checklistFor the same reasons you can’t just slap a website onto a company and expect it to work, no amount of branding, user interface design and content management will make the site work if the more mundane tasks of logistics and project management are not attended to.  As with the rest of The Checklist, the questions below are meant to flush out potential problems, like a hunting dog in a seemingly empty field of tall grass can get birds to pop up.

Too often, these questions languish unattended as the project gets started.  Later, simple phone calls turn into investigations, tense meetings are help and – usually – someone gets tagged with the blame an obligation to fix the problem: someone moves the domain name to point to the new site and suddenly the email stops because the MX record wasn’t setup; problem reports from users filling out the Contact Us form go unanswered because the developer is still getting them thinking the client will address the issues; you call a meeting to show off the new site and everyone assumes everyone else would arrange projection facilities so you all wind up gathered around a 13 inch laptop screen.

Creating the site is one problem set, maintaining it  is another.  A lot of website developers don’t address the latter because they are paid and long ago on their way when the site goes stale.  Life’s about Logistics – with the right support systems you can do anything, but those support systems need to be conceived and built into the website from the beginning.

The Series So Far

  1. Backup at the same frequency as changes
  2. Finding the Contact Us Button
  3. A responsive “mobile” design
  4. Website Logistics
  5. A Clean Well Lighted Home Page
  6. Building Your Agile Website
  7. Storytelling Copy
  8. The Checklist: Branding and Purpose
  9. The Checklist: Presentation

WEBSITE LOGISTICS

  1. What domain name(s) do you wish to use?
  2. Do you deploy email addresses using your domains?
  3. Are you interested in integrated email services if not presently deployed?
  4. If there is different content under different primary domains (xxx.com) or under subdomains (yyy.xxx.com), please describe each.
  5. Do you use a Content Management System (CMS) now? (examples would be Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, Expression Engine, Ruby on Rails)
  6. If you don’t use a CMS, how is your code created:
    By hand:____ (such as with HTML Tool kit or other editor
    DreamWeaver:____
    FrontPage: _____
    Visual Studio:____
    Other:________________________________________________________________
  7. Does your existing site use a database? What brand?
  8. Do you host your own site? If not, please list the provider.
  9. Do you use an eblast system? (examples are MailChimp, Constant Contact)
  10. Do you presently have access (login, password) for all the services you expect the website to interface with?
  11. Are you using a data analytics solution to track site traffic?
  12. Who inside your company handles inbound inquiries from the site?
  13. Who will be responsible for maintaining the currency of information on the site?
  14. Does the site have a security certificate? If so, when does it expire?
  15. If the site uses eCommerce, what system do you use for :
    Payment:
    Shopping Cart:
    Shipping:
  16. Do you own all of the artwork/photos on the present site?
  17. Do you own all of the written content on your present site?
  18. When was your last Search Engine audit? Is the report available?

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

  1. Are there any key dates related to the web site in regard to:
    1. Launch date
    2. Content availability
    3. Personnel availability
    4. Expiring licenses
    5. Service renewals
    6. Other company events
  2. Are you available to meet in our office in San Diego?
  3. If reviews take place in your office, does your conference room have:
    1. video projection
    2. wipe boards/Large paper pads
    3. teleconference capability
    4. Enough chairs for three of our people and your team
  4. Do you have a legal team that need to review Privacy Statements and Terms of Use to be published on the website?
  5. If Page Mountain LLC is not your host, do you currently have a technical support arrangement with your host that allow a third party to contact them?
  6. Who will be the person to give final approval on the final product?
  7. If different from #2 above, who writes the check that must also approve?

Well, that’s it: the Top Ten Website Features.  If you thought you’d hear about virtual reality and some new javascript that draws website users, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.  The Top Ten have a lot more to do with the way people already work – or don’t – and how to get the engines started on the vehicles to move those issues from latent problems waiting to bite you to front of mind so they can be addressed early.  When my Dad taught me to drive, he noted you can’t do much about the road passing under the car.  He pointed down the road and said to drive for down there, while you still have choices about what to do.