A few months ago I decided to revamp my lab’s webpage and moved to WordPress as the content management system. To get started I chose the Oxygen theme from Alien WP – for a free theme it’s quite functional and stylish out of the box, Alien WP has great customer support, and it’s an easy theme with which to learn the basics of WP. Sine then I’ve decided it’s not quite the look I’m going for, and so I’ve started the process of a web page redesign. I figured I might as well share my ideas on what goes into a good lab webpage and notes on the process. Doing so was inspired in part by an interview I did with Roberta Kwok, a science writer who interviewed me about the subject, and also Michael Eisen, who started a tumblr of great lab websites to gather ideas for his own page’s redesign. You can find a link to Roberta’s article in Nature here.
Before going further, an important point: If you can afford it, spend some money and hire a graphic designer to work with you. You can read all you want, but there is no substitute for their training and creativity. I’ve worked with Gaby Hernandez, who put together an identity package and page for an institute I work with here on campus. Every science department should have someone like her on staff.
The following is a work in progress and updates will be slow for the next few weeks since it’s proposal writing time.
Issues to be considered for my page
- I’d like to move towards a more minimal splash page
- the theme has to be responsive (my current one is but looks funny on smartphones)
- loading time is a concern because much of my web traffic comes from Latin America where networks in some places can be slow.
Warning – looking at other people’s amazing websites can be paralyzing.
- Great Lab Websites (note that ME is simply posting all sites people send him because they like them – there stuff I don’t think is actually that great about some of them, like not being responsive long loading times, or unbalanced page structures).
- Site Inspire
- Listsicles of some different theme categories: Responsive, Minimalist, Responsive Portfolio, Mobile Responsive
- Some new 2014 themes
- Some thoughts on getting trustworthy wordpress themes
- Pingtest to see how long pages take to load
Some of the themes I am considering for my updated page:
- Albedo (from Graph Paper Press)
- Divi (from Elegant Themes)
- Divi, especially the vertical format
- Anthem (My new second favorite)
- Santiago (maybe for Biotropica?)
- Business themes are starting to look the same: check out
Too many bells and whistles and it can look horrible, and my guess is the coad may be messy if you want to make changes down the road. But if you can control yourself these can be a great look for an academic page…
- Emily Sessa
- Bette Loiselle (by far my favorite…the dark footer, sliding sans serif fonts, great photos, and lots of negative space makes this the best thing out there IMO
You can go the opposite, and find an ultra-minimalist, stripped down version like this one from Array Themes (which is supposed to make themes that are really solid under the hood)
Not as minimal, but Studio Press’s has some nice ones too:
- Agency is cool…
- and Remobile is really nice (except that hidden menu maybe?)
- …but I like Mimimum Pro a little better
But I’m still leaning to: Samba. I know, left-hand menus are so 2014…but I’m partial to them. Just can’t decide between full slider or corporate home page layout. Or maybe Mimimum Pro. Or not, because these are awesome.
graphpaper press for BITR