We web designers put a lot of hard work into our projects while keeping a number of goals in mind. For instance, we have to be cognizant of what our clients are trying to achieve. Then there are the issues of usability and accessibility. Performance and simplified future maintenance are certainly worthy goals as well.
But through all of this, we’re essentially working towards launching our creation for the world to see. Yet, even though we have this glorious event in the back of our mind, it can still seem incredibly chaotic when the time finally comes. Why is that?
When you think about it, there are a number of things that can lead to a hurried, problematic website launch. Today, we’ll take a closer look at a few of the most common issues you might face and some common-sense advice on avoiding chaos. Let’s get started!
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Constantly Shifting Timelines
No one ever said that working with clients is easy. But nobody said it was going to be this difficult, either. Indeed, some projects seem to take on a roller-coaster-like pace. You go from working feverishly on design to waiting weeks or months for that final approval to finish the job.
The ironic part of this is that we often attempt to coordinate a project timeline early on in the process. Everyone’s agreeable and excited to get things done. Only once the real work has started, formerly-rigid dates start to get tossed aside.
Before you know it, your client has informed you that (after not hearing from them for a month) the site has to be launched as soon as possible. This sets you off on a wild goose chase as you attempt to put all the pieces into place.
And, the faster you try to get things done, the more likely it is that a mistake will be made. That sets the whole process back and puts you further behind the old 8-ball.
Putting Off Your Preparation
As hard as this is to say, not everything is the client’s fault! Designers also make mistakes that can lead to a difficult launch process.
Among the biggest issues we bring upon ourselves is procrastination. Design and development work take up so much of our focus. Therefore, we tend to put off those little launch-related details until further notice. When the time comes, we might not be fully prepared to get things done.
Quite often it is those little details that can trip us up. Because, even if your projects tend to be similarly built, each site can have its own nuances that slip past us. For example, you may be accustomed to launching sites built with WordPress, but different themes and plugins could require extra steps you need to account for.
And, those changing timelines mentioned above also play a role. If you keep telling yourself that you won’t have to deal with launch-related issues for a while, a sudden change in schedule can throw a monkey-wrench into your plans.
Sometimes, you think you have all of your bases covered. And still, launching your site becomes a hot mess. Why? Because a third-party service provider or app drops the ball.
Virtually anything can happen. For instance, a web host could go down or an updated piece of software suddenly has a conflict with your setup. Even when you do everything right, chaos still reigns supreme.
This might be the most frustrating of the lot, because you have no control over the situation. However, the reality is that we often have to rely on others when doing our job. Bringing these disparate pieces together to get a website up and running is a required risk that we can’t necessarily avoid.
Achieving a Smooth Launch
Now that we know some of the most prevalent issues that get in the way, let’s look at some things we can do to improve our chances of a smooth launch:
Think About the Launch Before and During You Build
Preparation is the best way to ensure that you can handle any situation. So, even if you don’t necessarily know every last detail of your site build, you should still start thinking about how best to launch it.
You might, for example, start up a checklist of common launch-related items that you do for every project. Then, think about the particular project you’re working on and any special considerations you need to make. As things progress and potentially change, you can then adjust your checklist accordingly.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Even some well-written notes in a text file can help keep everything you need to know in mind and easily referenceable.
When developing a site, it’s not uncommon to find yourself trying out all sorts of code while looking for that perfect solution. Sometimes that includes updating plugins or your CMS. This could potentially lead to one of those aforementioned software conflicts.
That’s why it’s beneficial to keep appropriate files and databases backed up during development. If one of those last-minute gremlins pops up, you can simply turn to a backup.
Expect the Unexpected
There are certain things that we simply can’t control. Clients are among the most impactful when it comes to doing our job. All of our best laid plans can be wiped away by the decisions they make.
And, while you should certainly try to work with your clients on crafting a solid plan, it’s also important to realize that everything is subject to change. Knowing that, you can be better prepared for whatever comes your way.
The Answer Lies in Preparation
It’s hard to imagine a website launch that doesn’t include at least a little bit of stress. But that doesn’t mean we can’t streamline the process and make things easier for ourselves.
The key to it all is in being prepared. Know your stuff before you have to and understand that changes can come without warning. The more prepared you are to start with, the better you’ll be able to adapt to any surprises.
To start, think about your typical launch process and the pain points you encounter. Then, create something you can reference (like that checklist). From there, stay ready and tell the world to bring it on.