5 tests to stop your Drupal site’s silent death

4 April 2009

I visited my site a couple of weeks ago and discovered a pile of comment spam. That’s not unusual, of course; what *was* strange was that Drupal’s Comment Notify module hadn’t told me about them. Some poking around revealed that, lo and behold, the site wasn’t sending any email. The problem’s nature meant I had gotten no notification: It was the silent site-killer.

So first off, I want to apologize to anyone who’s tried to contact me thorugh tomgeller.com or gellerguides.com and not gotten a response. Simply put, I never got your message: If you remember your query, please send it again. The fault was entirely mine, because I hadn’t instituted a simple procedure that would have prevented the problem. To wit: I should have tested the site periodically.

And so should you.

In fact, here are five areas every Web admin should test regularly:

  1. Anonymous user experience. Log out, then test your site’s appearance and function. One mis-set permission can stop visitors in their tracks.
  2. Sign-up experience. The sign-up email is your users’ first personalized encounter with your site. Are you sure it represents your current message? And do the sign-up screens lead logically from one to the next?
  3. Links and scripts. File paths sometimes change during system updates, but you’ll never know until you try to access a link or script… and have it fail. Discover the problems before your users do!
  4. Images. Ever had your images disappear after an upgrade? There are two common causes: putting image files in the wrong place (such as /files), and forgetting that you’d modified pieces of a theme when you upgrade it. Which leads us to our last test…
  5. Backup and restore. “You’re only as good as your latest backup”, they say. Further, “Your backup is only as good as your ability to restore from it”. Whether a backup is missing or unusable doesn’t matter: The result is the same.

I’m sure this isn’t a complete list, and fear the next time my site dies a silent death. So help me out: What other areas do you think site admins should test regularly?

Web development

One Reply to “5 tests to stop your Drupal site’s silent death”

  1. Security Updates
    I know Drupal checks automatically these days, but making sure you have the latest security updates installed is something I’d add to that list. Funnily enough, I couldn’t get the OG Notifications to work recently, and when I upgraded to an OG security update, suddenly I started getting notification emails from the site.