The site is ready, your finger hovers over the mouse, ready to publish. After weeks and months of effort, input from everyone on your team, your consultant, vendor, developer, boss, and friends, it all comes down to this. But is it cool enough? Does it have all the right pictures? What about that other website I saw yesterday that had that neat feature – maybe we should add that before it goes live.
It’s good to want something great – that’s what you started building when you realized the old site wasn’t good enough. That’s what you paid for and had all those meetings for and stressed over. Your aspirations are worthy. But in this moment, you hesitate. Is the site ready? How will I know?
At this point, the only question to ask is this: is what you’re about to publish better than what your customers are looking at right now?
Many of our clients get held up at the end of the process, and it keeps them from launching sites that are ready to go because they want it to be “perfect”. But they say that you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Artists know the anxiety of trying to create the ultimate expressive piece that will summarize all their feelings, passion, and motivation. The problem is that while you’re polishing and fine-tuning, the world keeps turning without you.
This next comment may seem like a bold venture into the obvious: speed is a critical factor in producing on-time, high-quality work. As a web development agency that gets paid when sites launch, we know that moving quickly means more revenue. But the real problem with slow work isn’t as often the danger of missing deadlines as it is watching your objectives change. Enthusiasm wanes. People come and go, management priorities shift, and before you know it what you set out to create isn’t what’s needed anymore. And you’re left to push through a project that doesn’t make sense, or morph it into something that does. And that still costs money, but now it’s money no one wants to spend.
Still, there are a few good reasons not to launch a site. I can think of four:
It doesn’t work.
Functionality that doesn’t function reflects poorly on you. If the site doesn’t work, it isn’t ready for primetime. The botched launch of healthcare.gov was a terrific example of what not to do: hit your deadline by launching a site that doesn’t do what it promised. Customers have too many options these days, and won’t often give you the chance to waste their time twice. So make sure any critical functionality has been tested thoroughly.
Spelling or other errors that make you look sloppy.
Have you proofread the site? Did you spell all the words correctly? Do the links go where the user will expect? We try to recommend that clients hire professional copywriters, but even if you didn’t, the bar for acceptable copy is pretty manageable. Just remember that in the case of web copy, less is usually more. Click around the site in a few different browsers and mobile devices to make sure it looks the way you expect it to.
It isn’t secure.
This is especially important if you’re gathering your customer’s data with the site, but is it built in a way that protects them and you? Did you get an SSL to protect information transfer? If you’re accepting payments have you audited that process appropriately? If you’re using a software platform like WordPress for the site, make sure the plugins and core files are up to date with the latest versions so you’re protected from security vulnerabilities.
It’s not better than what’s there now.
We build marketing websites, so we’re always asking ourselves if what we’re developing is showing our clients in a better light than what they currently have. If we haven’t gotten there yet, then we won’t advise a client to launch.
It’s okay to be nervous. In fact, it’s probably good. Steven Pressfield, screenwriter and author of “War of Art” says that “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” It’s even okay to wonder if it’s ready, but don’t let your wonder keep you from pushing the button.
The beauty of a website is that you can continue to improve it after it goes live. You should! Make a habit: on the first of every month, you spend 30 minutes reviewing the site and identifying things that should be improved. It’s the one piece of marketing collateral that almost all of your clients will eventually see, so take the time on a regular basis to keep it strong.
Still not sure? Just remember this: everyday your new site sits waiting for your approval means another client has seen the one that you hate, and you’ve missed an opportunity. So push the button – it’s ready.