Why we made this

The ASU Labs Theme for WordPress is a custom theme designed to meet the needs of small working lab groups on campus. After examining our existing collection of more than 100 sites with this purpose, we realized that the needs of most of our faculty groups revolved around three basic types of content.

Illustration of relationship between research projects, the people involved with the lab, and the publications stemming from the lab itself. Each main element within the illustration is represented by a box. The boxes are connected with lines to form a triangle.

In addition to delivering an out-of-the-box type solution for these content types, we also wanted to address the following difficulties.

  • Reduce the need for the end user to focus on the site’s design by providing a set of well-thought out templates for each content piece.
  • Reduce the emphasis on large-scale “cover photo” images, as these images are difficult to obtain and often don’t tell a complete story about the lab.
  • Recognize that there are content types that don’t easily fit into our initial content mapping scheme. The template flexible and generic page template which utilizes WordPress’s new block editor to deliver flexible and useful results.

Emphasize the relationships

As we looked deeper into how people, their projects and the resulting publications were typically represented on a lab website, we also realized that something was missing. A well-constructed site would typically have all three of these elements clearly represented. But in each examined website, it was difficult to understand the relationships between the pieces of content.

  • A typical faculty website have a list of referenced publications. But looking through a big list of publications for a certain author was a difficult task. Same thing for understanding which publications resulted from a specific research project.
  • Typically, a list of research projects would also be available. But, unless you were already an expert in the field being researched, the descriptions and corresponding images were hard to understand.
  • There would also usually be a list of faculty and students involved in the day-to-day activities of the lab. But it was difficult to figure out which students were involved with a specific research project.

Our theme solves these problems by providing a way to quickly connect the related items during the content creation process. Typically, that process involves checking just one additional box within the WordPress admin area. Once the box is checked, links are automatically created and inserted into the page that helps provide your site visitors with the additional context needed to tell a complete story.