A post about lists – life doesn’t get anymore exciting than that! Admittedly lists are not the most exciting of subjects but if you are a website owner they could make or break your website. Find out how.
I know, a list of important lists. With a post like this I could just tear the fabric of space time. However stay with me, it might be more interesting than it sounds.
To be honest with you I am obsessed by lists. I keep lists for everything. It’s a problem, I need help. However despite that, I have discovered that when it comes to running a website a few carefully selected lists can be incredibly helpful.
What follows is my list of lists that could make or break your website.
Let’s start with the most obvious list first – a reoccurring task list. This is a list of those tasks that you need to do on a regular basis to ensure your website is effective. What exactly those tasks are will depend on the type of website you run. However, my list for the sites I run include:
- Participating in the forum daily
- Posting blog posts regularly (see below)
- Sending a monthly email newsletter
- Recording my daily audioboo
- Dealing with email enquiries
- Reviewing site statistics
Your list will include other items. For example I advise that most websites do regularly usability testing (see below).
A reoccurring task list is important because it reminds you that a website needs constant attention. It prevents the site from slipping down your priorities or being pushed out by other work.
Whether you call it a blog or a news section, most websites have some area dedicated to regularly updated content. However, these sections are often not updated. This is not because the website owner forgets, but because they struggle to generate ideas for content.
Its hard to think up blog posts on the spur of the moment. However ideas will come to you, if you are constantly keeping an eye out for them. That is where your blog subject list comes in.
Blog ideas occur to me all the time. When I am reading a book, watching TV or even in the shower. Rarely am I able to sit down and write a post there and then. That is why I keep a list of blog ideas. I know by the time I come to write something, all of those great ideas will have been forgotten.
For example this post came from my blog subject list. When I sat down to write this post I didn’t need to come up with an idea. It was already there.
You can make your life even easier by written a few notes on the ideas you have. Then you have even less thinking to do when it comes to writing the post. Again using this post as an example, I already had my 5 lists written down.
One thing web designers complain about is scope creep. They hate the fact that website owners keep adding new features when a website is being built.
However if you think about it, that is not surprising. When you are building a website you are thinking a lot about the project. It is only natural that you mind comes up with lots of possible ideas.
Rather than dismiss these ideas for lack of time or money, add them to your feature list. This is essentially a wish list of things you might possibly want to do one day.
Once your current project is launched you can look at the wish list and work out what to do next.
Not only does this prevent scope creep but it also encourages an ongoing investment in your website.
We all know that websites need promotion. However, it can often be hard to think of how best to promote them. When the moment arrives to do something about promoting our sites, all of our great ideas leave us.
Keeping a marketing list is a great way to combat this problem. If you find a website that covers a similar topic to you, make a note on your list to contact them and ask if you can write for them. Equally if you meet somebody at a conference who could promote your site, make a note to follow up that relationship.
Whatever the marketing idea, write it down. It is then available for when you can act on it. This reduces the mental effort of coming up with ideas. Instead of thinking about how you could market your website, all you have to do is spot opportunities that arise naturally.
Our final list is a fixes list. This will include a mixture of bugs and usability issues.
In his latest book ‘Rocket Surgery Made Easy‘ Steve Krug recommends that you carry out light weight usability testing once a month. This will generate a significant number of usability issues that need resolving.
When combined with browser bugs this amounts to a considerable number of fixes. By adding all of these elements to a fixes list you achieve two objectives. First you ensure nothing is forgotten. Second you can priorities what needs addressing first based on the seriousness of the problem.
Without a list of this nature you can easily become overwhelmed by the complexity and number of issues that need resolving.
Are lists sexy?
Are lists sexy? Of course not. However, they will help you maintain a firm grasp on your websites development, remove the mental load of generating new ideas and ensure nothing gets missed. That may not be sexy but it is effective.