As you can see, I’ve ditched the old theme I was using on the blog, and switched to one of the free WordPress motorcycle themes I designed last week. I’ve tweaked that design a little bit, and done some monkeying around with the CSS stylesheet to change some things, but in general it’s the same theme I designed previously.
I liked the old theme, but it was a commercial theme that required I maintain some links in the footer for marketing sites that I didn’t really want to sponsor. There’s still a marketing link, but now it goes to my company, which, of course, I don’t mind at all.
I designed this theme with a new tool called Artisteer, which is supposed to be a design tool for not only WordPress themes, but regular HTML web sites as well, with future support for designing Joomla and Drupal themes.
The software is in Version 1.0, so obviously it’s got a ways to go to get to where I can use it professionally. For a first release though, Artisteer really does take a lot of the headaches out of designing themes, and web site templates.
Except that you really can’t use it to design web site templates. Artisteer has some growing up to do before it’s ready for that. But for slapping together a decent WordPress theme, there really isn’t much out there that’s better.
Still, it could use some improvement. Because I do web development for a living, I would love a tool that would allow me to slap together a great template in a very short time, using a simple but powerful WYSIWYG interface. Unfortunately, Artisteer is not that tool. Not yet, at least.
First, it combines the formatting for both posts and sidebar into the same section, and formats them the same. This is a bad idea, because the content column, and the sidebar column do completely different things. They are completely separate entities, and should be treated as such. Artisteer formats them both in fell swoop.
Second, when you aren’t exporting a WordPress template, Artisteer still uses the insanely unecessary WordPress DIV tag setup. It’s so complicated that, when you open up your exported HTML file in Dreamweaver, it takes two or three minutes for Dreamweaver to render all of the insanely nested DIV tags into the preview screen. Sure, WordPress is complicated, because it’s a full-scale CMS system. But designing a web page should result in a lot less complicated output. As a result, the tool is useless to me for web template design, despite having purchased the “Standard” rather than the “Home” version.
Maybe, as this product evolves, it will become more useful over time.