Artisteer 3 review

10 Aug 2011

A simple but surprisingly effective CSS-based web design tool now offering full website creation

Price when reviewed 
31
5

When designing a website most users tend to think in terms of HTML, but nowadays all presentational duties are actually handled via CSS. This separation between HTML content and CSS styling offers major advantages in terms of efficiency, consistency and flexibility. In particular, changing your single central CSS file can instantly change the look and feel of your whole site.

Artisteer takes full advantage of such CSS handling to offer a simple, visual and holistic approach to web design. In this latest release, this starts with the ability to browse through a range of sample website designs both locally and online.

This sort of off-the-shelf, preset-based approach is hardly revolutionary and suffers from a number of inherent problems: there’s a limited range of templates, plus any design you choose is neither unique to your site nor tailored to it.

Artisteer 3

This is where Artisteer really proves its worth. Rather than relying solely on prepackaged designs, Artisteer also lets you create your own. Click on the Home tab’s large Suggest Design button and Artisteer generates a one-off mix of layout, typography, colours, graphics and other page elements. This may well sound like a recipe for design chaos, but the system is intelligent enough to ensure that all the elements work well together.

That doesn’t mean the results will necessarily be to your taste, so Artisteer 3 lets you guide the suggestion process by indicating the sort of design you are looking for: decorative, clean, corporate and so on. Crucially, if you don’t like what you see, you can simply generate another design suggestion, and you can also get Artisteer to suggest variations independently for colour, fonts, layouts and headers to hone the design until you’re happy with it.

After you’ve got the basics in place, it’s time to fine-tune some more. This can be done using no fewer than 11 ribbon-bar tabs, dedicated to particular design elements such as Background, Header, Menu, Buttons and so on. With Artisteer 3 the process has been streamlined – you can now click on any web page element to navigate directly to the relevant tab.

Artisteer 3

In the core Artisteer 3 Home Edition you are generally limited to choosing from preset options, say layouts that are 600, 700, 800, 900 or 1000 pixels wide. However, between the various settings for size, position, colour, shape, alignment and formatting for so many design components, there’s no shortage of creative options.

There are also more options than before around colour schemes and stock images, along with new handling of transparency effects, banner textures and header and footer sections. The most powerful addition is the ability to create fluid layouts that automatically resize to the browser width.

Details

Price ex VAT £26
Price inc VAT £31
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 6
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 6
Software subcategory Web development

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? yes