Did you ever want to design your own Wordpress or Joomla themes?

Would you like a Wordpress theme without all those annoying links at the bottom of every page?

Did you ever think about setting up a business designing CMS themes for other people?

How much would you pay for a piece of software that allowed you to do all the above and a lot more? $250, $500?

The software is available and only costs $49.95 for the basic version, $129.95 for the full bells and whistles version.

Artisteer is the program and it is one of the best programs I have ever used. I bought the full, $129.95 version as I wanted maximum choice and flexibility, though, in hindsight the $49.95 version would have done everything I needed.

Artisteer got itself a bad press with its previous release, Artisteer 2.1. I downloaded and tried it, there were a lot of glitches and Artisteer did not respond to emails. I decided not to buy the program and deleted it from my computer.

A few months later, I had a new project in mind, and thought I would have a fresh look at the Artisteer website. Artisteer 2.4 was now released. I downloaded it and all bugs had been fixed, all those I had found anyway.

Save and Export are disabled on the free download trial version. I had a design all done and ready, but could not save it, so I paid my money, got my license numerical key and saved my design.

I was designing a theme for a blog I was starting using Wordpress on my own domain. I wanted a wide theme, rather than have all that wasted space down both sides of the screen. Artisteer Standard gave me the width I wanted. (There are fewer width options on the Artisteer Home and Academic version, buy still enough for most people.)

I wanted no link to Wordpress.org or to a theme designer at the bottom of the page. I wanted total control of everything on my theme. Artisteer gave it to me.

I was extremely pleased. On previous projects I had spent three hours checking out available free themes from the Wordpress.org website, and even when I found one it was still a compromise. Artisteer gave me a Wordpress theme from scratch in less than one hour that did everything I wanted.

I had looked at using a theme design service. That would have cost me $100 or so, and if I wanted to change it at some time in the future, another $100. Artisteer 2.4 gave me a theme I loved, a unique theme and I can modify it in the future.

You need no CSS, HTML or any other coding experience to build Wordpress themes using Artisteer 2.4. I know a only a small bit of basic HTML, CSS blows my mind, yet here is my design (If you click it, it takes you to the EscapeTeaching.com website, my blog). Judge for yourself. All the graphics come with the Artisteer program, Standard Version. The Home and Academic Version of Artisteer comes with a slightly smaller range of graphics.

The Artisteer 2.4 software looks very complicated at first, because the tool bar at the top of the page contains everything in drop down menus. There is a drop down for menu bars, one for text, another for colors and one for links designs.If you play with the program you will learn to use it very quickly.

When you start Artisteer for the first time you are presented with a theme design. There is a button on the left of the tool bar to that you can use to generate a series of random themes. These random themes select one of each of the available designs for menu bars, links bars, footers, title heights, header images, etc, etc. and presents them to you as a random theme.

I have always been frustrated with free standard Wordpress themes in that I could not change the title font, color or size. Artisteer allows me to modify all these, over and over again until I find my perfect combination of font characteristics.

The easiest way to use Artisteer, I have found, is to generate random themes, until you find one that approximates to what you want. Then use the separate drop down menus to either randomise each feature of the design or to choose from a drop down menu for each feature. You can very quickly turn your rough and ready theme into your perfect Wordpress design.

Save your Artisteer design before you export it, and you can then amend your design using Artisteer in the future. The software cannot modify Wordpress themes, so you need to save your theme before exporting it. Artisteer can modify your 'Save as Artisteer' file at a later date.

When you select Export – Export Options you see some of the best features of the software. There are options to remove the link to the Wordpress project and to the theme designer. I left the theme designer link there with a link to a web hosting referral program that could earn me money. This is way better than having no control over the links on free Wordpress themes and other people profiting from links on my pages.

I was expecting difficulties when I came to export my Artisteer design, but there were no difficulties whatsoever. I exported as a Zip folder to the desktop on my computer. Then from the Wordpress Dashboard in my blog, EscapeTeaching.com, I selected upload theme, easy as that.

It is easier to design your own Wordpress themes than it is to search for one on the Internet. I sat back, stunned, when I had my first theme designed from scratch in 30 minutes. The Artisteer 2.4 is absolutely awesome in its capabilities and ease of use. I know I will never use another free Wordpress theme ever again.

You will find criticisms of the Artisteer Wordpress theme design program on forums, but these comments are often from theme designers who seem disgruntled that this software enables 90% of their customers to produce a theme every bit as good as the professionally generated one.