Have you every wished you could “Create your own WordPress theme?”. I’m a WordPress consultant, so I hack WordPress themes for a living nearly every day. I don’t mind hacking, creating, customizing, and modifying WP themes at all, but it’s definitely a lengthy process. It took me a few years to learn all the in’s and out’s of template pages, “the loop”, headers, footers, etc. Would you believe me if I told you that there was an editor out there that would allow you create WordPress themes just by pointing and clicking (no coding)?
Today I’m going to review “Artisteer“, a WordPress theme generator. It’s a Windows based software program you purchase, download, and install. It also creates Joomla and Drupal themes (and soon Blogger!). You can even export as a regular static web site template. I don’t care if you are the most advanced theme creator on the web, this is probably the best product for the money you’ll ever see! Not only can you create stunning themes in minutes, but it gives you a frame to hack even further if you want. Create a little stable of themes and make them available on your own web site to quickly build thousands of backlinks! Create Joomla and Drupal themes too to get even more backlinks!
How do you think a blog like doshdosh.com got over 1 million backlinks? I know exactly what it is, it’s the Prosense WordPress Theme. Now do you see the value in creating and releasing free WordPress themes?
When you start Artisteer up, you choose which kind of web site theme template you would like to create. Your choices are WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, static HTML, or you can even choose a web developer template for ASP.NET or code charge studio.
Today we’re generating a sample WordPress theme. Once the program starts it shows a very nice default theme to start with:
This design is what Artisteer calls a “suggestion”. You can actually click on the “suggest design” button to toggle through the different library designs available, which you can use as a starting point. Then, once you find one you would like to start with – you can swap out individual elements by “suggesting” colors, backgrounds, fonts, layouts, and sheet design. Just by altering the combinations you can dramatically chane the design.
Rather than explore “suggestions” with this design, I think I’d rather customize the elements myself by hand. So I’m going to switch from the ideas toolbar to the “Colors & Fonts” toolbar. Now, I could “suggest colors” here as well, but I think I’d just rather choose a theme in the “color themes” dropdown.
Once I found a color theme I liked, I made the switch – look how dramatically it changed the theme default!
I also changed the font face to Trebuchet with just one click, but some of the other elements of the typography I’m not happy with yet. You have find grained control over what you would like to change at each element. I could have changed individual color elements one by one, but the scheme I found was fine. Check out the typography elements that you can customize. Not only is it every element from text, to links and headings, but you can change it at every block level from headline, to header, footer, menus, buttons, and more. I’m sorry, you can’t modify CSS code any easier than this, it’s as easy as formatting something in Microsoft Word!
So I made some additional changes to the content font size and the line spacing, and I added some spacing before and after each content block. Again, with just a few point and clicks I modified the theme quite a bit!
Now I’m checking out the layout position possibilities. I think I’m going to leave this theme as-is, but I can easily change the page layout to be “header, menu”, “menu, header”, just a menu, just a header, or nothing.
If you think changing the layout so far was simple, under columns you can quickly switch to just about any one, two, or three column layout in just seconds:
The thing I like about this is the fact that you can define all the elements of the perfect theme, painstakingly picking out every detail. Then you could visit the column layout pulldown and product and export one, two, and three column versions of your perfect theme in about a minute. Try handing coding and hacking that in 60 seconds! It’s just as easy in the layout section to change the position and layout of the search box, categories, archives, or blogroll.
In fact, you can even change the width of the columns by merely moving the slider:
The background toolbar works much the same way allowing you to change background by image, texture, glare, gradient, fill color, images from a file, including control position, transparency, repeat, scrolling, etc. It’s amazing how quickly you could make completely different themes by merely swapping out backgrounds and color schemes. I opted to make some minor changes to gradient and glare for my review theme.
The “sheet” toolbar allows you to control the template as a whole. For instance, you can change the total width of your page, I opted to change mine from 900 to 1000. In sheet options, you can control the “offset” (to offset the design from background graphic for example), padding, radius, border width, and transparency.
The title toolbar is another area with nearly limitless options. You can choose from abstract backgrounds, or actual stock photos. You can select height, text, text placement, blend mode, image format (jpg or png), effects, position – you can even choose a foreground picture on top of all of that!
The menu toolbar gives you complete control over your navigation buttons and menu elements, right down to items and subitems. You also have control over margins, spacing, width, height, etc. I changed to a different gradient, and selected some fancy drop down menus. I changed the shape of my button as well.
Within the articles toolbar you control the titles, metadata, text formatting, link options, and all aspects of the header and footer of the individual content blocks. In other words, you control what is before and after the content itself. I changed all the little icons for my metadata, and took out the blocks for my metadata. I chose to put the titles in a block instead.
In the blocks toolbar you have the ability to change nearly anything and everything imaginable in the sidebar. I gave my headings rounder corners with a gradient and a nice modern glare. I could have change a lot more, because there are a lot of instand “styles” to choose from, and you can control the background, header, and content area of all sidebar blocks.
Buttons are of course only going to appear on forms, but the buttons toolbar lets you fully customize them as well:
The footer toolbar is the last one, and you have the usual options, such as fill, gradient, texture, alignment, transparency, and you can choose from a multitude of RSS icons.
When you’re all done making changes – it’s time to export your brand new WordPress theme! You have options even here! You first fill out the basics, like author name and URL, template URL, tags, and description. These are all important because they’re what people see when they upload and activate your new theme!
You can control watermark and footnote options here as well. My only “wish list” item is here I would like to be able to manually edit and enter whatever footer links I want, and not just have a checkbox for “author backlink”. All is not lost, I can manually edit it once the theme is generated, but the whole point here is to do everything you can within Artisteer and quickly generate a WordPress theme in record time!
When you finally do hit the “extract” button to create your theme you are prompted for a name and whether to extract as a folder or zip archive:
Now that I’ve created a brand new theme during this review, I decided to check it out before officially turning it loose. Artisteer did generate 60 files for my new WordPress theme. 33 of those were icons and images though. I noticed a “readme.txt” file, which explains how to install the theme. It also explains that each exported theme is localized into 4 languages: “French, German, Italian and Spanish translations are exported by Artisteer in the WordPress compliant file naming format: _.mo“. Pretty cool by default! It also generated a screenshot, and all the normal theme files (and some not so common).
Here’s a list of the theme template files generated:
I chose to remove the readme.txt file, and then I edited my attribution link in the footer. Now that the theme is ready – I’m going to upload it to one of my test sites and see how it looks live!
Once I uploaded the files, I went to my admin dashboard in my test site, and sure enough my title, description, link, tags, and screen shot all look great!
The preview looked good too, and once I activated the theme live this is what looked like on my test site:
The Artisteer WordPress Theme Generator is the most incredible piece of software I’ve seen in a very long time! If you use WordPress regularly – I think that you’d be crazy not to immediately purchase this software. If you’re a blogger, consultant, web designer – you’d be even more foolish not to get it right away. I don’t care if you are the hottest premium theme designer on the planet, you can STILL save TONS of time with Artisteer. If you’re a blogger, do you have any idea how many backlinks you can generate from designing a little stable of free Wordpres, Drupal, and Joomla themes? If you’re a designer – even better! You can create the most kick-ass designs ever in Photoshop, but if you’re not a coder or don’t have intricate knowledge of WordPress this is exactly what you need. Create all the graphics you want, and then use the “from file” options for background, header, buttons, blocks, etc. Maybe your a WordPress designer, and you can use Artisteer to port all your designs over to Joomla and Drupal – how much time would that save? You could even your own theme directory or “theme of month club” using Artisteer. I’m sorry – the possibilities are endless!
I’m going to use Artisteer to create WordPress themes all the time. I’ll use it for myself, for clients, and I’m going to make themes available for free here on jtpratt.com, and I’ll submit them to all the WP theme directories I can find. It’s funny too, apparently the official WordPress theme directory already knows how to figure out you generated your theme using Artisteer, because you get an error message on upload that says “sorry we already have enough themes submitted that were generated using Artisteer software”. That’s just stupid considering I could use Artisteer and still have custom backgrounds, headers, images, graphics – the default options of the software are just a starting point. In addition, I could hack any theme after exporting to add a featured content gallery, some cool jquery functions, custom plugin support, or just about anything. I guess that’s why there’s tens of thousands of free themes online, but only 852 in the official WordPress directory.
If you’re still not yet convinced that Artisteer is the greatest thing since the Askimet plugin – download “Blue Abstract”, my new free WordPress theme! Test drive my theme for yourself and see what I generated in just a few minutes!
Will you consider using this WordPress Theme Generator? The home version that does only WordPress themes is only $50. You can’t buy 100 backlinks for $50, but you sure can get 100 backlinks out of your very first theme. If you want the most bang for your buck, and want to create Joomla and Drupal themes, the $130 for the standard license, is nothing compared to the value you will get out of it. I mean seriously – how many hours have you spent looking for the perfect WP theme? How many hours have you spent building backlinks? This one program solves so many problems at once it’s not even funny!