Online Platform Criteria

Maine Department of Education – Online Needs Analysis

Here is a summary of online platform criteria that emerged during the online needs analysis project.
The rightmost column includes priorities (1=lowest, 10=highest) developed by Jay Collier.

Hosting Criteria

Hosting costs

Annual hosting costs
  Network connectivity
  Hosting server/service
  Database server
  Back-up and restore services
Administrative costs

Hosting technologies

Server environment
Operating system
Web server
Database server
  Redundant Firewall
  Redundant backbone connections
  Uninterruptible power back-up
  24/7 network monitoring
  24/7 server monitoring
  Weekly backups

Criteria for hosting

Connectivity and uptime
  Monthly bandwidth Unlimited 8
  Connectivity uptime 99.9% annual network connectivity 10
Web server uptime 99.9% annual server operation 10
Database uptime 99.9% annual database operation 10
Storage Space Unlimited 7
Client support
Toll free general phone support 24/7 6
Live chat assistance 24/7 4
E-mail tech support Response within 4 hours 7
Online tutorials & knowledge base 8
Account management
Control Panel Cpanel 9
Server-level password management Cpanel, .htpasswd 7
Editable Mime Types 5
Editable Apache Handlers 3
Cron Jobs 6
IP Banning/Filtering 4
Redirect URL Cpanel, .htaccess 7
Server Side Includes (SSI) 4
Canonical redirection (no www) 5
FTP management
FTP accounts Control panel configuration 6
FTP home directories Control panel configuration 4
Database management
phpMyAdmin 9
Remote database access 6
PHP and scripting technology
PHP 5.3, 5.2, 5.1, 5.0 10
Mod_rewrite, .htaccess 10

Software Criteria

Software licensing and costs

License Licensing model (commercial, open-source)
Programming language Scripting/programming language
  Cost of software license (initial)
  Cost of software renewals
  Cost of software upgrades

Criteria for software

Code standards compliance
XHTML compliant Are the webpages the software generates XHTML compliant? 10
UTF-8 support Software supports text encoded in UTF-8? 10
WAI compliant Software generates content that is suitable for people with disabilities. Priority 2 W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. WAVE 4 validator 10
Microformat support Software supports microformats (hcard, vcard, hresume)? 4
Software performance
Server memory caching Memcache or equivalent 8
Page caching Platform generates cached pages for faster delivery 8
Element caching Caching is available for non-page elements 5
Database optimization The database can be optimized automatically 6
Database replication The database be automatically replicated and backed up 5
Load balancing Multiple instances can be used to reduce delivery time to users 5
Search engine Fast internal content search with measurably useful results 10
Security features
  Rapid security releases Software be easily and quickly upgraded 10
Error notification The software notifies administrators of errors or other problems 8
Access privileges Different levels of users be given access to specific functions 8
Authentication The software authenticate users via ActiveDirectory or LDAP 9
SSL logins/pages The software can handle secure logins, if needed 5
Opt-in confirmation Software verifies user actions through double opt-in e-mail process 8
Captcha – logical/graphic The software provides logical and graphic prompts to verify human users 8
Spam filter service Reduce number of spam messages processed by software 8
  Repository interoperation Platform can integrate with asset repositories, including OERs – OAI harvesting, SCORM 4
Database interoperation Platform can integrate with enterprise or legacy databases 5
Directory interoperation Users can be authenticated through open standards iincluding LDAP or CAS, or derivatives such as Active Directory 8
Integrate with external services Integrate via API, hooks, or DOM scraping 4
  RSS feeds Standard feeds for categories, tags, posts, and comments 10
  iCal feeds Standard feeds for events 10
Linked data (RDF) Software generates linked data in RDF format? 2
Data exchange via API Other software can interface with the software through an open application programming interface (API)? 4
Administrator interface
Cross-platform, cross-browser Code and add-on software can be administered from any modern browser 10
Cross-device The software can be administered via mobile or tablet (including iOS + Android) 10
FTP support Files can be uploaded to software-accessible locations using FTP 10
Root access not required Software be installed without root access to the server 10
Shell access not required Software be installed without shell access to the server 10
Development environment
Staging and production instances The software supports a staging environment to test feature additions, upgrades, changes 5
Add-on standards Standard methods for adding new features via add-ons 8
Enterprise support Professional services, training, and support are widely available 8
Third-party developers Third-parties developers are available for add-ons 8
Developer community Robust worldwide developer community 8
Documentation Professionally authored documentation is available 8
  Established roadmap delivery Platform facilitates future enhancements, including nimble support for to-be-approved standards 7
  Portability across platforms for emergency Platform supports open standards to make interfaces, aggregation and data exchange more easily managed and portable between systems 10
  Automatic updates for staging server Platform supports agile testing of upgraded or new functions. 9

Production Criteria

Domain and information architecture

Findability and usability
Meaningful URLs Meaningful URLs, easilly changed by editors. 10
Meaningful post titles Meaningful page titles, including site name that can be read aloud, lowercase, hyphens (SEO) 9
Syndication feeds
  RSS and ics feeds Standard feeds for categories, tags, posts, and comments 8
  iCal feeds Standard feeds for 7
Multiple devices
Print version Print version with main content only 6
Mobile version Focused on top pages, categories, updates 5
Search engine optimization
  Validatable code Pages meet XHTML strict W3C standards 10
Sitemap generation Sitemaps generated and updated automatically 7
Multiple-site management
Multiple subsites Single platform can support up to 100 subsites 10
Standard site start-up configurations Configurations can be predetermine when a new subsite is created 5
Site structure import and export Site structure and content can be imported or exported as XML, or other data exchange format 8
Site structure
Nested pages and categories Unlimited nesting
Reorganize parent and child posts Sections and pages can be moved easily by drag and drop 8
Navigation functions
  Global alerts Integration of external content, live, within all pages 10
Custom menus Drag and drop menu items, including, posts, categories, external URLs 9
Site and section indices (A-Z) Automatically generated 8
Current section path from home Breadcrumbs 7
Automatic URL redirection Automatic redirection when permalink changes 9
Manual URL redirection Manual redirection can be created by author 8
Paged navigation – chronological Navigation for categories and archives with large numbers of posts 7
  Current section children List of children on parent page 7
  Recent posts 9
Term glossary 6
Related content pop-up See 7
Supplemental blocks Content “blocks” or “widgets” 9
Success metrics
Analytics integration Google, mail service, campaigns 9

Interface design

Support for computer platforms and Web browsers
Windows XP+: IE 7+, Firefox 3+, Opera 9+ 10
Mac OS X 10.5+: Safari 3+, Firefox 3+, Opera 9+ 10
Linux: Firefox 3+ 10
JAWS 11+, Fangs 1.06, Universal Access 10
Support for universal design standards
W3C HTML valid code XHTML Strict, with preparation for HTML5 10
ADA/Section 508 WAVE 4 accessibility checker 10
Microformats hCard, hResume 5
Semantic structure HTML Tidy throws no errors 9
Customized print, mobile, aural styling Separate CSS for each platform 8
Support for mobile devices
Custom theme for Android 8
Custom theme for Blackberry 6
Custom theme for iOS 9
Site-wide styling
Theme frameworks Theme engine supports nested parent and child interface theming 8
Automatic class selectors for page types CSS selectors are automatically generated for site, section, page, post 7
Automatic class selectors for page elements CSS selectors are automatically generated for title, excerpt, thumbnail, category, date, author? 7
Multiple, nested templates Custom themes be selected by authors (no nav, side page, etc.)? 7
HTML changes not required for styling Layout and styling built upon Meyers CSS reset, CSS 3, elegant degradation 9

Publishing Criteria

Criteria for content management

User management
Number of users Unlimited users can be activated. 7
User role management Associate users with groups and users with roles, such as viewer, contributor, editor, designer, administrator, network-administrator 7
  Simple workflow Workflows can be assigned at the category, page, and post level with little training 8
Role-specific interface Each role sees only needed functions: limited choices for contributors up through full source editing for administrators 5
Transferrable content assignment Workflow roles be reapplied when there are changes in personnel. Batch changeout of one user for another in one or more workflows. 4
User support
Training Training and support available for authors and editors 7
Online help Users have access to a useful online help software for the software 8
Content types
Pages (drill-down) 10
Posts (chronological) 10
Event listings (dates and times) Time-based posts, such as future and historical events can be presented within a calendar metaphor, with ICS (iCalendar) feeds 8
Directories Software can present individual and organization information from structured information 9
Page restriction
By user role 5
By password Access be easily restricted (username/password) to sections. 3
By classification Access can be easily restricted to sections 2
Page redirection
Redirected URLs Software automatically redirecst changed URLs and can users specify custom and shortened URLs 9
Comment management
Required submission fields 7
Comment notification 8
Moderation queue 5
Prior-author approval Comment is approved if author has already been approved. 3
Content subscription and notifications
Scheduled email based on interests and engagement 8
Subscriber management 5
Content archiving
  Archives with permanent URLs Pages and sections are archived 9
Quality assurance
Last modified date Last modified date on each post 8
Update reminders Stale content reminders to authors 6
Expiration date Schedule content expiration and notify author and administrator ahead of time? 8
Automatic metadata generation Meta tags for description, date, categories, tags tuned for search engine optimization 8
Metadata prompts Manual addition of metadata 6
Autolink URLs and hide email Autolink URLs and obfuscate e-mail 8
Automatic link checking External and internal link checking is automated 7
Logging and audit trail Software keeps track of what users and the software have done 6
Web statistics Software provides or integrates content metrics 9

Criteria for content authoring

Text editing and formatting
Intuitive page creation Authors can post and edit content without support 10
Simple content editing interface Easy-to-use cross-platform, cross-browser “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editor 10
Paste valid content Content can be copied and pasted into editing window as validatable XHTML 8
Paste cleaned up content from Word Customizable MS clean-up function, including stripping all tags except structure (p, h1, h2, ul, li, etc.), strong, emphasis 6
Insert tables from Excel data Import from Microsoft spreadsheets (via CSV wizard) 5
Spell checking The editing interface provides spell checking 3
External links Link wizard 3
Internal links Internal link generator 5
Pre-defined styles Summary, Byline, Pull-quote, Float-right 6
Columns Page column wizard 3
Simple functions Software provides abbreviated text instructions for common commands 4
Content preview Users can accurately preview pages in a browser without exposure to search engines 8
Content elements
Embed video Automatic player for YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip URLs, with customized attributes. 8
Present audio Automatic player for mp3 files 5
Structured data lists/tables (searchable and sortable) Search connected tables of data, spreadsheets 7
Multi-lingual content Software supports content translation into multiple languages 4
File upload and insert
  File upload Authors can upload document and media files individually or in batches 9
Automatic image resize Software automatically creates multiple-sized image derivatives (including thumbnails) during upload 7
Media file metadata Software stores IPTC, EXIF, XMP or other standard image data 3
Image galleries Authors can easily attach images to a post and generate an image gallery, which automatically generates overlay to display multiple images 5
Image replacement Authors can easily replace existing images with new ones 2
Content classification
Nested categories Software supports nested categories 9
Category reordering Administrators can change order of categories and tags 5
Tags Posts can be tagged 7
Series Posts can be chained into a series 6
Location Authors can assign latitude and longitude data to assets 4
Related posts
Related posts – automatic generation Software generate related posts automatically with customizable weighting for title, content, tags, categories 6
Related posts – manual selection Editors can assign related posts manually 5
Integrate with external media
Post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn 4
Facebook Like button 3
Automatic content filters
Autolink URL Text strings starting with http:// automatically are automically hyperlinked 7
Hide e-mail addresses E-mail addresses are automatically turned into clickable links and obfuscated to avoid spamming 8
External link identification Software automatically inserts icon to indicate links are to external URLs. 4

Collaboration Criteria

Online forms

Drag and drop field selection 10
Multi-page forms 6
Schedule forms 4
Standard and advanced fields 8
Create blog posts from form 7
Conditional logic 5
Payment options 2
Prepopulated fields 5
Role management 9
Layout configuration 7
Style forms with CSS 9
Customized confirmation messages 9
Payment integration 2
View, edit, and export entries 10

E-mail campaign management

  Dynamic content based on subscriber information 8
Simple process for embedding into pages 8
Design builder wizard/editor 8
Template gallery 8
Free of branding from delivery service 10
Trigger messages based on RSS updates 9
Archives with permanent URLs 9
Image and file hosting 4
Create newsletter from e-mail message 4
Target lists by location 8
Reliable delivery processes 10
Compliance with spam laws 10
Preview/test for multiple e-mail clients 8
Scheduled delivery including digests 5
User preferences
Receive updates immediately daily or weekly 8
Receive messages integrating multiple lists 8
Enable Facebook comments 4
Double opt-in confirmation 9
Lock subscriptions to prevent unsubscribing for mandatory lists 8
Collect and segment on user interests 7
Logins for multiple list managers 5
Custom sign-up confirmation 6
Restrict who can subscribe to specific topics 4
Dynamic subscriber options based on referring link 5
Manage via iPhone and iPad 8
Google Analytics integration 10
Reports: e-mail open, click, and forwarding 6
A/B version testing 5
User forums 8
E-mail support 7
Training videos 5
Phone support 3

Event registration and management

Define events
Customized registration form with unlimited questions 8
Automatic Web pages for each event 10
WYSIWYG event editor with pricing, locations, categories 9
Import events via CSV or Excel files 6
Duplicate similar events 6
Manage recurring events 7
Customized page/URL per event 10
Event-specific e-mail campaigns 7
Detailed event lists by date or category 6
Online calendar with links to registration pages 8
Custom confirmation emails for each event 8
Multiple pricing options 5
Provide and process waitlists 6
Generate name badges and check-in lists 5
Pay by check or at the door 5
Promote events
Optimize for search engines 10
Integrate with social media 8
Create custom contact lists 7
Use tracking links and affiliates 4
Embed customizable widgets 7
Attendee profiles 3
Print tickets 3
Manage service
Secure credit card processing 2
Integrate with PayPal and Google Checkout 2
Excel and CSV export of attendee data 8
Embed event widget in external site 5

Other potential future services

Job listings
Online payment gateway(s)


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