Reel-Time.com Updated

rt_sshot1Over the past couple months, I’ve been working nights and weekends to get Reel-time.com updated and running on WordPress.  The project, while far from complete, reached critical mass this week and I was able to go live Tuesday night.

This site has been around since 1995, and frankly, if you knew where to look, it was showing it’s age.  The homepage was left justified, which is something designers haven’t been doing since around 2001.

There were a lot of challenges.  First off, a lot of the content was gnarly hand-coded html of varying quality, which for the most part has had to be moved by hand.  That task will no doubt continue for a while.  Secondly, I didn’t have call on a designer.  As such, what design work had to be done, was done by me…and if you could see how I dress, you’d understand humor in that. A few of the high points:

  • WordPress is my CMS – Yes, I’ve been running a number of sites on a version we’ve customized at Namemedia, Inc., but this is the first time I’ve gone with an out of the box installation.  All customization for the site is done by plugin or theme.  Absolutely no changes to WordPress code whatsoever.
  • Comments, Sharing, etc. – Reel-Time never had comments on articles before, so now it does.  A small change, but actually one that will help to extend the community from the forum out into the  site.
  • Syndicated News Feeds – In the past, we always avoided sharing the link love.  No longer – we’re running feeds of pertinent content on our landing pages which gives us more great content from around the globe and shares our link juice, being top in Saltwater Fly fishing rankings.
  • Landing Pages – We’ve started doing pages by article category, so now we can present a dense, targeted page on any topic in our vast arsenal of content.  Add to that feeds of content similarly tagged from our forum, and the syndicated feeds, and you’ve got tons of content on any particular subject.  I only have a handful of these pages up, but rest assured, if it swims in saltwater and fishermen like to catch it, it will eventually have its own page.
  • A Standard Theme – I went with a base theme from the WordPress Theme Gallery then customized.  It saved time, and honestly, without it, I doubt this project ever would have happened.
  • A Classified Ad System – I’ve thought this was one of the big missing functions on the site for a long time.  Now we have one.  The question is, are we late to the game?
  • Vimeo Videos presented in high definition – Everybody has small videos, so I went with really LARGE video presentation.  It looks great, although I need to get more ads on the page.
  • New Content – for the first time in a long time, we’ve got new articles coming in.  I have no budget for this stuff, so I asked our community.  They have responded.
  • More Social – I put in links to our Facebook Group, Facebook Fan Page and to the Reel_Time twitter account.  Again, there is a lot more to do here.

I still have a lot of stuff to do.  If you read this blog closely, you’ll know that I had a quandry about what to do with our fishing reports section.  I think I have a solution to that, which I’ll be working on next.  Also on my list:

  • Develop a Content Team – me working 30 hours a week won’t happen anymore.  The work must be spread around the community.
  • Import All the Content - about 50 stories remain to be imported.  From there I have old fishing reports with valueable intro sections by some of the best writers in our sport (many started out writing for us).
  • Get More Community Happening – I’ll hold this one close to the vest for new.  I’m well aware that this blog is read by some that participate in my niche, so no need to tip my hat here.

Remember, one of the salient points here is that this was a nights and weekends project, only a 2 days of actual “work” time went into it.  Also, the an important round of thanks to the moderators for the site, Bob Parsons, Sam Riley, Ray Avitable and Shaun Ruge who were of immense assistance in the planning and as always, in providing a firm sounding board for potential ideas.  Without them, the site, I fear, would crumble to dust.

Okay, there was one other MAJOR change and no one has commented on it.  Can you?

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