Practice in private

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This is the basic text of letter I just sent to one of our clients. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Hi There

Just a few issues which should be addressed asap with regard to the new blog …

  • Until it is properly launched (hopefully with at least 20 stories) the site should be hidden behind a branded holding page. I believe at present – because of proxy issues – it is not currently available via the Web Site internal WAN, but it *is* visible to the wider world.
  • The blog itself needs branding; at the very least, get the colour changed from WordPress Blue to Corporate Puce. Better still get a designer to visit http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ and find a style which can be adapted to look like website.com. I can probably recommend a designer if you don’t have someone.
  • Wherever possible, in blog postings, link to sites within website.com via text on the blog. For example
If you are wondering how we get such amazing photography for our web site and advertising, we can share a few backstage secrets with you, but shhh don’t tell everyone.
Theatre is very close to our hearts as website.com and fortunately very close to our offices. So we managed to snag a preshow meet with the cast of The Wonder Show
This new musical looks more than just tantalising – the costumes are amazing and the set is great – and I can’t wait to see the whole production.

could be transformed into something more useful …

If you are wondering how we get such amazing photography for our web site and advertising, we can share a few backstage secrets with you, but shhh don’t tell everyone.
Theatre is very close to our hearts as website.com and fortunately very close to our offices. So we managed to snag a preshow meet with the cast of The Wonder Show
This new musical looks more than just tantalising – the costumes are amazing and the set is great – and I can’t wait to see the whole production.
  • There is also some value in linking to sites outside website.com: WordPress “pings” back this link to the other site which most often results in an automatic link between the sites.
  • The formatting above indicates that the story was created in MS Word and pasted into WordPress. This copies across a lot of proprietary Microsoft HTML. To ensure consistency of style, when pasting from Word, use the WordPress WSIWYG editor’s “Paste Word text” function: this strips out the MS code.
  • The story mentions a “photo shoot with the cast”: images are good for blogs, put one in! If you only want the original image to appear on the full site, then create a thumbnail in the WordPress Image editor and link to the main site (it’s also another valuable in-link).
  • The sidebars need rationalising; there is plenty real estate here for text and tools which would make the blog more user friendly and more attractive. I’m currently working on a PHP script which will strip out bits of the website.com Front Page and convert them to an RSS feed which could be used on the blog sidebars (and elsewhere).
  • When this is really published, post it on some of the social bookmarking sites (Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, Deli.icio.us, etc). There is even a pugin which will Twitter about your lastest blog post.

In the fullness of time I got this reply …

This is well underway. We are soft launching today and breaking news on Wednesday.

This is not a “soft-launch”; this is practicing in public. Practice in private. It saves red faces.