The trouble starts when you, being so close to your own project, see your website as much more than it actually is. And I’m not only talking about finding a niche and all that fun stuff, but you have to take yourself and your project with a pinch of salt because that is exactly how the rest of the world will be taking it, too.
If salt is not your thing then you may just have to substitute it with a dash of failure because, perhaps unfortunately, the Internet is very salty indeed.
Being close to your project is not a bad thing – indeed you can be the driving force behind it and thrust it upon the bleary-eyed and unyielding world. But the measure of success comes from afar. You simply cannot march head-first into a new web venture with guns blazing and developers flanking your left and investors flanking your right; for a start, success comes, ninety-nine per cent of the time, over a long period of that thing we call time, after many sleepless nights.
However, a project often falls into disarray when certain procedures aren’t adhered to. I’m going to list five things here that I think are of such great importance that it could form part of a check-list by which to measure the success of many an online venture. I list them in no particular order and the list is by no means complete.
1. There’s no rush
Really, there isn’t. If you’ve come up with a brilliant idea, a true light-bulb-ping moment, get it all noted down, research it and talk about it (a lot) with people in the know. They can advise you of what is out of scope, what might be better and what is so good or bad about your idea. Don’t rush to a cheap freelance developer and hope to get it done and be reaping the rewards by Friday.
2. Do a “soft launch” if you have to
If you really want to get your project out there ASAP, there’s usually no problem with doing what the industry dubs a “soft launch”. That is, launch your project warts-and-all and hope to gather a decent enough following to continue after you update to full-launch mode. A soft launch doesn’t just mean slapping a ‘beta’ tag next to your logo, it means carefully informing users what’s going on and what might change. It is also a great opportunity to gather feedback from Joe Public. Remember that openness is so sacred on the Internet that if you don’t inform people that you intend to start charging, you may face a backlash as soon as you flip that big ol’ switch.
3. Don’t hope for an instant crop from a single seed
As I’ve already alluded to above, it’s so important to be careful not to hope for too much from your project. I’m really not trying to put a downer on any project, I completely believe that more Facebooks and more Googles are hidden in the back of peoples’ minds in random exotic places around the world. I just think that keeping a cool and level head, working really hard and speaking a lot with people who know what they are talking about is much more successful than blind hope. They don’t talk about crops with regard to success for nothing; a crop takes time to grow and, often, people can only afford the time, money and effort to start that crop with one tiny-weeny seed.
4. Don’t panic when something goes wrong
Things do go wrong, FACT. It’s not always one person’s fault and it can, almost always, be fixed. But the most important part, before fixing what’s broken, is to not panic. Remember, you are close to the project so it’s difficult to see it from a more reasonable, and indeed a more real perspective. Seek help, calm down and have a tête à tête with your developers, designers and anybody else involved. Not only are you more likely to get the problem fixed, but you will probably get it done a lot more quickly than if you ran around like a headless chicken first. If a project completely falls over, you don’t need to follow it like a sack of potatoes; cool it to the extent that you could shock an ice cube, roast your chicken and potatoes with your pinch of salt, then get things sorted. It’s also worth noting that, if you use an agency, they will have factored-in (I hate that phrase) some contingency time in case of such an event.
5. Enjoy the process!
It’s one thing to be good at it. It’s a completely different thing to enjoy it, too! If you enjoy the whole process, you will find that you are able to handle a lot more problems head on, with fingernails intact. Things run so much more seamlessly if you choose people who you like working with to help build your project into something important. Gifted with the choice between a person/people/agency who are very good at what they do, but are lacking in the personality department, and another person/agency who aren’t as good but can get the job done and are fun, engaging, interactive and proactive with you then, hands down, the latter is the better choice.
I’ve tried not to be too negative in my five points up there. I think that the Internet would be such a cleaner and more successful place if people just stop falling over each other trying to find the next big thing and just relax, sit back and take things one step at a time! And if things don’t go according to plan, pick up the pieces and keep going with your head stuck firmly on your rigid shoulders.
My boss told me something today that resonates well with this article. He said, “don’t worry if there’s something that really can’t be done, or that goes wrong; there’s always a work-around”.