Stock image of multiple people in blue shirts building a barn or a church.

It’s time to rebuild your site.

With no possible upgrade path available, faculty members who are using an older version of a specific theme for WordPress are being asked to rebuild their websites using our modern toolset.

Help is available. Read on for details.

Here’s what we are dealing with.

The ASU Engineering MarComm team has identified a list of 72 sites that were built using a custom theme for WordPress called the Fulton Schools Divi Theme.

The theme was built to reflect the first version of the ASU brand standards for websites that was released to the university in 2017. Because of continuing changes in the brand standards and the technology within WordPress, we have been unable to perform updates to this custom theme for the last two years without risking the loss of content or access to the page editor.

We have maintained the functionality of your website by instituting a non-essential “code freeze” in your production environments for the last two years. That effort has largely worked. Your sites are secure and safe from defacement or other exploitation. The site editor also continues to work in its limited current form.

However, the theme for your website no longer reflects ASU’s current brand standards and does not have a possible upgrade path to ensure compliance with that important goal.

Therefore, we will be requiring owners of the affected faculty or lab websites to rebuild the site using a newer theme for WordPress. The timeline we have outlined for the completion of this task is March 1, 2024.

Our new product (called Pitchfork) ensures that there will always be a way to maintain compliance with the ASU standards for websites from this point forward.

Are you sure that my website one of the sites involved in this project?

We worked hard to identify the owners of the websites that need to be rebuilt and are in direct communication with the group as a whole.

Chances are high that if you found this page, you own a site that is in need of remediation.

Theme selection screen for the Fulton Schools Divi theme within the WordPress admin interface.

Improving your content editing experience

Our inability to perform theme and WordPress core updates has left the majority of users using this product with a very subpar user experience when actually performing work on your site.

  • The process for making content changes is much slower than it should be in the admin area.
  • Various new features generally available to WordPress users have been missing from your site for quite some time. 

In addition to the poor user experience, we have been unable to make the theme compliant with the current version of the ASU brand standards for websites. In particular:

  • The new ASU Header and Footer elements contain code that is incompatible with parts of the Fulton Schools Divi theme. 
  • It is also not possible to include or replicate additional design elements found in the Unity Design Kit kit within the out of date page builder.

The Divi Builder

The Divi Builder represented a modern approach to content creation that has since been surpassed by the native editor for WordPress.

Manipulating content within the Divi Builder requires an intricate knowledge of the settings of the builder. A process that should require a single mouse click to access your content requires at least four clicks in the obsolete interface.

The editor interface also presents significant challenges for users requiring assistive technologies to read and change content on their website.

Meet the new block editor

Over the last two years, the block editor for WordPress has radically transformed the content editing experience for the majority of the users of the platform.

Users now have access to an array of blocks that can be used to create media-rich pages and posts. Blocks for paragraphs, images, headings, lists, videos, galleries, and more are included with the native WordPress experience.

In addition, custom blocks are also included with your website that express additional design elements of the Unity Design System.

Timeline and planning

Our timeline for the recreation of the effected older websites sites is as follows.

Deadline

Work to remediate your website should be completed by March 1, 2024.

If you feel like you can not meet this timeline, you will need to submit a remediation plan for approval by the MarComm team by December 1, 2024.

Removal from circulation

Websites that have not been recreated by that point will be removed from general circulation but will still available at a non-ASU URL through the end of the spring 2024 semester. 

Deletion

Any site not remediated by May 3, 2024 will be considered abandoned and will be subject to eventual deletion.

Selecting a new URL for your site

The process of rebuilding your website will include the selection of a new URL within one of our multi-tenant domain name spaces reserved for faculty and lab group websites. The new URL will be issued as a part of our ASU Engineering domain name reduction process which is outlined here: https://comm.engineering.asu.edu/domain-names/.

In addition to helping us achieve our goal of making the ASU Engineering portfolio of websites easier to navigate, selecting an independent URL for your new website will also allow both sites to be “live” at the same time. That makes it much easier to simply copy/paste information from one published site to another.

Your new site will come preinstalled with a current version of WordPress and the ASU web standards-complaint theme we are actively using across all sites within our portfolio called Pitchfork.

Domain name options

Select either faculty.engineering.asu.edu or labs.engineering.asu.edu as the domain for your site. Also select a subfolder name to finalize your URL at:

faculty.engineering.asu.edu/{site} or labs.engineering.asu.edu/{site}

Need assistance? Here’s how you can get help.

We will have limited access to an outside resource who can complete some of this work on your behalf.

If you are interested in obtaining assistance for your content migration, you will have an opportunity to let us know of that need as you complete the onboarding process below. Requests for assistance will be handled in the order that they were received.

The scope of the assigned resource will be limited to:

  • Recreating only existing pages from your current site in the new environment.
  • At most, we will migrate recent blog posts plus 15 pages from one site to another.
  • Larger content collections will need to be moved by you or a member of your team once the site is stood up on your behalf.
  • You will be responsible for the recreation of your people/directory pages in the new space.

Why not directory pages?

We have learned from experience that this type of content gathering and maintenance is best performed by a member of your team directly.

These types of pages tend to change frequently and require a lot of collaboration to gather resources, correct missing information from students and outside collaborators.

Page templates for these pages will be available for you to use when completing this task yourself.

Community Resources

The following resources can help you complete this work within the timeline specified.

Your new website will use the Pitchfork theme for WordPress. Documentation for the theme and related block plugins can be found at https://wordpress.asu.edu/pitchfork

The installation comes equipped with a set of approved plugins that can assist with some general content creation needs like forms, photo galleries, social media integrations and search engine optimization.

These options are typically disabled until requested but are easy to enable and configure upon request.

Requests for additional plugins to be enabled or additional features to be made available will need to under go several review processes before being approved for use within our managed hosting environment.

Contact Steve Ryan directly for further assistance with these kinds of requests.

Native Tools

A return to the native tools that ship with WordPress means that training on how to use those tools is readily available and generally applicable to your website. Here are some of our recommended links to get started.

Office Hours

Web team office hours are set each month for general assistance with the creation and maintenance of your website.

  • Here’s the link for office hours

Page templates for common layouts and page functions are available from within the theme. Templates include:

  • a blank starter page
  • a directory page for your lab group
  • a page for an individual research project
  • a page for a works cited or publications list

Backup files containing any attachments from the media library of your previous site can be provided to you directly. We unfortunately can’t upload them to your new site for you. But having them in hand can save some download time as you get started rebuilding in your new environment.

Contact Steve Ryan directly for further assistance with these kinds of requests.

Ready to get started?

Start by filling out the following form.

Your responses will provide us with the necessary details about the site you’ll be reconstructing and the desired new site URL. 

You should have a new site created and ready for you to reenter your content within two days of receiving the form submission.

If you have requested the help of our additional resource, we will send an additional follow up message with any concerns we may have about the existing site and a timeline for completion.

Are there alternate approaches?

It is important to recognize that you have other options available for building a faculty website if the recommended path above isn’t suitable for your desired workflow or outcomes.

More information about those options can be found our our web services page.

I still have questions.

Totally understandable. There’s a lot here to digest. Here’s how we can connect to answer questions about this process.

Book an appointment during open office hours.

Or find us in Slack with general questions or more tactical “how do I do this bits of advice.

This project is being managed by the following members of the ASU Engineering web team. They are both available to answer questions directly as needed.

Portrait of Jennifer Di Sano

Jennifer Di Sano

Manager, Communications

[email protected]

Portrait of Steve Ryan

Steve Ryan

Senior Web Developer

[email protected]