Where I work, at The University of Texas at Dallas, the Debate program is an important part of the university’s identity, likewise with the Chess program.

In fall of 2010 I launched the redesign or the Chess website in one of our new templates, which we call Venus. It was coded using Adobe Dreamweaver templates.

Since then, we have started rolling our some new sites using the WordPress MU platform, which is the multi-user version of WordPress.

The UT Dallas Debate website is the first site I have redesigned using WordPress and it just launched this past week. It also uses the Venus template, which first had to be imported into WordPress. It was the first Venus site our team in University Web Services had done so there was a big learning curve getting the template into WordPress in the first place.

It’s not totally like creating a WordPress template from scratch, which I have not attempted, because you are not using any widgets like most templates would use.

It was essentially chopping our already coded template up into the various php files that make up the pieces of a template. It was complicated by the fact that our Dreamweaver templates share CSS and other code from a templates directory on our server and that had to be preserved in case there are changes to the template down the road which will change all sites using Venus.

I think the site worked out pretty well and you cannot tell that the Chess site is static HTML and the Debate site is WordPress.

Has anyone else tried to do this with their different sites and what was your experience?