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 a robust foundation of code that supports the 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?

BU WordPress is (much like itself) a managed system. Individual site admins do not have administrative access to install themes and plugins. WordPress is the most popular content management system used on the web, but that coin has a flip side: it is the most-targeted CMS for hacks. One compromised theme or plugin could impact the entire application. BU WordPress is our enterprise content management system for the institution, so security is of paramount importance and plays a key role in restricting theme/plugin installations to the core service teams.

The BU Responsive Framework is an adaptable theme that’s been built to provide design flexibility, to be compliant with accessibility laws and usability best practices, and to guide a consistent voice in brand and way finding across the expanse of the BU Web. The list of BU WordPress plugins available to BU site admins cover most cases of common web publishing needs, and many of these plugins have been developed in-house and some are specifically enhanced to work with other BU services (e.g. access restrictions use a standard BU login).

IS&T does not install WordPress plugins on demand. If there is demonstrated need where existing tools do not accomplish the same goal, plugin requests will be assessed in light of other service priorities.

Can I hire a developer or agency to develop my own theme for WordPress at BU?

We cannot accommodate custom themes in BU WordPress. Adding a theme to WordPress requires much more than just creating and installing it on our system. It needs to be compatible with the entire BU WordPress environment, and will require constant ongoing maintenance as we perform weekly upgrades to other parts of WordPress. Problems with one theme can impact stability and performance of the entire service — that’s more than 3,000 websites on networks.

Instead, we recommend using the Custom CSS plugin. This offers functionality that can be utilized by an experienced CSS designer to create the look you want while working strictly with CSS. 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.

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 the University’s marketing and communication needs.

You can contact us by submitting a ticket and ask that your inquiry be directed to “BU.EDU Websites 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).