New site help

Hey guys, I have a site in my head that I’m going to make for work and could use some help and ideas. We’re a support group of about 10 that receive phone calls from our customers. There are 2 big problems that we face, the first is that each member have other responsibilities that pull them away from their desks quite often, and the second is that several members of the group are in different building across our site. So you can see that there could be times when no one is covering the phones because of the communication issue and that’s not good.

This has been a real problem for us so I got a very crude idea in my head to create a web page that would show who is actually at their desk to handle phone coverage. I was thinking create a box for each member with their picture and whomever is at their desk would have their image highlighted in green and the people that are unavailable would be highlighted in red. This way let’s say someone wants to go out and have a smoke they can look at the page and immediately see if anyone else is green. On the left hand side I was thinking having a checkbox with in or out based upon what their current status is already. I was thinking it would be cool to have a drop down to have things like smoking/bathroom/working with another customer/lunch/… in case anyone wants to know where they are or when they might be back.

My goal is to make this as quick and easy as possible for everyone to use so they’ll actually use it because it is so easy. I’m going to use PHP and MYSQL. I know I haven’t given you a lot of details to work with, but I’m hoping you got the gist of it. Do you have ideas what else I could do to make this better?

2 problems that jump right out to me are 1) if someone is the last person to leave and they don’t “check out” how can I have it mark everyone as not available at, for example 6:00 pm, so when the early people come in the next morning it shows everyone offline. I imagine you could use a cron job or something to run after some specified time to mark everyone offline or is there something simpler? 2) I’m not new to PHP, but I’m also not extremely experienced, so how can I get the page to refresh every 60 seconds so it updates the page automatically? Is that Ajax?

Anyway that is enough for now. I’m hoping you understand what I’m going for because if I get this to work I know a guy that could use this same exact idea for his barber shop. I’m really interested in what you guys think. Thanks.

This could work, but as you mention, it is prone to human error. I use a live chat on my website, but human error dictates that when people go get a cup of coffee, go for a pee, etc, they don’t check out.

So, this would require training and discipline…

The refresh every 60 seconds could be done with a simple meta tag in the header of the page, google meta refresh…

I know you asked specifically about PHP, but this may be a project better served by software (not web software).

The reason is you can do something similar to what skype does. Monitor keyboard activity. If there is no activity from a user within a certain time, mark them as away. If another amount of time passes, then mark them as away…

If you need help with this feel free to message me.


Hey, thanks for the reply. It would be good to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Yea we tried the IM thing, but it was just another app everyone had to run and learn so people wouldn’t use it. A web page on the other hand, everyone always has one open. My boss feels good about the idea and so do I.