How to Raise a Website

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What is on your heart?

Many treat the web like print. You produce the website, you fill in content, and then you leave it “hanging” on the web like some sort of digital poster. I am not against that, it is a good starting point, but let us not stay there. The future is to constantly refine and update your web presence. Raise the site like you raise a child.

You don’t want your company to stand still. You don’t want your personal life to stand still. Why would you want your website to stand still? In modern times, your website (or app) is in most cases the biggest presentation of your company towards the public. It is important that it stays fresh and up to date.

Whenever I run a page, like Skylimit Productions, or Red Hat Factory, I don’t work until release date and then push it out and forget about it. No I nourish it like a child. Seeing it raised from childhood to adulthood.

Let me give you some more cheesy birth allegories.

Babies are Ugly

They are cute also. But when they come out screaming, covered in nasty stuff, with that cord attached to their belly button, I don’t quite know what to say.

Your website is a baby before it is released. You don’t show it to the public once it’s born, but you wash it first and then launch it publicly after you have had some doctors check on it to make sure everything is okay.

You don’t wait until the child is raised before you show it to anyone. That would be creepy. In the web world it is called perfectionism, and contrary to popular opinion, perfectionism doesn’t lead to perfect products.

Perfectionism is the virus that makes you constantly dissatisfied because nothing is ever good enough. To get a product launched you need to dare to release it even if you don’t feel a 100% sure. Sure never got anyone anywhere. Confident did, but not sure.

“Shipping beats perfection.”
Khan Academy’s Development Mantra

“Move Fast and Break Things.”
Facebook’s Old Development Mantra

What they said.

Of course it doesn’t mean you launch ugly stuff (wash the baby first), but let go of your perfectionism and instead make small changes as you go all while your site is live. That is probably why Facebook changed their development mantra to “Move Fast with Stable Infra”. A horribly not-catchy mantra, but very practical.

This is thinking long term.

Children are Unruly

After launching your site it is time to monitor it, and see how users behave with it. Test it yourself. You will discover a typo or two (it will have to learn to talk) and something that could be designed better (you need to wash their ears). And then again, and again.

It is a circular movement. Find faults and weak points, fix them, launch it again. It never ends.

Maybe you realize some parts of the site is a bit irrelevant for your customers. Remove it.

Maybe your child-website is rude to customers and sends them in the wrong direction. Straighten it up.

Maybe your child-website has bugs and sometimes break down. Fix bugs. Update. Take them to the hospital. Take them home when they feel better.

A Website is Like a Child

Hey dude! Cheer up! You’ll turn out quite alright!

Even Grown Ups Aren’t Perfect

After years of refining, your site reaches a mature stage, and it knows how to deal with visitors. But you never get to old to learn. As long as you keep developing, your site will be alive.

Perfectionism is such an ugly virus. It has you thinking that you are able to reach a stage where your site is perfect. It will never happen. Perfection itself includes constant iteration and development.

“Once you stop learning you start dying.”
Albert Einstein

You could easily swap learning with growing or developing in that quote.

I know. I am quoting Albert Einstein. That is dangerous. But as I said. Even grown ups aren’t perfect. I think this is a genuine quote though.

Einstein, the Most Misquoted Man of All Time

Albert Einstein is famous for being misquoted.

The idea grows with the site

Continue developing. Don’t give up on your idea just yet (unless it’s clearly horrible). Keep iterating. Allow yourself some trial and error. Allow your baby-site to puke on your shoulder.

Remember, the idea often grows with the site. I have seen it time after time when I have sat with startups. We meet to discuss a website, and end up discussing their business structure. It is quite logical, because the site you present to the customer must be structured like your actual company.

The questions “what needs to be on the front page?” and “what in my company should I prioritize the most?” tend to have the same answer. Let your site be a catalyst for business development. Force yourself to ask those questions. All while your site is live.

Child Struggling Around

Say what?

I don’t mean to go into too much details. All I am saying is. Get started, and keep going, even when there is puke all over your floor and you child-website is ripping all the flower-pots from the window sill.

It’ll turn out quite alright.

This one was written by Benjamin Antoni

Reaching about 10 years experience developing for the web, and have been doing various forms of graphic design since he discovered a copy of Photoshop in his brother's room a long long time ago. Mail him if you want work done.

Mail him

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