Totara 12 will no longer be fully supported from October 2023. Urgently consider upgrading to a later version.

Help documentation for up-to-date versions is available here.

You can customise your site's appearance to reflect the needs of your organisation by editing the theme, adding blocks, and customising the front page. 

Our website has even more information about the customisable experience of Totara.


By customising the theme you can determine the site's look and feel with a personalised colour scheme and your organisation's logo. A theme can be applied across the whole site, for a specific user or course, or at the category level.

You can also apply themes to different devices by navigating to Site administration > Appearance > Themes > Theme selector.

If required, you can also allow users to set their own themes, or different themes on a course or category basis, by enabling the appropriate settings in Site administration > Appearance > Themes > Theme settings.

As standard in Totara, you can change your site's logo, colours and icons by going to Site administration > Appearance > Themes > Basis.

Alternatively, you may want to develop a custom theme for your site, in order to closely align your site's visuals with your brand. You can find out more about custom themes in Totara's developer documentation.


It is now easier than ever to create a custom look and feel for your site using blocks. It is now easier than ever to create a custom look and feel for your site using blocks. Blocks can contain a range of useful information, from course progress to calendar information. Some blocks work with course activities to present information and others use either external information or can be fully customised (such as HTML blocks). 

Blocks are arranged in a series of columns, headers and footers. The header and footer areas (at the top and bottom of each page respectively) can house full-width blocks. You can use the central column for larger blocks, with additional information or navigation elements in the left- and right-hand columns. If you prefer, you can remove the left- and right-hand columns by deleting all blocks in each of those columns. 

You can also use the Featured links block to add dynamic, visually striking navigation between different parts of your site. For example, you can have rotating carousels of multiple hyperlinked images, or large, striking images. Additionally, you can add multimedia assets, text, graphics, and widgets using HTML blocks. You can use full-width HTML and featured links blocks in the header and footer areas to create eye-catching navigation, or promote other parts of your site.

You can configure each block by selecting the gear icon, then Configure (block name) block. For each block you can enable the Override default block title setting, then change the Block title. In the block configuration you can also enable or disable the block header and border as required.

Configuring a course overview block.

Totara's column layout.

Above you can see the different regions of a home page or dashboard to which you can add blocks. Below you can see how the homepage has been populated with content.

Example of a populated Totara homepage.

The column and block layout is also responsive, meaning the blocks will automatically rearrange to be displayed correctly on smaller screens, such as smartphone devices. Here you can see the layout of the Totara Academy's dashboard rearranging for different screen sizes.

An example of the Totara Academy theme.    The Totara Academy on a smartphone device.


In addition to the different sections of your site, you can customise features such as the navigation bar and site administration menu, making it easier for your users to find what's important to them.

Dashboards and front page

When users log in to your site they will see either a dashboard or the front page, depending on the setup of your site. The front page is the default landing page for all users logged into your site, whereas dashboards can be tailored and restricted to only a particular audience. 

Both the front page and your dashboard can be customised using blocks to display and arrange information how you want. 

Related pages

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Dashboards and basic theming in Totara Learn. Here you can learn more on how to customise your site's appearance, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

Provide feedback about this page using the link in the bottom right of this page. 

Still have questions? Why not post them in the forums of the Totara Community?