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... customize the course design with CSS (Expert)

Not recommended

Creating your own course design is not recommended for normal setups and non-expert users!

Note that modifying the OpenOlat layout by manipulating the system CSS is not supported over version. This means that creating a course layout result in a broken course design after a system update.

Us this with caution and only if absolutely necessary and when you are in control over the update cycle of your OpenOlat installation.


Ask your system provider to implement course themes that are supported on system level and are recompiled after each OpenOlat update and thus guaranteed to work after updates.


Customize the course design in order to e.g. adopt the corporate design


  • in-depth knowledge of CSS
  • experience with various browser developer tools
  • basic HTML Knowledge


The standard layout of OpenOlat can be modified with the help of CSS. This can give your course an individual design which will make it easily recognizable. Should your institution or organization have a corporate design, you can also use CSS to adapt your course accordingly.


Some element selectors (e.g. “p” or “h1”) are often used throughout the platform. Changes can therefore apply far beyond their original purposes with unforeseen consequences. For instance, should the font color be changed to blue, the changes could also apply to blue buttons, thus rendering the text illegible. Please mind those unexpected consequences before changing the layout of a course. You should also follow the basics of web design, for example by keeping a sufficient contrast between the font color and the background.

What do I need to customize my course design?

You first need a text editor (such as Notepad++) to create a CSS file and a tool to analyse a website's CSS. This will help you find the appropriate ID and class selectors. This is done via the browser option "Examine element". In Firefox and Chrome this tool is already integrated. Right-click in the web page and select "Examine Element (Q)" or "Examine (Ctrl+Shift+I)".

Saving and choosing a CSS file

To be able to use your css file for the design of your OpenOlat course, you must create a subfolder "courseCSS" in the course folder and store the course CSS file there. To ensure that the file is also used, the desired file is selected in the OpenOlat course menu "Layout". If you want to return to the standard OpenOlat layout later, select the option "Standard", or simply delete your CSS from the file folder.

What concrete changes can be made?

The possibilities for change are manifold.

Be aware

Modifying OpenOlat CSS classed might result in unexpected behavior when updating the system. The class names and element ID's listed below are not guaranteed to be available between OpenOlat updates. The DOM tree of OpenOlat is subject of change and thus it is not recommended creating CSS rules that modify the styles in the OpenOlat DOM or CSS namespace.

Here are a few examples:

Customize the background

To customize the background of a course, you need to use the ID selector #o_body and declare the property background, background-color or background-image. So you can define both the background image and the background color for this path. The desired background color can simply be stored in the course storage folder and linked appropriately.

The code could for instance look like this:

#o_body {  
    background-color: red; /* creates a red background */  
    background-image: url(bild.svg); /* linkes to an image that is used as
    background */  
    background-position: center; /* sets the image centered */  

Usually it makes sense to link either a background color or a background image. Place the image in a suitable location in the course storage folder.

Furthermore, it is recommended to use the following CSS settings in order to make other sections of the website transparent:

#o_main_wrapper, #o_main_wrapper #o_main_container {  
    background: transparent;  

#o_main_wrapper #o_main_container #o_main_left {  
    background:transparent; margin-right: 15px;  

#o_main_wrapper #o_main_container #o_main_center {  

#o_footer_wrapper, #o_footer_container {  
    background: transparent;  

Course element "Single page"

It may be usefull from time to time to change the background of a specific HTML page to adjust to the overall design of a course. It is also possible to do so with CSS. For instance, the following code can be inserted to the HTML in order to make the background of the page transparent:

body {  
    background-color: transparent;  

Further ID and class selectors

Here are some sections of a course's site with the appropriate ID or class selectors:

1. Upper menu: CSS ID selector: #o_navbar_container

1a. Change the logo

You can change or adjust the logo of the upper menu with the class selector .o_navbar-brand. For example, you can declare the following properties as follow:

  • display: none; (will not display the default logo)
  • background: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0) url("logo-k-town.png"); (will change the default logo for the file "logo-k-town.png")

2. Course menu: CSS class selektors: .o_toolbar .o_tools_container

3. Left menu: CSS ID selector: #o_main_left_content

4. Footer: CSS ID selector: #o_footer_container and #o_footer_wrapper

5. User menu (folding menu on the right): CSS ID selector #o_offcanvas_right

Should you wish to change the font of titles in OpenOlat, then you should use the element selector h2. Two other element selectors can also be modified to adjust to your design: p (paragraph) and a (hyperlinks). Many CSS properties may apply to those element selectors. Here are some examples:

  • color: red; (changes the color of the font, here in red. The hex code #ffffff or RGB value rgb(87 , 53, 4) can alternatively be used.
  • font-family: verdana; (changes the font family)
  • font-weight: bold; (defines the weight of the font, here bold)
  • text-transform: uppercase; (changes the text to uppercase/all caps)

W3school: Useful resource on CSS selectors, elements and properties
Notepad++: Free text editor adjusted for programming and markup languages such as CSS

Last update: 2024-05-14