We start off 2016 with a question from a customer!

The question was:

“We need a new Sitefinity website fast. What can we do to speed up the normal design and development process?”

The first idea that came to mind was, “Work with Sitefinity experts who can rapidly design and build your Sitefinity instance and help you populate it.”

The next idea was, “Try a Sitefinity Theme.”

It’s the second idea we’ll discuss in today’s Sitefinity Insider post.

A Refresher on Themes

A theme provides the look/feel and page templates for a Sitefinity website.

Theme Overview – Sitefinity Documentation

Theme elements include images, layout elements like icons and bars, and stylesheets. Themes determine things like:

  1. What colors you’ll use
  2. The styling for page layouts
  3. Page element styles & positions (headlines, navigation bars, etc.)
  4. How images are displayed
  5. How lines, boxes, etc. are displayed
  6. What display changes to make when viewed on a phone or tablet (Responsive Design). This is shared with the templates as well; you may have phone-specific stylesheets, for example.

Where Do I Get a Theme?

Sitefinity does include a basic theme by default. But it is very basic. That way you can create your own look for your own site.

You can get themes two ways: Download pre-existing themes or have a custom one designed for you.

With a pre-existing Sitefinity theme, you will reduce your web design costs by a great deal and speed up your development process. The drawback is that in most cases, it’s fairly evident that it’s a template site. Plus the themes have varying degrees of responsive design for mobile and tablets so you may spend additional money making your site responsive.

Here are some websites where you can review and download Sitefinity themes:

Tornado Applications – Sitefinity Templates
Sitefinity Marketplace: Themes and Templates
Sitefinity-Templates.com

Some themes are free; others you’ll pay for. We recommend the paid themes, as they’re generally better quality and you can get some support from the maker.

Please Note: Sitefinity’s continuous advancement can render some themes out-of-date. You should check a theme’s compatibility with your version of Sitefinity, and the date of its last update, before you choose it. Otherwise the theme may cause trouble in building the site.

How to Apply a Theme

Once you have a theme downloaded or created, it’s rather easy to apply it to your website.

Step 1: Register the Theme Within Your Sitefinity BackendWhere to Put the Theme

  1. Place your theme’s files inside any of Sitefinity’s “App_Themes” folders. For example: “/App_Data/Sitefinity/WebsiteTemplates/YourTemplate/App_Themes/Theme1”. You can do this via FTP or within Sitefinity, under Administration/File Manager.
  2. If you haven’t already, log into Sitefinity’s backend (http://www.yourwebsite.com/sitefinity).
  3. In the main menu, click Administration/Settings.
  4. Click “Advanced” on the right of the page name. The full Settings page will appear.
  5. In the left menu, expand the “Appearance” section.
  6. Click “Frontend Themes”.
  7. Click the “Create New” button on the right. A form will appear.
  8. In the “Name” field, enter a name for the theme. Whatever name will identify it to you works best.
  9. In the “Path” field, enter the path to your theme we made in Step 1 (~/App_Data/Sitefinity/WebsiteTemplates/YourTemplate/App_Themes/Theme1). Don’t forget the tilde (~) at the beginning.
  10. Click “Save Changes” to finish.

Register a Theme – Sitefinity Documentation

One theme registered! Now Sitefinity knows it’s there. Next, you’ll apply this theme to the Page Templates you’re using (or plan to use).

Step 2: Apply the Theme to Page TemplatesApply Theme to Template

  1. On the main menu, click Design/Page Templates.
  2. Click the name of the template to which you want to apply the theme.
  3. In the upper-right corner, click the “Theme” button.
  4. You’ll see a dropdown menu. In the menu, select the new theme.
  5. Click “Publish” to save the changes. The new theme will now apply to all pages using this template.

Apply a Theme – Sitefinity Documentation

Save Time on a New Sitefinity Website with a Theme

Here are two examples of customers’ websites built using a Sitefinity theme.

drugrehabhome
Support Systems Homes Drug Rehabilitation Programs

sttheresaparentsclubhome
St. Theresa School Parents’ Club

Again, if you want a truly unique-to-you website, you’ll want a Sitefinity design and development team to create a custom theme for you. Some businesses need a custom website; others can get away with a pre-existing theme—it’s all industry and company specific.

I asked last month, but it’s worth repeating: Is there anything you’d like to read about on the Sitefinity Insider for 2016? If so, please leave a comment or email us.

Join us back here next month for more Sitefinity how-to!

How to Find and Use Themes in Sitefinity
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2 thoughts on “How to Find and Use Themes in Sitefinity

  • February 15, 2016 at 7:41 am
    Permalink

    Hey Chris,

    My overall experience with Sitefinity and themes/templates has not been a pleasant one. Trying to find and implement a predefined template has cost me more time (and money) than I like. Don’t get me wrong; I am willing to pay, however I would have expected more for my buck.

    My biggest challenges come from the lack of support for applying templates. There is a tiny Sitefinity template ecosystem out there, with very few providers.

    Can you recommend a provider(s) that can assist me with possibly creating, and deploying, a template for me? I’ve purchased a template from Tornado, however there is little, if any, documentation support for deploying the template, and any that I have found is ambiguous and does not work.

    Any feedback is appreciated,

    Paul

    Reply
    • February 15, 2016 at 8:03 am
      Permalink

      Paul,

      Thanks for the comment. It’s true, the Sitefinity template ecosystem is tiny compared to the WordPress and Joomla template space. You’re right about deployment documentation too – I’ve made note to post more details about that coming up.

      If you want help with creating a template and deploying it, we’re happy to help you there. Our developer’s worked in Sitefinity for years, and our designer’s familiar with laying out templates for it. Please email me directly.

      Reply

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