As many of you have heard, we are working on developing a new theme for our WordPress websites.  We’re calling it… CU Theme.

Very creative, we know.

Right now we manage, basically, two themes: CMS (powering roughly 500 websites) and Framework (powering about 40 sites).  We also manage internal sites, and a handful of custom sites (Intranet, Go Ravens, and Future Funder to name a few).

When we talk about CU Theme what we’re really talking about is combining CMS and Framework into one super flexible, super scalable, theme.

What does this mean for website editors?

If you manage a CMS websites (like Economics or History) you will have the option to take advantage of some new content blocks that previously only existed in Framework.

If you manage a Framework website (like Science or FASS), you will benefit from on-going, cutting-edge development.  Previously much of our time was put into new features for CMS (500 sites vs 40 sites) but with one theme, we will no longer be splitting development between competing priorities.

The biggest change of all – to you as a content editor – will be the introduction to the new WordPress editor (WP calls it Gutenberg).  It is a drag and drop block based editor, and what I personally like best is that it displays the content as it would appear while you build your page.  So no more previewing pages to see how they will will look to your visitor. We’ll talk a lot more about this over the next few months.

And as with any new theme, you will notice some updates to the look and feel.  Sites will be consistent with the new homepage.

So when is all this happening?

Well, it’s happening now.  This is a big project which involves us first reviewing all the components of the themes and templates. As an example, we haven’t been happy with the search tool for a while, so we did some research and will be replacing it with something much better.

We’re also using our new design system (we call it Raven Design System or RDS) which has been in development for some time now.  It’s what’s powering the design of the new Carleton homepage – so that look and feel will trickle down to all sites.

Once we’ve completed our review and finalized RDS we can begin building the theme.

Specifically, here’s what we have planned:

  • Mid October – Coffee Break event to reveal new features and rollout plan
  • End of November – CU Theme development complete
  • Early December – Pilots and testing and development of training materials
  • January – rollout and training begins
  • End of April – rollout complete

We’re putting together a rollout plan, but if you’d like to be one of the first sites in, please contact the ITS Service Desk.

Questions? Concerns?

There is still so much to say in terms of design, development, rollout, and training – but I’ll leave it at that for now.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’ll do my best to address your questions in a future blog post and at our Coffee Break event in October.