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Common Things Missed Before Launching a DotNetNuke (DNN) Website

Blog post featuring 10 things to watch out for when setting up DotNetNuke websites.
05/18/2012

Launching a DotNetNuke website can be a very hectic time. This is because multiple action items have to happen in sequence for everything to go perfectly. It is easy to forget the little things while trying to get everything done.

Due to the inherent requirements of my position, I have been able to see how quite a few different organizations have set up DotNetNuke (DNN), both on the front-end and back-end. I get asked to diagnose random issues and provide feedback and recommendations on projects that I have never seen before. Most of these also allow me the pleasure of admin or host privileges, so I can see the good, bad, and ugly of their DotNetNuke website.

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of common things that are not done that should be. If you are building DotNetNuke websites for clients, these are things that should be in a checklist for you at launch time.

1. Make sure someone can type the domain without “www.” in front.

There is no excuse for not making sure that the lazy people out there, like myself, can’t shortcut the address bar and not use the “www.” in front of the domain. It is just a couple extra steps when setting up portal aliases and DNS settings.

2. Change the DotNetNuke Defaults.

I like the DotNetNuke branding, but not for someone else’s site. Their copyright message, privacy policy, and terms and condition probably do not match your brand’s. Look for and modify or eliminate areas that have the DotNetNuke default information.

3. Create an admin skin with a full width pane.

Many DotNetNuke modules, including default administration screens, require a decent amount of space to look correct. Many modules for DotNetNuke look just plain terrible. Give them enough room to breathe by creating a simple variant of your homepage skin that has the content page stretching the width of the website.

4. Handle 301-Redirects.

It is difficult to advocate that every DotNetNuke page should get redirected because many times there are budget restraints preventing this from happening. With that said, you should be making a conscious choice of what is not being redirected rather than not paying attention at all. Best practice is to redirect pages that are currently handling at least 80% of the traffic. This is considered the minimum. With large sites however, this is unreasonable. Get a report of the highest traffic pages and do as many as the budget will allow. The rest should either be sent to the homepage or a custom 404-error page (this is preferred).

At a minimum, make sure that the non-www. version of the domain gets redirected to the www. version of the site. This helps SEO and consistency.

5. Setup Google Analytics.

In the latest versions of DNN, this is incredibly simple with one text box to fill out. This can be done before launch as well, so you can get it out of the way early.

6. Setup Email (SMTP).

Your DNN website needs to know how to email. The most common reason is for registrations, but there are many others. It is a simple process, so make sure it is done before launch.

7. Remove or Change the DotNetNuke Favicon.

The favicon is the little graphic next to the address bar in modern browsers. It also shows up in the tabs these days as well as a visual clue of what tab the page represents. Similar to changing the default information and text, but more important because it is pervasive. The DotNetNuke favicon is cool, but doesn’t represent your brand. It needs to be removed. It is a file called “favicon.ico” and It can be found at the root of the site.

8. Extend the time for Login.

The default time for idle login in DotNetNuke is 20 minutes. If you want frustrated users that are creating content, leave this setting at 20 minutes. Then wait for someone to create a blog post for 21 minutes and click save only to have it deleted because they were logged out. While setting the site to never log someone out may not be feasible, in my experience 20 minutes goes too fast if you want to have happy users.

9. Clean up any Admin Pages, Extra Modules, and Organize.

A lot can happen between the time that you first install DotNetNuke and the time that you have the first real visitor. Maybe you tried some new functionality but decided that it wasn’t right for you. Maybe there were multiple 3rd party modules for DotNetNuke that were tested with many unused. Clean up any areas and unused portions. You can always put them in their own section if you don’t want to delete them but the clutter doesn’t help anyone.

10. Handle file types and size modifications.

Add any file extensions that might be needed to run the site, adjust file size limitations accordingly if the site is going to be used for large documents or video, and make sure that the site handles video MIME types if video will be used.

BONUS 1:  

Create a DotNetNuke page with examples of all of the containers on the site to provide easy reference for someone to decide what options are available.

BONUS 2:

If your web designer created a style guide, create a page on the site for the users to be able to see the styles available. This includes headers, bullet styles, paragraph text, link styles, etc. Having this all in one place will save a lot of headache later. It also provides a way to keep the CSS files clean later as well.

I purposely left out larger topics like performance testing and user experience because they are longer term portions of the overall project. These were meant to be quick-hit reminders.

All of these action items are particularly important to keep in mind if you are delivering a DotNetNuke site to a client. Take as much care on the site as you would your own and keep it looking and performing the way you would expect it should.

If you have any other recommendations, please provide suggestions in the comments section below. 

Comments (1)

Launching DotNetNuke Website
Great articles on things we should consider before launching DotNetNuke Website. Many <a href="http://dotnetnukedeveloper.net/">DotNetNuke Developer</a> don't check this steps before launching.
5/2/2013 1:43 AM
Kaushal
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