Picnik has announced that Google is going to be closing this popular website on April 19, and moving its editing tools over to Google+. If you have a Premium account, you should receive a full refund, and their premium features are available to everyone from now until the day they close.
Picnik users can download their content existing content with Picnik Takeout, and can also copy it over to Google+.
As much as I like and use the Google suite of products, I’m not very excited about having this functionality bundled into Google+. When I work on photos, I’m not usually interested in sharing them that way.
If you’ve been using Picnik, and now want to find some alternatives, there are some other good sites out there. One of my favorite editors is Pixlr. They are a free service, and also available as an Android or iPhone app. Another good product is PhotoShop Express. You can currently only work with .jpg files with this product, but you can do a lot of work with those files.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of WordPress themes available for your real estate website. From my own experience, and after reviewing a number of other real estate agent WordPress websites, I believe that these are the top 3 themes for your primary website.
AgentPress, from StudioPress.
AgentPress, a child theme on the Genesis Framework, is the theme we use on our own personal team site. It’s very customizable, with multiple layout and color options, custom header and menu options, and a featured property slider. It is a moderately priced theme, at $99.95, and I think it’s the best choice, especially for an agent who is only going to have one website.
Elegant Estate, from Elegant Themes.
Elegant Themes has a different pricing strategy than many of the other theme publishers. Instead of buying a specific theme, you pay $39 per year, and have access to all of the themes they publish. This makes them an attractive option for the real estate agent who is building a variety of micro-sites targeting different developments, towns, or demographics, and who does not want all the sites to look the same.
The ElegantEstate theme itself is a good choice for such an agent’s main website. It has some nice color scheme choices, and also some built in features for placing ads on the page. Also, unlike many WordPress themes, it is designed to be a website first, not a blog, although you can use it primarily as a blog if you want.
Estate, from Woo Themes.
Estate is one of the pricier WordPress themes out there, at $200. You get a lot of functionality for the price, however, including IDX functionality, a featured property slider, custom post types, and Google Maps integration. You also get the layered Photoshop design file for the theme, which allows you to work with the individual design elements. If you really want to get into the technical aspects of designing your website, Estate is a good choice.
Ok, I installed WordPress. Now how do I work with it?
You now need to login to your WordPress Dashboard. The URL should be www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin , and use the username and password you established when you installed WordPress. The picture below will show you what the Dashboard looks like.
Dashboard: This main page will give you a summary of activity, WordPress news, and a section to make a quick, simple post.
Posts: This section gives you tools for creating new blog posts, and editing your existing ones, as well as category and tag tools.
Media: Here you can work with your image and video files.
Links: Organize links you may use throughout your website.
Pages: Create and edit additional pages for your website.
Comments: Read and moderate comments that have been left on your blog posts and pages.
Appearance: Tools for working on the structure and appearance on your page, such as the theme, widgets, menus, and even editing the code for your site, if you’re really ambitious.
Plugins: Add-on tools to expand the functionality of your website.
Users: Create and modify user accounts.
Tools: Additional tools you can use to work with WordPress.
Settings: Lots of behind-the-scenes settings, such as time zone, how many posts show up on a page, whether comments need to be reviewed before showing live, and much more.
So, what should I do now?
Familiarize yourself with each of the Dashboard sections. You might want to go into the Users area and fill out your profile, as well as the various Settings pages.
Next Time, Writing a Blog Post.
Is it difficult to install?
No, not at all. It’s probably already “installed” on your web host, so all you really need to do is activate it.
How do I do it?
Login to your web hosting account control panel. You will have received the login instructions in your welcome email when you signed up for your web hosting account. Every company’s control panel is a little different, but you will go to a section labelled “Software”, “Scripts”, or something similar. There you fill find a script for installing blog software. The most common one is called Fantastico. I’ve also used one called Softaculous. The picture below will show you how it looks in the Hostgator control panel.
You’ll want to open that program, and you will see a number of different software programs listed. Click on WordPress, and you should get a screen like the one below. Click on “New Installation”.
This will give you the screen where you enter your administrative details (seen below).
Install on Domain: If you have multiple domains hosted on this account, choose the one on which you want to install WordPress.
Install in Directory: Leave this blank, unless for some reason you only want to use WordPress for a portion of the website.
Admin Access Data: Choose an adminstrator username and password.
Base Configuration: Choose an administrator nickname, give them an email address to send administrative emails to, and enter your website’s name and a brief description. Then submit the information.
You should then get a screen showing you your username and password, and asking you if you want the details of the installation emailed to you (which you do). Enter your email, click “Finish Installation”, and you’re all set.
Open another window and type in your domain name. Your website should be live, with a generic template and a “Hello World” post.
Next Time, The WordPress Dashboard…
What is a Theme, and why do I need one?
A WordPress Theme is the collection of files that provide structure to your website. It will define the colors, layout and more. When you set WordPress up, it does come with a basic default theme, but for a professional website you will want one with a more customized appearance and better functionality.
Do I need to buy a theme, or can I just use a free one?
There are a lot of free themes available, some of them quite good, but I wouldn’t recommend using one. There are some potential drawbacks such as lack of support, possible malicious coding, and a longer time to adapt to changes in versions of WordPress. Good premium themes are available at very reasonable prices, and well worth it.
I look at free versus premium themes the way I look at FSBO versus going with a Realtor. You might get lucky going “free”, but odds are you get what you pay for.
What’s the difference between a Parent Theme and a Child Theme?
There are a couple of ways to develop a theme. The theme may be independent of any others, in which case you would just call it a WordPress Theme. A theme could also be a customized add-on for another installed theme. In this case, the main theme is called a Parent Theme, and the add-on theme is called a Child Theme.
A lot of people who have more than 1 web site set up prefer using Parent and Child Themes. You can use the basic Parent Theme for all the sites, and get different Child Themes for each. This lets you have very different layouts and looks for the different sites, but the behind the scenes set up for each on your end is similar.
What WordPress Theme would you recommend?
It depends what type of site you are going to have. If it is going to be your primary personal website, I would recommend AgentPress, from StudioPress. This is one of those Parent and Child Themes, where Agent Press is a Child Theme, and Genesis is the Parent Theme. This is the theme I use on my own personal website.
If you are setting up a website based around community information, I would consider what they call a “magazine style” theme. If you decided to use AgentPress, then I would recommend another Child Theme that works with Genesis, the Magazine Theme. Another magazine style theme I’ve used is Oracle, from Theme Trust. This is a stand-alone theme.
There are different pricing packages. How do I decide which level to purchase?
Some publishers have different pricing packages, depending on how many sites you want to use the theme on. If you know you are going to be using the theme on multiple websites, get the upgraded package. If you’re not sure, just buy the single use license. You can typically upgrade it later if you need to.
What should I do next?
Think about what type of website or websites you will be building, then check out the major theme publishers. Look at the live demos of the different themes. When you find a theme or themes you like, buy them!
A few theme publishers
Next time, Installing WordPress….