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In case you missed my last post, I believe we can build a simple WordPress theme that rivals 37 Signals’ Highrise application in terms of functionality and ease of use.

I got so excited about the prospects of building that theme that I stayed up all night working on it.  It is currently working well, with the ability to add “Contacts” and “Deals” (similar to how you do it in Highrise) using custom post types as well as task management via Google Calendar (my calendar of choice).

The theme is currently a child theme of Hybrid.  Down the road, I might convert it to a plugin, but for now I am focusing on the theme.

Following are some specific steps I have taken to date:

  • Started with a Hybrid Skeleton-based child theme of Hybrid
  • Added custom post type for “Contacts” and “Deals” (I did this rather than regular, old posts just to gain some experience using custom post types.)
  • Installed “Custom Field Template” plugin (The need for this plugin will likely be replaced with a custom plugin that I build into functions.php.)
  • Installed “Simple Custom Post Type Archives” plugin to create “index” directories for custom post types.  This plugin didn’t work as expected, so I deleted it.
  • Created “All Deals” and “All Contacts” page templates to display the custom post types (WordPress does not have this functionality out of the box as of version 3.0.1)
  • Added “Tasks” page and embedded Google Calendar iFrame into it

To-Do

  • Style the site
  • Fix business card view (it’s quite buggy right now)
  • Figure out how to sort by custom field info that is attached to custom post types

Roadmap

  • Notifications
  • Figure out how to utilize WordPress categories within custom post types.  (Do I really need to use custom taxonomies???)

I am still undecided as to whether or not all this is necessary for a small operation like mine.  Frankly, a Google calendar would do the same job as Highrise.  Really, we are just talking about different systems that do the same thing.  Both Google calendar and Highrise do different things better.  Google Calendar by its very nature is better for scheduling and keeping track of follow-up meetings, while Highrise is better at sorting contacts.

The bottom line is that CRMs require time and effort.  Nothing worthwhile is free.

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