ActiveRain Launches New Home Page Design and Blog Featured Images
On Tuesday, September 20th, ActiveRain launched a new home page design, aimed to highlight blog images and additional content, as well as set the foundation for further remodel of the site.
Our new design, puts an emphasis on a new feature, the 'Featured Image' for blog posts. In addition, it will make the home page more engaging, by bringing additional 'popular posts' as well as 'top questions' and 'recent posts' to the forefront.
Featured Images on Blog Posts and The Home Page
You now have the ability to add a 'Featured Image' to every blog post that you create. These featured images will be highlighted when your post is selected as a featured post, and also gives your blog posts a visual lead in, for every post, should you chose to use this new feature.
The featured image will become a larger part of the site as we continue to remodel additional pages of the site (your blog page, the blog home page) as well as the set the stage for ActiveRain to syndicate content to other platforms.
(IMPORTANT: We will be looking extra hard for content that uses the featured image when we are selecting posts to be featured on the home page. Posts without the featured image could still be featured, but you'll have a better shot if you use the featured image on your post)
Featured blog images will make it much easier to send your content to social media sites by tagging that image as the default image to display when your post is shared outside of ActiveRain.
In order to take advantage of the new featured image, you will upload it just below the title line of your blog post in the blog editor. For best display, you'll want to use an image with a minimum resolution of 480pixels W x 360pixels H.
Color Coded Topics
You'll begin to see when a post is featured, or when it shows up in the 'popular posts' section on the right hand side of the home page, that each post is color coded to match the topic that was selected when you created your blog post. This is the first step in allowing our members to sort content on the site based on topics in which you are most interested. In the next version of the home page, each member will be able to determine which categories (we'll call them channels) you have the most interest in, and you'll be able to sort content to only show you those specific categories. Much of the work we have been doing is setting up for some of these forward looking features on the site.
Some of the colors you will see:
For Professional Posts
Yellow - ActiveRain Community
Rust - Real Estate Best Practices
Magenta - Real Estate Industry
Blue - Real Estate Sales and Marketing
(Color coming soon) - Real Estate Technology and Tools
Mint - Mortgage/Finance
Pink - Just for fun
For Consumer Posts
Teal - Home Buying
Dark Purple - Home Selling
Red - Home Improvement
Green - Real Estate General Information
Royal - Real Estate Market Trends
Terracotta - Lending/Financial
Orange - Local News and Events
Sky - Listings
New Navigation Header
At the top of each page on ActiveRain, you will now see a slightly modified header. Blogs, Q&A, Products and University get the lion's share of the exposure in this new header design. You can also 'search' from this top header area (new and improved search coming soon!) as well as easily get into blog writing mode with the new 'WRITE POST' button. The flag will still show the most recent interactions people are taking with your content and display all of your notifications. Just about everything else you would ever need can be found in the drop down menu by hovering over your small profile picture.
The popular posts area on the right hand side of the home page will continually serve up fresh content based on an algorithm that looks at (among other things):
Number of comments
Number of likes
Amount of Traffic (or clicks on the post)
Number of reBlogs
Number of shares
When it was written
And even factors in are you a new or long time member (new members get a little extra love)
This will be a great chance for some of our newer members to get discovered. It will also help our moderators find content that should be elevated to featured status based on the activity of the posts.
Foundation for Next Round of Development
This round of development had many aspects that are being put in place to aid in future development efforts. Prior to this release, our site has had a massive variety in the style sheets used to layout pages. During this release, we have made major strides towards normalizing the design elements around the site. You'll continue to see work being done on this, and as such, in this current iteration, there are some styling inconsistencies. But, we are working toward complete and total consistency across the entire site. All of this to say, if you see some styling issues, please let us know.
Next on the roadmap are updated Business Pages/ Product Profiles (and some big news on how brands will be able to use and interact on ActiveRain), updated member profiles, and the channel concept that I spoke about above (the idea that you will be able to personalize your ActiveRain experience).
Play Around (starting Tuesday after the release) and Let Us Know What You Think
We'd love your feedback. There isn't a ton of change to functionality (with the exception of adding featured images to blog posts) but there is definitely some navigation elements that have moved. We hope that things will be easier to find as you get used to the new design.
Much of the work that was done was put in place to make future development releases easier and more frequent. So hang tight, we are in for more awesome enhancements in the coming months!