I fell down a rabbit hole today — originally I was looking for a blog widget for my linkedin account. The Linkedin blog has a few they are testing and the site itself has some very plain ones — but none were quite right. At 300 px for a blog sidebar badge, the test ones aren’t going to work.
However, this quest got me thinking about my blog theme — 3 columns seems a bit much. I tend to use my blog as a testing ground, but over the past year it was resembling not so much a blog as the Las Vegas strip.
So I started the quest for a unique WordPress blog theme – widget-ready, 2 columns, reasonable level of customisation. I ended up finding inexpensive software that allowed me to create my own.
Artisteer (http://www.artisteer.com), created by Extensoft (http://extensoft.com) , allowed me to create a standards-compliant WordPress theme with a drag and drop interface that was fun and really easy to use.
At this writing, the software cost $US50 for a home/educational version for one user (you can use on one desktop and one laptop computer). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the standard version, but will certainly do the trick for me. Pros can buy the full version for $125 and they company is planning to release an editor for Joomla and Drupal along with Blogger, Sharepoint and other CMS packages.
I had to do a bit of tweaking once I’d uploaded the theme — for me, I have to have the RSS/subscribe info at the top of the page. I’d also have liked to add my sub page names to the editor and do tweaking on the sub page template, but it’s early days and I can use the theme editor in WordPress to upload header images for sub pages.
This could be a real time saver for you pro-CSS coders – I know that for a complete CSS n00b like me, it has saved me literally DAYS of time. Even searching for free themes costs time — so this little baby has paid for itself on the first blog for me.
And in the interest of full disclosure — no, I do NOT get a kickback from the company and the links I am providing are NOT via any affiliate program.
All in all – I’m very, very happy with my ROI.