Programming
Article
By Jarrod Wright

An Open Letter to My Joomla Client

By Jarrod Wright

Don’t you just hate it when you visit a site a few months after the hand off and see all your hard work has basically been destroyed?

We’ve all been there.  Our clients might have the best of intentions, but their limited understanding of web development tends to wreak havoc without their knowledge.

Here is a letter you can give your clients the next time you present them with the finished product.  Hopefully, at least some of this information will sink in!

After you have read our ever-so-polite explanation of what they should and shouldn’t do, sound off in the comments section below.  Let us know if you have any additional suggestions or pet peeves.

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Dear Client,

I have finished developing your new Joomla site.  I hope you like it!  As of this moment, your site is in pristine condition.

I would like to give you a few tips on how to keep your site looking great.  There are lots of little things that happen behind the scenes.  I don’t expect you to understand all the technical jargon or processes.  However, it is important for you to understand that seemingly harmless mistakes can severely hinder your blog’s ability to function properly.

Let’s work together to make sure you don’t fall victim to the classic newbie mistakes.  Together, we can keep your site in tip-top shape!  Here are a few things I would like you to keep in mind when adding content to your site.

Format Your Blog Posts Properly

There are a variety of reasons why it is ideal to type your posts outside of Joomla.  However, you need to be aware of the fact that Word doesn’t play nicely with Joomla.

post formatting

It might be tempting to type a post in Word, then copy and paste it into Joomla.  This, unfortunately, will make a big mess – one that could potentially destroy your blog.

This is going to sound annoying and time consuming (and it is), but it is also pretty important.  After you type your post in Word, copy and paste it to Notepad. Then, copy the Notepad text and paste it into Joomla.  This is the safest way to ensure all the unnecessary code has been stripped away.

Format Your Headings Properly

There are two ways to format the headings in your blog posts – the wrong way and the right way.

After you have entered your article in Joomla, you will want to format it and make it look nice.  You’ll probably pay special attention to the headings.  To make them stand out from the rest of the content, you’ll probably want the headings to have a different text size, font style, and maybe even color.  You could make all these changes manually.  However, if you do that, you are making a lot of extra work for both you and me.

This will make a big, behind-the-scenes mess for me.  It will also be bothersome for you.  If you ever decide to change the over all appearance of your blog, you’ll have to go into each and every post to adjust the headings.

Instead of giving both of us an unnecessary headache, let’s do things correctly from the very beginning.

format headings

When you are ready to format your headings, use the text editor.  Highlight the text and then select Heading 2 from the drop down list.  The default setting is paragraph.

If you ever want to change the style of your headings, just let me know.  All I have to do is make a simple change to the CSS file.

Format Your Links Properly

We have both worked very hard to bring this website to fruition.  Naturally, it is in both our best interests to see it succeed.  That’s why it would make me very sad if you sent potentially loyal readers away.

format links

When visitors click on a link to an outside source, it should open in a new window.  If it opens in the same window, you have made it very easy for readers to leave – and never come back.

The HTML editors allow you to choose the New Window option when creating a link.  Please check this box.

However, you’ll notice the default for links that take readers to another place within your site is Same Window.  Please don’t change this.

One last time:  external links open in a new window while internal links open in the same window.

Format Your Images Properly

When it comes to images, there are three things I would like you to remember:

1.  Don’t include spaces in file names

I won’t overwhelm you with computer talk.  But, I will say this: if you include a space in your file name, it makes a lot of messy code.  Someday, I’ll have to come in and clean up all that code.  This will mean a big paycheck for me and a big dent in your budget.  If I don’t make these changes, your site could crash.  While it pains my wallet to say this, it’s best if we just avoid messy code altogether.

ice cream cone

If you leave a space in the file name, it will automatically get replaced with the characters %20.  Instead, put an underscore where you would normally put a space.  For example, ice cream cone will turn into ice%20cream%20cone.  So use ice_cream_cone instead.

2.  Be descriptive when naming a file

If you use a descriptive file name for your images, you (and I) will always know exactly what the file contains without opening it.  Also, Google appreciates explanatory names too.  It helps people who are searching for images (which might bring more visitors to your site).

pink tulip

A file name like image1549.jpeg means nothing to anyone.  A name like flower.jpeg is better.  In a perfect world though, you would use something even better – like pink_tulip.

3.  Use topic-specific folders for your images

I understand the drama associated with making a blog post.  By the time you get to the inserting photos stage, you just want to be done.  It may be tempting to put all your images in the generic images/stories folder.  True, this could save you a few seconds come posting time.  In the long run though, you’ll just be adding hours to your workload.

Instead, create a new folder for each new topic you introduce.  For example, if you are doing a series on the game of corn toss, put all your images of corn toss boards and beanbags in one folder.  If you include a portrait of each of your contributing authors, create a separate folder for their headshots.

Remember, you are naming a file, so be sure to title your folder corn_toss_images.

That’s it!  If you follow these suggestions, your blog should stay healthy, happy, and productive.  It may seem daunting right now, but you’ll get into a nice routine and soon these things will become routine.

Sincerely,

Your Hard Working Website Developer

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