HTML Newsletters and Why they are Prefered

HTML iconThere are many good reasons why school newsletters presented as HTML (hypertext markup language)  ought to be your preferred newsletter method.

Some Learning First

HTML is hypertext markup language.  In other words… its the language (some call it code) used by web browsers to present text, images and video on a screen.

You DO NOT need to know HTML to actually use it.  Here’s an example.

When an email is sent, it is usually typed into a box with a text editor above it so that text can be made bold, underlined, change color, change font etc.  This is a HTML text editor and your email is sent as an HTML email.

Its a bit like driving a car.  You don’t necessarily need to know how it works to drive it.  HTML is the same.

Why HTML is Better?

Traditionally schools will type their school newsletters in MS word (or something similar) and then save it to a PDF and then place it on the school website.  This is still a good technique.  But PDFs are not always convenient or practical.

  1. PDF’s are sometimes very impractical to read on smart phones and tablets.  With more and more people using tablets and phones to collect email and browse the internet, PDFs DO NOT always fit into the screen properly and it becomes difficult to read.  You may have experienced this yourself.
  2. Some web browsers need special PDF plugins for the newsletter to display properly.  For some parents this can be problematic if they don’t know ho to install the plugins on their web browser.  In most cases the plugin installs automatically… but sometimes it doesn’t.
  3. Sometimes the PDF might be too wide for the parent computer screen in which case they need to scroll across as well as scroll down.
  4. Sometimes the parent PDF reader may be out dated and cannot read the school newsletter.
  5. Sometimes the PDF can become corrupted and unreadable.
  6. Sometimes PDFs can take a while to load.

The whole premise behind making your school newsletter available online is cost effectiveness and convenience.  PDFs are not always convenient for everyone and as such the school newsletter may go unread.  This is exactly what we want to avoid.

HTML on the other hand will always render in an internet browser without special plugins.  Modern websites are built using a responsive deign, meaning that that the website  can detect the dimensions of the parent computer monitor, phone or tablet and re-size itself accordingly.  Even if the website is NOT responsive, HTML will always render itself without the issues of PDF plugins.  HTML loads quickly because the file is significantly smaller.  HTML is robust and versatile because the modern internet was essentially conceived using HTML.

How to get started Using HTML

  • Continue to type your school newsletter using MS Word or your favorite editor. (DO NOT use specialized applications such as MS publisher, InDesign, Quark etc…)
  • Save it.  This is your backup copy.
  • DO NOT add photos to your MS word document.  This is done later.
  • Once finished typing your newsletter, select all the text in the document and copy it to the clip board.
  • Open your website content management system (CMS) and create a new page or post.
  • Often the CMS with have a button in the text editor to copy from word.  Click this and paste in the text you copied from your word document.  This will convert your word document text to HTML and insert into your new page or post.  Sometimes there may some minor formatting issues (such as extra line breaks) which can be simply cleaned up .
  • Images can now be added using the image button in the text editor.
  • Save the page or post.

Using Safe Newsletters to Send HTML Newsletters

Safe Newsletters provides an inbuilt text editor to convert your newsletters to HTML. Once the newsletter is complete, Safe Newsletters then provides the functionality to broadcast it to your parent email list in only a few clicks.

There is no need to save the newsletter to your website either.  Safe Newsletters can automatically display it on your website straight after you have sent it via email!  Therefore, there is no more MS Word to  PDF conversion and no more PDF uploads and less website maintenance.

The end result is:

  • improved convenience for your parents
  • better efficiency
  • zero learning curve
  • maximized readership
  • professionally presented HTML school newsletters
  • less work needed on the school website
  • better school performance

We expect that the HTML method will be widely used.  If you would like further advice or functionality added, leave a comment below.

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Getting Ready for the 2013 School Year

Start School YearGet ready for the 2013 academic school year by optimising your safe newsletters account.  Its easy to do and only takes a few minutes.

I trust your you are refreshed from a well earned break.  I hope Santa was good to you!

If you do this NOW, it will help you streamline your parent communication and reduce errors throughout the year.

The following list is a prioritized list of tasks that need to be done ASAP.  I know you’re busy… but if you do it know it will make your job easier …

  • CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.  We take security very seriously.  Whilst you were on holidays, we have taken further steps to make Safe Newsletters even safer.  BUT… your password is still the gateway to your entire parent list.  It would be horribly embarrassing if someone managed to guess your password and access your account and then start sending inappropriate messages.  If you need a password generator, have  a look at this online password generator to generate a secure password for you.  If you use this, please DO NOT use the punctuation function… Safe Newsletters won’t allow SOME punctuation in passwords.
  • SMS.  If you would like to add a SMS function as an extra layer of communication for your parents, we can now enable this for you.  When your newsletter is sent, a SMS will also be sent to parents.  It operates on a consumption basis.  At the end of each month we send the school a bill for SMS consumption.  Parents are given the option to receive the SMS.  More information here.
  • PRUNE your parent email list.  If parents haven’t collected their newsletter for 120 days, you can prune the list which effectively deletes their email from your list.  This keeps your list nice and tidy.
  • ADVERTISING.  If your school has advertisers that wish to advertise in your newsletter for the whole year… you now have the option to include their add alongside your newsletter.  The add sits beside your newsletter on the computer screen.  This way you don’t have to include it in your newsletter each week.  We take care of all the electronic advertising.  We have more information for schools here.  Send all your advertisers here for more information.
  • MOBILE DEVICES.  We have a new HTML newsletters feature that allows schools to publish their newsletter as a web page rather than a PDF document.  This way the HTML newsletter will render in mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.  Sometimes PDF documents are difficult to read on smaller devices because parents need to scroll across as well as scroll down the screen.  HTML newsletters eliminates this issue and makes the reading experience much friendlier.
  • ADD EVENT REMINDERS.  Add your school events and reminders to Safe Newsletters which allows parents to auto add them to their Outlook (or similar) calendar.  This way parents are well informed of upcoming events and dates.
  • SURVEYS.  Don’t forget you can add surveys to the email that is sent to parents.  Why not survey parents and ask them if they would like to receive a SMS each time the newsletter is published??

Competition winners will be announced soon..

Have I missed something or need some advice on something?  Leave a comment below.