A brief explanation of what has been happening behind the scenes at this site.
I have not posted in awhile, but I am working on the site. In part, I am posting now to let regular readers know what is going on, and to inform RE professionals who have come to me for advice on their own sites what I am doing to help this blog along.
Most noticeable is the theme change, which is meant for improved viewing of posts and navigation. I have been placing some effort into learning HTML, CSS, and PHP. I also have been studying elements that I like from other sites. After doing some research, I found this theme, which I then modified to suit my needs. Sitewide blog links, meaning the blogroll, do not seem to have as much importance as they once did, but I do think that such rolls are good for the user, so I placed one in the footer. I really do not like the Archives format in sidebars, but the Categories section makes finding certain topics easier. I also wanted a Pages section, but I decided not to use a php command to generate one. I wrote it out in HTML for the style sheet, because I want to control how these pages are accessed. Since I have this in the sidebar, I removed page tabs from the header for a cleaner look. Using HTML enabled me to highlight certain pages to guide users there. Under syndication, I used the buttons from my last format. The big change here is placing a simple little gif image to encourage people to use the RSS. I have to work on the image though. All in all, I feel that the navigation has been improved.
With the new theme, I found that I could customize the look by searching for free icons to substitute for the ones that came in the files with the theme. Since this is a real estate site, I found a house icon to use for the blogroll. I am using a book for the categories, and I am looking into other icons for different sections of the site. I used a simple method for adding these elements. I found or created the image that I wanted. I scaled it to the image being used by the theme, and renamed my image to that being already used. I then replaced the original image with my own. By this method, I did not have to rewrite any code. I am going to look or create some icons which fit a real estate site to incorporate them to help the feel that visitors have when here.
I switched the pages for the Photo section to the blog proper, instead of having that on pages that I coded. My hope is that this will allow me to update these pages faster. I am currently going through pictures taken during inspections to add to this library of home inspection findings. I have corrected the mistakes, so every picture can be seen. My only problem at this time is that I have to find a way to make the pages load faster. I am still looking at the structure of the pages, so changes could still be coming for this part of the site. Along the lines of this section, I am compiling various bits of information that I provide to my clients in pdf format for a download section. Since this site focuses on helping the consumer, as well as providing pieces of information for the investor and the professional, the downloads will span files for these groups. That should be the last major change to the site’s format for the time being.
Before I focus on new posts, I am updating various older articles. I wanted to create some anchor posts that could be the central post for information on certain topics found in this blog. For example, I should be completing an article based upon my research into roofs and attics soon (by early next week). In that way, users can go to one post for the main data, and then go exploring other posts as needed. However, I realized that certain posts have brought visitors here, and those posts should contain better, or updated, information, so I am reviewing them to find out how to improve them. The new theme has also brought the problem that some formatting of older posts needs to be corrected. Basically, this is my excuse for no new posts until I complete these projects.
Plug-ins have been the order of the day too. WordPress is great, and the plug ins make it that much better. I really like Yoast’s Breadcrumbs and Yet Another Related Post; these have been great navigation/exploration aids that I enjoyed on other sites. I finally added Head Space to work with All in one SEO. It is nice to be able to add more detail to the category pages with a description. Mobile Press should make the site better for mobile users. I never considered that someone would be looking at this site on such a device, but I have a good number of visits from that medium. It shows that even a simple little blog needs to pay attention to what is happening among internet users. You may have noticed that I did not provide links to those specific plug ins; I have a reason for that. I want to send you to one central site that provides the best information that I have ever found for website design, Smashing Magazine. I have been reading this blog for over a month now, and the material there is far better at explaining what you need for your website than what I can provide. Plus, they have great posts for CMS other than WordPress. Search for the developer’s tool box post for your CMS format (Joomla, WordPress, or so on).
Well, that is it for now. Once, I have this tackled, I need to look at my PPC campaign and offline marketing, but I want to create at least one really fantastic post a week on a subject, which means longer posts. Once I am back into a groove, I will create some of the other weekly posts that I had been publishing before, but I want quality over quantity, so please have patience with me.