How To Avoid Theme Regret In Higher Logic CMS (Solid Advice For Your Design Project)

Redesigning your Higher Logic portal? Use the following checklist to avoid Theme Regret.

  1. Plan an MVT (minimum viable theme). At the minimum, your theme must include your organization’s branding: colors, typography, and a design for the header and footer. You can download the Higher Logic Starter Theme Template (.ai) to get you started. Additional custom layouts and landing pages can be developed after launch. Higher Logic already gives you a rolling chassis for your community, but it needs a body and a paint job to look professional.
  2. Understand the Higher Logic Theme System. A theme in Higher Logic (unlike other CMSs like Wordpress) does not contain layout code. Most Content Management Systems give you full access to the underlying html source code with a theme editor to create new page layouts. Higher Logic’s Theme Editor is actually just a CSS Editor. You have to use their built-in html framework for most parts of your site- including the header of your site and all the core functionality. If you already have custom html templates that you want to upload, you can’t in Higher Logic. Like their HTML or not, you must use Higher Logic's HTML.
    Theme Regret
  3. Use an experienced design resource. Your designs need to be verified they are achievable in Higher Logic, and then implemented by a front-end developer who is already familiar with the Higher Logic system. Offshore agencies can be a low cost option, but rarely will they have proper experience on the system. An in-house web design resource might find Higher Logic's html frustrating to work with. Even the most experienced web designer will require extra time to understand how to work with Higher Logic's layout system without creating new regression issues. Without an experienced design resource, you're wasting a lot of time.
  4. The themes that come with your Higher Logic instance can have regression issues that cause layout and UI problems. I do not recommend using the free themes as a starting point, as they were not tested with all Higher Logic's built-in pages and widgets. These issues create a poor user experience, limiting their engagement and loss of faith in your brand. Purchasing a third-party Bootstrap theme is likewise a waste of money- all the html that comes with a purchased Bootstrap theme cannot be used in your HL header and core functionality of Higher Logic pages, unless the theme was developed specifically for Higher Logic CMS.
  5. Make your theme customizations modular, documented, and easy to uninstall. Custom layouts and javascript customizations can be added to spruce up your site, but make sure they are easily uninstalled if needed. Higher Logic is always improving their codebase, so conflicts can happen after your theme is up and running smoothly. Your custom css should be built in a modular fashion, so it can be reused easily throughout your site.

Contact Phil for the full whitepaper on Theme Regret.

I used to do a lot of 'remedial' theme work for Higher Logic clients. When an agency or in-house resource tried to make a theme in Higher Logic, they'd become frustrated and give up, sometimes removing themselves from the role completely. Classic theme regret. I'd be hired to make things presentable, in time for launch. - Phil Foss HighStrap