Sep 08

Chinese Opera Films after 1949

Conference held at the University of Chicago on Chinese Opera Films after 1949 – Music, Theater, and Cinematic Arts.

Design Notes:

Roundflow WordPress theme (outdated). This is a quietly elegant site characterized by a careful and harmonious selection of colors for the banner, menus and linked text. The colors for these elements (which can be set in the theme options) are derived from the photo on the front page. The post features of the site have been turned off so that each element of the site is based on an individual page.

Unfortunately it is not advisable to use this particular theme today since it has not seen any updates for several years. Please follow this link to see other model conference websites using a variety of different readily available WordPress themes.



Sep 08

Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture

The Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture aims to develop a new model for graduate education in American culture, to serve as a hub for the exciting multidisciplinary study of America at the University of Chicago, and to make that study visible on a national and international level.

Design Notes:

This is a very simple site based on the Tarski WordPress theme which was put together at short notice for the center. Each section on the site corresponds to a WordPress page. The theme’s horizontal navigation bar was turned off in the theme options in favour of a Page widget displayed in the sidebar.


Mar 08

What Poetry Narrates Conference

Conference website at the University of Chicago for (Ce) que la poésie raconte or, (What) Poetry Narrates.

Design Notes:

NigaRila WordPress theme. Very simple, easy to make conference website consisting of a single post on the homepage announcing the event (additional posts could have been added here for updates, announcements, schedule changes etc.) and a small number of pages for the other elements of the site (Sponsors, Contacts etc.). The text overlaid on top of the banner image is created automatically by the template. All you need to do is to prepare an image with the appropriate dimensions (the theme will even let you use and crop images that are too large for this purpose). In addition the theme allows for the use of different colors beside the default white for the site title. A site like this can easily be put together in under 20 minutes.


Mar 08

Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science

Website for the third annual Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science in 2008. The goal of the annual Chicago Colloquia on Digital Humanities and Computer Science (DHCS) is to bring together researchers and scholars in the humanities and computer science to examine the current state of digital humanities as a field of intellectual inquiry and to identify and explore new directions and perspectives for future research.

Design Notes:

The DHCS conference website (built on the Tarski WordPress theme) is structured a little more elaborately than most of the other WordPress conference sites listed on this site. To begin, the site’s home page does not default to a page listing individual posts (which is the WordPress default) but to a static page. This allows the site to specify a different page for posts. Visitors to the site first see the general info page and can then switch to the blog page for announcements and updates. In this case, the blog page was also used to record the registration information of each participant at the conference including areas of interest recorded as post categories. This in turn allowed the organizers to provide a running overview (and allow visitors to search for) who was coming to the conference, what areas they were interested in etc. You’ll also note that the items (widgets) in the sidebar are different on the home and the blog page – this is a special feature of the Tarski theme (it also provides the same functionality for footers). As a final point of interest Tarski does a nice job styling the default Page widget. You can see this on the site’s home page where parent and child pages are displayed in an easy to follow hierarchy. Once you know that such options are already built into Tarski and WordPress creating a site such as this is not at all difficult.



Feb 08

South Asia Graduate Student Conferences

Website for the annual South Asia Graduate Student Conferences at the University of Chicago.

This MistyLook WordPress theme based site cleverly organizes each year’s conference as a set of linked pages (one parent page and several child pages). Each packet of pages follows the same structure (Abstracts, Participants, Program, Locations, Maps and Directions) allowing the conferences to be displayed one under each other in the site’s sidebar. Navigating through the site is also helped by the fact the each parent page will (at the bottom of the page) automatically link to its child pages and by the decision to repeat the top level or parents pages in a horizontal menu provided by the theme at the top of the site. While all this may sound complicated it really is not – the adjustments required for this type of page organization are very easy to follow once seen in practice.


Feb 08

Open Practice Committee

The Open Practice Committee in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago explores the atmospheres and attitudes that make art contemporary. From the conventional departmental presentation to the unconventional institutional event, the Open Practice Committee aims to advance our collective understanding of theory and practice within the visual arts.

Design Notes:

This website is unusual in that it is based on a custom WordPress theme that was built to order for OPC by Neoteric. As such, it should best be seen as an example of the degree to which WordPress themes can be modified. Very little, if any “blog like” elements remain on the site besides an overall emphasis on “event” driven content. On this note it’s worth taking a look at the site’s Events page which includes a Trumba calendar layout with an emphasis on images. The site also makes good use of WordPress categories to allow users to browse through past content.



Nov 07


Website for the Adaptation exhibit at the Smart Museum of Art.

Design Notes:

As was the case with OPC, this website is unusual in that it is based on a custom WordPress theme built to order for the Smart Museum by Neoteric. As such, it should best be seen as an example of the degree to which WordPress themes can be modified. Very little, if any “blog like” elements remain on the site. Of special note is the striking typography in use throughout the site both for individual headers or titles and in navigation elements.



Nov 07

News from the Division of the Humanities

Welcome to the Division of the Humanities news page, your place for news, multimedia, and feature stories about the Division.

Design Notes:

The Humanities news page is intended to be both a source of news from and about the division (in the style of a blog or newsletter) as well as an online resource for members of the press. The site makes heavy use of post categories and tags and then re-uses these to create dynamic page content. So, for example, while the e.g. Faculty Publications and For the Press pages are static, the theme is also able to automatically create a menu bar based on categories such as Press Releases and Articles. The site’s sidebars are also a little more sophisticated than those offered by most themes because they include both a large “About” section at the top and two, parallel sidebars underneath. Each sidebar can be populated with its own set of widgets (including an RSS widget, as used  here, which in this case is drawing its content from the Humanities Division’s main events calendar). In sum, the site may appear complex, but the steps need to produce this effect are simple to understand and reproduce.

News from the Division also employs the Carrington Mobile Theme to offer up a special, simplified version of the site for mobile visitors with smaller screens. A screenshot of the site as seen on an iPhone for example is included below. A sample of the themes available for use with mobile devices can be viewed on the supported WordPress theme page on our wiki. Any WordPress based site can make use of custom theme support by activating the appropriate plugin.



Oct 07

Wittgenstein Workshop

The graduate Wittgenstein Workshop aims to foster a variety of forms of interdisciplinary research that take their point of departure from a shared interest in Wittgenstein’s intellectual achievement.

Design Notes:

The Wittgenstein Workshop site uses the MistyLook WordPress theme to very good effect to create a very good looking, easy to navigate and well organized site. The restrained design elements are particularly well coordinated here by the matching color palette and calm quality of the header image. The coordinator of the site has opted to leave just one (current) event on the home page, re-writing this as needed. Older events are placed on the Archive page. Another way to achieve the same effect would be to continue writing a new post for each event but then limit the number of posts that can appear on the home page to one. WordPress will then generate a running archive of past events automatically, sorted by month and year. Another advantage of using one post per event is that events can now be assigned tags and categories. In this way one can quickly view all events about a certain topic, by a certain speaker etc.


Sep 07

Virtual Tourist in Ancient Rome

The Virtual Tourist in Ancient Rome symposium brings together scholars from the United States and Europe to address new directions in research on Renaissance antiquarianism and visual culture, including those making use of digital technology.

Design Notes:

This is a very simple site built on the NigaRila WordPress theme. It has a clean and simple design that relies in large part for its positive effect on the striking nature of the custom header image. A site like this with a solid color header is likely to be visually less effective. This was one of the first sites we created in WordPress for conferences. Today we would probably structure the site navigation a little differently (using a horizontal menu under the header image for example). However it’s still worth considering as a model as an example of how much can be done with very little effort. The whole site was put together in 20 minutes.