A WordPress theme provides the graphical interface for a WordPress site, and includes templates and CSS files. In addition to governing the layout, typography and design of the site, the theme can also add features to WordPress which can enhance the way some things work (by providing ways of creating slideshows, image galleries or video walls, for example).
Sites which use leeds.ac.uk sub-domains must use the University WordPress theme, but sites can also use other domains (registered through the University), in which case they can use custom themes.
Using free themes
Free themes on the wordpress.com and wordpress.org sites can be used in this service:
Any theme sourced from a free directory will first be audited before it is installed to ensure the code runs without errors and the resulting pages comply with the University’s website regulations. It is also important that the theme is regularly updated, as the core software changes quite rapidly. Note that some themes are designed to help with particular types of sites (portfolios, blogs, galleries, etc.), so make sure you choose a theme for its features (as well as for the way it looks).
Using a theme developed by a third party
Commercial or “Premium” themes are also available, usually at low cost – see the list of suppliers on the WordPress site. Please note that commercial themes also need to run without errors and produce pages which comply with the University’s website regulations – if a theme is purchased which does not pass these criteria it cannot be installed on this service.
If you are thinking of commissioning a site from one of the University’s external framework suppliers to use this service, please make sure they are aware of the development guidelines available here:
Creating your own theme
If you want to create your own theme, it must follow the development guidelines, but must also be capable of being maintained and updated easily, as we do not provide direct access to the site via file transfer and do not allow manual theme updates. One possible solution would be to add your theme to the wordpress theme repository and maintain it there. Another solution would be to maintain your theme in bitbicket or github.
Creating a Child Theme
Child themes provide a means to modify an existing theme by changing templates, adding new features and editing or adding to the CSS used to provide the design for your site. If you find a theme which does 90% of what you want, but need to make key changes to parts of the theme which cannot be made through the theme customiser, the easiest way to achieve this is by creating a child theme and making the changes there. This ensures that the theme which acts as the parent can be updated without your changes being lost. Your child theme will still need to follow the development guidelines and be maintained in the wordpress theme repository, bitbicket or github.