The joy of the checklist

The new website went live yesterday. It was always going to be a slightly interesting job as we did not particularly want to have our site down for any longer than we had to, but we were changing technology, format and content. I do not like nasty surprises when going near any live installation so the first job was to find the checklist.

Plan …

a checklist for putting the Nepeta website live
A part of my checklist for this website

Moving sites around is no great problem. It comes with the territory when you are developing sites using a slow broadband connection. Working locally and periodically moving onto an internet server for review works out quicker than waiting for pages to load and publish! That meant we already had a set of instructions for a basic move that we were happy would work. What this document did not contain were all the peripheral jobs: from clearing out drafts, images and all the other junk that accumulates over time; through checking all the images and links hooked up properly; to ensuring we had removed the cloak of invisibility from Google.

Act …

As is my wont, I now have a second checklist of all these additional tasks, relevant specifically for putting a site live. The early part of the day was spent on the checking and then I got to work on the main task. Preparation proved its worth as everything went smoothly and the site appeared almost too easily.

The early part of today was spent tidying up. My checklists tend to be ultra-cautious with liberal backups before doing anything remotely dangerous. This has a downside when you get a morning message that you are nearly out of disk space! Better that way than accidentally deleting a file you have just spent time editing. The final tick in the box is now in place having whittled down to a single recovery copy of the site en-route to backup.

Review …

The lists will be kept as a record – both so we know how to do it again and also in case there are problems and I want to reference back to the notes I made as the job went through.

Lessons Learnt

We all run on checklists: be it a to-do list, a process or the project plan. They differ in formality, complexity and level of review but all have the aim of getting a job done smoothly.

By thinking the job through, you can identify potential issues and so be ready for them – if you cannot be pro-active and prevent them. Transferring the thoughts to paper (OK, Word document) provides an extra check and guards against missing out a vital step.

Checklists are not infallible. There is always the possibility that a link or a typo slipped through the net. If you happen to notice the one that got away, please contact us so we can put it right.

Thank you