We often stress how important it is to record and store your numerous online account passwords. The complementary aspect of this is documentation or a description of how your online systems work. The purpose being so that you both understand your website better, and so that professionals working with your data can understand better how the various parts and features of your website interconnect.
Lately, as our client base grows, and clients expand their array of service providers, documentation internally has become key to effectively managing a client’s website.
What does this look like? Let me explain. We break a website down into various parts, and basically write notes (in English) that explain how they work, and why they’re needed. Here’s an example of questions we answer and items we note for email and domains.
- List of POP & IMAP Accounts
- List of Forwards
- External Email (Google Apps, Office365) or Internal?
- How does the client check their email? (smartphone, Outlook, Mac Mail, etc.)
- Registrar (where the domain is registered)
- Expiration Date
- WHOIS Email (the email on record authorized to make changes)
- Forwarding domains (accompanying registrars and expiration dates)
Other areas of information include DNS, WordPress, WordPress plugins, custom software, third-party providers, SSL certificates, databases, and any custom server settings.
We finish off the structured items with an English (mostly) description of how the parts of the website work together. Samples:
Forms: Forms (2) submit using Contact Form 7 plugin, entries are stored in a database using WordPress plugin. Form contents are emailed to [email protected]
DNS: DNS is handled by Cloudflare, where we point the website (A record) to WPEngine and the email (MX) to Google Apps. Cache much be cleared when making changes to static resources (CSS, JS).
Ecommerce: Shopping cart uses WooCommerce, with payment processing handled by PayPal. Checkout happens on PayPal’s website, therefore no SSL certificate is required. Order notifications are sent to [email protected]
While we do this internally for our ongoing maintenance clients, we would also recommend that each client keep in their records, a similar document. Contact us to learn more about the process.