When to go “live” with your web site

by Tyler Suchman on January 28, 2009

A sometimes crippling dilemma to the web development process is determining when to go “live” with your web site. When is the best time to do it? Should you wait for every “T” to be crossed and every “i” to be dotted? And if you were to wait for that day to come, when is that?

I have seen web sites take an embarrassing amount of time to go “live.” Typically people start out the process of creating their web site with verve and gusto, ready to tackle anything and everything. Then, as often happens, the lack of instant gratification with the web development process takes the wind out of their sails. Other projects and pressing priorities take precedence over completing the web site. The completion of the web site ends up being pushed futher and further down the workload pile until it suddenly becomes an emergency to get if finished, or it regrettably falls off the radar completely.

So what is the cause of this?

In my experience its a combination of unreal expecations and unmet deadlines. When starting out with any web project there should be an agreed upon schedule at the outset. This schedule should outline when all “pieces of the puzzle” will be completed. Sometimes this schedule is either unrealistic (because people wants things done yesterday), or you are at the mercy of elements beyond your control (content coming from outside sources. In any event there are typicall factors involved that you have no control over.

What do you do?

You will need to prioritize and decide what elements of content are essential and core to the launch of the web site. If these are in place the green light is given and the web site “can” go live. Although the web site is not perfect, it is fundamentally sound.

Beyond the immediate list of essential items are the necessary items. These content elements are very important and their publishing should not be delayed. Typically these are content elements that can be in place within a week of launching. Their absence from the web site doesn’t do irreparable harm, but they should be published as soon as possible.

The third tier of elements are typically those that when the arrive, they will be published. This content typically helps further explain already existing content but its absence doesn’t hinder understanding or impact.

Summary

The key here is to know not to wait until you feel the website is perfect. The Internet’s content is organic and in constant flux. You should feel the power of publishing when an acceptable level of content is ready to go. If you were to prioritize your content as I have suggested and publish accordingly, people will not know what they are missing. When additional items become available you publish them as soon as possible.

One last note, refrain from using ‘under construction’ pages. They add no value to your web site at all. All they do is advertise that you have not finished the job and that is not a message y0u want to be sending.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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