Pro Tip #2: Laptop Users - Improve Efficiency with Added Hardware

If you are using RapidWeaver to develop your website with a MacBook Air, MacBook or MacBook Pro, then Pro Tip #2 is for you. I personally do most of my development work in RapidWeaver on a 27" iMac, but on occasion I find myself in a situation where I am needing to do that work on a 13" MacBook Air. As I've done development work on the MacBook Air, I've noticed that it takes me longer to do things on the laptop, on account of the smaller screen size and use of a trackpad, opposed to a "traditional" mouse.

I was curious about how much efficiency I was losing, so I conducted a test, where I performed the same work on both the 27" iMac and the 13" MacBook Air. The result was that my efficiency dropped by 30-40% on the MacBook Air. If I were to do all of my development work on a laptop, then it would take me 30-40% more time to complete each project -- that adds up to a lot of additional time when you take development of entire websites into account.

Many of you who use RapidWeaver exclusively on a laptop may not realize how much faster that same development work could be done with a larger screen and traditional mouse. Now I certainly don't recommend that you go out and spend $2000 on a new iMac, but you can create a kind of desktop computing environment by adding an external display and a USB or Bluetooth wireless mouse to your laptop. By connecting an external display to your laptop, your laptop display will mirror to the larger screen, and whenever you need portability you can simply disconnect the monitor to continue using the laptop as usual.

As little as around $200 can significantly improve your productivity with RapidWeaver, and work in other applications as well for that matter. I have put together a few links to products on Amazon that may be worth considering.

Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX - USB
Logitech Bluetooth Mouse M555b - Bluetooth (doesn't use a USB port)
Apple Wireless Magic Trackpad - Larger version of laptop trackpad. I find a traditional mouse like the options above to be more efficient.

External Display (Monitor) - Multiple options to choose from for every size. Each will be compatible with a Mac, using the Mini DisplayPort Adapter linked below.
21" Display
24" Display
27" Display
Mini DisplayPort Adapter - This will be needed to connect any non-Apple display to an Apple laptop.

The primary benefit of using an external display is that you gain additional vertical space on the screen. This reduces the amount of scrolling that is necessary, which translates to greater efficiency in working with RapidWeaver. The best example of this is in working with Stacks, where moving and copying stacks is much faster when you don't need to scroll up and down a great amount of the time.

A traditional mouse has an advantage over a trackpad because it offers much more precision in tracking and selecting items. Again, the use of Stacks provides a great example, where precision is important as you often must click in very specific spots. Selecting a particular stack on a page and adjusting its options in the Stack Inspector is most efficiently done with a traditional mouse.

If you decide to add an external display and/or mouse to your Apple laptop, I'd love to hear about your experience to see if your increase in productivity is similar to my own. Please leave a comment to let me know!

Thanks for your support!


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Pro Tip #1: Send an Email Receipt after a Form Submission

This is the first of many "Pro Tip" articles to come here in the RapidWeaver Classroom Blog. In addition to news about RapidWeaver Classroom tutorial updates, I'd like this blog to be another kind of learning resource for you, and these Pro Tips are intended to give you quick ideas for how to improve your website. Many times these articles will reference RapidWeaver Classroom tutorials, so dive deeper into certain subjects through those videos.

For Pro Tip #1, I recommend the use of an email receipt that will automatically email your website visitor when they submit information through a contact form on your website. Before I explain this recommendation further, I want to point out that RapidWeaver's built-in Contact Form page does not include the option to send an email receipt -- it simply presents a "success" message upon submission of the form, and nothing more. In order to send an email receipt you will need to purchase a 3rd-party form plugin or stack. At this time, both the FormLoom plugin and FormSnap suite of stacks from Yabdab include the option to send an email receipt. Both are excellent solutions, but I am partial to the FormSnap stacks because working with stacks and the Stacks 2 plugin offers more flexibility. RapidWeaver Classroom does have tutorials on both FormLoom and FormSnap (Tutorials > Add-Ons > Forms in the members' area), so please reference those tutorials if you are not familiar with how to use them.

Let's get to the details now. Why do I recommend the use of an email receipt?

1) Help prevent your future response from being filtered as spam.

Some email hosts -- Google in particular -- can be very aggressive about filtering email as spam. If you are using an email address that is associated with your domain name, then it is very possible that your emails will be filtered as spam by the recipient's email provider. This can cause significant problems, especially if you are trying to follow-up with a potential customer, or attempting to provide some type of support.

If your website form(s) is configured to send an email receipt, then you can instruct your website visitors to check their email inbox as soon as they submit the form. As a success message on the form page, you can say something like this:

"Thank you for contacting us. Please check your inbox now for an email from us. If you do not see the email in your inbox then check your spam folder. If the message is in your spam folder, mark it as "Not Spam" and add our email address to your contacts list. This will ensure that you receive our next correspondence, which should arrive in the next 24 hours."

In this case, the email receipt gives the recipient an opportunity to check that email from you will successfully arrive in their inbox. If they check their inbox and don't find the message, then they can take the necessary steps to ensure that they receive future email from you. The actual email receipt doesn't need to say much, and it could even suggest that the recipient add the email address to their contacts list as well.

2) Immediately provide useful information.

Many websites include FAQs, but unfortunately many website visitors too quickly submit a contact form for assistance, instead of looking through the available FAQ for an answer. The email receipt function offers you another opportunity to provide someone with the information they need, so that they don't have to wait for a manual response from you.

You can populate an email receipt with a list of common questions and answers, in the hopes that this information will often address the need that resulted in the person contacting you. As a part of the information provided in the receipt, you might request that the person respond back if that information answered their question. This can save you time in the long-run as you will ideally have less email support to handle.

3) Set expectations for your communication.

In general, using an email receipt can be a method of providing excellent customer service. Even though it's not personal or necessarily specific to the topic of the email request, it can establish an expectation for how you communicate and address customer needs. It's an opportunity to make a very quick first impression.

That's it for Pro Tip #1. I hope that you've found it helpful and you can expect a new tip along with each new tutorial update here at RapidWeaver Classroom.

Thanks for your support!