Design and branding

This guide is designed to advise you on what you need to provide in order to brand your Talis Aspire Reading List (TARL) Tenancy as part of the Premium Implementation.  Please note - branding your tenancy is not part of the Standard Implementation.


As part of your Kick Off webinar we will discuss design and branding of your tenancy, and show you a few examples. Your tasks post that webinar are detailed below.

First steps

  1. Name your design contact - Often universities will have a person that is responsible for overseeing the brand image of all external facing websites and material. Where you do have this resource it is best to get them on the project early on not at sign off stage as often issues can be resolved in the mock up or sandpit stages which will avoid delays at the end. Often a font size, background shading or spacing can make all the difference.
  2. Decide on your overall look - Point us to an existing site you hope to replicate. Most customers decide that the service they are trying to provide through Talis should reflect the brand values and attributes of the institution. As a consequence, their Talis tenancy looks very much like either their general website, the library website (if significantly different) OR inherits the theme of the main Learning Management System/VLE.
  3. Gather the essentials - This information is usually available from the University marketing team, or the web team.
    • Branding / Web Style Guidelines: Most/all customers will have institutional guidelines for how their presence is represented on the web, which can include things like fonts, colours, and image placement. You can see an example of these type of guidelines for St Andrews.
    • Logo Location: We will require a hi-resolution version of your institutional logo, for use in your Talis tenancy as well as on the customer directory.
    • Editorial Style Guidelines: Some customers will have editorial style guidelines - for example, how to capitalise their institution name.

Talis design team

As part of your implementation, Talis will assign a designer to work with you to achieve the desired look and feel. They will look to build some mockups for you to comment on and if required we can organise a call to discuss in detail. Once you’re comfortable with the general direction of the design, the designer will apply the look and feel to a running TARL sandbox tenancy where you can experience the final design as applied to the product. At this point you’ll be asked to sign off on the design or suggest any amendments required before sign off. After sign off we will transfer the design to your live TARL tenancy.

What can be styled?

Styling zones

Styling zones

This zone appears on every page in the system. Here you would usually include the institutional masthead and logo. Some customers also include a general link bar to other useful areas of their main corporate website, e.g. the Learning Management System, the Library or other University support services. The header is always set at 111px in order to not affect other screens across the tenancy.

Primary Navigation

This zone appears on every page. The user uses it to navigate the primary functions of the Talis system itself. The content on the menu will change depending on the role of the user, and over time as we add more functions to the application. Although you can’t change the content of this menu or add any icons or image based text, you can style the fonts and background colours to fit in with other menu styles in use on your University systems. 

Homepage text

This zone only appears on the Talis Aspire homepage. You can fully customise this zone to add a welcome message to students, give a description of the service, add ancillary imagery or even insert an introductory YouTube video tutorial if you wish! By default, we supply a headline, search box (with auto suggest) and links to browse the hierarchy or to view recent changes, but you can remove or add elements here at will.

This zone appears on every page. Like the header, the content here might be dictated by what the institution includes on other pages around its website. Typically, the address and contact details of the University might be included, and also any links to copyright or privacy statements. Others provide quick links to related services.

General look and feel attributes

In addition to the content of the zones above, you can customise the following attributes, which will be relayed throughout the system:

  • Base font family and colour
  • Page background colour
  • Link colour
  • Heading font family - You don’t have to define these upfront - your designer will make suggestions based on your requirements.

Accessibility Colours

We recommended when branding your tenancy that you look to see that background and foreground colours meet accessibility standards. The contrast checker takes hexadecimal values(hex) and gives an outcome based on the contrast. You can try this at:

What can’t be done through the design process

Unfortunately there are some customisations that can’t be completed via the design process:

  • Headers, footers and primary navigation styles are fixed across the system, and can’t be dynamically altered depending on which page the user is viewing in the system.
  • Major positional or ordering changes to functional screens, for example you can’t move sidebars from left to right, or change the order in which menu items or properties in lists appear.
  • Rewording or changing of content in online forms.
  • Rewording of labels or help messages in the main functional screens.
  • Amendments to the login/user area of the header.
  • Fixed-width page layout (i.e. Talis only supports fluid layout).
  • Container paddings and spacing.
  • Inclusion of custom Javascript, as this may interfere with the Javascript used in the functional areas of the Talis product.
  • Font size.


  • What if we need to make changes later on? Small tweaks to the design can be accommodated after the application of the design to live, and we can quote on any major work you might want to undertake in the future - for example, if your corporate design guidelines or logo change.
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