• Engineering
  • Network / Multisite
  • Strategy

WordPress multisite with parent and child themes makes it easy for Bates to manage multiple diverse audiences with ease.

In partnership with design agency Tellart, Bates College divined a beautiful new look and information architecture for their 2011 website relaunch. With a tough schedule and deadline ahead of them, Tellart and Bates needed to find a partner who could help them bring their unique vision to life on the world’s easiest to use content management system – WordPress.

10up presented its own vision: a parent / child theme framework with easy to manage custom features. This framework made it possible to centralize functional requirements like the event calendar and site-wide design elements—like the primary navigation in the parent theme—while enabling simple child themes to support the differing functional and design needs of specific subgroups at the college.

Designed from the ground up for WordPress in network mode (also known as “multisite” or “MU”), the Bates framework features a rich parent theme with powerful custom post types like featured people, events, and sports scores. By extending WordPress’ native “theme_supports” functions, 10up made it easy for individual child themes to enable the appropriate post types and special features housed in the parent theme with a single line of code. As a result, a simple child theme for an office like “food services” could feature events and profiles, while not cluttering up the administrative interface with features like sports scores.

The innovation didn’t stop there—Tellart envisioned varying seven shade color palettes for different offices and functional areas within Bates. While each child theme—which generally catered to different functional areas—would have its own default (overriding the parent theme), the Bates team wanted to offer any single department—say, the Biology department—the ability to introduce their own palette. 10up built a unique “color” administrative page, allowing even the most basic editors to easily add a distinctive palette to their site. Paired with an administrative screen with department contact data and a custom slideshow manager that powers the site’s beautiful galleries, Bates staff could easily build beautiful new sites in no time at all, with just the right blend of site-wide consistency and distinctive department touches.

Bates College’s internal web team was able to take 10up’s framework and child themes and launch the new site in just a few months. Since 2011, following a careful hand-off, Bates’ has successfully taken over full management of their site.

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