One of my favorite things about being a designer is watching my projects come to life. It’s totally awesome and rewarding when a web page I designed goes live. What’s not so great is when the launch fails.
I recently experienced a setback at work, two weeks in a row, for the same project. After working on a redesign for Phone Wallet Keys (Republic Wireless’s blog, check it out!) since last April, it was finally time for the new site to go live. This project was my first major assignment as an intern so I was very excited to see it through to completion. I’d learned a lot from this project. I explored logo systems, navigation patterns, typographic hierarchy, and graphic styles. I worked closely with a developer and managed a large portion of the project. I grew immensely as a designer and a professional.
After months of work, I was ready for launch and, admittedly, getting a little anxious to be done. Two weeks in a row, however, launch did not go as planned. We ran into road blocks with the site’s load time and URL redirect. I was initially very frustrated with myself. I’d spent so long working on the blog and felt I could have prevented any hiccups. Since then, I’ve had time to reflect on the entire experience. Here’s what I learned from my failed launch:
1. Communication is key
As with most things in life, a lot of the misunderstandings and conflicts I encountered during launch could have been prevented with a conversation. There were a lot of people I needed to rally around this project and emails are not always the best way to get everyone on the same page. Daily stand-ups would have helped tremendously. They only take five minutes and get everyone on board first thing in the morning.
2. Don’t beat yourself up
I was too hard on myself. Granted, that’s just who I am. But it’s important to realize that some things are out of my control, no matter how hard I work. With a launch as big as a complete blog redesign, there are plenty of other factors (people, technology, timing) that all have to line up to make this happen. I wasn’t the sole reason the launch initially failed.
3. Setbacks can make a better product
With each hiccup and road block, there was something to fix and improve. These fixes ultimately led to a better end product and I’m glad we had the opportunity to improve the blog before launch.
4. Designing for development
I underestimated the importance of site load size and time and its effects on the overall experience of the blog. As a wireless company that cares A LOT about responsible data usage and universal Internet access, it’s important that Republic’s blog load quickly on poor Internet speeds and have a lightning-fast mobile experience.
Not being familiar with certain terminology or norms about this part of the development process, I designed the site without load size in mind. Getting push back and working through this problem with developers was a great learning experience about what to consider in the future. It also showed me the importance of bringing developers into the design process SOONER than the final stage.
5. Don’t launch on Fridays
My boss tried to warn me on this one but I guess I had to learn the hard way. Unless you want to stress out and work on Saturday, do not plan your launch for Friday. Because something will go wrong, some piece will be missing, and you’ll have to make up for it the next day. Next time, I’ll shoot for a Tuesday or Thursday.
6. It’s a learning experience, not a failure
I’m only in the first year of my career so I’m still learning everything they didn’t teach me in design school. The best lesson I got out of this entire experience was to assess what I learned and apply that to my next project.
7. It’s going to happen again
The design process is messy, schedules change, and new problems are presented with each project so launch failures and delays are bound to happen. It’s a waste of time to take them personally. I’ve learned to move forward and improve my designs.
It’s been almost a year since I started working on the blog. I have a full year of experience under my belt; experience that not many emerging designers get in their first year at work. I’ve designed an entire blog site, led a project, and, most importantly, had the opportunity to learn from failure.
About the Author: Chelsea Brown is an Editorial Experience Designer at Republic Wireless. She has a passion for storytelling and enhancing a reader’s experience through design. On her days off, she enjoys running, Jane Austen novels and writing for AIGA Raleigh.