Skip to main content

WordPress at Vanderbilt

Department Site Type

WordPress is an open source blog tool and publishing platform powered by PHP and MySQL. In the summer of 2010, Digital Strategies developed the first Vanderbilt theme that could be used by departments and individuals to build out a professional, Vanderbilt-branded website. The theme has been updated several times since then.We are on version 5.0 currently.

We use WordPress extensively at Vanderbilt, it powers the main news presences (Vanderbilt NewsmyVUResearch News at Vanderbilt) as well as this site!  You can see other sites using the WordPress theme in our project archive. You can get an idea of how customizable the theme is when you see all the different implementations.


DEMO: Department Site Type

View a demo of the site type - Department

DEMO: Blog Site Type

View a demo of the site type - Blog

Don’t want to have to worry about installing wordpress or themes? Another option for building out a website using either of these themes is building your site on the platform which supports the Vanderbilt WordPress theme.

Options, Options, Options

The Vanderbilt WordPress Theme has a control panel that will allow you set many options. I’d suggest installing it – putting in a few pages and posts so you can have some content pre-populated – and then turn on and off options in the control pane that is accessible via the VANDERBILT BRAND menu at the bottom left of the wordpress menu. When you’ve got a design you like – start building your website!

Below is a brief description of the current options available in the theme.

General Options

  • Type of Site – NEW
    • BLOG — homepage showcases the latest posts; there are tag clouds in the right column; the menu includes a category-based dropdown
    • DEPARTMENT — theme is setup to be used for a department or organization website, and primarily uses pages for the site content; uses the posts section for departmental news items
      • To determine what page is used for your HOMEPAGE: go to SETTINGS->READING->FRONT PAGE DISPLAYS.  Choose the page from the dropdown to use as your homepage. You must set this in order to have the front page look correct.
  • Brand Bar – a brand bar for each school is available, as well as the default Vanderbilt brand bar. NEW
  • Search Method – use WordPress search or the Vanderbilt Google Search appliance.
  • Include slideshow on homepage – Any post or page with a tag “featured” will be put in the slideshow. The image that will be used is the FEATURED IMAGE that you choose in the right column.
    • For the caption – it automatically pulls the title of the page or post. If you would rather use customized text, simply add a customfield “featuretext” with the text you would like to use (being mindful of the length available for display).

Design Options

  • Use an image as the header instead of text – if you’d like to use a graphic header instead of plain Text (This also moves the searchbox down to the right column)
    • URL of header image – simply create an image no wider than 950 pixels, upload it – and put the URL here.
    • Header Background Color – pick a color to coordinate with your background image.
    • Custom Styles – put any custom CSS styles here (use caution as these override all other styles) NEW

Navigation Options

  • Navigation Style – top with dropdowns or right side list.
  • Navigation Source: use automatically generated menu, or use a manually built menu fro the Appearances->Menus screen NEW
    • Which Menu: if using manual menu, what is the menu name we should use NEW
    • Pages to hide in navigation – include the page ids of pages you don’t want to appear in your navigation (i.e. your homepage, or a page that is in your site – but isn’t primary information)

Right Column News Feed

  • Include news feed in the right column?
  • Title of news section in right column
  • External news feed – if you’d rather use an external news feed instead of the POSTS section of your website, place the feed URL here (beginning with http:// and NOT feed://)
  • If you do have a news section in your WordPress site – the theme is thumbnail enabled. Currently – the thumbnails only display on the archives page. You set the post thumbnail using the FEATURED IMAGE in the right column on the post page.

Footer and Social Media Options

  • The social media section in the extended footer.
  • Connect Section Title – what you would like the header of that section to be.
  • Facebook – URL to your facebook page
  • Twitter – URL to your twitter account
  • Flickr – URL to your flickr account
  • Flickr UserID – your flickr userid (NOT YOUR LOGIN); go to this website to find your flickr id:
  • YouTube – URL to your youtube account
  • Footer Link List Heading – currently YOUR VANDERBILT
  • Link Lists in footer are controlled in APPEARANCE->Widgets NEW
  • Footer copyright text – this will display next to the Vanderbilt University copyright notice.
  • Google Analytics Code – put your google analytics code here – it will be placed right above the closing body tag.

Shortcodes available

  • [showchildren] - placing this shortcode on a page will automatically list all of the subpages of the current page.
  • [field name=customfieldname] - this short code allows you to post code that won't be altered. Useful for iframes, inline javascripts, etc.
    • You create a customfield -- name it googlecal or vimeo or sitemason (whatever you want).
    • Paste the html/php/js code you are wanting to use in as the value.
    • Click "add custom field"
    • Go back up to the post - where you want the code to be - and put the shortcode in: [field name=googlecal] or [field name=vimeo].
  • [showposts category=58] - showposts allows you to provide a listing of posts on a post or a page; you can display posts from a specific category or tag - and decide how many posts you want to display - and in what order they should display (default displays by date, in ascending order). (examples below)
    • [showposts tag=58]
    • [showposts category=58 num=8]
    • [showposts category=58 order=ASC orderby=date]
  • [vuvideo folder="public_affairs" file="elvis_bowl.mp4"] - display video from the Vanderbilt streaming server
    • folder - required. folder on the streaming server (e.g. public_affairs)
    • file - required. filename of your video file (e.g. elvis.mp4)
    • image - optional. URL to image you'd like to use as poster image
    • width - optional. Defaults is 650.
    • height - optional. Default is 405.
  • [vuiframe source=""] - display iframe content
    • source - required. URL for iframe content
    • width - optional. Defaults is 650.
    • height - optional. Default is 405.

Other built-in features:

  • Breadcrumbs – breadcrumb navigation will automatically appear on all pages other than your homepage.
  • Sharing – social media sharing icons are added at the bottom of each page or post. When the blog site type is chosen – sharing icons are available for each post on the listing pages as well.
  • Page Template for post listing (all posts or just a single category). Allows you to easily add a menu item for a news section – which can display all your posts, or only posts from a specific category. (typically used when using the Department theme and you want to create a news page based on your posts.  The blog theme has this built in as the front page). NEW
    • Create a new page – and in the page attributes on the right, choose Blog or News Page as the template.
    • If you want it to be posts from just a single category – create a custom field named “show_category” and the value should be the name of the category you want to pull from.
  • Widgets – In the APPEARANCE->WIDGETS screen you’ll see the various places available for you to go widget crazy.

A few assumptions …

  • If you choose the DEPARTMENT site type —  your site navigational structure is based on the PAGES and SUBPAGES of the site. Any news or blog posts or other date-based information would be within the POSTS section.
  • If you are using POSTS as your websites page structure – this theme won’t look right at first. I’d encourage you to move your posts to pages, as that’s what pages are meant to be (there are quite a few plugins that will move your posts to pages with the click of a button) — :) And keep posts for date based information.