Applying Custom Organization Branding

The look and feel of GovReady-Q can be customized a bit by overriding the Django templates used to construct the site’s pages and by serving additional static assets.

Custom branding can contain static assets (such as a logo image) and HTML template overrides. Branding is packaged into a directory with a particular directory layout and some Python boilerplate code that allows GovReady-Q to find the branding files. The directory is placed inside the main GovReady-Q directory, and an application setting is used to activate it.

Storing the branding files in a single, separate directory insures maintaining and updating your branding files and GovReady-Q files from the official repository are independent activities.

Creating the branding directory

You’ll need a working setup of GovReady-Q to create the branding directory and to test your changes. Make sure you have GovReady-Q set up for development on your workstation.

Custom branding is packaged inside what Django calls an application, but it is just a packaged sub-component of a website. To create a new branding package directory, change to the directory where you have GovReady-Q set up. Then run:

python3 startapp branding

This command creates a new directory called branding with Python boilerplate code to make it a valid Django “application.”

Make directories for storing the custom static assets and templates:

mkdir branding/static
mkdir branding/templates


The directory with custom branding is called branding by convention, but you can chose any name because the path is set by explicit reference in your local/environment.json file. (GovReady-Q’s .gitignore file includes the branding directory.)

You will only need to go through the above process to initially create your custom branding Django application folder. Once created, you only need to include and activate your custom branding directory in other instances of GovReady-Q for your branding to be applied.

Activate the branding package

Next, let your development installation of GovReady-Q know that you want to use the custom branding package. In your local/environment.json file, add a setting named branding and set it to the name of the custom branding package directory.

"branding": "branding",

See Configuration with Environment Variables for more information about the local/environment.json file. (Note that for the file to be valid JSON the last setting cannot have a trailing comma.)

Overriding templates

Any of the templates that make up GovReady-Q’s frontend can be overridden. The full list of templates can be browsed in GovReady-Q’s GitHub repository at

Start by trying to override the navbar.html template, which is inserted at the top of every page. Use your favorite text editor to create a file at branding/templates/navbar.html. Copy the content of GovReady-Q’s stock navbar.html from into it. (GitHub’s “Raw” button is handy for getting a clean version to save or copy/paste.)

At the bottom of the file, add some custom HTML, such as:

  <b>Welcome to my organization&rsquo;s custom site!</b>

Start GovReady-Q on your workstation (see the development docs) and visit a page. You should see your new content below the navbar at the top of every page.

Adding custom CSS

You can also add a custom CSS stylesheet to your branded GovReady-Q by taking the following steps:

  1. Add the CSS file as a static asset.

  2. Insert a <link rel="stylesheet" href="..."> tag into the <head> section of each page’s HTML by overriding the head.html template.

To create the static asset, make a new file named branding/static/custom.css. Let’s say you want to make the background color of each page red. The file should contain:

body {
    background: red !important;

Then override the head.html template. GovReady-Q’s base for head.html is empty — its purpose is only to allow you to add to the <head> element. So create a new file at branding/templates/head.html and put in it:

{% load static %}
<link rel="stylesheet" href="{% static "custom.css" %}">

See the Django documentation for static files for more information about the static template tag.

Open any page in your locally running GovReady-Q and you should see that the background color of every page has changed.

Deploying your custom branding in production

Deploying your custom branding to production is simply a matter of including your custom branding directory along with with your production deployment of GovReady-Q and adding the branding environmental parameter to your production local/environment.json file.

Keeping your templates up to date

With each new released version of GovReady-Q, there is the possibility that the stock templates have changed. Some changes may require you to re-engineer your template overrides to preserve functionality.

The deeper your customization, the more you will need to look at new releases of GovReady-Q for changes that update pages and page elements you have customized (like a new menu item) and new pages and section to which you may want to customize with your branding.

If you are able to implement all your branding in CSS, you will rarely need to change your branding files.

Creating a custom Docker image

If your organization is deploying GovReady-Q using Docker, you will need to embed your custom branding package within a Docker image. You have two options:

  1. Modify GovReady-Q’s stock Dockerfile, i.e. the one in GovReady-Q’s source code, to add and activate your branding package and then build your own GovReady-Q Docker image from the GovReady-Q source files that you cloned from GitHub.

  2. Make your own Dockerfile that uses a released GovReady-Q image as its parent image and adds to it just the steps needed to add and activate your branding package.

Creating your own Dockerfile that uses a released GovReady-Q image as its parent image

We recommend method 2. To create your own Dockerfile that uses a released GovReady-Q image as its parent image, create a new Dockerfile in your branding package directory, e.g. a new file named Dockerfile in the branding directory you created earlier.

Then choose which parent image you will use from the available GovReady-Q tags. Each tag corresponds to a release version. Your Dockerfile begins with a FROM line that combines govready/govready-q: with the tag name you choose. In this example we use the latest tag which is an alias for the most recent version of GovReady-Q:

FROM govready/govready-q:latest

The subsequent commands in your Dockerfile configures the container, picking up where the parent image’s Dockerfile leaves off. For more information about the parent image, refer to GovReady-Q’s Dockerfile on GitHub.

Your Dockerfile’s next step is to add your branding package into the image in a directory named branding:

RUN mkdir branding
COPY . branding

Finally, you’ll need some commands to adjust permissions, to activate the branding package when GovReady-Q starts, and to prepare the static assets to be served. The complete Dockerfile should look like this:

# Build an image on top of the stock GovReady-Q image.
FROM govready/govready-q:latest

# The parent Dockerfile ends with 'USER application' to run the
# container as a non-privileged user. But we need to go back to
# root to add additional files and then switch back to the non-
# root user at the end.
USER root

# Copy our public app files into place.
RUN mkdir branding
COPY . branding

# Activate the branding package. The environment variable is read
# by in the GovReady-Q parent image. And modifying
# /tmp/environment.json is necessary at this step so that collectstatic
# picks it up below.
RUN sed -i "s/}/,\"branding\": \"branding\" }/" /tmp/environment.json

# Flatten static files. The base image did it once, but we may have
# added new static files so we must do it again.
RUN python3.6 collectstatic --noinput

# Run the container's process zero as this user --- see above.
USER application

# Check that everything looks good.
RUN python3.6 check

Finally you can build and test your custom image.

Building your docker image

If you were in the GovReady-Q sources directory, move into your branding package directory:

cd branding

Then fetch the parent image and build your image:

docker image pull govready/govready-q:latest
docker image build --tag myorg/govready-q-branded:latest .

(Substitute the right tag depending on the tag you chose for the FROM line in your Dockerfile.)

Test that your image works by launching a new container based on your image:

docker container run --rm -it -p myorg/govready-q-branded:latest

Once GovReady-Q is running in the container, visit it at http://localhost:8000. Use CTRL+C in the console to terminate and destroy the test container running your image.

For more about running GovReady-Q with Docker, see ref:Container-based Installation.