Over the weekend, I received an email from a friend and former colleague from the Bloomberg News web development team. She was approached by a mandir (Hindu temple) about creating a website to further their outreach. My friend wanted some advice on the approached. The email exchange quickly devolved into technical details about hosting, domain names, etc. I recommended WordPress because it's what I have used for 17 years, but there are certainly other platforms that could work. However, after thinking things over last night, I followed up this morning with an email recommending that we step back from the technical considerations and take a slower and reasoned approach.
I recommended getting a good understanding of what the mandir expects to accomplish. Asking the right questions will save my friend a lot of time and money, and it will make the project a smooth and enjoyable experience for both her and the mandir.
I recommended that she document the set of high-level requirements and lock the mandir into some conditions, set expectations, and then DO NOT DEVIATE.
Below I have I compiled a set of questions culled from various websites. I suggested that my friend document the answers in as much detail as possible during her conversation with the mandir:
- What specific services will the website provide?
- Who is the websites target audience?
- What keywords will your audience use to find your website?
- Why do you want a new website?
- What features will your website need? This answer needs to be as detailed as possible. Features include:
- Social media buttons
- Click-to-call buttons
- Online ordering / eCommerce
- Portfolio / gallery
- Pricing tables
- What similar websites do you like and what is it you like about them?
- This will show you what styles they like and provide examples of features that might be difficult to describe.
- Who will provide content for the new website?
- Not all clients understand what you mean by “content,” so start by explaining what website content includes — website copy, graphics, images, logo, fonts, etc.
- What is the deadline for the website?
- She can use this information to determine if the mandir's needs can be met by the deadline. She might need to provide a timeline to show what can be done by the deadline and what can be added later and when.
- What is the budget for the website?
- Defining a budget will let her know if she can meet the goals of this project.
- Do they want her to handle maintenance?
- This question shows that ongoing website maintenance is not part of the website design project and that it will be an additional cost for which they will have to budget. A website maintenance plan can include updates for themes and plugins, changing themes, adding new features through plugins, as well as ongoing changes such as images, prices, backups, etc.
- Would they like her to handle content marketing?
- The mandir needs to understand that creating the site doesn’t guarantee traffic and that traffic is not your obligation unless they want to pay for this as a service. Content marketing and promotion can include SEO, local SEO, social media, newsletters, ad campaigns, articles, et
- Will the content be restricted to subscribers or is all content public?
- If the mandir wants to restrict some content (e.g. live video streams) to certain people, then the design needs to include a way to manage this.
- Do you need a new URL? Do you need hosting?
- You might first need to explain what a URL is and how it’s related to the website (i.e., it’s the website’s address). Since the mandir needs a new URL, who will be responsible for securing the domain? You might need to explain the concept of web hosting. Since the mandir needs hosting, will you provide this service?
She can use Google Forms to create the questionnaire. Once she has answers to those questions, I offered to help her think through how they can be accomplished. The survey above is similar to what I used when I built the Montgomery Friends of Open Space non-profit website.
I exported some of their content and put together the demo website on a small Digital Ocean droplet. Once they agreed to the approach, I purchased the full Giving Press theme. They assigned me two volunteers, and we worked together, for a few hours each weekend for several months before officially launching the website. They were directly involved and happy with the result. They wanted to showcase the work they were doing, highlight their farmers market, schedule special events and fundraisers, and increase donations.
The previous website was hand-built with HTML. They paid a "consultant" money every time they wanted to update the front page. With WordPress, they could update the website content themselves anytime they wanted. We incorporated credit card payments via a secure PayPal embed.
I donated all my time.
What do you think? Is there anything I forgot?
Last night I realised that I had felt anxiety for a while. I think it’s because except for dinner at the Brick Farm Tavern and the occasional drive to pickup up beer, I have not left the house. It’s wearing on me. The shows up in my life as anger.
I have been locked down for so long that I feel uncomfortable being outside the house. Unconsciously I have avoided doing some things that I usually do at this time of the year.
Usually, I would be at farmers markets every weekend, chatting with the farmers, taking photos and buy tasty things to eat. I would purchase apple cider doughnuts from Terhune Orchards, turkey burgers from Griggs Farm, and bread from the Terra Momo Bread Company. I haven’t been to the Montgomery Farmers’ Market for several weeks.
I have forgotten how to be out in public. I have become a shut-in. Today I made a change. On my lunch breach, I drove the fifteen minutes to Terhune Orchards. Once I read the protocol - wearing a face mask, washing my hands, waiting in a socially distances queue for permission to enter - I felt more at ease. The other customers waiting in line were doing the same thing.
I bought two bags of apple cider doughnuts and a bottle of wine. I drove home and had two doughnuts for lunch. At dinner, I drank the entire bottle of wine with grilled chicken.
Submitted for the 100DaysToOffload project.