Digital Producers: 6 things to know before launching your next website

Ok firstly – and just so we’re clear – website launches are painful, stressful, and don’t just happen.

One needs to work very hard, with many long hours to get through them.

In this blog, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learn in the past few years about launching websites. Hopefully they’ll come in handy on your next website launch!


1. Manage the rearing issues.

The number of issues you’ll deal with in the final sprints of the project will be many times those of the earlier sprints.

The reality is that the client usually only becomes fully engaged towards the end of the project at which point, change requests, improvement requests and bug fixes grow exponentially.

My first piece of advice is to get the client engaged as early as you can. We use Jira to manage our projects and I’ve found that once a client is shown how to use the interface, they are often encouraged to begin ‘UAT’ and the feedback loop earlier.

When this doesn’t actually happen, be prepared to stand strong against the machine-gun of requests; push back where it is reasonable to do so. It is better to launch at 95% than to delay in the hope of getting to 100%.

Of course, being able to push back does mean that you’ll have to accept plenty of requests and so my second piece of advice is to make sure you have sufficient time and budget allocated and planned from the outset to handle it all.


2. Keep your development team focused.

By the end of a long web project, the development team can easily be unmotivated, uninspired and generally over it.

In my experience, organising daily scrum meetings of no more than 10 minutes keeps everyone efficient and focused.

It’s important as the leader of the team to let them know that the finish line is close.

Very close.


3 Thank your team. Continuously.

Thank your team. Thank them all the time.

Obama thanking his web team

It’s simple, it doesn’t cost you anything and in return they will be willing to work longer hours and work on the weekend.

Let them feel special, and remember you can’t do everything yourself. 


4. Update the client.

Numero Ono. Always keep your clients updated. (Yes, I see the irony of it being number four in my list, though I am Italian and English and numbers are not my mother tongue!).

Are we on time? Are there any issues on the horizon? If so what are you doing to fix them?

Let them know all the time and in time.

Because a close client is a good client.


5. QA: what to not miss.

I will produce another blog shortly with the checklist I use for launching websites.

My big four however are:

  1. Have you checked the Robot.txt?

  2. Are all the 301s ready?

  3. Have payments been tested in the live environment?

  4. Have we load-tested this to the extent we agreed?

I know these seem pretty basic… and checking them early keeps it that way.


6. Never plan Friday launches.

We all know the following law: line up for a hamburger or at the supermarket, if you change lanes, the time you will ultimately wait will grow by no less than a factor three when compared to the time you would have waited in the first line.

This law is significantly accelerated and then appropriately adapted to launching websites on a Friday.

The wait and the pain is a hundred-fold what you would have experienced on a Monday.

Don’t ask me where the issues come from on Friday (Saturday and Sunday too) but they come and come in great numbers.

Monday and Tuesday are non-negotiable unless budget, provision and a quantity of beer has been provided.

You will see the terror of such Friday (and weekend) launches in my image below as well as how the algorithm is applied:

The horror o a Friday website launch