Artisteer Review | The code-free way to designing professional Wordpress themes

By Simon Slade
Artisteer Review | The code-free way to designing professional Wordpress themes


Let's be honest - Wordpress rocks! But if you're anything like me you've been continually disappointed by the themes available. Sure there are some cool looking ones, but they're also the popular ones - meaning your site will look just like a million others. Boring!

Very early on, when I started using Wordpress, I decided that I wanted to be able to create my own themes. Trouble is, as someone with only a basic knowledge of webdesign (we're talking HTML and a bit of CSS here), the task was daunting.

But I found the solution, and it's a piece of software called Artisteer.

Artisteer is purpose built theme design software that can export themes for Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal as well as HTML templates (for programs like Dreamweaver) and Web Development templates for ASP.NET and CodeCharge (don't worry if you don't know what these are).

This software is really designed for the complete beginner in mind. Utilizing the same ‘ribbon' interface as Office 2007 - meaning everything you need is right there in front of you.

Now unless you're a very gifted designer, one of the most difficult things is trying to start a design from scratch - it's what I call the "blank-canvas" problem, when you're staring at a blank piece of paper or a white screen it can be really hard to know exactly where to start. In Artisteer on the other hand, you start with what is basically a complete theme - and by clicking the "Suggest Design" button, the program automatically comes up with a randomized design which can then be customized to suit.

The design is broken up into 10 elements; Colors & Fonts, Layout, Background, Sheet, Header, Menu, Articles, Blocks, Buttons and Footer.

From a random design, you can then change each of these elements until they're exactly what you want. You can do this in two ways, either by selecting that element's ‘ribbon' menu, which allows you to change the element to exactly what you want, or you can use the ‘suggest' button which will create a new look for that element randomly. So for example if you like the layout of the page, but don't like the color scheme, you can simply hit the ‘suggest' button for the color scheme and you can flick through various color scheme options - or you can keep the same color scheme and styles, but flick through different layout options. So easy!

Now it's important that you understand that when I say ‘random', you're not going to end up with a rainbow-colored website with strange backgrounds and fonts. Artisteer has been cleverly programmed with sets of complimentary colors, fonts and layouts. Think of it kind of like the Genius function on iTunes; for example when you click ‘suggest colors', it will pick out a pallet from a list of professionally created sets.

Artisteer also comes complete with a bunch of stock images that you can use in the header (you know all those websites with the attractive professional with their arms folded smiling at you in the header?) Well the truth is, having a picture of a person at the top of your page dramatically increases the professional look of your site - and Artisteer allows you to choose an image from the built in categorized collection (categories like medicine; doctors and nurses, communications; people on phones, business; people in suits, etc.) or import your own - so long as they're transparent background gif format.

Note: the stock images are only for personal use. You cannot distribute a theme to others with any of the stock images included.

Once you've got a design you're happy with, you can preview it in your browser (supports I.E, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari - provided you have them installed) - this is a great way to make sure everything is displaying properly for all users.

Then, exporting the theme is just two clicks away - you can choose whether to export as a folder or as a ZIP file. If you want to upload the theme using an FTP client, use the folder option, however if you wish to use Wordpress's theme upload function, you'll need it in a ZIP.

Best of all, Artisteer takes care of all the tricky coding of making the site look good across all browsers - it displays properly in all major browsers - including I.E. And it even exports a separate CSS file for all those annoying people still using I.E. 6. To top it off you'll find that it passes an official W3C CSS validation with no problems. In other words; no more hours of complex coding and fiddling around to make sure that everything is properly formatted with correct syntax and no errors - it's all done for you.  Artisteer comes in two versions - Home/Academic and Standard. The standard edition exports in all formats (XHTML+CSS, Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, ASP.Net, CodeCharge, and DotNEtNuke) and has a full library of images, colors, fonts, textures and gradients, while the Home/Academic version only exports in Wordpress and XHTML+CSS and has slightly more limited libraries. While the Home/Academic version may be a far more attainable price for many, however the added capabilities of the Standard edition are well worth the added expense. Particularly as if you ever decide to upgrade your CMS, you can use your old theme source file to create a new theme in the new CMS format.

To sum up:

Good Points:

  • Ridiculously easy to use. Unless you haven't used a computer since DOS was considered ‘cutting-edge', then you shouldn't have a problem creating great looking themes with Artisteer. Exporting and uploading is slightly more complicated, but assuming you've actually managed to get Wordpress working, you will find this easy as well.
  • Limitless possibilities. With so many settings to manipulate, you could create thousands of great looking templates.
  • Themes compatible with all browsers. This is really important if you want everyone to be able to see your site properly.
  • Free Trial. Download the program and see if you like it! Only restrictions are the template has a watermark embedded through it - meaning you can get the idea of how the site will look, but you probably won't want to actually use a theme from the trial version (the watermark is annoying - as it's suppose to be!)

Bad Points

  • Specific ideas take time to get to. Because you're always starting with an existing idea, it can take quite a bit of tweaking to get to what you're picturing in your mind.
  • No outside the box, wildly creative ideas. Artisteer builds simple, professional themes - and it does it very well. If you're looking for something wildly different then this might not do what you're looking for. That being said, with a bit of time and fiddling with the PHP down the road, you'll be surprised with what you can come up with.
  • Lack of advanced functionality in PHP. Again, Artisteer builds stable, well rounded themes - but it doesn't allow you to change any of the functional PHP aspects of the theme. However even with my limited coding experience, I was able to modify my theme's code do to exactly what I wanted. Like every piece of easy-to-use software, some functionality must be sacrificed. Think Windows Paint versus Photoshop (OK, bad comparison, Artisteer is infinitely better than Paint, but you get the idea).

As you can see, for someone with little coding or design experience, the pros way outweigh the cons. And if you're an advanced user you likely don't need a program like this anyway.

All in all, it's a great program and I have not come across anything else that even comes close to matching it when it comes to building themes for Wordpress and other CMSs.

Interested? Check Artisteer at


Timo Kiander 15 years ago
This is a very handy tool for creating your own affiliate themes too. However it means that you should be comfortable of tweaking some CSS and WordPress template files in order to do that.
affiliate software expert 15 years ago
I never knew that you could create your own affiliate themes so wonderful.
Thanks for sharing the information.

Robert Stevens
Timo Kiander 15 years ago
I wish Artisteer could create affiliate-enabled themes out-of-the-box (since you have to do some extra manual work in order to achieve that right now), but hopefully things improve in further versions :)
paulj 15 years ago
If you use Artisteer, is it easily exported to the Wordpress template that Mark provides?
Christian Montealvo 15 years ago
I'll check it out in detail.
Mark Ling 15 years ago
@Happiness The WordPress templat, that I provide with the AffiloBlueprint course is actually a theme so no, you cant export. Artisteer will allow you to easily create new themes you can use for your affiliate sites - that's one of the great things about WordPress; it is incredibly easy to switch between themes!
Chris Goddard 15 years ago
Thanks for the comments guys.

@TIMOKIANDER: What do you mean by affiliate-enabled? Most of the extra functions you might need can be achieved by installing the right plugins (for a list of great plugins check out I'd say they will be keeping it relatively generic to building all-purpose websites, however they could definitely add some customization options.

@HAPPINESS: This software generates Wordpress themes - and our AffiloBlueprint theme is also a Wordpress theme. Unfortunately you cannot combine two themes without manually combining the code, so no. However the themes Artisteer create will still allow you to do most of things you can do in the AffiloBlueprint theme - with the exception of changing the look of the site once it's up. However this is kind of the point of the software. Hope this helps.
Anders Olsen 15 years ago

I have been using Artisteer for my latest affiliate website: and also my guitar wordpress blog that I use with my website. All created with Artisteer.

It would have been so much easier if you could do all the text editing in Artisteer too, but according to Artisteer it is planed for a future edition.

Artisteer only design the actual website, you have to edit the text in a web editing software, that is if you use Artisteer to create affiliate websites. If you use Artisteer to create a wordpress blog you can do all the text editing from within wordpress.

I tried using Microsoft Fronpage for text editing, but that did not work out at all, it was a complete mess. Then I tried Dreamweaver and that worked out a little better, but the design in Dreamweaver was also very messy so it was hard to work with.

Then I tried Kompozer (recommended by Artisteer) and here the design worked out great, but it destroyed the code for me.

Finally I tried out Microsoft Expression Web (also recommended by Artisteer) and here everything works great.

There is no doubt that Artisteer makes it possible to make great affiliate sites the easy way and it is well worth the money and time spend.
Brent DuBose 15 years ago
This great and helps tremendously when creating your own themes. Thanks again
Timo Kiander 15 years ago
@Chris: Ok, wrong wording perhaps :) What I meant was that in order to create affliate theme (-> "enabled") you need to do some editing (get your hands dirty with code) in order to achieve a similar outlook of your theme like in AffiloBlueprint theme: all the extra stuff removed like comments, links visible on the left hand navigation, no archives, search boxes, categories ... like all the stuff that you find in Wordpress themes normally.
Timo Kiander 15 years ago
@Anders: Nice site! I have built my own site by using Artisteer too and had some editing to before it worked ok. Did you create the header graphic by yourself?
Anders Olsen 15 years ago
Hi Timo. Actually I bought my header graphic at They have lot's of great images and it is very inexpensive. I think I paid 1 or 2 credits (1 or 2 dollars) for my header graphic and then I just adjusted it to fit the existing header image size. A great way to make your design a little bit unique.
Sridhar 15 years ago
Well I tried out the demo version, although it was good, I like the brand 'Designed and Developed by Humans' , since it feeds some hard working people.
People should stop developing such software's for the sake of developer community.
Free Artisteer Templates 15 years ago
Wow, nice review if a great piece of software, thanks! I was using Artisteer for months now to make all my affiliate websites and I kinda like it very much. In fact, I need that program to design my websites as much as I need Joomla to build the content. Like you said, you can customize your templates a long way if you put the time. The only con of that program is that you're kind of stuck with that professional degign feeling. A well done review of Artisteer!
expense report templates 15 years ago
I am going to built my own shopping online site by using Artisteer too. It s very nice to found that from u thank you very much.
Stephen Tuell 14 years ago
Trying to install an Artisteer template. I am getting the following error message. What to do?

Installing Theme from uploaded file:
Akismet is almost ready. You must enter your API key for it to work.

Unpacking the package.

Installing the theme.

Destination folder already exists. /home1/betterm6/public_html/wp-content/themes/BetterMindsetTemplate/

Theme Install Failed.
Stephen Tuell 14 years ago
I still haven't solfed my problem installing an Artisteer theme. If anyone
can help me remove this roadblock... you can imagine the smile on my face.

The original post was: 18:34 16 Dec 2009:
Jim Strickland 14 years ago

Link in your comment is not working.
Jim Strickland 14 years ago
Can you edit or save anything in the trial version?
Mark Ling 14 years ago
@Strick link to the post Chris was referring to is

The trial version allows you to edit and save but to remove the watermarks youll need to purchase it.

mariam al-rasheed 14 years ago
i designed my own theme but i'm having a problem! how can i upload the theme folder into my wordpress :/
please help!
Mark Hamilton 14 years ago

Anyone know if this software prepares widget ready wordpress sites or does that still have to be done by hand?

ampie_g 14 years ago
@Mark Hamilton Yes, Artisteer exports widget-ready WP themes. Check out this page
Sunganani 14 years ago
I have had the trial version and I am enjoying it immensely. As someone who has just finished a course in Web and Graphic Design I find that it is a great tool to show of to my clients before I go into the meat of the CSS for web design. Couldn't ask for a better software.

Thanks for the review.
Larry Dawn 13 years ago
Excellent review. I'd heard about the program previously, but this offered lots of good independent review. Thank you.
flashuac 13 years ago
Very interesting post! :)
flashuac 13 years ago
Very interesting post! :)
Danny cabrera 12 years ago
Im trying out to figure a way to remove the designed by artsteer from the source code uo by the head. Artisteer rocks | Artisteer is the best program, I just need to figure out how to remove the designed on the source code. I manually remove them from each html pages. So far HTML artisteer does extremely well in the engines. Look at my site made by artisteer

Hannnah 12 years ago
I think Artisteer is hard to work with and although you pay for some quite attractive features, it's not really that flexible. I prefer to use Lubith, an online free WordPress generator, it's a lot easier to work with, it has a very interactive interface and you can get the results in no time.
Raymie Hickman 12 years ago
I purchased Artisteer in December and love it. I can code HTML, but not super proficient in PHP which is needed for Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal etc... There are many ways you can customize the site. Artisteer also has samples on their site that you can use, or you can import them into Artisteer and customize. It has definitely saved a lot of time.
Emma Page 7 years ago
What's your take on alternative TemplateToaster? Are you familiar with this wordpress theme and joomla template builder?
nolza 5 years ago
Firstly, I would like to thank you for putting emphasis on how relevancy plays a big role in blog commenting as I had this going in my mind for a long time. And secondly, thanks for sharing the list of all the websites. I would like to request you to please share for Sports categories as well. Thanks for all the useful insights.