Improve your Announcement Emails

If you are in charge of sending out the announcement email to your group and it goes out weekly (or especially if it goes out daily) – please organize it like this:

New stuff since the last one I sent out

Stuff that was on the last one I sent out but that has changed since then

Stuff that was on the previous email that hasn’t changed, but is still relevant because it hasn’t happened yet.

My son’s high school sends out announcement emails every day and a lot of it is on the email everyday, unchanged. (Parents, please don’t park in teacher’s parking spaces, etc.) Makes it too time consuming to figure out what is new information.

If people are sending you items and you are copying and pasting them into a master email, please highlight everything and apply similar formatting. It will only take an extra 10 seconds. Also, please use paragraph headings, bullet points or some way of indicating the end of one item and the beginning of the next one.

You may think it’s not worth the extra time, but if people don’t read the emails – they are just going to call your or email you and ask you questions that you’ve already answered. If you will take a couple of extra minutes to improve your readability – you will save yourself time in the end.

Don’t host multiple websites with one IP address if one of the sites uses SSL

I just figured this out yesterday and it’s probably obvious to most people, but since I hadn’t thought of it before – maybe this will help someone else.

You can use host headers to publish multiple websites on the same IP address, but this doesn’t work when using SSL because the host header is encrypted so the web server can’t route based on this value. This means you can only bind 1 web site to a given IP address using SSL.

You can publish Site1, Site2, and Site3 on the same IP address using http and then bind SSL to Site1 on the same IP address, so that all of these would work:
http://Site1
http://Site2
http://Site3
https://Site1
(In DNS, Site1, Site2, and Site3 all resolve to the same IP address.)

What just occurred to me yesterday (when a client of mine pointed it out) was that if you browse to https://Site2, you will get the standard certificate error that browsers give when something doesn’t look right with the certificate.  In this case – the certificate is for Site1 but the user is browsing to Site2.

If the user clicks the button to proceed in spite of the error – now you’ve got a problem.  They think they are at Site2, but what they are seeing is Site1.

It had just never occurred to me that someone would specifically type https to get to a site that wasn’t set up for SSL.

Improve your group’s calendar

Just about every group has a calendar of upcoming events.  Too often the event details are distributed in the body of an email or in an attached spreadsheet.

Why not use a shared online calendar? Make sure that it supports iCal integration. This will let your members import it into their calendar instead of re-typing it. This will save them time and also eliminate the possibility of them typing it into their calendar incorrectly and showing up on the wrong date or time.

Google and Yahoo both offer free online calendars.  If you’re using Circlebox, it has group calendar functionality built in.