I said I’d say a bit about how we set up our redesigned website. This might be useful if you are setting up a similar site. In this post, I’ll get into the specifics of some of the simpler things we did (new theme, plugins and widgets) and in a future post I’ll go deeper into using custom post types and taxonomies to structure some of the more extensive sets of information we need to present.

New Theme

As I mentioned before, we created a child theme of the Twenty Eleven theme. This gave us the benefits of the very stable standard WordPress theme together with some of the cosmetic things we wanted (achieved, in part, by having lots and lots and lots of new widget areas).

If you want to do the same thing, here’s how:

  1. Download our theme here.
  2. Install it.
  3. Activate it.
  4. Go to Appearance > Header and upload your logo.
  5. Go to Appearance > Theme Options and set the colour of the menu bar and the headings.
  6. You can also set the background colour under Appearance > Customise.

Front Page

On our front page, we wanted to guide the different potential audiences (prospective students, current students, sponsors etc.) to the most relevant content.

The Front Page

So, with WordPress set to use a static front page, I wrapped four short passages in <div> tags. The theme’s stylesheet has styles to formats them.

<div class="full-box">
<div class="feature half-box">

<img class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-1" title="image1" src="" alt="" width="150" height="150" />
Descriptive text.

<div class="feature half-box">

The front page also has three new widget areas.

Front Page Widgets

I wanted to use this to present dynamic content for returning visitors – the latest news, upcoming events, and so forth. The theme adds its own widget for news (latest posts with a thumbnail). But we also use some other plugins – see below – and we display widgets on the front page from Twitter Widget Pro and Events Manager. You’ll also see some custom widgets (eg. the featured profile) that depend on custom post types I’ve yet to describe.


Add This Follow widget

The AddThis plugins provide widgets to go in the “Social Widgets” sidebar that appears at the bottom left and right of each post or page.

Menus in Widgets

Our Doctoral Training Centre (like many others) has partners whose logos need to be displayed.

Logos in menu in widget

I’ve done this by creating a menu, comprising just links. The link goes to the partner (eg. and the label is their logo (eg. <img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/esrc.gif” alt=”ESRC logo” />). But rather than assigning the menu to a “Theme Location” as you normally do with menus, I’ve added the “Custom Menu” widget to a footer area sidebar.

Next Time…

With all this the site was ready to display news and events and overview information about our Doctoral Training Centre. We also had quite substantial amounts of information that needed to be presented in a consistent form – eg. pathway descriptions, student profiles. That’s where custom post types come in – a subject for a future post.

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