Hacked at Twenty Ten to Revamp 4realz. Check it out!

Feels like it’s been “WordPress-all-day, Every-day” lately! One of the things I’m most excited about is hosting the WordPress WorkShop at Real Estate Connect in a few weeks!

The Inman team did a fantastic job lining up speakers (Check ’em out: Chris Pearson, Peter Ricci, Reggie Nicolay, Justin LaJoie, Chad Parizman,Todd Carpenter, Niall Kennedy, and Jane Wells! Wow! )… and it made me realize how much I needed to play with WordPress again!

The result: I completely new 4realz.net!

Just some of the things I wanted to accomplish with this new theme include:

  • Really wanted a much cleaner look that didn’t feel overwhelming.   It’s not in my personality to get too simple, but I knew I could do a much better job!
  • I wanted to play with the concept of a WordPress child theme… so I started with Twenty Ten as my “base” so I’d have built in access to some of the more interesting new features!
  • I thought I would focus the homepage on a few key areas that drive the most of my business… i.e. my speaking and consulting.

The result is that after more than a few hours, everything is “working” well enough to write this post (although I’m far from done with what I plan to do!).

Some of the changes I made:

  • The homepage is now a “static” page that uses the Smooth Slider plugin to highlight “featured posts”.  I figure these are probably more relevant to someone who is new to my site.
  • I added a bit about myself to the homepage and filled out a bunch more on a page I call My Story.  This is the part of the page I’m least “sure” of, but I think I like it and I’ll just have to look at the stats to see if others who land on 4realz find it interesting to learn a bit more about me… and the story itself is far from “complete”. I’m hoping to add some more photos and details over the next few days, weeks, and years!  🙂
  • I changed with the operation of the default “header” graphic on the theme. By default, there is no header graphic!  However, it’s really easy for me to use the “set featured image” to add one, although the only place I’ve done that so far is on my speakers page.
  • I added a few things to the footer that I thought people might find interesting… like the Google Voice “call me” button, a twitter feed of @tyr mentions and my latest blog posts.

While I like I’m at a spot where the current theme is an improvement over the last, there are still a few things I’m hoping to do in the near future:

  • Revising the page on Agent Marketing Tools to better reflect my current approach… and in particular, my thoughts on the Agent Business Cycle.
  • Add more header graphics to specific pages
  • Improve how I track conversions on the page… I’ve worked with more than a few clients to use Google Analytics to track conversions, but I’ve never done much beyond adding the GA code to 4realz.  I’m going to change that and play a bit more going forward!
  • (not 100% sure about this one)… I’m thinking of using the new MU-style hosting that’s available with the standard WordPress to host some of the “other” wordpress sites that are currently on my server.  I’m not sure I want to take the time, but Boone Georges sure does make the multisite option look tempting.

In terms of what I learned by hacking away at a WordPress theme…   I was super-impressed with just how easy the entire process was… and, in particular, how easy it was to build a child theme off of twenty ten.  The WordPress team has done an awesome job with the child theme functionality!

If you made it this far in the post, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new theme!  🙂

13 responses

  1. Dustin, I’m definitely digging the new look. Not that I didn’t like the last one, but this one just looks much cleaner and is easier to browse (of particular use for first-time visitors). Based on your experience so far, any plug-ins that you would definitely not endorse?

    1. Thank you much…

      I’ve got 18 plugins currently activated on the site, but only a few of them are interesting. The ones that you might find most interesting are: Smooth Slider, Tweet Blender, Facebook Like, and WPtouch.

      Would love to know if there are some others that you find interesting/helpful!

  2. Dig the new look. I’ve got playing with Twenty Ten on my to-do list. This may push it to the top…. When you get some time, tell me more about the CRT Mapping project.

    1. Ohh… I like the idea of telling you more about the mapping project. It definitely deserves at least a full blog post. Let me check in with Chris Mckeever to see if they’re going to post the code for the project any time soon (been waiting on that before I talked to much about it!)…

      But the general gist is that we built backend and frontend tools that can let anyone easily define neighborhood boundaries (or really any boundaries) at an extremely local level… We’re using “census block groups” as our base and it turns out to be the “right” scale for neighborhood definitions.

      If you check out the home search on OC Real Estate Voice, you can see the results of the tool in action. Linsey used the tool to adjust all the neighborhoods in Orange County (We’ve gave her a base of neighborhood definitions based on MLS information, but she was able to customize the boundaries to her liking!)

  3. really like the twenty ten theme, especially for your site. very informational feel to it. i also bookmarked this post to help me make the switch to 3.0 and cleanse myself of my “plugin” addiction. i’m always testing out different plugins, and really enjoy posts from people i respect that link to plugins they use…it helps me weed out the noise. thanks for passing on good information, as always!

    1. Yeah… I’ve gone a bit overboard with plugins in the past… I still have 18 of them on 4realz, but most of them are only doing some pretty “niche” things like spam protection, or SEO tweeks.

      1. your site loads quick, not spotty. clearly you are doing something right! well done sir

  4. Dustin,

    I recently hosted on WP for my last web project. I used to be a loyal Movabletype..nothing wrong with it just wanted to try the flexibility of WP like being able to change page titles (better SEO).

    Wish I could be there in the conference…

    God Bless, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome..

    1. Yeah… I tried movabletype for a recent newspaper project and it definitely didn’t work well for me… Been using WP way too long! 🙂

  5. Jacob M. Avatar
    Jacob M.

    Most of the time it is fun to play around with different formats, but after awhile I definitely know how depressing WordPressing can be.

  6. For the life of me I can’t figure out how to add a logo to the left of the blog title like you have here… got any tips? New site at http://RealEstateBlogPro.com

    1. I could be wrong, but it kinda looks like you have it figured out, no? The trick for me is that I created a header.php file in the child-theme and then added the text needed to add an image link to the top… (I’d include the code here, but it gets formatted funny. Let me know if you want the actual code and I’ll send it to you!)

      and then added some styling in the style.css file. Not sure it’s the best way, but it worked! 😉

      Hope that helps!

  7. Dustin, I recently hosted on WP for my last web project. I used to be a loyal Movabletype..nothing wrong with it just wanted to try the flexibility of WP like being able to change page titles (better SEO). Wish I could be there in the conference… God Bless, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome..

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