The general layout and color scheme of a NationBuilder website is determined by its theme. What are themes, and can I change mine?


What is a theme?

A theme is a set of files that work together to determine the layout and styles of your website. You can access information about your theme in the Themes tab in your site's control panel:

Horizontal menu text: Pages, Top nav, Supporter nav, Theme, Site settings, More, Live site. A red arrow points to \

You will see two or three tabs under the Theme section, Switch to a stock them, Switch to a custom theme, and Current custom theme. You will only see the Current custom theme option if your website is using a Custom Theme. There is also a New custom theme button.

Three tabs under the main dashboard menu: Switch to a stock them, Switch to a custom theme, and Current custom theme. Current Custom Theme is highlighted and has a red arrow pointing to it.

Selecting a new theme

Generally you would select a new theme if you want to change the overall look and feel of your website. If you just want to update colors or make small changes, you can customize your theme (see here). Before selecting a new theme, make a note of your current theme. You can find it in the theme setting panel or on the list of of sites in the main dashboard.

Stock Themes: These are the various themes provided "as-is" from NationBuilder. They will generally need some customization to prevent some unwanted functionality (see [here]) and will not be compliant with LWV brand standards.

Custom Themes: These are all the various themes ever customized in the LWVMD NationBuilder Nation, or on your leader site if you are not on the main nation. This includes all the custom themes that have been created by other local leagues. Online Services is working on setting up some custom themes that are brand standards compliant out of the box.

Note: Please do not switch to another Local League's Custom theme without discussing it with Online Services and the Local League first.  Unlike stock and Online Services custom themes, Local League customizations could have customizations and conditions that prevent them from being sharable with other sites.

Note: Best Practice is to use the New custom theme option "clone current theme" as soon as you have finalized your new theme selection so that you can make individual customizations to your site if you need to. Do this even if you select an existing custom theme. 

  • If you have selected a stock theme, you will not have access to any theme files until you create a new custom theme.
  • If you have selected an already existing custom theme provided by Online Services, any changes you make will change the theme as a whole unless you create a new custom theme. If multiple site managers forget to create a new custom theme, any edits one site makes to the them will also affect those other sites.


Important things to know about changing themes

When you switch to a new theme from a theme that has been customized for your site, there are some things to be aware of:

  • You will lose any customizations you have made to your theme files. 
    • Any style or functionality that you have changed or added will have to be redone in the new theme if it is a stock theme. Examples include color and font changes, the deletion of customized fields in donation pages, and widget additions like the translation widget. Changes may also need to be redone if you chose a custom theme if those changes aren't already reflected in that theme.
  • You will NOT lose any customizations you have made to individual page template files
    • If there was a functionality change that came with the new theme, such as the donation page payment changes NB rolled out, those updates will not be reflected in pages that were customized at the page level prior to the change in the theme.

A checklist of common customizations that should be done (or be present) when you change to a new theme is here.


Exploring Themes

You can explore how your current site would look in different themes without changing your current theme by using Preview Mode.

I didn't mean to change my theme. I want my old theme back!

If you decide you don't like the new theme, or discover there is too much to re-customize right now, you can always go back to your old custom theme. Go to "Switch to a custom theme" in the Themes tab, and select the name of your old theme from the list. If you didn't make a note of it, look for any themes containing your League name or abbreviation. Since this is already your League website's customization, you do not need to make a new customization from it.