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When we redesigned the University’s stationery for the rebranding in 2010, one of the most difficult problems we had was in the area of e-communications. The University has a strategic commitment to reduce the amount of printed publishing, so providing branded templates for e-communications was a clear priority.

We produced HTML versions of e-newsletters, generic electronic direct mail (EDM) and e-invitations. That didn’t really solve the problem however, because HTML emails use quite complex and convoluted HTML when compared with modern web pages. Even people with experience using HTML or programs like Dreamweaver would struggle to use them properly, and often end up with broken layouts and other oddities. So we also produced a Microsoft Word version. Big mistake. Word is cumbersome to produce precise layouts in, and even then it’s all too easy to mess them up. To top it all off, the HTML code they produce is bloated and incompatible with many email clients.

For most people at the University, the only solution was to provide a third party with the HTML code and get them to produce these e-communications. This solution is expensive to set up, plus there is generally a charge for every email that is sent, so we asked our Web and Print Production team to build a browser-based application that would help University staff to easily design e-communications.

The result is WordVine, an online browser-based application that works a bit like a content management system (CMS).

WordVine can create basic branded e-newsletters, EDMs and e-invitations. Its main features are:

  • It publishes the e-communication online
  • It generates HTML code that can be downloaded and sent by your email application of choice
  • It generates a plain text version of the e-communication that can be added to a multi-mime email and displayed if the recipient’s email application does not support HTML
  • It has a simple statistics feature that can provide information about the number of times an e-communication has been viewed and the number of links that have been clicked.

WordVine does not send the e-communication. Another application is required to do that. We recommend a third-party application called MaxBulk Mailer that works with WordVine to manage the sending of emails.

WordVine is available for registered staff users. Staff must attend a training session and agree to the terms and conditions of use before they can access WordVine. If you are interested in using WordVine, go to wordvine.sydney.edu.au to request access, or contact me for further information.