By John Driscoll
Failure To Launch is not a great movie, but a great way to explain what happens to businesses that set out to develop a new website, app, or web tool and then never see it make it off the ground. If this has happened to you, you’ve probably wondered why it seems so hard to get a web development project launched. The problem is that developers often do a subpar job of educating companies on the concept of “launch.”
Businesses refer to projects as done, finished or completed. But unlike most operational projects, an app or website is always a work in progress.
Like the movie where Sarah Jessica Parker is hired as a medium to help Matthew McConaughey grow up and start his life, a developer plays the same role in starting a project with the intention of launching it, but not finishing it.
Finished is arbitrary, so it doesn’t keep in sight that web projects are never truly done—they are constantly evolving. As Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “fashion is never finished,” and neither will most web projects.
Here is a practical guide to help businesses avoid a “failure to launch.”
Stop using the word “done” – In the world of development, “done” is just a four-letter word, not a development phase. Launching a project requires a launch date, while the word “done” implies a finite date. Using the words launch date or deadline will keep projects on track with the understanding that they will continue to be improved or upgraded.
Act as if you are organizing the halftime show at the Super Bowl, and the game is going to happen with or without you. With that perspective, you’ll be forced to throw out pet features, unnecessary aesthetics and lengthy discussions that aren’t essential to your launch. But don’t worry, users love upgrades and will be happy to see you constantly improving their experience along the way. It also gives you a chance to gain outside perspective once people start using your product.
Focus on the core product – We like to say that websites are nouns because they are static, and apps are verbs in that they “do” something. Problem is that people who build apps often want them to do too much.
The truth is, most successful apps don’t do that many different things. They usually do one thing very well. Instagram is a great example of an app that does one thing well – it allows users to share photos with other people using major social platforms. They didn’t invent anything. But what Instagram did is what so few developers and customers want to do. They created a simple concept, and did so effectively.
To create a successful web product businesses have to focus on a core concept and give up on the idea that more equals better–It rarely does.
Launch one project at a time –.People think launching a large website, app, or any web project is easy — so they can do more than one at a time.
The developer asks, “Would you like to launch HTML5, IOS, or Android first?”
The client replies, “Why not all at once?”
While this isn’t impossible, I don’t suggest it until you have demonstrated your company’s skill at launching multiple apps at the same time.
People love to point to Apple, Google and other technology giants that seem to do this with ease. However, these companies have hundreds of departments and thousands of employees to use to launch this way. Without those same resources, it’s wishful thinking.
Developers, entrepreneurs and companies are almost always trying to do too much, too quick, too optimistically, which just ends up spreading them too thin. Whatever you’re working on, or planning to work on, it’s probably really needed or really good. When that’s the case, focus on it, the core of it, and give it to the consumer world as soon as possible. They will be more likely to give you their hard-earned attention and ask for more.
John Driscoll is executive producer of PhD Labs, a Southern California company that specializes in social media, mobile applications and web development solutions. Visit www.PhDLabs.com.