Archive for the ‘edits’ Category

The Scourge of the Internet Highway: Maintenance

Working on website maintenance is a vital task that ensures fresh content and good SEO results. But what if you have 5 sites? 10? 100? Updates tend to become more of a chore. Setting up a good priority system for your maintenance schedule will help you to tackle updates and stay on top of the game.

Use Your E-mail as Your Personal Assistant
The key to good maintenance capabilities is organization. That word tends to scare many people. How do you stay organized when you are juggling 200 e-mails a day that include personal messages, legitimate edits, questions from clients and spam? And what about the changes that come over the phone or in person? Where does that fit in the mix? What about a change from another co-worker?

To keep all of this organized, you need to use your inbox as a tool, rather than a hindrance. Begin by creating the following sub-folders in your e-mail program: A, B, C, D and Personal.

Personal E-mail
Move all personal e-mail into the Personal sub-folder. Inform your friends and family that you would appreciate it if they did not send you e-mails at work unless they are emergency e-mails. If your work e-mail address is the same as your personal address, then tell your family and friends that you will not answer their e-mails during working hours unless it is something urgent. You need to set up this expectation and stick to it. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out what a relief it is to push those to the side. You should also consider setting up a filter that will send personal e-mails straight to the sub-folder so that it won’t clutter your inbox.

What is A, B, C and D?
These letters stand for your new priority system that will help you tackle your day. Each letter represents a different level of difficulty for your maintenance requests. You need to go through all of your e-mails and place them in the sub-folder that matches the level of time needed to complete the tasks.

D – 5 Minute Change
These edits should take you 5 minutes or less to complete. Examples may include fixing a spelling error, adding a link, changing punctuation or setting up an e-mail address.

C – 30 Minute Change
These edits take a little longer than D edits, but still don’t take all that long. Examples may include creating a graphical button and setting it up as a link on a page, creating a new page and adding content or adding a disclaimer to the footer of your website.

B – 1 Hour Change
These edits will take you the better part of an hour or one-eighth of your day. Examples may include adding a new menu item and page to the website, changing the font of your site (if you don’t use CSS) or major edits to the content.

A – 1 to 8 Hour Change
These edits will take longer than 1 hour, but less than 8 hours. Examples may include changing the colors of the website or converting the entire site to CSS.

What about verbal edits?
The first thing you need to do is to request all edits to be put into e-mail. Explain that this helps you to make sure you don’t miss something. Really try to enforce this, especially with your co-workers. That being said, there are going to be times when it is not possible to get e-mail edits.

TIP: Be sure that you always take notes when given verbal edits!

There are two ways to handle this. If the edits are short, go ahead and type them up and e-mail them to yourself. Then place them into the appropriate sub-folder. If the edits are long, then simply send yourself an e-mail that states the client name and a short summary. (EX: Willy’s Emporium – Work on content edits from conference call.) You can put the written edits into a folder that is kept in a designated area and file the e-mail in the necessary sub-folder.

What Should I Tell the Client?
The first thing you must do is set up expectations with your client. Do not promise them that you will have anything done in 5 minutes. In truth, that is next to impossible. Even with D edits. If the edits are D edits, tell them you will have them done in 1 business day. If they are C edits, tell them you will have them done in 1-2 business days. B edits are trickier. You can only do 8 B edits a day and if you have 8 of them, you will never get to anything else. Therefore, let your client know that it will take 2- 5 business days. Odds are, you will get to them faster than 5 days, but you never know what else might come up.

And now we come to A edits. These are nearly impossible to predict. Sometimes you will get an A edit that you think will take you 8 hours and it might take you 2 hours. Or you think an change is a C edit and once you look at the code, it becomes an A edit. In a perfect world, you shouldn’t schedule more than 2 A edits a week. The best way to approach this with a client is to let them know that you have placed them on the production schedule and their edit will be handled the week of ______. This will give you a break if you suddenly get an onslaught of many A edits. It might also help the client realize that if they have an upcoming change, they can get on your schedule ahead of time, rather than springing it on you.

It is important that you set up good expectations with your client. Consider creating a maintenance white paper with a priority schedule. Inform them at the beginning of your relationship about how many business days are required to make a change. This will alleviate a great deal of stress for you and also help you to avoid those uncomfortable moments when you are trying to estimate time.

I have all of my edits organized by folder. Now what do I do?
When you get to the office, do all of your D edits. Next, do half of your C edits. Then, work on 2 B edits. Work on A edits until an hour before you go home. At that time, finish off the C edits and then go to a B edit. If you have some more D edits come in during the day, refrain from making them until the next day. All of this goes out the window if an emergency edit comes through the door, but this should give you a good system to work with.

TIP: If an emergency change comes in, don’t be afraid to charge double.
Just be sure to let the client know at the beginning of your business relationship.

Start over the next day, making sure that you finish all of your C edits from 2 days previous.

What if a Change is Longer Than 8 Hours?
If you receive an edit that you judge will be longer than 8 hours, then you are not being asked to perform maintenance on a website. You need to approach the client about purchasing a web refresh package or something of that nature. In actuality, edits really shouldn’t take longer than 8 hours. Don’t let your services be sold for chump change. You perform an important duty to the internet community and your work should be highly valued.

If you create a priority plan and stick to it, you will have a system that not only flows well, but will also instill confidence in your clientele.

If you would like to speak to someone about purchasing a maitenance package, consider Intra-Focus, Inc. Intra-Focus is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.

About the Author
Kimm Antell is a Senior Web Programmer at Intra-Focus, Inc. She has been surfing the web since 1989 and has been a web programmer since 1994. Her experience includes several web design workshops as well as customer service workshops at the University of Texas at Austin.