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!  🙂

Two of the slickest aspects of using the…

Two of the slickest aspects of using the P2 theme are 1) it gives me the option to write simple posts directly from the homepage (twitter-style) and 2) it updates comments and posts without any need to “reload” the page. To give you an idea of how cool this is, while I was writing my last post, two new comments were being left on the previous post and I got to see the comments in real time as they were being made… It’s pretty slick technology for a wordpress blog… and I’m totally lov’n it!

I spent the evening playing with this si…

I spent the evening playing with this site… and I’m finally at a spot where I feel like I can take a break. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for the night. 🙂

The inspiration for changing things up was pretty simple. I really wanted to play with the power of the P2 theme in terms of real-time updates. In order to really take advantage of the way this theme treats comments, I’m positive I’ll also need to start blogging a bit more, which is a darn good incentive…

I also had some specific functionality I wanted with my P2 install… I wanted a WP plugin that 1) authenticates using either Twitter or FB & 2) allows sending of comments to either Twitter or FB.

My main problem is that the few plugins that could do such a thing (like IntenseDebate) came with their own set of baggage or simply didn’t work within the P2 theme (which I’m extremely fond of playing with!)

The end result was that I installed two plugins that appear to play “well enough” together. The first was Twit Connect and the second was Sociable’s Facebook Connect Plugin.

This way, users *can* use either service to “login” before leaving a comment (as well as no service at all!). And while I never could get the “send to twitter” option from Twit Connect working, you’all will be able to send your comments to Facebook should you choose to.

Anyway, there’s lots more I could talk about… including why I’m so fond of the P2 theme… but I’m going to leave this post somewhat simple… and leave my P2 thoughts until I’ve played around a bit more. If you have any thoughts on the changes (or just want to see how the comments update on-screen in real-time), feel free to leave a comment!

4realz Gets a Makeover…

RCG-ideaInspired by my desire to redo the RCG theme, I recently gave 4realz.net a makeover… If you want to see what I did and why, check out my post on Rain City Guide:

And no doubt about it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the redesign!

4realz Gets a New Look

I was putting together a new blog for a client this past week (it’s not launched yet, so I can’t send you a link) and was inspired to use a new theme for 4realz.net.

There’s more than a few things that I like about this new theme, but some of the big improvements are:

  1. The code is really clean and easy to modify.
  2. I’ve become somewhat addicted to adding more pages to my themes, and by having the pages listed on the sidepanel (as oppose to tabbed across the top), I can add a virtually unlimited number of pages.
  3. The new theme has a convenient place for ads (i.e. the entire left sidepanel below the search box!)…. In terms of pricing and philosophy, I haven’t published anything yet, but when I do, you can be sure I’m going to borrow heavily from Jay.  And until I do publish something, you can expect that a 3 month commitment at $100/month will get you a 125 x 125 block on 4realz left sidepanel (assuming your ad is approved).

So far, the only problem I’ve noticed with this theme is that it’s doing something really quirkly with smiley faces in comments, so if you’re going to leave a comment, don’t use a smiley face (fixed!).

UPDATE:

Kinda random, but looks like Kris just update her theme as well… and was also inspired by Jay.  🙂

I’d love to have this blog layout match …

I’d love to have this blog layout match my style a little better… Any advice would be appreciated.

Update: Just noticed that the simple Bloglines layout is exactly what I want on 4 Realz. I’ll keep the colors/formats of the Neat theme, but I really only need the limited amount of functionality of Bloglines.