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Vanderbilt Website Theme Updates

Posted by on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Info.

We are rolling out an update to all Vanderbilt websites over the coming weeks/months, which includes a long-overdue refresh of the Vanderbilt Theme that is used on OmniUpdate and WordPress sites. The refresh includes many style changes to bring sites more closely aligned with the main Vanderbilt website.

Vanderbilt Brand Bar

The Vanderbilt Brand Bar (the top bar found on 99% of Vanderbilt websites that includes the Vanderbilt logo and key links) has been updated to reflect the main VU site.  This now includes an always visible search box with the option to search just the site you’re on, or to search all of VU (those options are available via the dropdown on the search button (magnifying glass.)

The Vanderbilt Brand Bar includes emergency notifications as well;  anytime there is a campus-wide emergency, an alert will appear right below the Brand Bar automatically.

Site Navigation

Navigation for sites using the VU Themes has also been updated to reflect the alignment with the main VU site.  The navigation has been moved up under the Brand Bar, and will always have the same dark grey background color.  This is to provide 100% consistency across all sites – as well as ensuring that no non-standard color combinations cause issues with accessibility and mobile usage (a problem in the previous iteration of the themes.)

Header Images

Header graphics for all sites are also being updated.  The new header images look much more crisp and clear on retina displays, their mobile display now more closely resembles the desktop display (an issue in the previous iteration of the theme), and they all will use a consistent font treatment. Unique colors and background image concepts will be carried over when possible, though background images will be replaced with higher resolution photos.

Google Tag Manager

If your site is managed by Web Communications, we will be enabling Google Tag Manager for your Google Analytics tracking. This adds on all sorts of cool new ways we can track data on our websites (including detailed tracking on how your navigation is used — which has been an oft-requested report!)

New Functionality

A new Edge to Edge Slideshow is now available as an option — a frequently requested feature.


You now have the option of using a “Media” Footer – which provides a space for video to be embedded, or a map to your location (or really anything – you could embed a podcast here as well!).

The Social Media section has been moved up to the top of the footer area — and uses updated icons.


A new display for the events feed is available now — spanning the full width of the screen right above the footer.


A new display for news feeds when using a one column layout — spanning the full width, with larger photos.

SSL By Default

As sites are updated to the latest version of the Vanderbilt theme, they are also being switched to being SSL by default (meaning the site will default to being https://).  SSL helps establish a secure link between the website that you’re visiting and your browser. This encrypted URL ensures that anything you do on that website remains private and safe from monitoring and tampering.

Authentication Options

Pages are easily able to be protected behind VUnetID, with the click of a button.


In order to most efficiently make our way through all sites that need to be updated, and enforce as short a content freeze time period as possible, we will be implementing a “rolling schedule” for the site updates. We’ll notify the site owner(s) the day before we’ll be making the site update. The following day, those site owners must be in a “content freeze” — meaning no changes should be made to their site for that business day while updates are being completed. The site owner will be free to login the NEXT day and make changes (and the site will be in the new templates!)

Example Schedule

If we were going to be migrating your site on a Wednesday the schedule will go as follows:

  • Tuesday: WebComm notifies you that your site will be updated on Wednesday.
  • Wednesday: You cannot make any changes to your website on this day. (Your site will still be viewable by the public.) Web Communications updates your website to the latest version of our theme and republishes your site using the updated theme.
  • Thursday: You are free to login and make changes to your site again.

If, when contacted, you determine that the following day is NOT a good day to have the 1-day content freeze, please respond to that email and we will move you to the FOLLOWING day.

See New Theme in Action

You can preview the new theme on several sites that have already been updated:

You can preview more of the options on the Demo Website as well.


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