Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

25 October 2005

Using Textpattern for Client Mock-Ups

Last night, I was about to send off some mock-ups of a brochure for a client, and I was going to just do it via e-mail. And it struck me that email just doesn’t cut it for this need. It would be so much more helpful for the client to be able to view the comps via the web. With the web I can control the presentation of the mockups a bit more, giving me the opportunity to explain each of the pieces before the client sees them. Email is a much more haphazard medium, where you have to reference each attachment by name, and hope the client follows along with you.

So, I went to my Be Good, Not Bad site and thought through a simple way to create a place for the client to log in and look at their mock-ups. I used Textpattern to develop the Be Good, Not Bad website. So for this, I just extended it a bit.

So, first I created a new page template for the client. Textpattern has a function where you can password-protect the page, so I added that into this page. Next, I created a new section with the client’s name as its name. In the settings for that section, I told it not to syndicate, not to put it on the front page, and not to include it in the search. This keeps everything posted in this client section separate from the rest of the site.

Next, I uploaded the mock-up images of the brochure designs, and created my post. I introduced each piece of the mock-ups and linked to the full-size images. Textpattern can create thumbnail images on the fly when you upload an image, so that adds a bit of eye candy.

All of this took about ten to 15 minutes longer than writing the email would have. Was it worth it? You bet. For one, the client doesn’t have an ginormous email sitting in their inbox. And of course, the aforementioned benefits of being able to control the presentation of the pieces makes the effort worthwhile. Lastly, the “wow” effect the client gets for having their own page shouldn’t be ignored.

I did run into one hiccup when trying to do this. If you intend on doing the same thing with Textpattern, listen up. I use Textdrive as my host, and the password thing wasn’t working at first. After some digging around, I discovered I had to add this line to my .htaccess file:

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

Smarter people than I can tell you exactly why that’s the case. But I thought if I’m going to recommend a cool way to do something, I should at least help you get over the speed bump that I hit.

So, that’s how I solved the problem of long-distance client presentations. Do you have any other ways you’ve done the same?