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Searching for a Theme Framework

WordPress is turning out to be a very popular way for people to create small websites on campus. While we have a variety of themes to choose from, I’m always on the lookout for ones that offer flexibility not only in design, but in structure.

I recently started looking at StudioPress’s Genesis framework. It’s a commercial theme, but quite reasonable in price. I also like that you can use it as many times as you need and updates are free. Considering we want to use this on our multi-site installation and budgets are tight, this was a big plus.

Genesis is the actually just a theme, albeit a very plain one with many options. The intent is that you will build your own child-themes on top of it. StudioPress also has many child themes for sale, as do other developers. There are even a few free ones.

I ended up going with Genesis with the Legacy Child Theme. Here are the features that fit what I was looking for:

  • 7 color styles
    The blue color matches well with UCI. The style sheet allows for further customization to match UCI’s colors exactly if needed.
  • 6 layout options
    You can choose the layout on a site-wide basis and also on a post or page option. This flexibility will be important when used as a CMS.
  • Custom header
    This will allow uploading UCI’s web banners
  • Responsive design
    It will work well on mobile devices out of the box. A big win.
  • Breadcrumbs
    The option of including dynamic breadcrumbs on different types of content.
  • Secondary navigation
    The option of having a second row of navigation that can be set on a page or post basis.
  • Granular Comment Options
    WordPress by default only allows you to turn comments on or off on a site basis. Genesis allows you to choose between Post and Pages. You may want comments on Posts, but not Pages.
  • Custom home page
    Legacy builds the home page with several widgetized areas. You can opt for a static home page, but this has some nice features that work well for Sites@UCI including the ability to do a Featured Sites slideshow.

We plan to roll this out to make it available to all sites soon.

Sites @ UCI homepage

3 Comments

  1. A. Herrmann on October 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Do you happen to have a list of the themes currently available for Sites@uci.edu that I could see before I create a site?

    Thanks for your great work and personal initiative in this project!



    • Sylvia Bass on November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Hi. We don’t have a list published, but that’s a good idea. I’ll work on that and send you a link to the list.