CustomizeThe community of CA Technologies has graciously provided it’s community officers with templates to customize and use for communicating group news, events, and information to the  membership. I’ve been utilizing these templates for a few months now and just recently, it dawned on me that we may want our community to be a bit more personal. It isn’t a robot, after all, who’s sending out these communications on behalf of the group’s leaders or board members and if we’re really going to work, collaborate, share, and build upon an online community, we should make it as personal as possible. Many of us members have never met and may never meet but I feel it can be beneficial to put a face to a name. Your board leader or officers do want to help expand the groups they’re responsible for and want to provide a valuable service to the CA communities overall. By delivering a personalized message to group members, you’re including contact info in order to receive replies, feedback, etc.. and you also may avoid the auto-delete on individual’s inboxes.

What was my process for personalizing a community communication? I utilized www.pixlr.com to customize the CA header images. I used layers to add my own profile image, button icons, etc. then saved it as a .png or .jpg when complete. The html based communication template CA provides links to the existing graphics used and it’s easy with Pixlr to open the header graphic right from the source URL. In this specific case, I used File – Open image Url – [paste in the url], and click OK. Make sure you save your image as a .pxd that includes the layers you may have added to the banner, so if you want to go back and edit it, it’s easier to make changes or future revisions. When you’re happy with your new image, make sure you save it as a .png or .jpg for web sharing as described above.

What you’ll want to do now is upload your image to a web-friendly location and ensure that the image has open world or view permissions. My choice was to utilize MyCA’s document library in the CA Clarity Global User Community. Each community has a document library that allows for uploading content. In this case I uploaded the images to a folder of my choosing (Public) and ensured permissions were set to allow public or non-member access. That way, anyone who receives the email should process the header properly. Another thing I do with communications is use a test community that has limited members to send out my initial messages. I like to experience first hand what the end user is going to receive before sending it off to over 3000 people. If you want to be part of a test community, contact your Community Manager about the possibility.  As a convenience, I’ve provided urls in my blog post within the CA community.  There you can reference the default CA communication template, my own .pxd version of the header, a sample html template linking to my header with hotspots, and also a link to the standard CA header. Check them out and customize your communications.  Deliver a more personal message to your memebrship and keep building upon your community.

Note, one optional area I didn’t cover here was embedding hotspots on images using an HTML Editor. For my publications I use Adobe Dreamweaver to insert hover-over links within my header. For example if you hover over my Linked-In logo, Twitter logo, etc.. and click the image, it will open up my related site or page. I’m sure you don’t need Dreamweaver for hotspots and you may find an open source html editor to satisfy this need.  Of course you may also be able to write the code without a fancy editior, the choice is yours.  Good luck!

To view the full post on the CA Community site, click this link:   http://bit.ly/eLAf1M

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