SharePoint 2010 Branding: Creating a Theme

When designing a branded SharePoint site, the first task for any web designer should be to create a general SharePoint Theme. A SharePoint theme can be designed through the web browser, and then, with a bit of work, can be saved locally or deployed to a SharePoint site as a feature. The advantage to creating this theme before you do any heavy lifting with the master page is that you’ll find that a lot of the work will be done for you right from the start. What a theme will do is set the colour scheme for a lot of the main parts of a SharePoint page. By creating the theme first, you will avoid doing a lot of searching for the proper styles to override within your master page. Unfortunately, once you design your theme through the browser, there is no easy way to get your theme saved locally so that it can be deployed to other sites. However, Microsoft PowerPoint actually supports the same theme file type (thmx) that SharePoint uses, so you can create a local copy of the theme using this program. In this blog post I will explain how to design your SharePoint theme through the browser, and then I will direct you to some resources that explain how you can create a local copy of the theme and in turn deploy this theme to your SharePoint site.

Designing a Theme

The easiest way to design your theme is to create the theme through your SharePoint site. The reason for this is that you can see the effects of your changes almost immediately with the click of a button. This is essential when you’re doing the fine tuning of your theme.

To access the theme editor through the browser simply go to Site Actions –> Site Settings and then under the Look and Feel section click on Site theme. This will bring you to the page shown in the image below:

On this page you’ll find your most useful tools are the “Select a Theme”, “Customize Theme”, and “Preview Theme” sections. In the “Select a Theme” section you can choose from a wide array of built-in themes that come out-of-the-box. If you’re lucky, there may be a theme there that is already close enough to your desired theme, so you can take it as your starting point. In the “Customize Theme” section you can edit the specific colours within the chosen theme. This section will be covered in detail in the next paragraph. Finally, in the “Preview Theme” section you can see your theme applied to your site without actually fully applying it. What the Preview button does is open a popup that shows an exact copy of your site so that you can see how your site would look like if you applied the theme as it is right now. Granted, it only allows you to see the homepage of your site, however this is usually enough to yay or nay your current design.

In the “Customize Theme” section you can pick and choose all of the colours that you wish to have in your theme. After some experimentation, I found that the most prominent colours are contained in the first 5 settings of this section. The biggest problem with using this designer is that the colour categories are completely vague. It is impossible to know what rules apply to what. A good way to get around this problem is to pick 5 completely different colours for the first 5 settings in this section. For example, pick red, blue, green, and yellow for the “Text/Background” sections, and pick pink for the “Accent 1” section. After applying this theme to your site you will get something that looks like this:

Although this is not too easy on the eyes, it gives you a clear division of which settings are applied to which components. Once you have this as your starting point you can simply change the colours one by one, and you can be sure about which components you are customizing with your colour choices.

Once you have defined what your theme colours are you will have a good platform to start your SharePoint design. In the next blog posts I will start to explain how to customize the individual parts of a SharePoint page.

Useful Links

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One Comment

  1. Shivam Mishra
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink | Reply

    Check this helpful link too its also having good answers of sharepoint question, it might be useful for you.
    http://www.mindstick.com/Interview/1180/What%20is%20a%20SharePoint%20Theme

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