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 wordpress.com 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?
Adding a theme to WordPress is much more than just installing it on the system — it will require ongoing maintenance as well. When WordPress is updated, custom themes may need to be revised. When new features are released, testing and potential updates may be required. WordPress is a shared environment where problems with one theme could impact the stability and performance of the entire service — that’s over 1,500 websites on bu.edu networks.
IS&T and Interactive Design are currently piloting a program to work with outside WordPress theme developers. We will be adding more information to this FAQ when it becomes available (last updated Feb. 2020). We expect to offer options for BU-approved web agencies as well as a process to assess individual freelance developers for acceptance into the program.
The Custom CSS plugin 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).