Building a bespoke WordPress theme

Bespoke WordPress theme for brand consistency 

After completing a WordPress site rebuild for IFES in 2019, we were delighted when they approached us to support the development of a new project: an IFES ministries WordPress theme. 

IFES is a registered charity that connects students around the world through their shared faith. The main IFES website acts as a hub for the fellowship; it provides information on upcoming events, details successful projects and features meaningful blog posts.

Within IFES, regions and ministry networks often have distinct communication requirements and audiences. They each have their own sites and are responsible for the build, design, and support. As a result, the ministries websites vary dramatically in functionality, site aesthetics, and platform choice. IFES wanted a high quality WordPress theme that ministries could use to promote brand consistency. 


Mockup of IFES website

Brand consistency for a global audience

Designing a customisable, multilingual WordPress theme for IFES ministries meant accommodating global and regional audiences. To maintain consistency across the sites, our design and UX team focused on the IFES branding and explored how variations could be worked into the theme. Our aim was to provide ministries with a theme that has flexible customisation options, so they can put their stamp on their site without straying too far from the IFES brand.

Using the new theme, ministries can now add in their logos, utilise a theme colour selector and enable/disable features as required, all while reducing reliance on outsourced development and promoting brand consistency. 

“We’re active in over 180 countries, so in speaking to global audiences we need to show the diversity of IFES and honour local contexts. But we also want people to see our underlying unity. Versantus’ approach to the ministry website theme gave us the right balance of customisation and consistency to meet those goals,” said Tim Boland, Head of Communications at IFES. 


Mockup of IFES website on a tablet and mobile

Improving relationships with technology

To improve processes across the IFES brand, we developed a built-in feature that automatically populates a homepage banner with promotional notices; this content is pulled from the main IFES site and includes updates and news. The result is a centralised content hub, where the main IFES site can communicate important messages to ministry users. Equally, it removed the responsibility on ministry site owners to manually update their site with current messaging, and subsequently remove the content when it was no longer relevant.

Our aim was to remove the hassle from manual processes, making them less time-consuming. With more time to spare, ministries can now focus on tasks that matter the most, like building strong relationships with students, staff, and supporters. 


Mockup of IFES website on a three mobile devices

Collaborating to provide the best solution

After previously working with IFES on their website rebuild, the ministries theme project provided an opportunity to further solidify the IFES brand throughout the organisation. Understanding their requirements, developing for their global audience, and working collaboratively was imperative to get the theme right for the ministries. Keeping functionality, branding, and the ministries at the heart of the project resulted in a theme that ticks all of IFES boxes.

So far 3 new sites have launched using the new theme, with 4 others in active development.

I’ve been consistently impressed with Versantus’ ability to tease out project requirements - including unexplored assumptions - and translate those concretely into the final deliverables. The ministries theme project was no exception