Make WordPress Theme
Making a WordPress theme can be done with any html/css file or various computer generated software. Both have advantages and drawbacks.
Computer Generated Templates
The advantages of using software to make a computer generated WordPress template are to save time and to create a theme with no or limited coding skills. Most designs will look generic, but the template can look ‘clean and professional’. Some software to complete the jobs are from Sitegrinder and Artisteer.
Sitegrinder can be used to make html/css which can be converted into a WordPress theme, or it can make a WordPress template with the proper plugin. If the html/css is used, you will have to alter many div tags and css since most of the generated page will have exact heights and widths; not auto or measurements like 95%. Having used Sitegrinder which costs near $400, it makes a W3C valid site, but, it creates many, many div ids and layers. The code can be messy to convert and edit after a conversion. Quite frankly, it is best used to pump out a very small website with a handful of pages.
Nevertheless, there is one option for which the psd file can be made into a potential Worpdress theme. It is called the grow hint. When you use the grow hint, you can make a stretchable page that will increase or decrease as content size alters.
However, the grow hint does have a small setback and that is that the text area cannot contain other elements; but rather just a wide swoop of text. If that is okay, you can always go and add a new div element under the line after the html/css is output and add other nested div elements which can be resized.
Now, you can take or make any PSD file with Photoshop and make a sufficient WordPress theme. With 1 large grow hint, you can add other div elements afterwards. To help speed up development time using this method you may want to position all new style id and classes at the top or bottom of the css file in order to make these changes quick and simple; since the css could easily be more than 1100 lines of code. Minifying the css could bring it near half the size.
Although building a WordPress theme with this method is possible, looking at the html/css with its naming conventions and coding placement can be tiresome and editing will not be as fast as dealing with optimized, well written html/css. It may seem like a shortcut, and it is if non-coding is desired, but it just won’t measure up to hand-coding…during building and future revisions.
Quite frankly, the only real benefit I see for using Sitegrinder converting html/css for WordPress would be to build a funky menu (and maybe a few stylish static columns) that is a perfectly sized chunk of html/css for the header.php file. The new html/css would be inserted into my hand-coded header.php template file. Then, recreating any changes to the menu could take place in the future and the html/css could be swapped back into the header.php and style.css files.
Making a template with Artisteer can be done quickly. It runs near $150 which is nice, but it too makes very long code.
This might sound techie and laborious, but hand-coding is very efficient and creates fast loading templates. A website only needs a background, 2 or 3 content containers and maybe a few more child containers to hold a page. It is very fast to take a psd mockup and slice files for a website, then position all text and images through hand-coding. You may find 100 lines of html and css does the same thing as 2500 lines of computer generated software.
Furthermore, reusing templates to build new sites can be speed up the completion time on new projects.
If you use a premade html/css template, you can always inspect the code to estimate the time it would take to convert the html/css into a WordPress template.