Emails

Introduction #

SiteWorks has several features that allow emails to be sent by a site visitor to a member of a specific u3a (i.e. officers or group leaders) using a predefined contact form. This guide discusses the following:

Verification and Validation #

Verification #

When an email address is added to the u3a Contact page, limited verification is undertaken. This checks that the email address is correctly formatted, namely: Username@Domain.TLD, where:

  • Username – the individual’s identifier
  • Domain – the individual’s mail server (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail)
  • TLD – Top-level domain (e.g. com, uk, edu)

Only the structure is checked, the address’s existence is not confirmed, and an incorrectly formatted email is flagged.

Validation #

Validation is not provided. However, it is recommended that when a contact is added a test email is sent, confirming that the recipient exists. Care must be taken to ensure that the email sent is not interpreted by the recipient’s email server as spam, to maintain the u3a’s email reputation.

Contact Form #

Form Overview #

SiteWorks provides a u3a contact form for site visitors to contact a committee member or group leader. The form is configured as the Contact Us page, which must not be deleted, though it can be customised with specific graphics, etc. The page must include the [u3a_contact_form] Shortcode, as shown in the edit mode view below:

When a member of the public selects an email link, for example, to contact the chair, the contact form will appear for them to complete and send:

To increase email security, the contact form is single-use as a measure to prevent spamming. Once an email has been sent, a second email cannot be sent to the same person using the open form. The form needs to be closed and reloaded.

When an Administrator, Editor or Author is logged in the form has a check-box to Send me a copy:

The Send me a copy tick is not available on the public page as a site visitor could use the form to send a malicious email to any email address.

Contact Form Log #

Sitework incorporates a facility to monitor the use of the contact form. To activate the logging function from the Dashboard select u3a Contact Form Log, and then Enable Log.

IMPORTANT
The Website Administrator and the u3a committee should review their published privacy policy as name, email address and email subject will, be stored on the system for 90 days.

When enabled, the following information is made available:

  • The number of messages sent via the form in the last 90 days is recorded.
  • The number of messages blocked as spam will be recorded.
  • Ability to filter messages for review.

Adding email provision to pages and posts #

In this section it is assumed, unless otherwise stated, the information for individual contacts, including a valid email address, has been entered using the u3a Contacts page, as documented here.

Contacting a group leader from a Group or Event page. #

  • A Group page has two fields that can be used to set up contacts, Group Leader and Group Leader 2—the Primary Group email function is not currently available. Any available contract can be assigned to any field, as required by the individual u3a
  • When entering Group information the content creator selects from a drop-down a Coordinator or, in the case of an event, an Organiser. These people MUST be in the contact list with a valid email address to appear in the drop-down. If the content needs to be deleted click on the ‘x’ by the dropdown control.
  • When a group or event page is viewed, the name given to the u3a Contacts page for the Coordinator will be shown as a link and can be emailed via the contact form by clicking on the name.

Using a Shortcode #

In addition, SiteWorks allows content creators to embed a command directly in the text to access the email contact form by using a Shortcode, This approach will not reveal the recipient’s email address to the sender.

There are two ways to use the Shortcode depending on whether the recipient is in the u3a Contacts list or not.

The recipient is in the u3a Contacts list, use the form:
[u3a_contact name = contact page name]
The ‘contact page name’ is the display name (title) given to the u3a Contact list, for example, ‘Chair’, ‘Refreshments organiser’

The recipient is NOT in the u3a Contacts list, use the form:
[u3a_contact name = name to appear on link” email = email address]

There are examples below in the Contact Page section.

It is recommended to have all email addresses in the u3a Contacts list so they can be maintained in one place. This means for a new ‘Membership Secretary’ the email address only needs to be changed in the u3a Contact entry. An exception would be if the contact is not an u3a member, perhaps a guest speaker who would like members to contact them or a contact in another u3a.

WordPress provides a Shortcode block but u3a_contact shortcodes can also be placed in paragraph blocks as it is generally more convenient.

For managing the u3a Contacts list see this User Guide article.

If the shortcode is incorrect, irrespective of whether it is the contact name, an issue with double quotation marks, etc., the text entered will not convert to a contact form link. This will be obvious when the page is previewed as the error The u3a_contact addressee is not known or has no email address will appear or the text is not converted.

Use of buttons and images to initiate the contact form. #

The Envelope and Bluebird icons used to contact a group leader are not provided in Site Works. The link that can be attached to a WordPress button or image cannot be replaced by a ShortCode. If a u3a requires a button-like object to act as a call for action, it can constructed as follows:

  • To locate the “button” correctly on the page, it is recommended that it is placed within a column structure, with a width of 25%.
  • In the required column add a paragraph containing the required ShortCode plus additional text. Ensure that the text is centred in the paragraph.
  • Select the Paragraph and from the block tool bar select Group.
  • Select the Group from the breadcrumbs, and apply the required text and background colour using Style.
  • Adjust the Group padding dimensions as required.
  • Set the Group radius to give a button effect.

Contact Page #

In many cases, u3as will require a contact page where officers and other key people are listed. In Site Builder a contact page was automatically constructed but this is not a SiteWorks feature. However, a Contact us page is provided as an example, which can be edited as required.

If required, a u3a specific contact page can easily be created using email short code links. This will allow the page to be configured to the u3a’s requirements. For example, if the page is edited as follows:

The visitor to the page will see:

Maintaining Email Reputation #

Spam and phishing emails are a scourge and account for over 90% of emails.  Mail services try to detect such emails automatically and when they think they perceive a pattern, they will block all emails from the sending server. Therefore any email that does not look like a genuine personal email stands a high chance of being put into a “junk” or similar folder, bounced back to the sender or just silently deleted.

A proportion of emails that may be sent during the testing and commissioning of a system can easily fall into the category of “not looking like a genuine personal email” and damage the “reputation” of the sending server.  In addition, the system emails generated by WordPress about password changes or resets can look like phishing emails, further damaging the reputation of the sending server. To prevent this:

  • Avoid using the contact form mechanism to send messages with the word “test” in the title or very brief messages.  If you want to test out the contact form, please try and simulate a genuine enquiry using genuine names, email addresses and messages that contain several lines of genuine text.
  • When creating a new user, as discussed here, remove the tick from the box to send the new user an email message about their account, otherwise, it may be classed as a phishing email.  Instead, send the new user their username and password using your u3a officer’s email account.
  • Discourage your users from using the ‘lost password’ mechanism on the login form.  Instead, if they have lost their password tell them to ask an administrator to issue a new password and send it to them by via your u3a officer’s email account.
  • If your users find emails are ending up in their “spam” or “junk” or similar folder, please ask them to move the emails to their inbox and add the sender address to their “safe senders” or similar white list.
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Updated on 06/06/2024