Visual Web Development with Artisteer 4
Last year I began to develop my Word Press themes with a very cool development tool called Artisteer (Art-I-Steer). I have some additional themes to repost from work that was lost when my server HD failed in July. Meanwhile, I have started to use Artisteer 4 to develop new HTML based “utility sites” like my online portfolio with work samples for prospective clients.
New Development Strategy
Artisteer 4 comes with a bunch of templates for both PHP based CMS and HTML based sites. However, after one attempt with a template for a Software Company, I realized that the result was too busy for my purposes. I needed a simple site with an attractive front page and links to the work samples. My design philosophy is minimalistic since in most cases, Less is more from a designer’s perspective or as a lady friend once suggested “Keep it Simple Sweetheart” (a PC version of KISS ).
On my 2nd attempt I began with a blank template and selected colors from my picture. Some more fiddling with block design and other details and the browser preview began to look presentable. Realizing that in this case, I was actually constructing a shell for the site as opposed to a Word Press theme, I entered some content for the intro page and some images to the front page slide show. Adding content in this manner is a cool time saver. Total time to build the shell in 2 sessions less than 3 hr. including the initial failed attempt
On to Dreamweaver CS6
I like Adobe Dreamweaver and have used most versions since DM 8. Lots of great tools but the template designs always seemed a bit to restrictive. After exporting the whole site template to a new directory on my HD root, it’s time for DM CS6 to drive the site forward to online prototype mode. Here I will add the links to the RH, CP and FM samples, test the design for responsiveness across several device types and then publish to the sub-domain along with the eLearning and TechComm content.
It took another failed revision to realize that it was much easier to redo the shell design with Artisteer 4 than to fiddle with the HTML or CSS on the DM CS6 side. After adding more pages for links to deliverables, I had an issue getting the link colors to display clearly with the red-brown background. I finally found the “art-class” for the vertical menu section and presto problem solved and lesson learned. Once one begins in a visual mode, its much easier to continue on this track and resist the temptation to code manually or with the aid of a UI like DM CS6.
Why? Time to prototype functionality is my answer. I have found over he years that rapid development works best when one uses the tools at the highest level of abstraction available for the task at hand. Let’s take a Word Press example. We need a nice plugin for a simple contact form and our best buddy is a super PHP programmer who can make one in a day or less. Sounds good enough except that a WP plugin search finds over 25 contact form type plugins available! A little more research narrows the field to three candidates for review and testing. A few hr. later, the best FREE plugin for the job is installed and working. Less time to functionality and NO debugging, just some testing as part of the learning curve.
In case of the my profile prototype, including some learning time about the sub-domain and FTP setups, the site is up and running in less than one day’s development time with the result “responsive” design compliant. Going forward, I could likely create and publish a uniquely themed profile site like mine in a 1/2 day or less from concept to implementation. Using a visual development tool like Artisteer is like having a snowflake generator on a ski slope, smooth running and with many trails to choose from.