As with everyone, Iíve had my fair share of lame projects over the years, but what really has made the difference in the success of a project is a client (or designer) that wasnít afraid to launch.
Always make sure to KISS
Four words, one acronym, nobody gets it. At the start of a project everyoneís hopes are high. The first week is exciting; new designs takes shape, information is organized and prepared, and everyone can see the increased leads and revenue just on the horizon. Then the inevitable strikesÖ the client (or designer) decides to start experimenting with ideas that they see could help them in the future, and what started as a clean, concise project turns into a junkyard of half-thought-through ideas that lead to nowhere.
Itís important to realize that nothing matters, nothing really even happened, until your project is launched. Iíve seen this pitfall many times (often because of my own failure) in projects over the years. The most important element to keep in mind is this:
Start simple, expand later. From proposal to contract and development, this principle always holds true. It simply is not necessary to implement every idea that arises upfront. Any successful project will always have room to expand.
If you havenít heard the old adage known as the 6Ps (or some variation), then itís likely you have yet to put on pants this morning. It goes ďPrior proper planning prevents poor performance.Ē Not only is it impressive how many Pís were fit into that saying, but itís the perfect model for getting your project off the ground.
Make the plan, outline what needs to be done, and then stick to it. As with all things, itís always best to stick to your original plan. If your launch date is set for two weeks out, then itís not the best time for one of the following ideas to be introduced into the project:
- New design / layout
- New features outside the original project scope
- Killer side-app that is based on a Flickr/eBay hybrid that combines the best of Facebook, Twitter, and Google
For all new ideas that arise during the course of your project, time is needed to step back and re-evaluate the end goals. Chances are if these items were not thought of when the contract was signed, then they ought not to be in the original release of the site.
Undoubtedly there will be unknowns with every project. When these arise, they should be handled in a way that does not increase the time it will take to launch. This may mean delaying a feature until post-launch, dropping a less-effective idea, or dropping an idea entirely. Whatever the unknown, you should always stick to the code.
The intrepid designer
A few months back, Whitney Hess wrote an amazing article on the subject of ďLearning to Say No to Bad Ideas.Ē This article took me by surprise (I had assumed that Iíd mastered that ability sometime around the age of three), but as I read further, I realized itís a huge weakness in my professional life.
Saying no is key to keeping on target with your launch. Whether that means you have to KISS, or Stick to the Code, be certain that youíre not afraid to shut down bad ideas. Many of the failures Iíve seen have come from not standing up to the client, and letting them know that a new feature has to wait until after launch, or dropped all together.