I like to try new stuff and gizmos. It’s just the way I am. So over the past couple of days, a few new blog experiments have been launched. As always, no promises that they’ll be permanently ensconced here.
First up, the Wibiya toolbar. Take note at the bottom of the screen:
This toolbar is the last thing to load, give it a couple of seconds if it’s not displaying. Also, it doesn’t work if you are using Internet Explorer 6. If you’re using IE6, you’re now two versions behind and either need to upgrade, or ditch IE altogether and get a better browser like Firefox or Chrome.
This is kind of a nifty thing. It’s got an area to search (either the blog or Google), recent posts window, a random button that will pull up a random post from the archives, a photo button (pulls from a Flickr photo set), RSS feed button, sharing sites, access to the TPREG Facebook Fan Page, a Facebook Community page (please join!), Facebook Connect implementation and even a Twitter client (that I can’t get to send Tweets. Yet.).
I could, if I were so inclined, also put up “notifier” messages to all visitors as well as send messages to the Facebook Community.
If the tool bar annoys you, you can minimize it by clicking the down arrow on the right of the tool bar.
What’s the point? Theoretically this helps increase page views, time on site, etc. Who knows if that’s really the case, time will tell. I look at it as more of a service to the readers here. The search seems to work quite well. The post navigation page could prove useful for some. “Community building” is all the buzz now, and the Wibiya system may just facilitate that.
Local Market Explorer
Speaking of community, a new WordPress plugin, Local Market Explorer (LME), was released this week that “mashes up” real estate and community info from Zillow, Education.com, Flickr, Walk Score and Yelp.
You can see a sample page here.
I’ve set up pages for several Phoenix area communities, which you can see on this page (the Local Market info pages are accessed via the “real estate info” links).
Of note: I disabled the option to display Flickr photos. I’m not too keen on random photos I have no control of being shown on the blog. Who knows what might pop up. I’d like to see an option to only display photos from Flickr sets I designate.
Also, the plugin requires a minor edit to work with the Thesis theme used here and on many other real estate blogs.
Here’s what has to be done to get LME to work in Thesis:
1) Open the plugin file lme-client.php in a text editor (NOT Microsoft Word)
2) Find this line (Line #36): include(TEMPLATEPATH . ‘/page.php’);
3) Replace it with this: include(TEMPLATEPATH . ‘/custom_template.php’);
4) save and upload the edited file to the LME plugin folder on your server
I’ve also noticed the plugin conflicts with plugins and widgets related to recent posts. If you have a recent posts plugins (or the Thesis Killer Recent Entries widget) installed, you’ll see an error in your sidebar (or where ever you have these plugins out-putting information).
This plugin dynamically generates some pretty useful information. It’s not going to help you in search engines, but if you run a real estate blog, you ought to be posting material for your readers, not Google. I’m pretty certain some will label it a Zillow link love fest. But I’m liking the compilation of a lot of city specific information all on one page. I’d like to see the ability to get even more specific ”“ down to the zip code level or even subdivision level. Perhaps this will be available in a future release.
As always, thoughts ”“ good, bad or indifferent ”“ are welcome!