When I was studying at Ryerson University, we had a Digital Graphics course in our first year of the Media program. Our teacher, Wayne, introduced us to computer programming using Pascal. My classmates, being mostly budding photographers and filmmakers, bridled at the thought of programming – they wanted to be manipulating and creating exciting new images. They were frustrated and many wrote simple programs to draw a few lines on a black screen, like this:
I quite enjoyed the course. I scanned some of Edward Muybridge’s classic motion studies:
…extracted the individual figures, and programmed an animation somewhat like this:
Wayne was impressed.
This wasn’t my first foray into programming but it helped increase my interest in combining images and code. Since then, I’ve always looked for ways to automate processes and use the computer’s strength at exactly and quickly repeating tasks. This reduces my drudgery, improves accuracy, and increases efficiency.
Checklists are a kind of script for a task. In recent years, I’ve been working on a more formal process for Website Mechanic, our site maintenance and monitoring service. I’ve developed numerous checklists for various site tuneups. The irony here, of course, is that these checklists are a kind of script or program but for a human instead of a computer. However, this still improves the process, accuracy, and speed since I don’t need to think of the steps every time.
I’ve recently converted some checklist documents into interactive checklists using online tool, Process Street. It’s been a useful tool for multi-step tasks with a high degree of repetition between jobs and also a high degree of detail.
We evaluated several online tools and decided on Process Street because:
- checklists can be easily made and modified
- checklists can be shared
- tasks can have subtasks, allowing for fine detail
- tasks can be conditional depending on other actions taken
- the free tier has all the features we need
Here’s an example of my checklist for doing a basic WordPress update and status check:
My extended WordPress checkup has more tasks including multiple security checks and broken link checking. I’m working on converting that checklist from a static document into a Process.st checklist.
My checklists are centered around website development and maintenance but yours could be for many other repetitive processes in your business. Using the checklist gives me confidence that I’m hitting all the required steps and also keeps me focused and moving more efficiently. The real advantage lies in sharing the process with colleagues and clients so that we’re all doing the same thing.
Here are a few other online tools that we reviewed and may be better suited to your needs: