WiscWeb - Frequently asked questions

The following document will display the frequently asked questions that are posed to the WiscWeb team and their answers.

Access and features

Questions about desirable options or expected behavior.

How do I add new users to my site?

Adding new users to your site is now super easy! Full instructions for adding a new user to your WiscWeb site can be found in: WiscWeb - Adding a user

Why can't I login?

Issues with logging in to your site are nearly always a result of attempting to login from off campus without being connected to the campus network. In order to use the WiscWeb tool from off campus, you must be signed in to the campus network using the Palo Alto “Global Protect” VPN client with your personal NetID credentials. Full instructions for logging into your site can be found in: WiscWeb - Logging into your site.

Why don’t my hero images auto-rotate?

The UW Theme does not provide this functionality and there are two reasons for this:

  • Image carousels aren’t accessible for users navigating the site with a screen reader.
  • Extensive research has shown carousels are actually not nearly as engaging for users as we assumed.

However, the UW Theme does have an option to have the images randomize upon page load or refresh. To add this feature, head to the upper content/hero area of your page and check the box that says “Randomize the slide order.”

Why can't I add video to the hero area?

The reasons for this decision are documented in WiscWeb - Video files in hero area or masthead.

Why can't I have FTP access to my site?

There are several reasons for this. WiscWeb is a multi-site instance of WordPress. As such, providing you FTP access would grant you access to all WiscWeb sites – not just your own. We really do not want users to have the ability to change projects that are not their own and therefore, FTP access is not allowed. We also have strict version control processes in place to maintain the stability of the multi-site for all customers. Allowing folks access to make changes via FTP could jeopardize this stability and result in site or entire service outages.

The WiscWeb service provides highly scalable WordPress hosting at a low cost per site. As such, there are some features which are not available in this environment: no customers have direct file access (no SFTP, no SSH), users cannot add their own plugins/themes, and creation of directory structures or file types outside those that WordPress natively supports are not available (just to name a few).

If you are interested in some more of those advanced features, we recommend:

  • Exploring a Web Hosting account.
    • Depending on the needs, you may be able to just use a free Bronze static site, but a WordPress site uses PHP and requires at least Silver.
  • Consider alternative approaches – not all content needs to exist under one domain name in order to get web visitors to the right place. You might host an application under a sub-domain, for instance, and link out to it from your existing WiscWeb site.

 Content strategy

Questions about the best ways to build your site.

How do I structure my site content?

We have the ability to do some initial consultation about the structure and layout of your site’s contents. For this, please schedule time in Office Hours or fill out our Customer Support Form.

When should I use posts versus pages?

WordPress is different from a lot of other content management systems because it started as a blogging tool and then grew into a tool that was used world-wide for the building and maintenance of regular websites. As a blogging tool, it was assumed that users were mostly generating content via posts (like news articles) and that’s the basis for how this tool was structured. Therefore, everything in WordPress is technically a post – even pages! Confused yet?

The biggest thing to remember is that you should use “Posts” (in the left nav options) when you are focusing on news or blog content that you’d like to feed into a post list. This is usually the only way that true Posts are used in the UW Theme. You should use “Pages” to build out the content that will go in the navigation of your site. To reiterate: Pages are the main content holders while Posts are just for articles. 

Why is my site publishing to a *.wiscweb.wisc.edu address?

When you request a new website with WiscWeb, it is created as a project. Your project URL structure is sitename.wiscweb.wisc.edu.

This is described in more detail in our Welcome to WiscWeb video.

Once you are ready for your site to launch publicly, you will need to fill out a site launch request. When submitting this form, you can designate your desired production domain/URL. Note that if you require a 3rd level production domain (something.wisc.edu), you will be required to provide a rationale.

Related resources:

Customizing your site

Questions about adding new styles and/or functionality to your site.

Why don't I see the option to add "Additional CSS" in my theme Customizer?

Under the WiscWeb service, the “Additional CSS” field is not available to admins and editors of the site. We require that all CSS updates are added directly to your project’s child theme. This is to prevent new UW Theme updates from potentially overwriting the changes that have already been made to your site styles.

Please note: Any custom CSS or logo changed to the UW Theme in WiscWeb must be approved by UW Marketing. We will facilitate this process for you. Steps for this process, as well as strict rules for what can and cannot be accommodated, are located on the Customizing Your Site page

Can I add my own code to a project? Can I upload a custom theme to my site?

At this time, all customizations to sites in WiscWeb must be done by a WiscWeb developer, in order to ensure the stability of the entire multisite. You will not have the option to upload a custom theme built by your staff or a 3rd party vendor. There is a charge for customizations because this type of work is not covered by the campus funding. Any custom CSS or logo changed to the UW Theme in WiscWeb must be approved by UW Marketing. We will facilitate this process for you. Steps for this process, as well as strict rules for what can and cannot be accommodated, are located on the Customizing Your Site page.

Can I change my site font to something else?

The WiscWeb team no longer supports changes to the site font. This is to align campus websites with UW-Madison brand standards.

Why can't I add plugins to my site?

WiscWeb is a controlled and supported WordPress multi-site environment. All plugins go through a vetting process prior to addition to the multisite to ensure that they will not jeopardize the stability of the service. This vetting process can be reviewed on our Plugin Review Process page.

Once plugins are added, the WiscWeb team supports them. This requires regular testing of each plugin anytime there are updates to the plugin itself, the UW Theme, or WordPress. It also involves a significant amount of testing on individual sites to ensure that customizations, styles, and functionality are rendering correctly after plugins are activated or updated. We vet and limit the plugins so that we can continue to maintain this level of security and service integrity.

Launch prep

Questions about launching your site and the days leading up to the launch.

How can I show my team changes that I've made to the live site before they go live?

Before launching your site:
Prior to launching your new website, you can publish and view all changes at your sitename.wiscweb.wisc.edu URL. This is a shareable link and the site’s contents will only be visible to those who have this URL. Just make sure that your pages are fully published (i.e., not in draft status).

Sharing draft pages after site launch:
The WiscWeb team now offers a plugin that allows you to share draft pages with non-users of the site. The KnowledgeBase has instructions in WiscWeb - Enabling a Public Draft Preview.

How do I launch my new WiscWeb site?

We’re happy to report that the process for launching your new WiscWeb site is very easy! We ask that you first review our Preparing for Launch page. When you are finished, please fill out our Launch Request Form at the bottom of that page. Note that we require two weeks’ notice for a launching a site.

UW Theme concerns

Questions relating to the design and functionality of the UW Theme.

Why does the UW Theme not have the same functionality as the wisc.edu site?

The answer to this question requires some background info:

  • The wisc.edu site was updated with new campus branding in January of 2016.
  • Mid-way through 2016, other campus sites started requesting this same template (look and feel) and University Marketing decided to build out the UW Theme Lite theme for use by WordPress users on campus.
  • In the summer of 2016, DoIT developers (in collaboration with University Marketing) began working on building out the UW Theme for WordPress
  • In January, 2017, the WiscWeb team started offering WordPress websites using the UW Theme

The biggest thing to note from this timeline is that the wisc.edu site was not actually built with the UW Theme. Instead, the UW Theme was designed to look like the styles that were introduced on the wisc.edu site back in 2016. Therefore, just because something appears on the wisc.edu site, does not mean it is automatically added as an option in your WiscWeb site via the UW Theme.

But why?

The answer to this is equally complicated and really depends on the functionality.

For the most part, if something appears on the wisc.edu site and it is not available in the UW Theme, there are three likely reasons:

  1. The UW Theme developers have not finished building it yet. This does not happen often but the UW Theme developers do try to incorporate wisc.edu functionality when it makes sense to do so and it will benefit the masses.
  2. This functionality is not easily or adequately implemented by the average campus web editor. Some of the functionality on the wisc.edu site is just so specific that campus editors would require much more advanced web development or design skills in order to properly implement them. The UW Theme is meant to be easily digested by a large portion of campus editors from all different skill levels so adding this type of functionality would mean more support and maintenance than what can feasibly be provided.
  3. The functionality is meant for a specific purpose that is unique to the kinds of marketing and promotional needs that the wisc.edu site requires. The wisc.edu site, unlike most campus websites, is both an informational page as well as a marketing tool. Therefore, the kinds of functionality they need on their site differs greatly from what the average campus website needs.

If you are interested in certain features of the wisc.edu page because you think it will fulfill a specific need that you have for displaying information on your site, we want to hear about it. This will allow us to gauge how many users on campus have the same need and we can deliver something that will be targeted for campus informational sites. As a next step, please review our KnowledgeBase documentation: WiscWeb - Submit a feature request.

I’m frustrated that my request hasn’t been adapted into the UW theme yet. How soon will that happen?

We have many requests for UW Theme updates. They are prioritized by the following criteria:

  • Existing functions/features are broken
  • Accessibility-related requests
  • Would the requested functionality benefit the majority of campus?
  • Does the benefit to campus justify the cost to create the functionality?
  • If it meets these requirements, then resources can be allocated to the updates, testing and support.

If you would like to request a new feature, please submit a feature request via WiscWeb - Submit a feature request.

If I want to contribute to the theme, how would I do that? I have little technical knowledge.

There is information on how to contribute to the UW Theme located on the UW Theme "About" page. Please note that if you have little technical knowledge, this process may prove challenging. If there is something you have questions about, please reach out via our customer support form. A discussion of your needs will allow us to best assist you so be prepared to answer questions about what you are looking to do.

For those that wish to contribute a plugin to WiscWeb, we have a policy outlined in the KnowledgeBase that provides more information: WiscWeb - Guidance and policy for UW contributed plugins.

I don’t like the design of the theme. How can I change it?

There are certain approved customizations you can make to your site in WiscWeb. For full details, please review our Customizing Your Site page and submit a request by filling out the form linked at the bottom of that page.


KeywordsFAQ, about, how to, instructionDoc ID137992
OwnerJenna K.GroupWiscWeb
Created2024-06-19 13:25:55Updated2024-06-27 11:41:26
SitesDoIT Help Desk, DoIT Help Desk Level 2 KCS, WiscWeb
Feedback  0   0