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 bandwidthUnlimited8
  Connectivity uptime99.9% annual network connectivity10
  Web server uptime99.9% annual server operation10
  Database uptime99.9% annual database operation10
  Storage SpaceUnlimited7
 Client support
  Toll free general phone support24/76
  Live chat assistance24/74
  E-mail tech supportResponse within 4 hours7
  Online tutorials & knowledge base 8
 Account management
  Control PanelCpanel9
  Server-level password managementCpanel, .htpasswd7
  Editable Mime Types 5
  Editable Apache Handlers 3
  Cron Jobs 6
  IP Banning/Filtering 4
  Redirect URLCpanel, .htaccess7
  Server Side Includes (SSI) 4
  Canonical redirection (no www) 5
 FTP management
  FTP accountsControl panel configuration6
  FTP home directoriesControl panel configuration4
 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



  LicenseLicensing model (commercial, open-source) 
  Programming languageScripting/programming language 
  Cost of software license (initial)  
  Cost of software renewals  
  Cost of software upgrades  

Criteria for software

 Code standards compliance
  XHTML compliantAre the webpages the software generates XHTML compliant?10
  UTF-8 supportSoftware supports text encoded in UTF-8?10
  WAI compliantSoftware generates content that is suitable for people with disabilities. Priority 2 W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. WAVE 4 validator10
  Microformat supportSoftware supports microformats (hcard, vcard, hresume)?4
 Software performance
  Server memory cachingMemcache or equivalent8
  Page cachingPlatform generates cached pages for faster delivery8
  Element cachingCaching is available for non-page elements5
  Database optimizationThe database can be optimized automatically6
  Database replicationThe database be automatically replicated and backed up5
  Load balancingMultiple instances can be used to reduce delivery time to users5
  Search engineFast internal content search with measurably useful results10
 Security features
  Rapid security releasesSoftware be easily and quickly upgraded10
  Error notificationThe software notifies administrators of errors or other problems8
  Access privilegesDifferent levels of users be given access to specific functions8
  AuthenticationThe software authenticate users via ActiveDirectory or LDAP9
  SSL logins/pagesThe software can handle secure logins, if needed5
  Opt-in confirmationSoftware verifies user actions through double opt-in e-mail process8
  Captcha – logical/graphicThe software provides logical and graphic prompts to verify human users8
  Spam filter serviceReduce number of spam messages processed by software8
  Repository interoperationPlatform can integrate with asset repositories, including OERs – OAI harvesting, SCORM4
  Database interoperationPlatform can integrate with enterprise or legacy databases5
  Directory interoperationUsers can be authenticated through open standards iincluding LDAP or CAS, or derivatives such as Active Directory8
  Integrate with external servicesIntegrate via API, hooks, or DOM scraping4
  RSS feedsStandard feeds for categories, tags, posts, and comments10
  iCal feedsStandard feeds for events10
  Linked data (RDF)Software generates linked data in RDF format?2
  Data exchange via APIOther software can interface with the software through an open application programming interface (API)?4
 Administrator interface
  Cross-platform, cross-browserCode and add-on software can be administered from any modern browser10
  Cross-deviceThe software can be administered via mobile or tablet (including iOS + Android)10
  FTP supportFiles can be uploaded to software-accessible locations using FTP10
  Root access not requiredSoftware be installed without root access to the server10
  Shell access not requiredSoftware be installed without shell access to the server10
 Development environment
  Staging and production instancesThe software supports a staging environment to test feature additions, upgrades, changes5
  Add-on standardsStandard methods for adding new features via add-ons8
  Enterprise supportProfessional services, training, and support are widely available8
  Third-party developersThird-parties developers are available for add-ons8
  Developer communityRobust worldwide developer community8
  DocumentationProfessionally authored documentation is available8
  Established roadmap deliveryPlatform facilitates future enhancements, including nimble support for to-be-approved standards7
  Portability across platforms for emergencyPlatform supports open standards to make interfaces, aggregation and data exchange more easily managed and portable between systems10
  Automatic updates for staging serverPlatform supports agile testing of upgraded or new functions.9

Production Criteria

Domain and information architecture

 Findability and usability
  Meaningful URLsMeaningful URLs, easilly changed by editors.10
  Meaningful post titlesMeaningful page titles, including site name that can be read aloud, lowercase, hyphens (SEO)9
 Syndication feeds
  RSS and ics feedsStandard feeds for categories, tags, posts, and comments8
  iCal feedsStandard feeds for7
 Multiple devices
  Print versionPrint version with main content only6
  Mobile versionFocused on top pages, categories, updates5
 Search engine optimization
  Validatable codePages meet XHTML strict W3C standards10
  Sitemap generationSitemaps generated and updated automatically7
 Multiple-site management
  Multiple subsitesSingle platform can support up to 100 subsites10
  Standard site start-up configurationsConfigurations can be predetermine when a new subsite is created5
  Site structure import and exportSite structure and content can be imported or exported as XML, or other data exchange format8
 Site structure
  Nested pages and categoriesUnlimited nesting 
  Reorganize parent and child postsSections and pages can be moved easily by drag and drop8
 Navigation functions
  Global alertsIntegration of external content, live, within all pages10
  Custom menusDrag and drop menu items, including, posts, categories, external URLs9
  Site and section indices (A-Z)Automatically generated8
  Current section path from homeBreadcrumbs7
  Automatic URL redirectionAutomatic redirection when permalink changes9
  Manual URL redirectionManual redirection can be created by author8
  Paged navigation – chronologicalNavigation for categories and archives with large numbers of posts7
  Current section childrenList of children on parent page7
  Recent posts 9
  Term glossary 6
  Related content pop-upSee NYTimes.com7
  Supplemental blocksContent “blocks” or “widgets”9
 Success metrics
  Analytics integrationGoogle, mail service, campaigns9

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 codeXHTML Strict, with preparation for HTML510
  ADA/Section 508WAVE 4 accessibility checker10
  MicroformatshCard, hResume5
  Semantic structureHTML Tidy throws no errors9
  Customized print, mobile, aural stylingSeparate CSS for each platform8
 Support for mobile devices
  Custom theme for Android 8
  Custom theme for Blackberry 6
  Custom theme for iOS 9
 Site-wide styling
  Theme frameworksTheme engine supports nested parent and child interface theming8
  Automatic class selectors for page typesCSS selectors are automatically generated for site, section, page, post7
  Automatic class selectors for page elementsCSS selectors are automatically generated for title, excerpt, thumbnail, category, date, author?7
  Multiple, nested templatesCustom themes be selected by authors (no nav, side page, etc.)?7
  HTML changes not required for stylingLayout and styling built upon Meyers CSS reset, CSS 3, elegant degradation9

Publishing Criteria

Criteria for content management

 User management
  Number of usersUnlimited users can be activated.7
  User role managementAssociate users with groups and users with roles, such as viewer, contributor, editor, designer, administrator, network-administrator7
  Simple workflowWorkflows can be assigned at the category, page, and post level with little training8
  Role-specific interfaceEach role sees only needed functions: limited choices for contributors up through full source editing for administrators5
  Transferrable content assignmentWorkflow roles be reapplied when there are changes in personnel. Batch changeout of one user for another in one or more workflows.4
 User support
  TrainingTraining and support available for authors and editors7
  Online helpUsers have access to a useful online help software for the software8
 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) feeds8
  DirectoriesSoftware can present individual and organization information from structured information9
 Page restriction
  By user role 5
  By passwordAccess be easily restricted (username/password) to sections.3
  By classificationAccess can be easily restricted to sections2
 Page redirection  
  Redirected URLsSoftware automatically redirecst changed URLs and can users specify custom and shortened URLs9
 Comment management
  Required submission fields 7
  Comment notification 8
  Moderation queue 5
  Prior-author approvalComment 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 URLsPages and sections are archived9
 Quality assurance
  Last modified dateLast modified date on each post8
  Update remindersStale content reminders to authors6
  Expiration dateSchedule content expiration and notify author and administrator ahead of time?8
  Automatic metadata generationMeta tags for description, date, categories, tags tuned for search engine optimization8
  Metadata promptsManual addition of metadata6
  Autolink URLs and hide emailAutolink URLs and obfuscate e-mail8
  Automatic link checkingExternal and internal link checking is automated7
  Logging and audit trailSoftware keeps track of what users and the software have done6
  Web statisticsSoftware provides or integrates content metrics9

Criteria for content authoring

 Text editing and formatting
  Intuitive page creationAuthors can post and edit content without support10
  Simple content editing interfaceEasy-to-use cross-platform, cross-browser “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editor10
  Paste valid contentContent can be copied and pasted into editing window as validatable XHTML8
  Paste cleaned up content from WordCustomizable MS clean-up function, including stripping all tags except structure (p, h1, h2, ul, li, etc.), strong, emphasis6
  Insert tables from Excel dataImport from Microsoft spreadsheets (via CSV wizard)5
  Spell checkingThe editing interface provides spell checking3
  External linksLink wizard3
  Internal linksInternal link generator5
  Pre-defined stylesSummary, Byline, Pull-quote, Float-right6
  ColumnsPage column wizard3
  Simple functionsSoftware provides abbreviated text instructions for common commands4
  Content previewUsers can accurately preview pages in a browser without exposure to search engines8
 Content elements
  Embed videoAutomatic player for YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip URLs, with customized attributes.8
  Present audioAutomatic player for mp3 files5
  Structured data lists/tables (searchable and sortable)Search connected tables of data, spreadsheets7
  Multi-lingual contentSoftware supports content translation into multiple languages4
 File upload and insert
  File uploadAuthors can upload document and media files individually or in batches9
  Automatic image resizeSoftware automatically creates multiple-sized image derivatives (including thumbnails) during upload7
  Media file metadataSoftware stores IPTC, EXIF, XMP or other standard image data3
  Image galleriesAuthors can easily attach images to a post and generate an image gallery, which automatically generates overlay to display multiple images5
  Image replacementAuthors can easily replace existing images with new ones2
 Content classification
  Nested categoriesSoftware supports nested categories9
  Category reorderingAdministrators can change order of categories and tags5
  TagsPosts can be tagged7
  SeriesPosts can be chained into a series6
  LocationAuthors can assign latitude and longitude data to assets4
 Related posts
  Related posts – automatic generationSoftware generate related posts automatically with customizable weighting for title, content, tags, categories6
  Related posts – manual selectionEditors can assign related posts manually5
 Integrate with external media
  Post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn 4
  Facebook Like button 3
 Automatic content filters
  Autolink URLText strings starting with http:// automatically are automically hyperlinked7
  Hide e-mail addressesE-mail addresses are automatically turned into clickable links and obfuscated to avoid spamming8
  External link identificationSoftware 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)