Sep 09

Center for the Arts of East Asia

The Center for the Art of East Asia (CAEA) facilitates and supports teaching and research in the rapidly growing field of East Asian Art at the University of Chicago.

Design Notes:

The CAEA site was created using the WordPress Panorama theme. The site employs a few simple tricks to make it appear more like a regular website and less like a blog. As such, its structure is not quite as straightforward as the models listed here in the “Easy” category. Still, the changes are not complicated and can easily be put in place for another site if there is interest. First, the site’s home page (where one would normally see individual posts) was re-mapped to the About page (this is because unlike e.g. a workshop, this will not be an event driven site). Second, site makes extensive use of the Panorama theme’s provision for drop-down menus (the second menu item under a top level menu is called a “child” – hence parent and child pages). The site’s About page for example has two child pages under it called Objectives and Sources of Support. In addition, the theme automatically creates links to these as drop down items in the site’s menu under About. Third, all references to page and post comments were removed from the theme to make the site feel less “blog-like”. Finally, please also note the rotating header images on the site – this is a special feature of the Panorama theme.


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.



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.



Aug 07


The MAPH blog is a source of information and a forum for annoucements and events of interest to current students in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. It is edited by the MAPH staff and Program Mentors.

Design Notes:

The MAPH newsletter runs on the Carrington WordPress theme and takes its design cues from the Humanities News site. A sister version of the site (AfterMAPH) is directed primarily at MAPH alumni. I’ve listed it here since it is one of the few WordPress sites hosted by the division that are structured by and large exactly like a traditional blog. If you’re interested in other words in creating a newsletter for your department or group you may want to instead think about structuring it along the lines of a blog instead of trying to emulate the look and feel of a printed publication. Please note also the extensive use of category based menus (categories are subject tags associated with individual posts). This is a quick and easy way to add extra navigation and search (browse) options to a site.