Proactive and constant efforts, Values your feedback, Clear communication and Responsive. The client's success is our target!

Contact Us

DNN Theme Development Best Practices

DNN Theme Development Best Practices

DotNetNuke or DNN is a very popular open-source content management system (CMS) that allows users to easily create and manage content and resources of the DNN websites. One of DNN's most important features is the ability to manage dynamic websites and design with ease and change the appearance and layout design of a website. Quickly and theme or skin can be changed and the same content and pages converted to a different layout which is a very powerful feature of DNN and enhance the user experience. When a complete theme with containers gets applied, an administrator does not need to worry about uniformity of design, list and headers, menu, and internal navigation because it same content in different styles/css and resources.

In the context of theme development, adhering to best practices is crucial throughout the design and integration of a DNN theme. Creating a clean and innovative design that stands out from the rest requires more than just layout and content. It necessitates the employment of unique and creative approaches to ensure that the end product is customized to meet specific requirements. Optimal performance is another essential aspect of DNN theme development. Achieving this involves designing the best skin while factoring in all the technical aspects of the DNN framework and utilizing the most effective on-page SEO keywords and high-quality content is essential.

By following these best practices and techniques, you can deliver a high-performing and engaging DotNetNuke theme that exceeds user expectations. It takes careful consideration of every stage of development to create an end product that meets all requirements and is tailored to deliver the best results.

DNN Theme Development Process: Planning and research, wireframing and prototyping, design and mockup finalizing, development and design, testing the quality, deployment or installations, and maintenance/enhancement and updates.

Requirements and Essential elements

Before you begin designing your DNN theme, it's crucial to understand your users and their needs. Who are your users? What are their goals? What are their pain points? By understanding your users, you can design a website that meets their needs and keeps them engaged.

Wireframe: A wireframe is a simple visual representation that displays the layout and structure of a DNN website. It is an important design stage that allows for assessing how different design elements fit together and facilitates making any necessary modifications before delving into the more technical design work. CTA and readable text with whitespace can be finalized at this stage.

Framework: One of the best practices is the ability to use Bootstrap or a similar layout and script framework to utilize all benefits of all devices that DNN design and skin support like Browser Compatibility, Reusability, Style Templates, and using third-party icons like Font Awesome. To do so, you need to work with experienced developers who understand how to tap the DNN potential fully.

Optimize Resources: Visual elements like images and media play a crucial role in enhancing the appeal of a DNN theme and conveying important information. To ensure a smooth and efficient user experience, it is essential to optimize these elements for web use by compressing images, using suitable file formats, using client-side frameworks, and implementing Content Delivery Networks (CDN) for faster loading times.

Responsive Design: Websites must use responsive design to accommodate increasing mobile and tablet device usage. This design guarantees a great appearance on all devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones or TV. A seamless user experience is critical, achieved by designing adaptability to various screen sizes and resolutions.

Developing DNN Themes

A DNN theme typically consists of layout templates for web pages, modules containers, CSS files, and DocType files. All these files, along with the DNN Manifest, are combined into a zip file that can be used to install your theme.

Layout Template: DNN theme is a layout template that determines the position of panes on the webpage and its content where at least one pane with the name “ContentPane” is required which becomes a default pane when any module is dropped on the page. A template is the separated part of the page where each pane should have a unique pane name and must be defined as runat server tag element. The theme contains various layout templates that a web designer can select for each page of the website, such as the home page, product gallery, or product listing page. So multiple template files can be designed based on the common structure of the content and pages.

Create a Container: The container is similar to a skin template, but it is limited to a single pane instead of the whole page. It is associated with a module and can generate dynamic content or perform other functions. Containers enable designers to integrate modules from multiple developers into a cohesive website design and can include visual elements to allow user interaction with the module. Like module title show as an H2 tag or responsive icons added to the content automatically etc. Every container needs a default server-side pane with the name “ContentPane”.

CSS File: In DNN theme development, a CSS file can be linked with a layout template or container by naming it the same as the template or container file and placing it in the same folder. When a layout template or container is applied to a webpage or pane, the associated CSS file is automatically applied. For instance, if a layout template is named "home.ascx," its corresponding CSS file should also be named "home.css" and placed in the same folder. These files are automatically associated with each other, ensuring that the layout template and its CSS styles are consistently applied. Multiple CSS and script files get applied hierarchically based on priority defined by the developer.

DocType XML: It is important to consider the appropriate HTML specification for the design. A design created for HTML 5 may not display correctly if rendered using XHTML or HTML 4. To ensure the correct specification is used, a DocType XML file (skin.doctype.xml) can be created and applied to all layouts in the theme. Additionally, individual layout templates can have their own separate DocType file to override the theme's DocType declaration. The same is applicable to the container's XML file.

Zip Extension: To simplify the process of distributing and installing an extension like a theme or module, it's possible to package all its components into a zip file. This is known as an extension package. One essential step is creating the DNN Manifest, which includes crucial information for the installer, such as the file locations to be targeted. Installable Skin can have the following files Views (.cshtml or .vbhtml), Manifest file (.dnn), Assemblies (.dll), SQL scripts (.sqldataprovider), Resource files (.resx), JavaScript files (.js), Stylesheets (.css), Text files (.txt) or media files.

Install Theme: DNN Superuser or Admin user with proper permissions and rights can install the DNN Theme the same way how module or extension can be installed by following the installation wizard of the DotNetNuke. One Theme Installed, Page level or Site/ portal level theme can be applied and module extension can be applied with designed containers from the settings section.

Apart from DNN theme and DNN Containers, DNN Theme Objects or Skin Objects can be developed to achieve custom functionality like displaying country-specific time or content, user detail personalized chat widgets, user-based visibility of sections or functionality, etc. On the other hand bunch of inbuilt ThemeObjects are available to define and use through DNN themes like BREADCRUMB, SEARCH, COPYRIGHT, LOGIN, etc.

A bunch of readymade DNN themes and Skins are available to purchase with predefined content and page structure, to start development with speed those can be used and as needed templates can be optimized and enhanced or modified on demand.

Our team at DNN Developers is skilled designers and developers focused on creating professional, visually appealing, and responsive DotNetNuke themes. We excel in designing the layout from PSD to HTML or HTML to DNN Skin and are proficient in designing DNN themes for the latest DotNetNuke version. Our ability to adjust the theme layout as per requirement ensures that we can customize a personalized design that is perfect for your business needs. Our team of designers offers the best services available in the industry for the DNN Theme and Skin designing services listed below.

  • PSD to DNN Theme Conversion
  • Custom DNN Theme Design
  • Responsive DNN Theme Development
  • DNN Theme Integration and Customization
  • DNN Theme Maintenance and Support
  • DNN Theme Upgrade and Migration
  • DNN Theme SEO Optimization
  • DNN Theme Performance Optimization
  • DNN Theme Plugin Development
  • DNN Theme Testing and Quality Assurance.

By following these best practices, you can create a high-performance website with DNN that meets your users' needs and keeps them engaged. DNN theme development can be a challenging task, but by starting with a wireframe, using responsive design, keeping it simple, optimizing images and media, and testing and iterating, you can create a website that stands out from the crowd.

The article covers the basics of DNN, including how to install and set up the system, before diving into the specifics of theme development. The guide includes tips for optimizing your designs, as well as best practices for creating user-friendly and visually appealing websites. Whether you're new to DNN or just looking to improve your theme development skills, this guide has everything you need to get started.


Name (required)

Email (required)



To know more about our affordable services, contact us today or drop us a mail with the requirements at Jitendra@DnnDeveloper.In We will respond to you as soon as possible.