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.
Design awesome blogs and cool web templates in minutes Export to Blogger, Joomla, WordPress and other CMS products No need to learn Photoshop, CSS, HTML or other technologies 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”:
- Generate cool Web design ideas.
- Adjust generated designs to create great looking Web and Blog templates.
- Create perfectly correct, validated HTML and CSS that conform to Web standards.
- You don’t need to learn Photoshop, CSS, HTML and other Web technologies to create great looking designs, including images and buttons.
- If you are a Web designer, generate ideas, prototypes and quick Websites for your clients and friends.
- Choose and use many included design elements, from backgrounds to photo objects and buttons.
- Automatically solve problems with image aliasing, Web browser compatibility and other details requiring time and knowledge.
- Learn how to create professional HTML and CSS code.
- Save money on WordPress Themes and Web design templates.
- 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 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.
- 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.