You wake up in a dark office, the monitor across the room lights up and you are drawn to it. You stumble toward the desk and peer at the screen. There is a note:

Your blood pressure rises. Your brain races from one corner to the next. “Who is Jill?” “Where am I?!” The monitor flickers and goes blank.

The power went out.

Now, you’re stuck in the office with no information to help you begin your quest. You just know that somewhere out there, a website you developed and support is in jeopardy, and you have no way of fixing it.

This is obviously an over-dramatization, but it’s based on a real email I once received and helps me illustrate the importance of taking time to collect and distribute as much information as you can (and have) for the person in receipt of your support request.

The first thing your support person is going to want to do is to replicate the issue or recreate the error. To do that, they’ll need:

  1. The URL— “I was trying to edit our Menu Page…” is good, but the specific URL is better because we’re not as familiar with the content as you are
  2. The steps you took to create the issue—What happened and what did you expect to happen? Be painfully detailed here, we won’t mind!
  3. The error message—Please don’t paraphrase, we need the exact message to check against our database of errors (i.e., Google)

Other very helpful things to do:

  1. Take a screenshot—Include the whole browser (or even your whole desktop) because there might be a clue on the screen
  2. Visit—Sharing these results with us can help us start with the correct browser and operating system combination
  3. Check to see that it’s not just you; visit—This website pings the URL you enter to see if it’s a system-wide problem or not

The lights in the office all turn back on. You can hear a printer starting up in another room. The computer reboots and you see a new email has appeared on the screen.

You get ready to leave the office for the day, breathing a sigh of relief that Jill’s website is up and running.

At the end of each of Earthling’s projects, we don’t disappear after launch, we engage in a Support Contract with our partner. If you have a situation without a solution, Earthling can probably help. Make contact!

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