RCG's New Look!

So, it finally happened.  After a few years of the same theme, I gave RCG a new look last night.

There are more than a few changes to the site, but the one that will probably stick out the most are:

  • New theme.  I based it on the Andreas theme by Andreas Viklund.  It’s the same theme I’m using on 4realz.net, although I modified it a bit before launching it on 4realz and even more modifications before launching it on RCG.
  • New header graphic.  I switched out the photos.  As part of the process, some of the contributors gave me some photos to use.   Deborah Burns was extremely helpful and sent me dozens of photos of which I used both the farmers market and the space needle.
  • Updated the color scheme! (If you’re curious, I based the color pattern on color combo 220)
  • Author mini-bio at the bottom of ever post. I replaced the one photo that was at the top of every post with a “About the author” section at the bottom of each post.  Not only will this make it easier than ever to learn more about the RCG contributors, but it will also mean we won’t have the funny formatting issues that sometimes came with having a photo at the top-right of ever post.
  • Page navigation.  By moving the page navigation from tabs at the top to the left side, we’ll be able to do a bunch more with page navigation in the near future on the site.

I’m sure there’s even more, but I just wanted to pop off a quick note to get everyone up to speed.

Interestingly, in the process of looking at photos for the new theme, I came across this screenshot of the original RCG site (back when we had only 2 posts!).  My how times have changed!  ;)

Rain City Guide's original theme!

Rain City Guide's original theme


Just realized I should have added that if you have feedback of any kind, especially if something is not working as you’d expect it to work, I’d definitely appreciate hearing about it!

Update #2:

I also wanted to mention that we added “avatars” for all people leaving comments.   If you want your own avatar, it’s as simple as signing up for a free one at gravatar.com (and explained in a bit more detail on 4realz).

About Dustin Luther

As the Director of Engagement at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, Dustin heads up both the event and the social media teams. In addition to managing Rain City Guide, he also manages Credibility Insights and plays hard on his personal blog.

You can find me on Twitter (@tyr), Facebook (dluther) and Google+ (+Dustin Luther).


  1. Dustin,
    Nice UI upgrade!
    Have you noticed any impact since you’ve added video commenting?

  2. Almost no impact at all… not many folks seem to be using it.

  3. I had a consistent suggestion from folks via email that I needed to list the author of each post directly on the homepage of RCG, so I just added a “posted by AUTHOR”. Check out out by going to the homepage (and you might have to hit “refresh” in order to clear the cache).

  4. I hate it. You can’t see the recent comments without opening threads, this box I’m typing in is too small, the font is too small.

  5. I agree that the font could be a little larger…or I should start wearing my glasses! :) I like the avatars in the comments and hope that the video comments/posts pick up more. I thought they were kind of fun. I’ll have to try to remember using it.

  6. when you comment on a post, a lot of the side bar disappears…is it suppose to do that?

  7. Okay, the side bar disappearing is another reason to hat it (assuming you mean the part that lists what the recent thread posts are).

    I’m not the type that hates change, I just don’t think this is a good change.

  8. Kary… So sorry to hear about the hate. ;) But a lot of the things you mentioned can be fixed!

    On my list of ToDo items:
    * Increase the size of the comment box (easy)
    * Find a better comment widget for the sidepanel (I agree that the default comment widget is really lacking in options and
    * Increase the size of the font (should I fix that just on the comments, or is the font on the posts too small as well???)

  9. Rhonda: It’s not so much that the sidepanel disappears as there is a different sidepanel for the homepage than on single post like this one. I’ve always thought that the existing sidepanel simply had too much stuff in it (comments, links, meta tag, archives, etc.) for a single post, so I did some coding to use a much more simplified sidepanel when looking at a post.

    It’s also worth noting that I simply removed the sidepanel on “pages” which should give us even more room for creativity… (more to come!).

  10. I like the new look!

    The avatars are nice alongside the comments, they’re more conversational.

    Thanks Dustin!

  11. The font on the posts is fine. Glad to hear the fixes are easy.

  12. I like it.

    PS. the photo on the header: that little boat house there across from the dock…West Greenlake is where I spent a couple summers Lifeguarding for the City of Seattle earning some spending money during College in 85′. Lynlee and I took several walks with daughter in stroller from 77th & 8th NW over Phinney to the lake. Seems like so long ago. Man I’m old. :)

  13. I like the overall look… I haven’t had my coffee yet so I’m not sure if my eyes are deceiving me… is the font larger? :)

  14. I don’t think it’s just your imagination. The message box you type in is clearly larger, so the font is probably larger too.

  15. There is a claim at the top as leading source of real estate information, seems a bold statement.

  16. Kary,

    Set up your gravatar. See Update #2 in the post.

  17. I’m shocked. Ardell wants to see more of me! :D

    (I have a few other tech projects that will come ahead of that, but I will get to it eventually.)

  18. Dustin, as long as you’re making changes, it would be nice if the non-contributors could edit their posts somehow. I suspect that’s a major change, but I can’t tell you how many typos, etc. I notice after posting.

  19. The “Subscribe to RCG” link goes funny. Should I take that personally?

  20. I miss comment numbers…

    Kary, I’m just picturing what that Lease Purchase post looks like without a picture of you. It must look like I’m talking to a ghost…Caspar even.

  21. Rhonda… Coffee or no coffee, I definitely increased the font on the comments (and as Kary noted, the size of the message box!). I would have mentioned it, but I am still on the hunt for a better comment option. :)

  22. David: Bold can be good, no? Setting the bar high is not always bad if we can live up to it. :)

    If someone wants to propose a different statement, I’m definitely game to listen.

  23. Kary: Great suggestions about editing comments. I’ve seen a few plugins that let people edit their comments for a specific amount of time (like 15 minutes). I’ll add that to my ToDo list!

  24. Yes… Jeff… Feel free to take any funny behavior of the site personally because it assumes I have some killer coding skills! ;)

  25. So now… I’ve got three more improvements to make:
    1) Find a better comment widget for the sidepanel (I searched through the available widgets on WordPress.org last night and didn’t see anything I liked… but I’ll keep looking)
    2) Add a plugin that lets folks edit their comments after posting. I think the Jay Thompson has something like this, so I’ll probably be able to make this happen pretty easily
    3) Add # to the comments. Great suggestion from Ardell! I’ll probably be able to pull the code from the previous theme and make this happen quickly.

  26. Ardell: Not only do we have #’s for comments again, but the links actually work this time! Now, if someone links to a comment, then the page will scroll to that comment when someone follows the link! ;)

  27. 15 minutes would be fine for edit time. It’s usually right after hitting Submit that you want to edit.

  28. Thanks Dustin! So far I’m liking it.

  29. I just installed a comment plugin that (with my limited testing) appears to let you edit your comments for 10 minutes after you leave a comments. Let me know if anyone is having issues with this, but hopefully, it will be a welcome addition for all. ;)

  30. Okay, the final three updates I had in mind are now done:

    1) From the homepage, you can now see the most recent comments… the trick is that I wanted to thread the comments by post and I now figured out how to make that happen.
    2) Edit comments for 10 minutes after posting is now live.
    3) Comment # is now working (even better than previous theme!)

    Let me know if you want to see anything else…

  31. Seems to be great!

  32. Dustin, I think it’s great that our so open for our opinions on what we would like to see on your blog. :)

  33. But the edit function doesn’t seem to work for me–I don’t see a way to edit.

  34. Dustin,

    The countdown on the edit comment function is cool.

    One negative, which I think is a big one, is you can’t see pictures until you click on a post. That would make photo posts obsolete for the most part and many of my clients are drawn to RCG by the graphics.

    All verbiage unless you click something is not “an upgrade” IMO

  35. There is a lot of mortgage business promotion, you have an attorney, and discussion about Real Estate.

    In my opinion this site is heading to be an alternative internet based business model dealing in Real Estate or mortgage transactions.

    One mortgage rep suggested that a mortgage person and attorney could handle a Real Estate transaction.

    I think that’s dangerous.

  36. Everett_Tom says:

    Hey Dustin, nice updates!

    I have to admit I agree with David L. @15, That is a pretty bold claim you’ve got at the top.

    When I want to know about transactions, changes in the law, or what local Agents/LO/Mortgage Brokers/ RE Lawyers think about what’s happening.. I come here.

    When I want to know about Seattle Real Estate stats, trends, etc: I go to Seattlebubble

    (When I want a laugh, I go to the PI Blogs (They seem to bring out the Crazies..))

    how about : “Welcome to a leading resource for information on the Seattle real estate market”?

  37. Dustin,

    Add Seattle “Area” and not just Seattle…leave it and let’s see if we can live up to it instead of changing it :)

  38. Kary: The edit function should be showing up on the comment right after you leave it… and, again, it only lasts for 10 minutes. Are you looking at the comments that you’re leaving and not seeing the option? I’ve tested it with a few different accounts (i.e. admin, registered user and unregistered user) in a few different browsers (FF and Safari) and it’s worked every time for me, so I’m not sure how to trouble shoot your issue.

  39. David: Ideas are often dangerous! ;) If you have issues with the advice being given in any post, you’re always free to add your opinions to the conversation.

    I think more interestingly in this context, what would you do different if you were running RCG? Would you just ban folks for talking about ideas that threaten existing real estate orthodoxy?

    Personally, as long as folks are not attacking others (and not advocating illegal activities), I’m often learn a lot from folks who approach things from different perspectives.

  40. Ardell, I not sure I know exactly what you’re talking about…

    From the homepage, you can see all the text and photos of each post.

    The only time that images are not shown is on “author” and “tag” style pages, which only show a summary of the info. Although I could change this functionality, it is currently operating the same was as it did in the previous theme.

    If I’m not understanding what you’re looking at, can you just give me an example of a URL where photos are being suppressed.

  41. Dustin,

    I’m coming up with a list of things we should have in order to be “the leading source for real estate information” in the Seattle Area. I have a few ideas that involve Galen. I’ll talk to him. Having Estately as our Search Function provides some opportunities that people don’t know exist.

    Searching all homes with hardwood floors, as example. I especially would like to see the old format where homes tick down and open that to homes that will be open on Sunday. Since that is now a data field that the mls permits IDX sites to tap into “Open Sunday”, it would be great to have a running list of homes that will be open to the public each week.

    Clearly a source for knowing which houses will be Open on Sunday fits the description “leading source for information about the Seattle Real Estate Market”.

    Via RCG’s current search function you could put “hardwood” in as a search feature, and it will work as long as the agent mentioned hardwood floors in their Public Remarks.

    I agree with David actually, but it makes me want to rise to the occassion…and that’s not a bad thing.

  42. I love it Ardell! I can’t wait to see the list!

  43. Dustin, I suspect it’s a scripting issue with Firefox & NoScript. I’m testing with this post.

    Result: Yes it was a result of NoScript. This paragraph is an edit.

  44. Kary, for all the time you spend here at RCG, you must upload your photo so readers can see your face instead of the grey/white dude.

  45. Rhonda: You just reminded me that I wanted to make people “monsters” instead of blank outlines of people. Fixed! Let me know if you’all see this as overkill.

  46. What if I like the monster? ;)

  47. I can live with Kary as a monster :)

  48. Dustin, what do you think about moving some stuff over to the left side of the page? (maybe the contributors?) Just a thought…you know way more about this blogging stuff than I do!

  49. I’m a pest! How about a button for archived post?

  50. Rhonda: I love you being a pest. :) The plugin I was using for archives wouldn’t work with this theme (it was a pretty old plugin)… so I took it down and added the “Archives by month” to the homepage. However, you just reminded me to figure out how to get an acceptable archive page again.

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