This is the 3rd look for ArizonaRealEstateNotebook.com since last summer!

I’ve been struggling to reinvigorate this blog so I was trying different designs.

This new simple design is a free WordPress theme from Automatic called Able.

I’m done with making super-customized designs

I’ve slowly and painfully come to the conclusion that it’s not worth all the effort anymore to create a highly customized look for the website when I can find off-the-shelf designs that do 80% or 90% of what I want and THAT LOOK FANTASTIC ON SMART PHONES.

Check out this new design on a smart phone or tablet sometime. It looks fabulous! And so far in 2014, 29% of the visitors to ArizonaRealEstateNotebook.com were on a tablet or smart phone!

I’m done with design in general

Although I LOVE the creativity and immediate feedback of fiddling with the CSS and making the website look exactly the way I want, it really doesn’t pay off.

There are professional WordPress theme designers out there that know how to do it better than I ever will.

Choosing a WordPress theme

The biggest problem is choosing the theme. You can spend days researching themes. And it can be very difficult to see from a theme’s demo site how it will actually look on your site.

And I admit that I have a strong personal tendency to want to combine the best features of my favorite themes into one custom design. STOP!

You can probably get 80% or 90% of what you want from an off-the-shelf theme. And if you can’t, wait a few months and check again, they’re always coming out with new themes.

Content is king. Duh!

Despite all the design changes since last summer, the only thing that moved the needle on readership was when I published more posts during the early part of this year.

ArizonaRealEstateNotebook - Google Analytics

But design can be important

Another “Duh” moment in the last few days was when I looked at which links got clicked via Google Analytics. If it’s not “above the fold,” a link doesn’t get clicked a lot.

That’s one reason I’m emphasizing a couple of buyer tutorials that haven’t gotten the readership I think they deserve by putting them in the main menu.

And that’s a big reason I went with this design which has a smaller graphic in the header which means more links above the fold and more people exploring the website, I hope. [I wonder if I should remove the graphic altogether.]

Circling back to writing

Having unique websites has kinda been my trademark. I hand coded my first real estate website in 2001 and it got tons of traffic.

I did some amazing stuff in a makeover to this blog in 2008 by adding recently sold homes to the zip code pages each week. (Which I stopped doing 2 years ago.)

Now, I can get back to focusing on writing for this and my other blogs. I do worry, however, that I can spend too much time writing because it like to write.

Onward!

It’s been fun getting up to speed on blog design again as I prepare to make a new speciality real estate blog but, holy mackerel, it takes a lot of time to get up to speed!

Every two or three years I dive in and get all current on blog design and then my knowledge atrophies as I ignore design until the next big blog makeover.

P.S. Check out Automatic’s free and paid themes.


Where do you think real estate blogs are headed?

What have I missed? Comments appreciated.

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