Global website overhaul

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Just want to add one comment regarding Divi (or any of the other ‘themes’ that use shortcodes to create layouts). It (they) are a one-way road. Once you go TO them, you will beat your head against the wall if you ever try to leave them. That’s because they embed so, so many shortcodes in your posts. If you ever leave that theme, or disable that theme, all your posts will turn into shortcode soup unless you manually go through every one and strip out the tags.

They’re a purely functional solution, and great for lock-in on subscription models, but you do so at the sacrifice of future flexibility. The platform I’ve been dealing with this year at work uses something similar for its page building/layout functions, and I flat out hate it. Essentially, our companies are now locked into this platform forever, because the content can’t be moved to anything else without having to go in and strip out all those shortcodes. Our current/previous platform (depending on which market the site is in right now, since I only have 3 of 12 completed) was Drupal, and we’ve had no problem exporting 4+ years of data from our sites. Years down the road if we were to change, it’s going to be a nightmare for whatever poor sucker gets tasked with that job. (He says while crossing his fingers that it isn’t him. LOL)

Anyway, that’s my thoughts and experiences with themes like Divi. And specifically why I strongly advised head office against such a move almost two years ago. I’m a fan of clean and simple, and those themes are not … except from the non-technical end-user perspective. Then, they look so deceptively simple.


Which would point us back to building a theme rather than using a page builder, I guess @CLFC? @pxi? Is that something in the scope of work that you do @pxi?


@Jen: Yes, I do Wordpress theme development and I’d be delighted to work with OFN.

@CLFC drives a valid point. Wordpress must be taken with a grain of salt, because you always depend on a plugin for this or a template for that. The same is true for Drupal, and pretty much any Content Management System I’ve worked with. If you want a site builder in Wordpress, shortcode soup is part of the trade off when you change site builders.

I could go on for days about “data VS format”, but let’s keep it simple:

  • If the sites are going to require a large amount of flexibility and unforeseen features, a custom theme is better (pushing new features through theme updates, better customization, etc).

  • If Divi or any other theme covers the needs foreseen for the websites, choose ElegantThemes. Even if it means you are stuck with them, the cost/feature ratio pays off short term.


The other question in the wings is will OFN be updating to Wordpress 5.0 when it is released, or hang back on the legacy 4.x series. 5.0 is getting near public release, with a pretty major overhaul that could render a lot of 4.x based themes obsolete. Would it be better to invest time and effort into the new release instead of building it on an old version that will soon be going purely into maintenance/bug fix releases?

(Aren’t 3rd party platforms fun??)


:sob: :exploding_head:
What’s your suggestion @CLFC? How close is close?


Hey, sorry I’m late in the game here.

Clarification question : I guess choosing / building a wordpress theme for global website doesn’t influence the choice of local instance to create an info website that is “integrated” with the OFN main site (like OFN UK or France) or separate and transparently redirect to OFN main site (like Katuma). If we want instances to be able to use it, we should just keep in mind those two potential uses, it needs to be compatible with both strategies… which might be complicated. I don’t know if that was the idea @Jen

About the tech discussion, I let the devs who know better discuss about the best strategy. But I guess most templates will evolve towards the new wordpress version no ? Indeed if it’s a quantum leap and we have to rewrite everything with the new release, it might be worth waiting for the release if we know when it will be and work more on mockups and content meanwhile… to have everything ready to be integrated.
What features would have the global and instance website ? Some newsletter subscription, some event / social network feeds. Some blog. We can try to list them, some instances will activate them all, some not. But we need some customization at instance level about number of pages, as some instances want to showcase various projects that will redirect to various other sites, etc.
If I understand @CLFC if we want to change later it’s hard to transfer content to another theme.
But as the features we seem to need must be pretty basic… The tradeoff might be to choose format simplicity over data portability.

Also it might be a good time to hire someone to work on a graphical charter for OFN. We have discussed that with @Rachel and she knows someone who could do the job. Would be great to start to have more consistency about our branding, in our different “interfaces” (app / global websites / local websites / presentations / flyers / etc.) and have basic blocks we can use to build communication material of all kinds, without having to reinvent the wheel all the time…


Looks like WP5 will be released in 2 days :smiley:


Yes, that’s correct @MyriamBoure - there’s no imperative to use the website template that we create for local instances, but we’re trying to make it easy for new instances to use it and will be designing it with that in mind. I also think it’s stronger to have a consistent (but not necessarily as identical as currently) presence, and if we’re aiming for a global instance then we do want to feel fairly cohesive on that front.

re the question of what features people want, @danielle has suggested a process for determining that to feed into the brief, and will put that up later this week when she has time. The idea is that we would create templates/theme(solution!) that accommodates different instances’ pages, functions, etc. without mandating that anyone use them. So for example an instance could choose to have a photo splash front page (like we currently have) or a more info style page (in the way that UK directs people to their about page as their home page rather than to the platform page, or similar to ), but we would have both available within the site.

brand pack/graphical charter sounds like a fantastic idea!


We are talking about two extremes here. On one hand, there is a static theme which needs to be changed by a developer and can contain specific page layouts. A theme is saved in files. On the other hand there is a flexible page builder which allows to edit all pages through an easy interface. The design is stored in the database. But I think we are looking for something in between.

We want a theme that contains the common OFN style guide. Our fonts, our colours, our menu display and footer so that it integrates seamlessly with the OFN shopping platform and we have a common brand. The exact content and specific page layout should be build within Wordpress, e.g. with a page builder. Looking at the new Gutenberg editor, maybe we don’t need another plugin?

The closer we stay to the commons, the easier it will be to upgrade and change later. It would be good to look which elements are likely to be common across multiple websites so that we can build them into a theme that we share. The rest can still be build on top of it.

@pxi Do you have concerns about this approach?


@maikel I think its a good idea to wait until Gutenberg is out and see how people react to it. If all you are after is a common OFN style guide across multiple different sites, a theme is what you need. Even if its a different CMS, Wordpress happens to be the lowest common denominator, so its pretty middle ground imho.

Waiting a little and seeing how ElegantThemes & Divi are doing with the update is a good idea… (They did announce WP 5.0 support, but words are cheap) If you can afford to wait I think you could make an educated decision on the purchase or not.

The alternative option would be a home made solution tailored to your needs, that will cost around x8 to x10 the initial investment for a “lifetime support” license.


I don’t quite understand what you mean by this @pxi - who builds the tailored solution, and who offers the lifetime support?

How long would we have to wait? It’s being released pretty much now, isn’t it @maikel @pxi?


@tschumilas and @MyriamBoure, @Jen and I sat down and had a long conversation about all of this yesterday and here’s the summary:

  1. Next year we have to look at how to properly separate the OFN platform from the OFN instance web presence. We discussed this briefly at the July gathering, next year it feels like we have to put the time and effort into designing a new approach to navigation and “front doors” so that the default isn’t the platform homepage that doesn’t really meet anyone’s needs (ours, our enterprises or our shoppers).

  2. Thus, rather than trying to solve all the problems, we’re just solving the most immediate which is @tschumilas getting a local site up and running (stakeholder #1 and funder) and @Jen using this for the global site (stakeholder #2). I’ll be running the design/development of this piece of work, with @maikel and probably @pxi and probably Yuko as the designer.

  3. Once this is done, whatever is built will be available for other instances to use, similarly to what the UK has done with FR.

  4. We can’t wait for branding to be changed, so we’ll develop something that isn’t too heavily locked in to the current OFN design, so that it’s not too hard to change when the branding is changed and a new style guide emerges.

Next steps:
@Jen is putting together a brief that outlines the content types that will be required, based on the outline document that OFN CA have provided and also what is in the global site content document that Jen has developed.

I will work with @maikel et. al. to determine the solution and to get it built, liaising with @Jen and @tschumilas as it is being done to ensure it matches assigned budget and meets requirements.

We’ll showcase things to everyone else as a courtesy (method TBD), so you can see it all in action and offer advice, and @tschumilas and @Jen will be my key decision-makers in this process.

Righto, let’s get this thing built!


Gutenberg is already available. Every Wordpress instance I have been working with in the last weeks offered switching to Gutenberg. I’m not sure though if Gutenberg has all the good features on old Wordpress instances. Anyway, there are release candidates of Wordpress 5. That is enough to start developing. I’m sure it will be released by the time the theme is ready.


@danielle, sorry, here is what I meant. You have these choices within Wordpress:

  • The tailored solution is built by a professional developer, and is more expensive.
  • The “lifetime support” deal is offered by the Divi theme for $250 usd, but the yearly ~$89 will fit most standard site needs.

I’ll be happy to do my part in both cases anyway.


Sorry I’ve dropped out of the conversation for a few days. Crazy and work, and sick to boot. But WordPress 5.0 dropped today, ahead of WordCamp US tomorrow. So if we were looking to go the theme route, it could be built on the new version from the get-go.

pxi makes solid points. It will always cost more to get a custom theme developed - but the trade-off is it will be exactly what you want it to be. The ‘themes’ are cheaper, but there is a certain amount of lock-in afterward. In my mind, being open source should prevent vendor lock-in, and not leave your data a mess. So I’ll always prefer to pay the price up front to avoid that headache later. But sometimes reality varies from the ideal. :slight_smile:


I love you Danni!!! Here in the rural boonies we say - ‘pitter patter lets get at her’ or GEPO (Good Enough Push On).


Isn’t @danielle awesome?

So, the content page types that we would envision being part of this theme:

  1. An image splash front page (e.g. our current front page)
  2. A newsy front page (e.g. similar to but to be decided what our design is, ideally with some expert design input)
  3. A dense image contents page with tags (e.g.
  4. A sparse image contents page (Theresa’s mock-up projects example, bio type pages (, or publications page (e.g. - sorry for the odd one out, just drawing on the other web page I work on for examples! etc)
  5. Blog post page (probably with sidebar of other blog posts?)
  6. Static page with header (the sort of thing that we would want for rather than a blog post)
  7. And then I’m not sure if this is different from some of the other types such as static page, but a case study page for content like

Elements people want:

  1. Social media feeds embedded
  2. Call to action buttons
  3. Icon header sections (e.g.
  4. Text boxes (e.g. Theresa pricing page example
  5. Drop down menus

@tschumilas and @AmandaW made some mock-ups of what they want

What others had people imagined? Have I missed things?


So on today’s global zoom call we were wondering about our timeline for these changes. Other instances are in a situation of having to decide whether to do instance website work now or wait on this collective process (outlined by Danni above.) So - we need to have a clear timeline here. @danielle and @Jen - is it possible to get a timeline?


I’ve got experience working with Wordpress sites that have become a complete mess. They generally tend towards absolute chaos if managed by multiple users. It sounds like the main issue with the current site is that there are too many plugins and multiple page builders.

The theme looks pretty good, it could probably just be moved into a nice child theme and organised a bit better, maybe adding a few standard page layouts into the theme itself. That’s really easy. Maybe deciding on one page builder and sticking with it would be a good idea.

I’m not sure expensive theme frameworks are really needed to be honest, and they will result in “shortcode soup” for sure, as previously mentioned.


@Matt-Yorkley given the little time we get of yours I think that should be kept focused on the platform rather than working on the global site (though we’re very grateful to have your thoughts on here as we work through deciding on a solution!).

So, @pxi what do you think of Matt’s suggestion above?

@tschumilas not likely for anything to happen this calendar year (it’s almost christmas) so work probs won’t kick off till mid January. To be safe I think February, but I don’t have a timeline confirmed, people to do the work confirmed, or even a decision on the right solution yet so I say this with a finger in the air.


All of @Jen’s points are doable with the theme. So are the the mock-ups with home made templates.

I wholeheartedly agree. A child theme is the standard approach with any theme modifications, additions, templates, etc. “Templates” are a good way to impose structure and we can renew them every 2-3 years with a little effort to keep sites fresh.