Every site has its quirks, but here are a few things which might seem obvious, but often get forgotten until the last minute.
1. SEOh dear
They wind up designers, have to base a lot of their requirements and recommendations on algorithms that change on a whim and they often contradict themselves, but don’t forget to engage your favourite white hat wearing wonder when you’re working on a new website or online project. The earlier you talk to them in the development process the easier your life will be. Remember though, there should be no such thing as content created just for SEO purposes, it all needs to look and work amazingly for real visitors…even if it is often serving a dual purpose.
2. I am the law
Are you lawyers happy? Have your compliance team checked things thoroughly? Do you even have a compliance team? What the hell does a compliance team do anyway? What is advice and what are “must do” legal requirements? With any luck you’ll have a product manager, head of content or project manager to sort all this out for you, but whatever the situation I recommend you get as close to the legal dudes as possible. If you bond with them early on you are less likely to hate them when they call you up at the 11th hour and ask you to update a 2000 word policy document that someone forgot to track the changes on.
3. Is anybody there?
What time of day will your new site launch? Is that during normal working hours? If not, will anyone be around? Whatever your employment contract says and however obliged you and your team are to “work longer hours on occasion, when required”, real people have families and make plans and you’re much less likely to have issues getting people to stay late or give up a Saturday if they’re given as much notice as possible. Ask the questions as early as possible and do your best to get included on all the relevant comms surrounding the launch, especially if this is handled by multiple teams.
4. Sweeping up afterwards
Who’s tracking your list of bugs? Where will it be tracked? However long your project has taken there’s a chance the people who’ve built everything are feeling a bit jaded and in the mood to move on to something more exciting. However, if they’re also the ones who need to fix the bugs I would recommend you try to spread the load as much as possible, interspersing it with newer pieces of work if you can and teeing up the promise of what’s to come if you can’t.
Although the success of a new website or online feature might not directly affect you or your team in terms of salary, commissions or bonuses the people who’ve worked on it will usually care how well it’s doing once it’s out there. If you have access to Google Analytics, business intelligence or stats reports and even external unbiased reviews of the work from other websites, magazines or blogs is all good to hear. Ideally the graphs will all head upwards and the articles will all be full of praise, but even if that’s not the case take stock, iterate and continue to make changes until you’re getting the results you (and your stakeholders) want.