Documentation not there!

Password forgotten, custom code that was overwritten or something else that should been there but is not there.

We have all been there. Don’t be impressed by the technical terms.

Just use this as a checklist when you ask for it.

documentation checklist

Documentation, Creativity knows no rules

It does not take long before someone decides to do things different and goes the other way.

So a part of the website works like this and the other part like that. People are like that. We want to fix things and there are a lot of MacGyvers out there who really can improvise.

You will be stuck with it once it needs to be repaired by someone else.

Make sure that the one responsible for your website has some kind of documentation and you can use this article as a checklist.

Documentation, Keep it simple stupid and short

The KISS principle is well known to stay away from complexity.

There are a few things that always should be documented:

  • Admin access to the server
  • Analytics account
  • API accounts
  • SQL database credentials
  • Custom CSS
  • Images and Videos

Except for the last one, a decent full (system) backup would do if you are skilled to unpack it and find the proper files.

If not, write them down and place a copy safe in a cloud storage. The day will come that you need them and the developer who made the website is long gone.

Documentation, saVe your Admin access details

You need to have the username and password for the hosting service. It is not advisable to let the website developer keep those. Rather give access with another account / user because you actually gave away the key from your car.

In case of issues with the developer, you will be vulnerable for extortion.

You will need access to administration, DNS and FTP.

Documentation, saVe Google Analytics account

Analytics accounts can be branched. One account can have child accounts.

Again, in case you want to change from developer, it could become an issue to move your precious data away.

Preferable to have an own account or contract.

Documentation, your API account

Most modern websites connect to other services with an API key. For example Google has made their free use of Google Maps paid, hence a credit card is needed to be invoiced. If not available, service stops on the website.

Make sure you have your own account.

Documentation, for SQL database credentials

Most CMS systems can only work with a database. The database is the most vulnerable part of the website, hence a proper username and strong password is needed.

Those credentials are stored in (readable) files on the server but again, in case the developer is gone, you might have an issue.

Preferable, change the credentials in the configuration when you change from webmaster.

Documentation saVe your Custom CSS

All modern websites use CSS (Cascaded Style Sheets) to ….. style the webite.

The great thing about CSS is that you can make overrides which basically means that a developer can make changes to the design in one simple file without touching the code of the website.

If you loose the CSS changes, the tailor made styling is also gone.

Preferable, you ask the developer to create child themes and override files and document them.

Documentation saVe Images and Videos

This might look weird because your media is on the website? That is correct but most of the time for performance reasons, the images are reduced in size or manipulated.

If you have hired a photographer and the developer has no backup of the originals, you must be lucky that there is a copy somewhere! Otherwise you will have an empty frame.

Oh, did I mention your website crashed and the one responsible is not there or available anymore? All your valuable images gone.

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