Randall Rensch

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      0 comments  ·  Wishlist » New features  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
      Randall Rensch shared this idea  · 
    • 82 votes
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        26 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
        Randall Rensch commented  · 

        Although I don't see my comment that was reportedly rolled into this thread, I do have a thought, possibly more important now that this Wish is comparatively ancient:

        Clicks can be counted, but an email reported as "not opened" may indeed have been fully read. The open rate just measures how many emails displayed an image (I presume a web bug placed in the email by WA). Now that everybody's checking their mail on phones, your open rate might be much lower than the actual level of interest. My iPhone, for example, doesn't display images unless I tell it to do so on that particular email. In contrast, on my computer, Outlook is configured to automatically display images from senders I have designated as "safe."
        In fact, affecting data at the other extreme, if I just scroll through my inbox, the email will be displayed in preview merely by clicking through the list. I may never click to “open” it, let alone read it. (I have not tested to see if Outlook downloads safe senders’ images before previewing, but I doubt it.)

        I know of no solution to this situation, except to format your email so that the absence of a un-downloaded image is apparent (borders? captions? Alt values?), and to remind that an open rate should always be taken as a **relative,** comparing it with that of other emails and over time.

        Although I've read no data on this, I suspect that over time open rates in general have been skewing low.

        Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
      • 52 votes
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          35 comments  ·  Wishlist » Contacts  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
          Randall Rensch commented  · 

          We've been putting off Archiving hundreds of non-Member contacts who have opted out of both email types, or not attended an event in many years, or both.

          We can generate that list. Now, how do we archive them all?
          Apparently I have to export to spreadsheet, change the archive flag and re-import? Talk about make-work! Not to mention opportunity for grievous error. (Okay, I've mentioned it.) And some people, believe it or not, are not handy with spreadsheets. (I've pretty much forgotten what little I knew.) In fact, some people shudder at seeing one. I don't blame them. If you don't use Excel regularly, even a simple chore like this is scary and involves a hugely disproportionate learning curve (plus the program).

          I'm not quite so cynical as to think WA is makes this a chore just to get us up to the next billing tier, but I can't imagine any other reason why this was not a top-ten capability on WA's Advanced Search specification document when you built it.

          Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
        • 91 votes
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            28 comments  ·  Wishlist » Contacts  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
            Randall Rensch commented  · 

            I'm very disappointed to find that Project Manager's latest report on this Wish was in 2015. My own laundry list of wanted Advanced Search capabilities is going on two years itself. I've seen no improvement since then, and there has not been a month where I could have used some.

            Case in point: Currently I need to delete hundreds of inactive Contacts from our mailing list (we're nearing our plan limit), and apparently to do so, I have to mess with spreadsheet export/import or do each record manually?

            Sigh ...

            Randall Rensch commented  · 

            Make Advanced Search easier to use, test and save:
            * Rename saved search
            * Longer saved search name
            * Report of parameters for all searches (to have a backup record of all our searches before cleaning house, I've had to take screenshot of each)
            * Let us disable criteria, for comparing results (Currently must Remove then reconstruct).
            * Display full name of Saved Search on tab page (currentlyu appears only in dropdown list, cut off)
            * Include field for a description of saved search, and have that description appear as a help note when hovering over search in selection list (e.g, when selecting from list to schedule a send).
            * Don't allow user to save search as duplicate name
            * Sort saved search list
            * Make clear to user the effect of selecting a saved search in Automatic Announcement emails, vs. same search in Manual email. One filters further (those who have opted out of automatic announcements), the other doesn't. Yet, neither we nor our recipients know exactly who is opting out for what why. (If that's confusing, guess why!) When sending a manual email that resembles an automatic one, should I filter out the people that the automatic announcement filters automatically?

            Randall Rensch commented  · 

            Make Advanced Search easier to use, test and save:
            Rename saved search
            Longer saved search name
            Report of parameters for all searches (to have a backup record of all our searches before cleaning house, I've had to take screenshot of each)
            Let us disable criteria, for teting. (Currently must Remove then reconstruct).
            Display full name of Saved Search on tab page (currentlyu appears only in dropdown list, cut off)
            Include field for a description of saved search, and have that description appear as a help note when hovering over search in selection list (e.g, when selecting from list to schedule a send).
            Don't allow user to save search as duplicate name
            Sort saved search list

            Randall Rensch commented  · 

            Longer Advanced Search names, or detailed description of each Advanced Search (e.g., a pop-up) when viewing Searches in list. And while your at it, let us rename Advanced Searches.

            Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
            Randall Rensch commented  · 

            Need to be able to rename a saved Advanced Search. Lacking that ability, I saved the tweaked search to the same name, figuring WA would ask me if I wanted to overwrite it and I would say "yes." WA did nothing of the sort -- it just saved the tweaked search as a new search having a duplicate name -- so now I have two identically named searches, one erroneously finding 700+ members of various kinds, the other more accurately finding 225 members of any status and type. I will delete the former, but shouldn't have to.

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              1 comment  ·  Wishlist » Events  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
              Randall Rensch commented  · 

              Forgot to mention... When I tried to print in Firefox, Firefox didn't see the gray text of past events. Chrome saw the entire page okay, but printed the image-based pdf. As I noted, I'll experiment further, but in any case PDF files are often not a good source for copying text coherently.

              Randall Rensch shared this idea  · 
            • 219 votes
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                56 comments  ·  Wishlist » Website / Content  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                Randall Rensch commented  · 

                Yes. I don't understand how having a easily created, customizable form is not considered a standard website feature. Yet, I run into the same obstinance at obstinance at some other hosting services, such as GoDaddy. I've used forms on my own websites (and not just for non-spammy email, although that is a key use) for two decades now. Why at WA does it need to be a third-party workaround?

                Randall Rensch commented  · 

                Yes. Many websites aren't complete without forms of various types.

                Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
              • 19 votes
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                  6 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                  Randall Rensch commented  · 

                  Thank you. Your response was so prompt that I apologize for my tone, but I don't feel too bad, considering that it was being used in too limited a sense in any case. Some professionals do use the term and thus would search for it, so I understand the need to keep it in some occurrences. I'll do the same as you in our own documentation.

                  Randall Rensch commented  · 

                  Your Help system states:
                  "You can use Wild Apricot to send manual emails or email blasts, to people in your contact database. You can use email blasts to broadcast announcements or send out newsletters. You can send an email blast immediately or schedule it ..."

                  Do you realize how painful it is to read that? Please STOP USING THE TERM EMAIL BLASTS. I FIND IT INSULTING, AND IN ANY CASE, YOU USE IT INCORRECTLY. (Does all-caps look offensive? Yes. I see the word "blasts" the same way.)

                  No email recipient wants to be "blasted." It's a terrible mindset if you want to encourage responsible email marketing (and otherwise, it appears you do). And you use it to refer only to manual emails in the WA system. The term "blast" refers to ANY mass email send, which would include automatic event announcements. So you're wrong in that, too. Please use the term "Manual" email, "Manually sent" email, "Special" email, or such.

                  At the risk of promoting indirect competitors of yours and mine, please consider these views:

                  https://blogs.constantcontact.com/email-blast-dirty-word/

                  https://fulcrumtech.net/resources/not-an-email-blast/

                  Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                • 90 votes
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                    66 comments  ·  Wishlist » Account administration  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                    Randall Rensch commented  · 

                    I will grant that setting up WebDAV to transfer files (resembling an FTP transfer) is not as scary as it first seems. Also, it has an advantage over downloading files via a browser, because it retains timestamps and file architecture.

                    But backing up thoroughly on a regular schedule still involves a rabbit warren of tools and procedures.

                    Randall Rensch commented  · 

                    To back up our website, our Contacts, images, and other data, Wild Apricot advises using a rabbit-warren of methods that includes special installation and understanding of third-party services. For our volunteer organization, where we change jobholders every year or two, that is just not practical and puts us at risk.

                    WA itself backs up our entire system in case of a catastrophe, but it's not available to the WA customer (which is understandable). We need essentially the same capability to do this ourselves, routinely and without extraordinary effort. We'll figure out where to store the data. Given the overall WA service concept, your omission of this -- and all the rube goldberg workarounds -- is NOT understandandable.

                    By the way, even with the various backup methods advised, none of them backs up Saved Searches and manual email Templates. What else in our system is at risk? We don't even know.

                    There is another thread wishing for this. It has surprisingly few votes, even though it dates back to 2008. But that wish's headline mentions only "website." That's the least of our concerns. And, as everybody knows, backup is always a neglected user issue, even though it is among the most essential concerns. WA should provide this capability as a matter of professional service, not wait for customers to vote who never will.

                    Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                  • 12 votes
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                      1 comment  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                      Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                    • 18 votes
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                        5 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                        Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                        Randall Rensch commented  · 

                        Agreed. This is an important part of marketing and Customer Relationships. And it's not just that we may want to follow up with people who have expressed interest by viewing an email. Sometimes following up with people who have NOT opened an email is even more important.

                        For example, we just emailed all our members regarding a very important issue that they should all be made aware of. Those who did not view the email will need to be contacted by phone. But to give our volunteers a list of those 90 people with their phone numbers, we will have to go to each record and copy/paste the number(s) into a document manually. That just isn't sane.

                        BTW, there are several wishes regarding the need to display or download manual email log data. Each has a few votes. This capability would have more votes, and perhaps get rolling, if you somehow consolidated them.

                      • 159 votes
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                          63 comments  ·  Wishlist » Account administration  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                          Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                          Randall Rensch commented  · 

                          While we, too, want to provide certain Members with very restricted access (e.g., an Event Organizer gets access to data for only their event, possibly even read-only), here's a solution to one issue mentioned here:

                          > to give the front desk person the ability to see if someone is a member

                          Apparent solution: Create a web page that lists Members. The list is based on an Advanced Search that you create. Members' preferences can be selectively set up so that a Member's option to be hidden on that list (or to hide any particular profile data) is disabled.

                        • 73 votes
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                            23 comments  ·  Wishlist » Events  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                            Randall Rensch commented  · 

                            I'd include this among our top five most important wishes. We run scores of events per year, many of them involving registrations, which are managed by a Reservationist. They are volunteers. Some handle one event, some handle recurring events. Many of them are ordinary Members who should not have access to Admin functions and data, but they do need access to data for their particular event.

                            Giving them that access would make it SO much easier for them to do their jobs, and thus to recruit volunteers, and simplify life for the webmaster and other admins who manage them.

                            Randall Rensch commented  · 

                            Give Organizers admin access (only) to their own event. It's absurd that our Organizer/Reservationist for each event has to depend on an admin to email them a spreadsheet just so they can track who has signed up and status etc. But we do NOT want to give these dozens of Organizers full admin privileges. Also, their access should expire when the event has passed, or a specified period thereafter.

                            Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                            Randall Rensch commented  · 

                            PS: Thank you for your interest, in asking for details.

                            Randall Rensch commented  · 

                            We are a ski club, and run events of various types. Some are evening get-togethers involving no charge by us (eg. a happy hour, dinner or ice skating at a local venue) some involve a charge (e.g. a party or group-tickets film), some are weekend stays at our lodge in New England. Of those stays, some are bus trips requiring payment in advance, others are carpools where people pay at the end of the weekend.

                            Each event has a "reservationist" who takes reservations, keeps track of "sales," arranged drivers and riders, assigns rooms or whatever the event entails. For decades we've done this using spreadsheets and/or our own proprietary software (a PHP-written CMS backend that produced our website calendar, created emails, managed data, stored documents securely (.htaccess level) and stored how-to screens). Understandably, we didn't want to be dependent on one or two members who created that system, which is why we turned to WA, which had meanwhile grown more robust and versatile.

                            Unfortunately, not quite versatile enough for us to use without requiring way more training and managerial effort than should be necessary. Previously, an event would be put on the calendar and various people would make it happen. But now, especially now that this year we decided to try requiring Registration for almost all events of all types, our Reservationists can't even reliably get the registrant data! They get an email, but what if it goes missing? And having gotten all the registrant emails, then they have to, what, create a spreadsheet or some such document? That's missing the point of this system, eh?

                            So now someone on our management committee (i.e., and Admin) has to export the data, ideally every day, to each and every Reservationist! Multiply that, during our peak season, to two or three local events every couple of weeks, and four weekends a month, and it just gets silly to even consider.

                            It would work so much better if each reservationist could access the Registrant data for their respective event, ideally with the ability to add or revise data and add or remove registrations, without giving them access to the whole system (with the obvious data and privacy risks in that). When the particular event is over, we would then want to cancel that Reservationists' access either manually or automatically.

                            By the way, we've always called them Reservationists, but that's also an important distinction. The person who organizes and event is not necessarily the person tracking reservations. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. And sometimes there is more than one organizer. Yet we're limited to one Organizer per event, with our automatic emails going out with their personal address as reply-to. That's both a privacy and a security issue (about which I've placed another wish on the wishlist already), so for each event we create an autoforward at our domain registrar, which is the one we publish and (after putting into our Contacts list and setting preferences so it won't get all our emails), is the one we specify as Organizer.

                            I hope that gives you a sense of our workflow. I'm not sure my offhand description is as organized as our procedures themselves are, but they've worked for decades, and now with WA, some of our people have gotten pretty confused. Some of it is just the transition from paper to computer, but some is a result of having to shoehorn our systems into your capabilities, which are great in some ways, but in others very limited or inflexible. (For example, the Registration form itself, which I've also already mentioned on the Wishlist).

                            I'd be happy to walk you through some actual events if that would help. But the bottom line is: help us distribute the workload so that our individuals who volunteer their time to help with an event can truly collaborate and each do a part of the job, without requiring more than supervisory involvement by our management committee members and webmaster, who are also volunteers.

                            Randall Rensch commented  · 

                            I think this might be part of this wish:

                            We have several people in charge of various types of events. Each event has a Reservationist (who you call Organizer), who tracks registrations, and payments, arranges car pools, orders refreshments, etc. Currently all a Reservationist receives to work with is a bunch of emails, which in some email environments are hard to organize, hard to work with, and easy to miss (and in one case was questioned as a test or spam). If they want a list or spreadsheet, someone with Admin privileges must download data as a spreadsheet, ideally doing this every day and for every event -- a huge task that should not be necessary and will not be done. (Someone has asked me, if I still have to circulate spreadsheets, why do we need WA?)

                            We need to give limited or read-only access to each Organizer, so they can see current registration data for their event. Ideally they should also be able to make notes and changes, but only in their own event, and (ideally) only in event-related fields, and they should not see sensitive data.

                            I would settle for the Organizer being able simply to download the Registrations data themselves, as either a spreadsheet or organized list (text and/or Word file), for their event only, without needing further Admin privileges.

                            I agree, this is critical. We can't very well give a dozens of Organizers broad Admin privileges. This year we decided to require Registration for all our events (as opposed to also accepting reservations by email), but what's the point if our Reservationists can't access it?

                            Randall Rensch commented  · 

                            Limited or read-only access by Organizer to registration data for their event.

                            Currently our Events Manager has to produce a spread sheet every day and email it to the respective Reservationist (Organizer), doing this for EVERY event. An impossible task. And if we need to circulate spreadsheets, why do we need WA? (Sorry)

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                              1 comment  ·  Wishlist  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                              Randall Rensch commented  · 

                              I've been informed by someone who set up our site that it is possible to exclude names from the list of "no access" options. So, in the immortal words of Emily Litella, "Never mind."

                              Now the issue is how to explain to our few members who have hidden even their names that we do not find that acceptable. ;-) Hopefully they didn't intend for their privacy to go that far.

                              Randall Rensch shared this idea  · 
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                                4 comments  ·  Wishlist » Events  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                PS: On re-reading TangentRW's original idea more carefully, I see that we're talking about two very different solutions. While, yes, it's okay to reveal a Member's address to other Members and not to non-Members, we wouldn't need to get that elaborate, and I'm not even sure what a "personal message system contact web page" is. We simply need to avoid broadcasting people's personal email addresses on the Internet, and it would be nice if we could do it all "in-house."

                                Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                The workaround scenario I've outlined is not much of an imposition once you're used to it, but does have one major flaw: Setting up forwards at your domain registrar depends on your registrar supporting such forwarding of individual addresses, and in sufficient number. Also, each event requires the involvement of the webmaster or other trusted individual, as it would be unwise (and awkward) to give the Domain Registrar password to the dozens of people who set up events, along with having to train them in setting up forwards, hoping they don't mess up the forward or something else, and trusting they won't go exploring through the rest of your registrar account. But apparently there would be no way for WA to set up such forwards within the WA interface?

                                Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                I totally agree. We have dozens of Organizers (actually, they're Reservationists, and some events are organized by yet another person, so we could used two fields). Their personal addresses would be emailed to nearly 1500 strangers and seen by anyone on the Web. That's NOT acceptable at all, so here's is our complicated workaround.

                                1. For each event, create an email address for it at our domain. E.g. "BigParty@ourdomainname.com".
                                2. At our domain registrar, set up a forward for that address. Typically more than one person would be included in each forward (e.g., the reservationist, the manager who oversees events, the organizer, etc.)
                                3. Create a contact for the event's email address. Just put the address in First Name and in Email. No other fields need to be filled out, except maybe a Note reminding others not to delete it. (Step #5 is the reason for creating the contact.)
                                4. Set that contact address's email preferences to no auto announcements, no manual emails, so that it won't get our promotional emails. (Our people already get those at their own personal addresses.)
                                5. In the event's Emails section set Organizer as the Contact address you've set up for that event.
                                6. Choose the event's Contact address as Reply-to for mass emails related that event (optional). (BTW, I am not pleased that the default reply-to is the email creator's personal address -- many times I have forgotten to change it!)
                                7. Publish the event address instead of the person's private address.

                                Unfortunately, once the Reservationist gets a Registration, they still have to reply from their personal address. But hiding that would probably get very complicated (making our workaround seem simple), and at that point they are divulging their personal address to one person at a time, and presumably that person is known to us, or at least a friend, not a fiend.

                                Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                              • 2 votes
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                                  1 comment  ·  Wishlist » Account administration  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                  Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                  It's good that you provide many alternatives for default date formatting, but you left out one of the most valuable: Full information in shortest form, namely:

                                  Fri Dec 3, 2010

                                  Would you please add it? Also note that I have omitted the leading zero. Including the day is very helpful to making the date memorable ("Oh, next Friday"), but "Fri, December 03, 2010" is attractive only to a computer.

                                  I would even go so far as suggest that 99% of the time, we don't need to show the year, either, but I don't know how you would make that optional in a default, and I haven't surveyed all our situations where it occurs.

                                  Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                                • 1 vote
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                                    4 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                    Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                    I don't know if this auto link creation is the case in all situations, but I've just tested with the Customize Event Reminder 2 event email template, and it is the case there. I found the template with the undesired link, clicked Edit, selected and edited the link, clicking "remove link," and the link was gone. I clicked Save, and it was back.

                                    Apparently we can include an image file when posting a wish, but not when posting a comment. I will email two screenshots to Support.

                                    Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                    I understand what you mean about email clients making addresses links. But this was in the process of composing our footer -- ie, within Wild Apricot's editor. If I'm wrong, I apologize, but I'm certain it was within the WA edtor not viewing an email. The address would be okay, straight text, but when I saved it, the result was hot. When I come across it again, I'll report it.

                                    Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                    For now, I've put a space on either side of the @. I suppose that will do. Far more important things on the Wishlist.

                                    Randall Rensch shared this idea  · 
                                  • 2 votes
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                                      0 comments  ·  Wishlist » Photos / Files  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                      Randall Rensch shared this idea  · 
                                    • 3 votes
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                                        1 comment  ·  Wishlist » Contacts  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                        Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                        I forgot to mention -- although we came to WA to avoid spreadsheets, I realize that this need might be better served by exporting to a sortable spreadsheet. But the Events Registration data is not exportable from an Advanced Search.

                                        Randall Rensch shared this idea  · 
                                      • 27 votes
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                                          10 comments  ·  Wishlist » Emails  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                          Randall Rensch supported this idea  · 
                                          Randall Rensch commented  · 

                                          We rarely send out a newsletter, because it includes brief photo/text summaries of past events, promotional text and photo(s) of key coming events, and other sections. What with all that image optimization, layout idiosyncracies (e.g., Outlook 2010 doesn't respect image margins) and other details work, it takes all day. With Support's help, we finally gave up on a highly segmented template and now use one based on tables. But it's still a major project to produce. We need a Content Management System where we just fill out a form, specify image files, and it's all run into the layout, preferably with images actually resized and optimized by the WA system (not just HTML sizing), with 5px white margins optionally added.

                                          In fact, I can't believe that WA doesn't already include a separate utility for optimizing images. I am unable to get across to some of our people why they shouldn't upload a 1 meg image (let alone one straight from the camera), or how to reduce its size and compress it without some graphics expertise and software.

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