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University Web Services (UWS)



Design Themes

Definition & Background

Design themes play a major role in the management of websites on the website.


A design theme is a collection of image, CSS, and javaScript files that dictate the rules for the appearance of a site. Themes include rules for visual design, colors, imagery, font sizes, and text treatments, to name a few.

Design themes sit on top of an underlying HTML grid structure, enabling all sites within the domain to be structurally consistent, while also having unique looks. University Web Services owns and manages the underlying grid, and web theme owners share the responsibility of managing the design themes with UWS.

In other words, a theme modifies the way a site is displayed, without modifying the underlying HTML grid structure shared by all websites.

There are currently 15 unique design themes within the domain.


The university’s brand was thoughtfully created to express the values, ambitions and characteristics of our organization. The recognition and perception of a brand is highly influenced by its visual presentation. Effective visual brand identity is achieved by the consistent use of particular visual elements to create distinction, such as specific fonts, colors, and graphic elements.

Although it is known that variations of these elements dilute the university’s brand and recognizability, it’s also accepted that units with distinct goals and audiences benefit from a targeted design that reflects their sub-branding. These targeted designs are design themes.

Following the official request and approval to create, modify, and redesign a theme, sites throughout the university can have a unique, supported look for their unit, while still adhering to university-level branding standards.

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