Theme Guidelines

Please use these guidelines for adhering to accessibility and privacy compliance, UIC brand standards and best practices for web usability. The Digital Communications team will review your site for adherence to these guidelines when you request to launch it. If we discover an issue of concern, we will work with you to correct it.

We also recommend that you review the UIC Web Strategy and Standards document that informed these guidelines and refer to the UIC Web Style Guide for help with content creation and maintenance.

In Scope and Out of Scope site purposes

Sites built in RED must fall within the specific use cases listed below:

Allowed in RED (In Scope)

  • Official UIC unit websites
  • Informational/marketing content (internal & external)
  • Course sites for public viewing (except anything that should be securely stored on Blackboard)
  • Faculty research/lab/institute sites
  • UIC branded conferences and events

Not Allowed in RED (Out of Scope)

  • Secure course sites
  • Intranet sites
  • Web content that must be HIPAA compliant
  • Sites that require non-UIC co-branding (not including UI Health)
  • Student org sites (these are instead managed through the Center for Student Involvement)
  • Personal profile sites
  • Anything not explicitly listed in the “In Scope” section

Site Names and URLs

When creating a site, refrain from using the phrase “UIC” in both the URL and Site Name.

This guideline has been created for two reasons:

  1. In the URL, it will appear as redundant (as is already in the URL) and could confuse the visitor as to the scope of the site (applying to all of UIC and not just a department).
  2. In the Site Name, it will appear on the site next to the UIC circle mark (if no Wordmark is employed). Thus, it will be visually repetitive and confusing for a visitor who is attempting to either locate the homepage and/or the circle mark linking to


All websites created on the Red WordPress multisite must conform to federal and state accessibility standards as outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). While the common areas of the UIC Red WordPress theme, its custom post types, and related components are developed according to WCAG 2.0 level AA standards, departments using the Red platform must maintain accessibility of all content entered on their respective sites before and after launch.

Accessibility tips for Red

  • Use headings to begin sections and use them in the correct order. All Red components have a mandatory title field that will display as a heading 2. While you may choose to visually hide this heading, screen readers will read the text you put in the title field to give users context. Do not use bolded text for section headings. The rich text editor allows you to select H3 through H6 tags for your subheads within the content.
  • Use informative, unique page titles.
  • Provide appropriate alternate text for all images. When working with image files, enter a concise and accurate description in the “Image Alt Text” or “Alternative Text” fields.
  • Ensure that links are understandable. “Click here” is not recommended. Using contextual links gives users with screen readers better information about the purpose of the link.
  • Provide synchronized captions for multimedia containing speech.
  • Non-html office documents (including but not limited to PDF, Word, or Excel) must be made accessible according to the formats’ native accessibility standards. If your document is not expressly intended to be printed on paper, consider creating it in WordPress. Please note that embedded content from non-university sources, such as Tableau, are also subject to WCAG accessibility standards. To evaluate embedded content accessibility, please refer to the vendor or content source’s documentation.


Using Page Templates

The Red theme uses multiple page templates to help streamline design and content delivery.

  • The pages that are linked in the top-level of your Main Menu should use one of the custom page templates.   These templates were designed to signify that a user is in a top-level section of related content on your site before delving further into internal sub-page content.  While we suggest that you use the Landing Page template to visually represent a visitor’s progression through the site (from Homepage large header image to Landing page smaller header image then on to subpage content without a header image), we understand that other Page Templates (i.e. Event Listing, Contact, etc.) are applicable as well.  The main guideline for top level pages is: DO NOT USE DEFAULT TEMPLATE PAGES.
  • Most internal pages will use the Default template. Special templates (as mentioned above) are also available for Contact page, Directory, News Listing, Event Listing, and Research Project Listing.


There are multiple menu options available. Understanding how to use them will improve your site visitor experience and ability to move around your site.


The most important menu on your site is the Main Menu. This menu guides visitors through your site. All links — at every level of the menu — must be to CONTENT ON THIS SITE. Do NOT link to external sites, documents or try to have a non-working or home link here. Use the various link components to link to external content from your site.

How do I know my Main Menu links meet the requirement? If you need to use “Custom Links” to create the menu item, you do not meet the requirement.

  • The Eyebrow menu sites above the Main Menu and can be used for internal or external links.
  • The Quick Menus and Button Menu are available in the Mega Footer option only and can be used for internal or external links.
  • The links across the bottom of the footer area are managed centrally as is the copyright and privacy policy links.

Breadcrumb links

Breadcrumb links assist users in understanding where they are in your site structure and the path back through the content hierarchy. In order to create these links, you need to identify the Page Attributes. Select from the Parent dropdown the page that is one step higher in the site hierarchy than the current page you are creating or editing. Your Landing pages or top-level listing or contact pages linked in your Main Menu should be set to (no parent) to indicate that the Home page is the parent.

Site Contact

All sites must have some contact information in the site footer. This allows users to ask for clarification or to notify you of any issues with accessibility or access to your content. You can add the contact information in the footer through your Theme Settings in the dashboard.

Unfiltered HTML and Scripts

The HTML and CSS built into the Red Theme are selected purposefully to address compliance to UIC brand standards, accessibility and responsiveness of the site on varying devices. Site creators and those who edit, author and contribute content should not attempt to override the theme’s HTML or CSS in any manner.

If a site needs to include non-HTML content, such as JavaScript or other embedded content scripts (examples: embedded Tableau or Slate content), users must contact Digital Communications to review and implement the script in their site. This requirement protects the user’s website and the Red WordPress multisite from conflicting or from malicious content.

Forms and Data Collection

The Gravity Forms plugin should not be used to collect high risk or sensitive data. Users of the Red system that have a need to collect high risk or sensitive data are advised to use the UIC licensed Qualtrics tool. For more information, please visit:

As University of Illinois policies are updated to comply with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR), more information and guidelines will be included here.

File storage and PDFs

Each website on the Red WordPress multisite will have a default site storage limit of 1GB. The primary content of your storage is the images and files uploaded to the Media Library for your site. It is recommended that you use this space solely for uploading the images used on your website. Additional storage may be available in 1GB increments up to 10GBs. There will be an additional cost per GB that has not yet been determined at this time.

Additional document content, such as PDFs (with the exception of CVs included in Profile posts) or MS Word documents, should be housed on an external document storage utility such as the UofI Box service where document access can be limited to specific users, UIC users, or anyone with a link. Use of this service allows you to manage your documents in an organized file system, which is not available on RED.

You can monitor your Storage Space use from your site Dashboard in the “At a Glance” box. If you approach your 1GB limit, or receive notification regarding your limit, review the files in your media library to remove duplicates, optimize large files, or move PDFs, Word Docs and other non-image files to a storage utility and link to them from your site. If you continue to need more space, please use the contact us form.