Custom Development

Custom development involves writing front-end or back-end code, such as C#, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. In Sitecore, web developers are often involved with the behind-the-scenes work of building website templates and components.

Web development should not be confused with design, layout, or content creation, all of which can be done in Sitecore by non-technical staff. If you need assistance in this area, marketing and communications professionals are well-versed in these topics.

Development services we provide

OIT's web team provides custom development on a case-by-case basis. Examples of our work may include:

  • Creation of biography templates and associated features
  • Creation of news templates and associated features
  • Creation of filterable or searchable content
  • One-time implementation of third-party content, such as calendar plugins

We are also available to fix bugs with design elements we have created.

Because custom development can be time consuming, requests must be accompanied by a concrete business need. Priority is generally granted toward groups that are actively engaged in a website migration or requests that impact university revenue.

View our practices or make a request.


When we work together on a custom development request, OIT will work with you to understand any needs and requirements (business analysis). We may provide a mockup showcasing design and functionality and request your approval prior to scheduling back-end development work. We may also use OIT's project management system, which will require you or your leadership to sign an agreement accepting the services we are providing.


We can only implement and support designs, layouts, or wireframes created by OIT.

Custom code (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript)

When creating websites or content, use the design and layout options provided within Sitecore, and standardize your layouts as much as possible.

While you may have a vested interest in modifying an existing feature or creating something new, doing this will result in a design or layout that breaks consistency with the university's brand. By intentionally deviating from the templates, you may be in violation of SMU's policies.

Modifying existing design elements

Do not write custom code to modify existing design elements, fonts, or color, or to create new design elements. Do not add borders or background colors except where documented and supported.

Copying code from other sites

Do not copy code from other sites without the OIT web team's approval. This includes CSS, JavaScript, or HTML from other SMU websites or third-party libraries, such as Bootstrap or Font Awesome. Instead, use the supported design and layout options provided by SMU.

Occasionally, you may find an element on another SMU website that you would like to implement on your own site. If the element is not available in our documented design and layouts, do not copy the code or content from the other site. The website may have undergone a unique engagement to create the content, or it may have a customized design that is not intended to be reused across the university. Copying designs from other websites may be breaking the university's policy.

Impact on website support

OIT's web team will not support custom code you have created. This includes problems or questions about HTML, CSS, or JavaScript you have inserted on a page. We may be able to assist with a one-time setup for content related to third parties, such as library searches and calendar feeds.

Impact on future brand migrations

If you have added custom CSS, JavaScript, or HTML to a page, we may not be able to assist with migrating your content to future iterations of the SMU website. It is time consuming to dismantle custom code and rebuild sites with supported features. Focusing on sites where editors have intentionally sidestepped our best practices prevents us from working with other groups in the university who have adhered to the university's guidelines.

In this case, you may be responsible for rebuilding your site or the aspects that do not meet our brand guidelines prior to us working with you on a website migration.