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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Building professional websites really easily

Oscar Foulkes February 15, 2010 My Little Black Book, Web Tools No comments

I was very excited last week to discover an amazing tool for building websites. What makes it amazing – with a capital A – is that it’s pretty much WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

As far as websites are concerned, WordPress has been the object of my affections. The 1000s of templates (themes, they’re called in that world) make it easy to get a reasonable-looking site up and running quite quickly. There are also 1000s of plug-ins that enable the site to do really useful things, ecommerce being one of the most obvious.

The problem arises when you need to make little tweaks to the look and feel. Then one needs to know stuff like HTML, PHP or CSS – all of which may as well be Greek. I’ve picked up some pidgen-code along the way, but I still need technical assistance if what I’m doing is slightly out of the ordinary.

Oscar’s Pleasure runs on Thesis, which is the most adaptable of the WordPress themes I’ve come across. Almost every component is customisable, which is great for people like myself. I’m very happy with my $87 purchase.

The tool I came across last week, Artisteer, enables anybody who can ‘move a mouse’ to make up their own themes for WordPress, skins for DotNetNuke (as well as the equivalents for Joomla and a variety of other content management systems – that’s CMS for short!). Every change one makes is visual (i.e. not in code), so what you see is what you get. In effect, even non-developers have almost limitless options available when setting up a new website, rather than having to remain within the confines of an existing template.

Over the past eight months, as I’ve been on my learning-by-doing voyage of web discovery, I’ve often thought how valuable such a tool would be. I think I would probably have been willing to pay a lot more than the very reasonable $129.95 for the standard edition of Artisteer.

Even a proper web developer is likely to benefit from using Artisteer to perform many of the drudge parts of the development process as a time-saving tool.

For the rest of us, it’s the equivalent of being able to whisper sweet nothings to Helen of Troy without needing to learn Greek.

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