Making WordPress Themes with Artisteer

I just recently renewed my Artisteer subscription for the third year in a row so that should indicate how much I like the program. And I have the more expensive, yet more feature rich Standard Edition. I’m not a graphic designer and I don’t build templates for a living. I do however make a lot of templates and offer them for free. I also change templates for my blogs quite frequently. I’ve also been known to make templates for friends and make mock-ups for work.

So is Artisteer worth it versus downloading one of the millions of free themes out there? In my opinion yes. Artisteer allows you to create WordPress, Blogger and Joomla templates quickly and easily. If you take the defaults and suggestions, you literally could have a new template on your site in less than a minute. However, if you get the Standard Edition you can take control of the reigns and craft a very unique and custom colored theme to suit just about any need. The Standard Edition lets you get into the Options dialogs where you can control Saturation, Transparency, blending options, create custom sizes and control a huge array of settings. One thing to keep in mind, the trial version is the Standard Edition. If you get the cheaper Home Edition a lot of the extra options you may be used to using will disappear. Also, Home Edition doesn’t have all the Glares, Textures and Graphics. I think there should be a trial for each version, but that’s just me.

Since Artisteer can be over $100, why would you buy it instead of a free theme? Well, in some cases you get what you pay for. Mind you, there are plenty of great free themes out there and the people who make them take a great deal of time and care in putting them together. However, there are some right bastards out there who embed malicious code and links within their themes that send users to some pretty nasty sites. I’ve seen plenty of authors embed some junk code in their files all in the name of preserving the footer. Those themes are bloated and who knows what else lies in that encrypted data. Conversely, you can buy a theme for $10 and be perfectly happy with it. Personally, I like to change things around. I like to make my own stuff. I just don’t have the depth for building WordPress themes on my own. Most of the themes I find have 90% of what I want, but the elements I don’t like are too glaring too overlook. Artisteer lets me build what I want.

It may not be as sophisticated as hiring a graphic designer, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper. Plus, WordPress changes on a regular basis, is the theme you just paid for going to be updated again? Where can you go to find a good theme for a Blogger blog? Like I said, I’ve had Artisteer for three years, right after version 2 came out and I’ve been very happy with it. I don’t make new blog designs every week, but when I want to make something new it’s there and waiting for me. You are going to have to shell out some cash, but what is the time and frustration saved worth to you?

For me, Artisteer is a keeper. It keeps getting better with each revision. My complaints are few. I wish Textures and Glares wouldn’t keep disappearing between versions. I’d like more documentation on making my own textures and backgrounds. I’m not a huge fan of the built in templates for version 3. I think the previous ones were better. But no matter, it’s an excellent app and if you work with WordPress or Blogger it’s definitely worth checking out.

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