Easy WordPress WYSIWYG Theme Generator.

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Naturally, I want a blog. So I get a WordPress account and…

Well, welcome to another new universe. Heavy case of get-a-new-electronic-thing-syndrome where the user manual weighs more than the device and you have to read and understand it even though it won’t count toward a degree of any kind. Not even one as worthless as my Master’s.

 An entire year goes by and I still don’t have a blog. But content and ideas are piling up, and life is racing by. So I buckle down and start tangling with WordPress. No fun. I can’t find a theme that really fits. I don’t know how to change them. Sick of researching every little thing I want to do. How to get my own graphic in the header. How to  change the name of a category. Change the font-size of all the headings. Make the dang thing look right.

I waste about three more weeks. Make some progress, but so slow I’m cancelling appointments and making enemies out of everybody I was hoping to someday show this blog off to. I decide to endure WordPress newbie Hell for one more week and if it doesn’t kill me, I’ll pay for help. I’m thinking maybe for $500, I can get something that isn’t embarrassing.

Then I discover this thing called Artisteer. The ads say it’s supposed to be a really easy way to make your own free WordPress themes. No coding. No PHP. But every review is good, which makes me particularly skeptical.

I decide to download the free trial version and give it a go.

Suddenly I’m in WordPress heaven. Really. It’s that big a difference. Everything is done with drop-down menus. That’s how you set the font, font size, headings, colors, background, custom graphics. And just about everything else. Some things I thought I couldn’t do were just on drop-down menus I couldn’t find.

Artisteer. A WordPress WYSIWYG Instant Theme Generator.

One definite drawback: as of June 3, 2010, it doesn’t have a way to make global changes for things that really should be globally changeable. Artisteer says that might be a feature in a future version. Sure hope so. In the meantime, when you want to change the type style of your headings, body text, bulleted lists, and etc., you have to do them all one-by-one. All the links, hovered links, and visited links too. Artisteer is wonderful, and when it saves so much time and increases quality so spectacularly, it’s really a big disappointment that so much time saved goes back into having to do all these head-achey tweaks one-by-one.

It has a suggestion feature, Artisteer’s true blog-in-one-hour (or less) machine. But I’ve never used it. As you click a button, it changes whichever elements of the theme you ask it to and serves up a new suggestion. You can conjure up zillions of them. And they can look pretty canned (don’t have to). Even so, the suggestion tool gets you used to how Artisteer works. And in about 15 minutes, you’re customizing a theme. Changing fonts, font size, font color, sidebar position, and colors and gradients of the menu bar and tabs. Down to every detail, like changing the color or width of borders of blocks in the sidebars. Inserting custom graphics (jpegs, gifs, etc.) into the header. Taking icons out and putting them in. Etc. Etc.

You do all this as, of course, you have an uncomfortable feeling that it’s not really going to work.

What you do is save the Artisteer file (artx) to your computer, and click a button to export it into zip format for installing into WordPress. After you upload it to WordPress by clicking Upload from Add New Theme and browsing to where you saved it on your computer, you activate it.

And once the theme’s done, you can concentrate on creating content.

You’ll be able to look at your blog — with the custom WordPress design you did all by yourself — in your browser.

I was also afraid I wouldn’t be able to use it with WordPress plugins. But, what do you know… They thought of that. My plugins and widgets all work perfectly. In fact, I emailed tech support a string of questions (some of which didn’t make sense because I asked them before I had the hang of Artisteer), and they answered them all within a few hours. They were even polite.

With a recent upgrade you can even add a Flash animation to your theme’s header

Here’s a link if you want to try it for free. If you don’t like it, you get your money back.

It’s is a complete WordPress WYSIWYG editor. Costs $49.

I like mine. I’m keeping it.

Other things you can do with Artisteer. 1) Design free WordPress themes, put thumbnails of the screenshots on a blog, and let your readers download them. 2) Quickly design a whole catalog of unique free WordPress designs to freshen up your blog, or give away entire free WordPress theme sets . 3) Link to blogs who use your WordPress designs.

It’s an instant WordPress WYSIWYG Theme Generator.

Oh, and besides being an excellent WordPress theme generator, there’s a more expensive version of Artisteer that’s a template-generator for Joomla and Drupal. But that’s a good subject for some other day. (Two or three years from now?)

Artisteer is a WordPress WYSIWYG that actually works.

Note: To make the zip file, choose Export.  Don’t attempt to upload the Artisteer artx file. It won’t work in WordPress.

A WordPress WYSIWYG editor. That works. Not free, but almost. $49. And a free trial (“money-back guarantee”). Thousands of dollars’ worth of saved time.

Artisteer - CMS Template Generator

One Response to “How I Escaped From WordPress Newbie Hell (and got a great blog up in one hour)”

  • Many people are scared to take the chance and try one out. What’s the worse that can happen? If you are writing about something you really like then you will find this whole process easier that you first imagined. With the WYSIWYG editor it’s just as easy as you say. I’ve been helping all my friends get theirs set up and teaching them the very basics. Glad to see you took the leap. Talk to you soon and keep up the good work!

    Vynn Credible

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