Craig's Clicks - ActiveRain Blog Themes (#4)

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Education & Training with Tech Training for You!

Have you seen that I too like to hand out gold stars? This blog series I'm calling "Craig's Clicks". If you want to go back and see previous posts, that link will list them for you. I'm featuring blogs three at a time in these different categories: blog theme, blog profile, and blog signature.

The purpose of the series is to find good examples that inspire us and give us ideas on our own blogs. I'm clicking around ActiveRain as much as I have time to and if I see something that I like, I'll mark the click with a gold star in my book. Once I've gathered three, I'll post the features.

I'm looking at the presentation of you in the virtual world. If your presentation is attractive to the eye, engaging, tells a concise story about you to someone who has never met or seen you before then you will get my attention too.

These next three stars are also going out based on the blog theme (appearance). I'm looking specifically at blog banner and background image or color.

(These settings, by the way, are editable if you go to My Home > Activerain - Customize) I will soon be writing how-to articles on the topic, but for now we are looking for inspiration based on a job well done (and that we can learn from) The next three stars go to...

Shar Sitter
Shar and I worked together her banner. She had all the elements she wanted but was having just a little trouble getting the pieces together just right. I helped her with the last step but the idea was hers. The banner identifies nicely her company name and a tagline of what she does. It also shows her telephone number. She picked two images that represent visually what she does. It's a good example and maybe gives you some ideas for yours!

Team Honeycutt
Even despite a tiny technical difficulty with this one, I'm still giving it a gold star. I really like the colors and the various elements used to construct this page and banner. The team photo is on the right, a nice graphic on the left and their logo and contact number in the center. Do you see the black "box" on the right of their banner? That is because their banner is not 960 pixels wide as it needs to be. I have a feeling this graphic is related to their other site and perhaps why it doesn't fit quite right into the AR banner space.

One quick solution would be to stretch out the lower stripe like I've shown below. Dear Team Honeycutt, just email me if you want that JPG and I'll send it to you! :) Well done with very classy theme, I like it!

Judy Jennings
In her banner, Judy chose a series of seven photos that highlight different focal points of her area. It is an interesting visual and sets the local tone for her blog. Her background image also compliments and frames in her blog without being too distractive. Good job Judy with your recent page updates! (Judy BTW was the idea-giver of "craig's clicks" series name - now she has rightly earned a gold star!) Judy, if you feel like sharing how you did it (which apps/tools), we can compare notes!

Well there you have my next three "Craig's Clicks" gold stars in featuring blog themes.

Stay tuned for future posts where I will teach you how to do some of the things that we see here.

PS - meanwhile you may want to check out www.bannerfans.com -- Joel Kruse on AR wrote this post on how to use it. Keep in mind that you will want a custom sized banner of 960x130.

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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Leslie - wow, awesome comment! thanks for contributing to the education here...

a) picnik - agreed awesome little toolset

b) honeycutt logo - true, know your corporate graphic standards and work with them

however it is usually the logo itself that you cannot disassemble and reconstruct

I'm pretty sure (but they could check) the background stripe proportion is not a defined element

closing the black hole on the right fixes a detracting item

and it brings up the subject that you often need multiple variations of graphic elements because not every site has the same space (sizing) to fill. Another example, don't put your rectangular portrait into a profile page that wants a square portrait.

c) avoid too much detail in header and background - yes, agreed

don't let it become a distraction - eyes need to go to CONTENT

d) outside blog coordination - 960x134 - ok I have that noted and am ready to go explore it

e) I'd rather be redundant with contact information - the one in the header is actually probably more easily drawn to by our eye and so should not be overlooked - agreed - coordinate with outside blog

I really like this comment. It reminds us to look at the BIG picture. We have to be focused on consumers and what and where they see us. If google drops them off on our outside blog, then make sure you see yourself as they see you.

Thanks for this feedback - it's given me lots of ideas to go explore some more!

Dec 31, 2010 12:26 AM #47
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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Judy - good job, I'm happy to feature it - thanks for also sharing the 960x134 personal experience - that will save people some time knowing to watch out for it 

Fernando - good thing for the button that gives you new words - scratching my head on how to type chinese :)

Lorraine/Loretta - yes I see lots of conversations about downgrading the portrait - I'm afraid I'm in the opposite camp... I am a consumer and if I am "meeting" an agent for the first time online before I call him/her, I really would like to see the person. Does this mean your portrait has to be in the banner? Not at all! Do you need to have a good portrait in the box for it, absolutely. And if you are using a logo in your portrait box, I'd really like to see a photo of you at the very top of your profile page. If I go to all of these places and I don't ever "see" you, there's a serious shortcoming for me. It is not a beauty contest... it's just about something about seeing somebody to feel like you know them and can trust them.

Now what I don't like is your SAME portrait duplicated all over the place. Banner, portrait box, signature, profile page. That's going to the other extreme. And if you are using more than one place to show a photo of you, use a different pose or a different photo! :)

Dec 31, 2010 12:41 AM #48
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Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Looking forward to the "how to" series.  I'm so technically challenged.

Dec 31, 2010 12:44 AM #49
Rainmaker
247,189
Brien Berard
Remax Professionals Laurel MD - Laurel, MD
Maryland Real Estate Agents - Laurel Real Estate

So much work to do, so little time.  Thanks for these excellent examples.   I have to get back into this again.

Dec 31, 2010 12:48 AM #50
Rainmaker
432,764
Jen Bowman
Keller Williams on the Water - Holmes Beach, FL
Realtor - Anna Maria Island & Bradenton FL

Thanks Craig! You inspired me to redo my headers.  I did it on Picnik using the collage theme and then resized it to 960 x 134. Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2010 02:00 AM #51
Rainmaker
149,301
Linda Lohman
Fonville Morisey Realty - Cary, NC
Former Teacher/Broker

Looking forward to exploring your blog for new tips. Thanks!!!

Dec 31, 2010 02:06 AM #52
Rainmaker
571,868
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Craig,  terrific concept and you know the nice folks here on AR will eat this up.  Do you also work on WP ssites ?  Best of 2011 to you  !

Dec 31, 2010 02:29 AM #53
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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Bill - 2011 I hope to master WP sites - my sites so far are more traditional HTML/CSS - I have pretty good PHP understanding though and that is helpful for cusomizing WP the way you want from what I've seen so far of the backend code

Dec 31, 2010 02:33 AM #54
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Harry F. D'Elia III
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

It is all about branding these days. Great ideas

Dec 31, 2010 02:38 AM #55
Rainmaker
497,757
Steve Scheer
Realty Oasis - Metro Brokers - Highlands Ranch, CO
Highlands Ranch Real Estate - Denver Real Estate

Very nice Craig, I do like them all. I have changed my colors a bit but that is all for now.  Something for my 2011 list, that starts tomorrow!  Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2010 02:48 AM #56
Rainmaker
283,300
Kim Dean
www.GoSimplyTexas.com - McKinney, TX
Simply Texas Real Estate - Broker/Owner

I'm loving the third banner with snapshots of all the cities that Judy serves. Making a note to myself - actually, I'm adding this to my Jan. 2011 "to do" list I like it THAT much! Hope Judy won't mind I"m doing a spinoff of her idea.

Dec 31, 2010 02:51 AM #57
Rainmaker
531,807
Karen Baker
Sunset Beach and Beyond Realty - Sunset Beach, NC
Professional Help with Rapid Responses...

Craig ~ featured post, kudos ~ great info ~ another tidbit for the to do list ~ Happy New Year!!

Dec 31, 2010 02:58 AM #58
Rainmaker
232,829
Ken Barker Realtor® GRI, E-Pro Certified
Dilbeck Real Estate - Burbank, CA

Craig - Banners are super important. This is a good thing you are doing for Rainers. I had a hard time on my own I wish I had run into you in the beginning of my time. I used Adobe Photoshop and played with it and got it.

I agree with someone that said when you have your pic on the banner and a pic on the AR profile side. That is too much. It is nice to compliment but some banners that I have run across have been real busy.

Nice series and congrats on your feature.

Dec 31, 2010 05:21 AM #59
Rainer
332,782
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ

Just the inspiration I needed, Craig, as I prepare to change my holiday header!

Dec 31, 2010 07:07 AM #61
Rainmaker
1,769,410
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

Great examples, Craig! I just noticed the thin black line right at the top of your blog. It gives your page a nice matted effect like when framing a picture. It's those little details that really count!

Dec 31, 2010 07:10 AM #62
Rainer
137,264
Brent Wells
The LivingWell Team - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW

Craig,

I am always impressed with people that are artistic. I can try and try, but artistic creativity is not one of my gifts. I happy to cheer others who have such creative skills. Bravo, to all the winners...

-Brent

Dec 31, 2010 08:28 AM #63
Rainmaker
89,468
Scott Petersen
Client First, Realtors - Canton, MI - Canton, MI

Thanks for the samples and inspiration. Sprucing up my Activerain homepage is on my list to do this coming year... hopefully in the coming month. Thanks and Happy New Year.

Dec 31, 2010 10:09 AM #64
Rainmaker
2,570,648
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Craig, thanks I will be changing my banner to add information...Happy new year to you and your family and may it be filled with love, joy and laughter and of course, much success.

Dec 31, 2010 11:14 AM #65
Rainmaker
534,844
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

Hi there Craig - I've been gone for about a month - and I come back and there you are earning gold stars left right and centre!  Thanks for adding me as an Associate - :-)

Dec 31, 2010 12:22 PM #66
Rainmaker
1,082,380
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Craig, we are right at the end of re-branding ourselves with our marketing dept and then we are going to be changing everything! So right now I'm super frustrated but have to be patient for another few days... I do appreciate the look of each of the blogs. They all look likek the writer cared enough about their blog to make a professional statement and that is so important, as you say.

Jan 01, 2011 02:22 PM #67
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