I am wondering if there are any current or planned efforts among the Omeka team to develop new themes that offer more up-to-date design aesthetics?
I regularly use Omeka in my digital history classes, and while students appreciate what they’re able to do with it, they are often frustrated by the limited themes. I often hear some version of “it looks old” (and they’re right - the available themes have not changed much since 2010, even though web aesthetics have evolved significantly since then). I show them how to customize some typefaces, colors, header images, etc. - but that only goes so far without getting into the weeds of editing code, which, at some point, starts defeating the purpose of a “theme.”
Obviously more dynamic design is possible in Omeka - sites like Histories of the National Mall, the New Roots project, or even Jane Addams: Digital Edition break out of the “standard” Omeka design. I understand those sites have custom-designed themes and elements that probably are specific to their projects, but surely some parts of these designs could be worked into new themes?
I also know there are some “unofficial” themes on Github - though these can be hard to find and browse.
None of this is meant as criticism of the awesome people who have built Omeka and guided its evolution, and I totally get that limited funding and staffing probably create constraints - but this is just a gentle request and hope that more dynamic/aesthetically varied themes might be in the works.
We released Center Row and The Daily in 2017, as well as Cozy for Omeka S. We’re currently seeking feedback on a new theme for Omeka S, as well.
Our theme repository is open to submissions, just like the plugins/modules directory. We’re always happy for people to share their themes but, as you say, these custom designs often don’t get generalized by their creators, or if they do they aren’t submitted.
Perhaps, if you have design students at your institution, they might be interested in building or adapting themes. It would be a good learning experience, especially working with your students as ‘clients’.
I will add my standard response to this, Aaron, which is that the themes that the Omeka Team makes and maintains have to work with nearly fifty different plugins that we also make and maintain. That makes them all less tailored to specific features and presentations than they might be. Lots of this can be solved using the CSS Editor plugin to customize the existing themes.
That being said, we are hoping to commission a couple of new ones in the near future, but that all depends on funding and staffing. But, it would be delightful if designers actually abstracted and submitted their themes to the directory so that others could use them, as Megan suggests.
Thanks Megan and Sharon - both helpful responses. I like the idea of collaborating with design/digital media students for customization. And, I need to build up my own skills in using
CSS Editor (currently rudimentary at best) to customize the themes.
Finally, we should say that Kim, our lead designer, has been hard at work on a “Foundations” theme for Omeka Classic that should provide a good base for people who want to design their own themes. Coming soon!
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