We recently relaunched the main Learning Pool website for the fourth time in as many years. It’s not that we like doing this each year, more that we have big ambitions and ideas and constantly want to improve our ‘shop window’.
I don’t know if that track record is the norm for start up businesses but, now we’re 5 years old, we’ve learnt a few lessons and I thought it might be interesting to share some here with you.
These lists were compiled with the input of various (slightly giddy) people on the day of our go live, last week.
Some Do’s to consider…
1. Choose a sensible date and time to push live. We tend to favour Thursday’s because Friday is our least busy day, traffic wise. We also always push releases live after the end of our customer’s working day, which is generally after 17:30pm.
2. Make sure communication channels are good between marketing, design and tech. We used Skype instant messaging a lot which proved to be very handy and fun (some of the team got overfond of the emoticons, mind you). Nearer the launch day I moved in to the Tech team office and shared their office space (probably to the misfortune of Declan and Conor). There’s nothing like being in the thick of the action when the heat is on and decisions need to be made fast.
3. Work with good people. Sometimes this is easier said than done, admittedly, but the joy of working with people who know what they’re doing is something to behold. Now is not the time to be easing in new team members or giving green team members more responsibility. Experience and knowledge really counts.
4. Do remember to bring all your data from your old site to your new site. Take your time and make sure you check and check again that everything has been brought over. This need to not leave stuff behind is why it’s harder to refresh a website than it is to create a new site from scratch. Keep copies as a back up just in case and pay attention to the detail.
5. Do stop developing and designing when you say you will to ensure the build and migration phases can happen unimpeded.
6. Do test, test, test throughout.
7. And I’ve been told to say that you must remember the Chinese takeaway number for the late night working, as well as ensuring the flagons of tea are kept topped up. Hungry and thirsty tech people are a dangerous breed.
Some Don’ts to avoid…
1. Assuming that, as the marketing person, you are the customer, be a good one. Don’t change your mind half way through. Or if you do, make sure it’s for a very good reason. My Tech team colleagues call this scope creep. It is insidious and can be disastrous.
2. Don’t use the website redesign project as an opportunity to learn new things from scratch. The deadlines pressure will mean you need to be accurate first time. Whilst you will, undoubtedly, learn a lot you should know the software you are using as well as possible beforehand. We use WordPress for our website and we’re all familiar with it, however with our new site we’ve upgraded to WordPress3 and added in some more plug ins which has meant some new learning. This would have been tricky if we didn’t already know some WordPress.
3. Don’t lose your cool when things don’t go to plan, as they won’t. Your colleagues won’t thank you for it and, once the dust settles, you’ll just look like a dramatic fool. That said, if they’re nice people they’ll forgive you, just the once.
4. Don’t take daft photos of yourself using your webcam at midnight (that’s you – Mark and Rachael). Someone else will put them on Yammer the next day and everyone will laugh at you. What goes on tour stays on tour. Ish.
5. Don’t underestimate the difficulties. It will always take longer, be more complex, give you more surprises and frustrations and generally behave differently to how you expected it to.
6. Don’t forget to share a beta version of your site with some trusted and truthful customers during the UAT phase. And say thanks to them too.
So well done to the team for another year (!). Take a bow Rachael Harkin, Dennis Heaney, Declan McDonagh, Dan Danowski, Paul Crumlish, Mark Lynch, Rob Moore, Paul McElvaney, Amanda McLoone, Emma Whiteside, Breda Doherty, Leanne Doohan, Lisa McGonigle, Eoin Donaghy and those #teamlovely peeps who UAT’d for us.