Don’t Let Perfection Keep You From Launching

The site’s ready. Your finger hovers over the mouse, ready to publish. After months of effort, input from your team, your consultant, vendor, developer, boss, and friends, it all comes down to this. But is it good enough? Does it have all the right pictures? What about that other website you saw yesterday with that one neat feature. Maybe you should make one more change before it goes live… Nope. Wait. Stop. Hold the phone.

We totally get the urge to make your new site perfect. You’ve paid all this money and spent all this time and it’s all come down to this. And in this moment, you hesitate. Is your site really ready? When you get to this point, what you really need to ask yourself is if what you’re about to publish better than what your customers are looking at right now.

Now, don’t get us wrong. There are definitely instances when a site isn’t ready to launch. Here are a few show stoppers that need to be addressed before launching:

Functionality that doesn’t function properly. 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. Students 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 it look sloppy. Have you proofread the site? Did you spell all the words correctly? Do the links go where the user will expect? Especially as an educational institution, it’s important to make sure you’re representing yourself well. Just remember, in the case of web copy, less is usually more. Also make sure to do plenty of testing in 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 student’s data. Is your site 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’re experts at building websites for the education industry and are always learning about latest trends and technology. 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.

If your site passes those four tests, you’re ready to launch. They say you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good, and that’s absolutely true when it comes to launching your website. 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 moving on without you.

This next comment may seem like a bold venture into the obvious, but speed is a critical factor in producing on-time, high-quality work. As a web development agency that gets paid when sites launch, timeliness is incredibly important to us. Not only is this due to financial factors, but also due to a change in objectives as timelines drag out. Enthusiasm wanes. People come and go, management priorities shift, and before you know it what you set out to create has morphed into some strange Frankenstein project. All the while, money is still being spent, but now it’s money no one wants to spend.

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. This is called investing in the concept of “continuous development.” Your website is 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: every day 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.