Review of Artisteer theme generator

We downloaded the free trial version of Artisteer, a WordPress theme generator that also can export Joomla and HTML website themes.  We then dished out $49 to test the full version with all the features enabled.  It had a promising feature list and made some heady claims as to what was possible with this $49 chunk of coding.  The short version of this review: the software is not worth it.  The long version follows.

In their words:

Artisteer is the first and only Web design automation product that instantly creates fantastic looking, unique website templates and blog themes.

wordpress themes Design awesome blogs and cool web templates in minutes
wordpress themes Export to Blogger, Joomla, WordPress and other CMS products
wordpress themes No need to learn Photoshop, CSS, HTML or other technologies
wordpress themes Fun and easy to use!

With Artisteer YOU immediately become a Web design expert, editing and slicing graphics, coding XHTML and CSS, and creating Web Design Templates, Joomla templates, Drupal themes, WordPress themes, DotNetNuke skins, and Blogger templates all in minutes, without Photoshop or Dreamweaver, and no technical skills.

These are impressive claims.  As a follow up, they offer these as the “Top 10 reasons to use Artisteer”:

  1. Generate cool Web design ideas.
  2. Adjust generated designs to create great looking Web and Blog templates.
  3. Create perfectly correct, validated HTML and CSS that conform to Web standards.
  4. You don’t need to learn Photoshop, CSS, HTML and other Web technologies to create great looking designs, including images and buttons.
  5. If you are a Web designer, generate ideas, prototypes and quick Websites for your clients and friends.
  6. Choose and use many included design elements, from backgrounds to photo objects and buttons.
  7. Automatically solve problems with image aliasing, Web browser compatibility and other details requiring time and knowledge.
  8. Learn how to create professional HTML and CSS code.
  9. Save money on WordPress Themes and Web design templates.
  10. If you don’t have the time, hire your kids to create great looking web design for you.

In our words:

Number 10 is probably the best reason to use Artisteer.  Why? because it can really only produce a theme worthy of a child’s blog.  Although there are some fancy and handy features which are outlined below, the end product is a well packaged piece of junk.

The Pros:

  • The interface is super easy to use.  Literally point and click to change the layout.
  • The “suggest a design” feature is very cool.  One click and the software will assemble a random set of parameters into a theme.
  • Exporting into a full theme package takes just a couple quick steps.  The Home version which we purchased for evaluation allows the exporting of WordPress, Blogger and HTML themes.  The Pro version allows the aforementioned formats plus Drupal and Joomla templates.

The Cons

  • As we mentioned, the quality of the themes is poor.  Unless you are a highly skilled graphic designer that can completely customize the theme after export.
  • The files exported clearly indicate that Artisteer was used in a Readme file.  Also, the CSS files have the “art-” prefix which hints at the generator of the theme.  This isn’t a big deal for personal use themes.  But if one wanted to sell these themes as their own design, Artisteer would give them away.
  • The layouts are limited to specific formats.
  • There are three built-in widget options with very limited placements in the themes.
  • Menus look amateur in quality.
  • Customizing the menus takes quite a long time to get the hang of.
  • You can’t pass off the themes as your own. (Read as both a pro and a con)
  • It is pretty expensive ($49 for the limited version, $129 for the expanded)
  • Their support was fast but snotty.

Our final opinion: The software is neat – but would be neater if it were free.  It produces quick themes if you don’t care about quality or aesthetics.  The support staff lacks interpersonal skills.  Overall, Artisteer is not worth the investment.  You’re better off dropping half as much on a professionally designed, well supported theme over at ThemeForest.com.

12 thoughts on “Review of Artisteer theme generator”

  1. I use Artisteer for rapid prototyping and wire-framing, and for clients who only want to pay peanuts. 😉

    It’s nice because once the layout looks how I want it, I can just ship a screenshot over to Photoshop and put my own images/backgrounds into the wire-frame and ship them back into the code.

    The code is valid XHTML CSS and JS, but it’s over-marked-up e.g. div structures that are 7-8 levels deep before you hit any content which is SEO-awful. I always have to blast the shitty markup out and I use find-and-replace to get rid of all the “.art-Classes”.

    I won’t stick with Artisteer, in the end I will probably only pull it out when I need a quick fix for a cheap-ass annoying client. Or if I need to do a Joomla template in a pinch.

    I’ve learned some cool CSS and WordPress tricks from dissecting the code though, so I’m glad I bought it.

  2. I’ve been intending to build a website of my own and looking for ways on how to go about it. This review helped me a lot. Thanks!

  3. I had a site built and we used Artisteer. it’s great I can use it to build a wordpress theme, joomla template, Drupal or even just plain html.

    It does have some limitations – grids for example – but there are ways around that.
    The good thing about artisteer is that YOU have controll of the look and feel of the theme / template – and making changes is very very easy.

  4. Artisteer is one of the best tool for a newbie and a professional I love making websites in it , With this software I can create a website in less then an hour, depending on the nature of website, I suggest this tool to every web developer..

  5. I use Artisteer to create affiliate websites.I wanted my sites to look different than the run of the mill free themes that everyone uses.This is a great tool designing wordpress skins.

  6. I also use Artisteer to make my sites look unique and I only came across it a few months a go. I wish I’d of known about it before, I’d of saved a lot of time! Definitely worth the money.

  7. I love Artisteer and use it as a base for all my WordPress themes I design for clients. Grant it, you do need to have design skill (or even an eye to be able to use the tools in the program), but that should be a given with any tool. The point of the software is for people who need to create more than just one template quickly and easily. It would be silly to purchase the software, IMO if you just wanted it for one little site. That being said, I think it’s the best WYSIWYG out there for creating quick templates. For me it was a huge return on investment because it saves me so much time on the front end of creating themes. Any minor changes I do after export are not a big deal to me.

    A couple of quick corrections as well. You can choose to remove the art prefix within Artisteer itself. And, you can also remove the attribution within Artisteer easily, so yes I do take credit for the themes.

  8. We used Artisteer to help us construct a number of website based on a similar theme. Its certainly a cost effective way to develop websites without the techy knowledge needed for some software options.

  9. Artisteer is excellent to produce quick skeleton themes. If you can’t code and create atractive graphics your theme will be mediocre. With a few tweaks I produced many awesome looking themes.

    The code is valide and the themes are responsive. I don’t know what more one could possible expect more out of a 50$ software.

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