At LevelTen you'll often hear the phrase "Launch early, Launch Often" thrown around. It's a mantra that we have adopted for our working lives. Maybe you have heard the phrase yourself, but wonder what it means, or why it should apply to you. Allow me to break down this philosophy for you.
what does it mean?
In a nutshell, it means launching your website quickly with frequent updates. So if you have a launch date in mind, do everything you can to produce the bare minimum, based on your goals, that you need in time for launch and then launch. Should updates be needed, they can be rolled out in phase two, or updated periodically as time goes on.
what it doesn't mean
The saying does not suggest that work should be thrown together in a sloppy fashion just in order to get it out the door quickly. Your site should be able to perform basic functions and have a layout that is navigable before it's launched, otherwise it's just a sitting duck.
why we recommend it
Launching a workable site with the minimum amount of features that your user will need means that your site is out there! Don't worry about pixel pushing. Don't stress over the most obscure thing a user may want to do on your site. Sometimes those "little" last minute changes you decide to make become your launch date's worst enemy. Let time speak for itself. By launching early, you now have a site, and your user's actions and feedback will guide the evolution of that site.
why most people don't do it
Words like "early" and "minimum" tend to scare people who have become what I call "launch perfectionists". Launch Perfectionists want their site to be "pefect" at launch. I don't mean clean, pretty, or functional - I mean, everything for everyone, spick and span amazing! This is never the case for any site's first launch, and having this mentality keeps people stuck in neutral.
Perfectionist types are usually convinced they already know exactly how users will interact with their site. This is a dangerous assumption because it discourages future change and doesn't allow freedom for your visitors to play with your site, which is what you want. Sometimes this creative feedback from new users can make a site into more than it was ever built to become.
who should practice this
Everyone and anyone thinking about creating a website. Think about some of your favorite sites, especially the ones that are feature-heavy, like Facebook. Facebook is constantly updating its functionality and layout. The site has become much more today than it was when it first began due to changing access permissions, evaluating user requests, and even security issues. But do you think Facebook could have ever launched as it is now when it first started? I'd say definitely not. So stop dragging your heels, go ahead and launch your site!
Do you try to practice the "Launch Early, Launch Often" theory, why or why not?
Image Credit: Matt Biddulph