Is your wordpress site mobile ready?

Make WordPress Site Mobile Ready

How do I make my wordpress website easier to read on mobile devices?  Having the answer to that question has become more important as we have studied smartphone usage statistics and  considered our tech savvy real estate client base in the Puget Sound area.  In a nutshell, a large portion of our clients (and future clients) are seeing us online through the filter of a 4-inch screen in their hand.  And consciously or not, they’re making judgements about us based on how we appear.

Smartphones are about to dominate the market
Have you observed people and their smartphones lately? It seems everyone has one and they’re always in hand. If you remember our recent post regarding Ticor’s ability to receive title & escrow and customer service requests via text, you’ll remember that experts are expecting smartphones to garner the lion’s share of the mobile device market by the end of 2011. And what are people doing all day on their smartphones? They’re doing all the usual smartphone things… They’re texting, calling, gaming, reading emails, using apps, and looking at websites.

The problem of browsing the web via Smartphone
Have you ever looked at a website on a smart phone? It’s quite an experience because you never know how things are going to turn out as you browse from one site to another. Sometimes you get lucky and the website is so simple (like craigslist) that it looks normal on even an old-school blackberry. But even on the latest phones with larger touch-screens, you’ll find websites with strange columns of text or split pictures that appear for no apparent reason, making things very hard to read. And if there’s flash on the site, good luck…

Screen shot of mobile ready website

The Good News
We don’t have a solution for the world’s mobile browsing problems. But we do have a solution that we’ve applied to our WordPress site (this site).  Back in 2010, at RE BarCamp in Seattle, Mike Mueller shared a few of his favorite wordpress plugins and one of them happened to be a plugin that makes wordpress sites easy on the mobile browser.  At the time that was a ‘stupiphany’ for us.  Duh!  There’s a wordpress plugin for everything.  Of course there would be one that would make our site mobile ready!

Since that time, we have tested a few mobile-ready plugins and settled on one called WPTouch that we are very pleased with.  It provides a mobile ready look and feel for the most popular mobile platforms and it provides an intuitive set up with options for colors, drop-down menus, individual page icons, and the inclusion or exclusion of pages from the mobile site.

So if you’re a mobile user, we’d love to hear your feedback on how usable our site is on your mobile device.  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Product Spotlight – Ticor Pocket Profile App

Ticor Pocket Profile App ScreenshotWith Ticor Title’s Pocket Profile application, real estate professionals can get immediate property information on their iPhone or iPad. By entering a property address, owners’ name, assessor’s parcel number (APN) or search nearby properties, Ticor Title’s Pocket Profile can provide real time access to valuable property information.

There are two steps to getting started:
Install the app on your phone
Call this number and ask for a Ticor Representative to activate your account: (425)-255-7575

Get Ticor Pocket Profile for your Smartphone today!

Ticor Pocket Profile for iPhone

Ticor Pocket Profile for Android

Ticor Pocket Profile for Blackberry


Receive Recorders office holiday schedule via text

We’re launching a new service that will remind you via text message when the King County, Pierce County and Snohomish County Recorders’ Offices are closed for holidays!

Just text the word ‘RECORDER’ to the number 47170.

Recorders office holiday schedule King Pierce Snohomish County

Download The Recorders Office Schedule

The King Pierce and Snohomish county recorders’ offices will be closed for a total of nine holidays in 2011. And we all know that when the recorders offices are closed, it can affect the closing of our real estate transactions. So for your convenience we’ve put together an at-a-glance calendar that clearly shows the holiday schedule. That nice looking calendar can be downloaded by clicking the image to the right.

But wouldn’t it be better if you could just simply be reminded a few days in advance of when the Recorders’ offices will be closed for holidays? How about a text message reminder right to your phone?

Here’s how it works.

If you would like to receive a text message that reminds you of the recorders’ office holiday schedule, just text the word ‘RECORDER‘ to the number 47170. You’ll recieve a welcome message once you subscribe. Then three days prior to every Recorders office holiday closure date, you’ll get a short text message reminding you of the day and date of the closure.

Try it today! Text the word ‘RECORDER‘ to the number 47170

Or simply click on the button below to subscribe right now…

recorder,47170
These are the dates that the recorders offices are closed during 2011

Monday, January 17
Monday, February 21
Monday, May 30
Monday, July 4
Monday, September 5
Friday, November 11
Thurs – Friday, November 24-25
Monday, December 26

Enjoy!
Matt Sweet
Ticor Title

Order Customer Service and Title & Escrow Via Text / SMS Messaging!

We are very excited to announce that you can now order title and escrow & real estate property information via text / SMS messaging!  Our Client Services / Property Research team across the King, Pierce, Snohomish area is fully equipped to receive property information requests and title & escrow orders from you via text if that’s the way you prefer to communicate!

Simply text your property info requests and title and escrow orders to:

425-298-7575

Why are we offering ‘order by SMS text messaging’?

woman ordering title and escrow via text sms messaging

Text Ticor Customer Service at 425-298-7575

Have you noticed the people around you texting a lot more lately?  Have you noticed yourself texting more and more?  Or more importantly, have you noticed that your clients prefer to communicate with you via text…. According to CTIA, Americans sent 173.2 Billion text messages during the month of June 2010.  That’s an increase from 7.2 Billion text messages sent during the month of June 2005 (CTIA is the International Association for the Wireless Teslecommunications Industry).

And that’s just texting… Smartphones in general are on a rapid rise.  A Nielsen study predicts that by the end of 2011 smart phones will hold the majority of the mobile phone market.  Another study showed that banking via mobile devices has grown 129% in the US over the last two years.

So logically with information and services becoming more mobile every day, this leads us to a few important questions:  What if you could send a text to order property research or title and escrow for your real estate listing?  What if all you needed was a single phone number for communicating with your favorite Title and Escrow company?  What if the Puget Sound’s most seasoned property information specialists were a text away?

So give it a try today!  If you have a service request or would like to open title on a property, hit us with a text at 425-298-7575 right now!

And remember that Title Insurance orders placed electronically will receive a 5% discount (click here for discount details).

QR Codes and how we generate them

A while back we talked about what QR codes are and how we applied them to our marketing process for our Clock Hour Class in December. As a follow up to that post, today, we’re going to talk about how we went about generating our own unique QR codes.

How to generate a QR Code

Code Machine

Remember that QR codes have many applications. But, for our purposes, we are using the codes to enable smartphone users to easily find our web page of choice when they point their smart phone at our code which is on a printed flyer. If you think about it, QR codes are adding a whole new level of interactivity to printed materials. We joke about how antiquated print has become, how it’s not really forward-able or shareable, and how you can’t tweet it or add it to your favorites. But now that’s not such a problem because if a print item is QR code-enabled, a person with a smartphone can take action and (in Ticor’s case) register for a class, read a print article on the web, watch an escrow video, or ultimately order title and escrow

So Here are the steps we took to get and apply our QR code:

1. We decided what page we wanted our readers to land on. In our case we wanted our readers to have an easy way to register for our Real Estate Clock Hour Class via eventbrite.com. Our actual URL was http://foxburyclockhours.eventbrite.com.  We’ll call this the landing page URL

2. We copied the Landing Page URL and pasted it into a QR Code generator. We used http://qrcode.kaywa.com/. It’s free and easy to use. The QR code generator created our QR code and we saved it as an image to our hard drive.

3. We added the code to our print piece. We use InDesign, Word, and Publisher for various print pieces and each of them allow us to overlay the QR Code wherever we need to.

4. Finally, we tested it! It’s actually still a thrill to effectively “click” on a piece of paper to navigate to the web!

For more information about our Title & Escrow and Technology Clock Hour classes, please check out our Puget Sound Clock Hour Classes Page!

Adding the twitter widget to wordpress

Add Twitter Widget to WordPressLike many companies, we use twitter to listen to tweeple in our industry (real estate professionals on Twitter) and use wordpress as our blogging platform. So naturally it would make sense that at some point the two platforms will co-mingle online. For example when we write a blog post on “what is an easement“, we’ll generally send out a tweet with a link letting our twitter friends know about the new post. And conversely, we want the visitors who visit our blog first to know that we are on twitter as well.

Letting our blog readers know that we’re on twitter can happen a number of ways. But for today, I want to show you how we added Twitter’s widget to the sidebar on our site (notice it to the right of this post). This handy little tool not only let’s our readers know that we’re on twitter, it also let’s them know what we’re talking about and who we’re talking with.

A New Look and Delivery Method for the GNG Newsletter

The Good Neighbor Gazette Newsletter has been one of our downloadable marketing tools for years now.  It’s a simple two-page monthly newsletter with interesting information about home, family, real estate, food and a little technology thrown in for spice.  It takes just a minute  to customize it with your name & branding and it’s a great little tool for staying in touch with prospects, past clients, and your general sphere of influence with something of value.  Real Estate is a relationship business and every point of contact like the GNG Newsletter can make a difference in generating leads and referrals!

Now there are a few improvements that we have made to the GNG and we hope you find them to your liking.

The first is that earlier this year we gave it a fresh new look using verdant colors that evoke a warm sense of home-ownership.  The front page banner graphic has a crisp looking image of fresh cut grass and a white picket fence with a new casual script logo above.

Secondly, we are now delivering the Newsletter as a bundled package of files.  This bundle includes Word, PDF, and Publisher formats so that all types of users can customize it before printing or emailing it.

Thirdly, we have updated our delivery method for the newsletter using our Ticor Storefront eCommerce solution.  In a nutshell, anyone can now download the GNG up to three months in advance!  No more waiting for the latest edition to be posted to the website.  If you want to work ahead with your email newsletters or mailers, they’re ready for you!

And finally, we have added a large preview feature to our storefront so you can actually preview each article before you purchase! To view the large preview, just click on the thumbnail image of the newsletter.  We think you’ll be pleased with the generous size of the preview!

So with a fresh new look and convenient delivery method, it’s never been easier to use the GNG Newletter to stay in touch with your past clients, prospects, and sphere of influence!

Click here to check out the Good Neighbor Gazette now.

What is a QR Code and How Can I Use it in My Marketing?

QR Code - Clock Hour Class

QR Code (QR stands for Quick Response) is a type of bar code that was invented by Toyota’s Denso corporation back in the 90’s so they’re not quite the newest thing.  However, QR Codes are a new thing you’ll find on some of our printed materials and I’m excited about that!

Why?  Because QR codes can be used to link print items to the web!! It’s like having a hyperlink on paper.  Printed fliers are now cool again! Not that I want to kill trees or anything… But now printed items have a level of functionality that they never had before.

Here’s an example of how we’re using it at Ticor:

QR Reader Example

QR Code used on a flier

We have a Clock Hour Class coming up in December.  And people can register for this class online at Eventbrite.  Now when we print up (or pdf & email) our nice fliers to spread the word, we can include a QR code that is actually a link to the registration page.

So when someone gets the flier and points their smart phone’s QR code reader at the fuzzy little square on the flier, it will immediately launch their smartphone’s browser and take them to our registration page.  They won’t have to sit and type the whole web address of our registration page into their browser on that tiny keyboard. I must admit that when I tried it the first time, it was a thrill.

So if you have a smart phone that will run a QR code reader, try it out on one of our clock hour class fliers!  Or, if you can’t wait you can try it on the code above!

And stay tuned for a follow up post on what we did to generate the QR code and make it link to our registration page.

Enjoy!

Matt Sweet
Ticor Title

Update: Check out our post on how to generate a qr code.

Is someone using my photos without permission? Find out who!

Is someone using my photo without permission? Have you ever wondered this?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a quick tool for finding out?

Thieves

Tineye.com can help!

Tineye is a reverse image lookup tool (and it’s free). What does that mean?  Basically, you can show tineye your photo and it will show you where it found that photo or similar photos elsewhere online.  Very cool!

So if you have a prize winning photo of a real estate listing or sunset photo of Mt. Rainier that you don’t want anyone to use without your permission, you now have a tool for finding photo poachers!

Ticor Pocket Profile App – Property Profiles on the go

Hello iPhone-toting Real Estate professionals!  Have you ever wished that you could look up a property profile from your iPhone or iPad?  Well hot off the press is the new Ticor Title Pocket Profile app that provides property profile information and more.

Here’s a full list of information available via the App:

  • Property Profile – With Legal Description, Property Characteristics, Sale Loan Info, Assessor / Tax info
  • Transfer History
  • Comparable Sales Report
  • Area Sales Analysis
  • Nearby Properties
  • Neighborhood Demographics
  • Public Schools Report
  • Private Schools Report
  • Plat Map

*Note that some usage charges may apply  and a Ticor Express account is required to receive property data to your mobile device.

We’re anxious to hear your feedback.  Based on the quick overview, is this an app that you would use on a regular basis?  Yay or Nay, please let us know either way by leaving a comment below.

Best Regards,
Matt Sweet
Ticor Title
@sweetmd
@myticor