Web Site Requirements Checklists
Do the math
Use the checklists below to evaluation your requirements and your current facilities and web site. Can your facility meet the requirements listed below for about $5.00 a month? Do you have an experienced IT staff member that can manage your web site, network, server hardware, and software software 24/7/365 (and not take a sick day or vacation)? That’s why, for most of us, outsourcing both web server hosting and web site design/development makes sense.
Web Server Checklists
Even if you already have a web site, one of the first things you should consider is whether the computer server hosting your site is, well, serving you well.
Here are some questions to consider:
If your web site is served from a computer inside your organization’s facility:
- Is your computer server powerful enough and does it have enough memory to function adequately as a web site server?
- Does the phone or cable connection to your server have sufficient bandwidth to ensure that your web pages can be served quickly across the Internet?
- Is your server adequately protected by hardware and software firewalls to prevent hackers from damaging your web site and/or stealing sensitive data from your computers?
- Is your facility secure from theft, break-in, and tampering with your computer systems?
- If you lose commercial power, do you have an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and back-up power generators to keep your site on-line?
- If an incident or natural disaster should occur, is your web site and data kept in a secure, off-site location in order to bring your site back on-line quickly and without loss of data?
- Do you have a capable staff to manage your hardware and software 24/7/365 to ensure 100% availability of your web site and data?
If your web site is hosted by a web hosting service off-site:
- If you are a church or faith-based ministry, does your web-hosting service specialize in church, ministry web hosting support?
- Does your hosting service charge more than $5 per month for your site?
- Does your hosting service provide helpful, timely service for hardware and software support? Are they patient and helpful when answering basic web hosting support questions, capable of explaining how to resolve your web issues in a way you can understand?
- Does your hosting service provide a range of capabilities and services such as MS SQL and MySQL databases, ASP.net hosting, LINUX hosting, Coldfusion hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS) or dedicated servers for larger web sites, (especially those providing on-line billing)?
- Does your hosting service provide reasonably-priced web site design and development services?
- Does your hosting service provide a user friendly control panel for web site management and convenient monitoring of billing and invoices?
Web Site Software Checklists
Modern web sites offer a wealth of interactive applications, depending on the capabilities of your computer server, hosting service, and web site software employed. Here is a list of capabilities you should consider, and which we can help you employ on your web site:
Have you considered:
- Content Management System (CMS): Enables you or your staff to maintain web site content without having to pay a developer to update your site information once the site has been developed.
- Site Design/Development: If you are a large church, ministry and business, you can probably afford to pay software designers and developers to set up and maintain your web site. For the rest of us, CMS application software (e.g.,WordPress) provide no-cost and low-cost (i.e., Open Source) software, themes and plug-ins. With minimum software and developer support costs, you can implement your web site CMS to keep your set up and recurring site maintenance costs to a minimum. Either way, we can assist you to implement the best applications that suit your needs and your budget.
Special Web Site Capabilities
Here are some special capabilities you should also consider adding to your site to enhance its value to your congregation, supporters, site visitors, and/or business clients:
- Flash intro to your site
- On-line billing (e.g., for payment of school tuition, fees)
- On-line eCommerce store (sell your products and services on-line)
- Events Calendar (CLICK HERE for one example of an AJAX Events Calendar; CLICK HERE for another example of a Calendar function as part of an on-line forums application)
- Blog (CLICK HERE for an example)
- Post audio and video on to your web site (e.g., sermons, on-line training lessons, etc.; CLICK HERE for an example).
- Contact forms and other on-line applications forms
- Forums, Picture Gallery, Chat, Digital File Downloads capability (CLICK HERE for an example)
- High-quality newsletters and e-mail distribution
- Capability to allow individuals to sign up as site members for newsletters and to assign levels of permission for access to and modification of the web site as appropriate.
- Database integration (e.g., Microsoft SQL or MySQL) to manage dynamic web pages and data storage/retrieval for your site.
If you are thinking about managing your own web server in your own facility, consider the advantages of web hosting services (starting at about $5.00 per month):
- Physical Security: A reputable hosting service keeps its computers in a secure facility that typically includes keycard protocols, biometric scanning protocols and round-the-clock interior and exterior surveillance to monitor access to the data centers. Only authorized data center personnel are granted access credentials to data centers. Data center employees typically undergo multiple and thorough background security checks before they are hired.
- Precision Environment: The typical data center’s HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system is N+1 redundant. This ensures that a duplicate system immediately comes online should there be an HVAC system failure. HVAC systems circulate and filter air in the facility to remove dust and contaminants. Advanced fire suppression systems protect the facility and equipment.
- Conditioned Power: Should a total utility power outage ever occur, a typical data center’s power systems are designed to run uninterrupted, with every server receiving conditioned UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) power. If an extended utility power outage occurs, a data center’s on-site diesel generators run until commercial power is restored.
- Core Routing Equipment: In a typical data center, only fully redundant, enterprise-class routing equipment is used. Fiber carriers usually enter data centers at disparate points to guard against service failure.
- Network Technicians: Managing web servers, to include hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure, is a real challenge. People get paid well to do that work. The typical data center require its networking and security teams to maintain the appropriate professional certifications and to be thoroughly experienced in managing and monitoring enterprise level networks. They also must have skilled facility managers and maintenance technicians to ensure 100% up-time of all systems.
- Affiliate of Hostek.com: Note that while I can work with any hosting company, I am affiliated with the Hostek.com hosting service, with whom I have a reseller account. One of their special services is Christian web hosting; see Ministry.web for details.