option I found very elegant.

On some business plans you can do much more than simply embed folios on your website. You can customize the links, password protect them, and can even view basic engagement analytics.

You can also download folios as PDFs or PNGs, but it is clear that Xtensio does not intend for documents to be shared in such static formats. Although your folio will automatically be adjusted, you may find that the final result is not quite as good as you had imagined.

Screenshot to show PDF download feature

We wanted to export our White Paper as a PDF with A4 portrait pages. This was probably the hardest thing we could have asked the software to do. The original results were not fantastic but they weren’t terrible either.

After following the advice provided by Xtensio, I was able to make several tweaks and create an acceptable PDF. You can find our White Paper here if you are interested in seeing the results. Personally, I was left feeling a little disappointed with the PDF because I had seen how good it looked as a slide presentation. But it’s worth emphasising that Xtensio is designed specifically for on screen documents!

Conclusion

I found Xtensio to be a really good tool with the potential to live up to all its claims.

I think it is fair to say that the more highly skilled individuals already are at designing business documents for the web, the more likely they are to find less value in Xtensio.

Xtensio should invest in refining the chart and graph modules to allow more customization. Graphs and charts are often major elements of business documents and so this is a rather significant flaw.

I also found that the Undo function did not work well for certain elements. This was not a major issue and using the Revision History function to revert to a prior version was sometimes possible as a workaround.

PRO TIP! If you are planning a significant modification you should not rely on the autosave to create a folio version you can revert to if things go wrong. Always click on the Revision History and save a new version manually to save yourself tears.

All the other minor issues I had with Xtensio were due to trying to make the software do things it is not designed to do. I do not even think they should work on improving the PDF export option since their focus is on living web documents (but I do not think it should be considered a premium feature).

Overall, I was very happy with my experience using Xtensio. I think it is a great tool if your business uses a lot of documents and it certainly makes collaboration very easy.

Preparing this Xtensio review allowed me to see the many ways in which this platform could be used. I highly recommend that you try the free plan.  It will open your eyes to new possibilities and help you to determine whether Xtensio is the right investment for you.

Try Out Xtensio Here.

Pros and Cons of Xtensio

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Good quality templates.
  • Easy collaboration with other team members.

Cons

  • Limited options when creating graphs and charts.
  • Revision History and Undo functions sometimes have issues.
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