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From our Depsters October 13, 2017

Friday the 13th - Bad Luck or Bad Planning?

Friday the 13th

Here at Dept we came up with Read-only Friday (inspired by this brilliant website). Not that we just sit around with a good book at the end of every week (if only!). It’s just that we try – wherever possible – to avoid launching any new development projects or tasks on Fridays. We’ve been strict about this for years and with good reason.

Friday the 13th calendar

The complexity of the work we do means you can’t simply push it live and walk away. In fact, for some of us, the work is only beginning. Post-launch, we move into an extensive programme of observing and tracking – SEO, analytics, visibility, social, and so on. No good if we are all off because it’s the weekend. Remember, a new website is a bit like a small child; it needs lots of constant attention and care!

Never Go Live On A Friday

You’ve probably heard the common mantra: “Never Go Live On A Friday”. It’s a bit like never working with children and animals, only a little more hideous – especially for clients with no working website all of a sudden, or for the developer who has to give up their weekend, head to the office, and try to figure out and fix whatever the problem is. And no one wants an inbox full of problems on a Monday morning!

So what’s the issue with Friday launches?

Well let’s take a step back a second and ask a question: Is a web development project finished when it launches? Or is the launch just one of the later development stages? Many people think the former is right. Dept works to the latter.

Web development can be incredibly complex work. Thankfully we’re great at what we do! That aside, we still need to closely monitor a new launch to make sure everything is functioning as planned.

Just as importantly, the client needs to be happy and stress-free – a degree of anxiety is to be expected on such large projects, and it’s our job to ease that. To coin a recent phrase we heard, this is when we typically move into our hypercare phase, making sure everyone is satisfied and expectations continue to be met.

These are testing times

Don’t misunderstand here, the testing we undertake is extremely vigorous before pushing anything live, as it should be for any web development company worth their salt. Understandably however, websites can occasionally perform slightly differently in places, once in the live environment.

It’s therefore key that you choose a launch day that allows plenty of time for close observation, tweaks and catches. The work we do is rarely greenfield, so the migration of an existing site to a new one can pose plenty of ongoing challenges for a few days. In other words, we can’t just switch it on and walk away!

The Sixth Sense

Despite vigorous testing in-house, there’s another group of people who also evaluate the website: the users. We can plan the UX and UI for days, weeks, months if we have to, to the point where we know it all, and totally understand how the website will be used. Then a user will come along and start interacting in a way we never expected. Typical!

It’s ok though; this is all part of the plan. The launch is merely pushing the site into another test environment (the live environment). Those unexpected journeys and clicks I mentioned can often highlight outcomes that may only exist in the live environment.

It’s for cases like these that we view a live launch as a phase, rather than a final step. “There ain’t no test like a live test”, as my great granny used to say. Probably.

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