Interactive Design offers comprehensive website design services for major University websites, which often involves the creation of a custom WordPress theme. Custom design projects also include a combination of strategic planning, information architecture, writing, and media development. Interactive Design does not offer any of the above as stand-alone services. Due to the labor intensive nature of custom website design, the costs of these projects can exceed the budgets of smaller departments. This prompted the creation of our legacy Flexi WP themes and the new Responsive Framework theme — available at no charge to the BU community.
Why can’t I download and install any of the WordPress themes or plugins available on the web?
WordPress at BU has been enhanced for the University community in several integral ways. The easy-to-use navigation reordering tool and the access restriction tools that are integrated with the BU Directory are unique to BU web publishers. Outside themes do not support these tools. We have developed these tools to benefit all sites and have created themes that offer flexible and easy-to-use design and layout options. While WordPress may be easy to use and set up for an individual on his/her own server to run one blog, at BU it is a shared system running more than 1,000 websites serving (on average) over 10,000 page views every hour! A problem with just one theme could negatively impact all websites. This is similar to the wordpress.com service itself, which also does not permit users to install their own themes or plugins.
Why can’t I hire a developer or agency to develop my own theme for WordPress at BU?
Adding a theme to WordPress is much more than just installing it on the system — it’s a commitment to maintaining it as well. When WordPress is updated, custom themes often need to be revised. WordPress is a shared environment where problems with one theme could impact the stability and performance of the entire service. Outside theme and plugin developers are rarely equipped to provide the long-term maintenance required. We do not permit individual sites to install their own themes or plugins. The Custom CSS plugin offers functionality that can be utilized by an experienced CSS designer to create the look you want while working within the BU framework. Outside designers can be sponsored for a guest account to work with the Custom CSS options, but IS&T/MarCom does not support custom CSS code.
Why can’t I install plugin [XYZ] for my website?
The Web Team at BU researches and evaluates all plugins available to the BU Community and how they might be integrated into our WordPress environment. When we consider integrating public plugins we first review how they may affect the more than 1,000 sites currently using BU WordPress. Extensive testing is required to ensure the overall stability of the platform. Many publicly-available plugins for WP that we have reviewed do not meet the stringent security requirements for BU. If you have an idea for a feature or WordPress plugin that would benefit your school, college, or department please contact the Web Team.
Who/What is BU’s Web Team?
The Web Team at BU consists of representatives of different IS&T departments as well as representatives from Marketing & Communications. We deliver BU WordPress as a shared service, supporting an easy-to-use platform on a large scale while meeting both website best practices and University branding guidelines.
You can contact us by submitting a ticket and ask that your inquiry be directed to “Web Team” or “Web Publishing.” Announcements regarding service changes and improvements are announced via the buweb-l mailing list. All BU individuals who are editors or administrators of a website are included on this mailing list (unless you have opted out via you WP preferences/profile).