No two products are exactly alike, so, naturally, no two launches are exactly alike.
Whether you’re releasing a full-blown new product or just a new feature set, the weeks and months leading up to the big day serve the same purpose: to ensure everything goes smoothly and successfully.
Everyone who touched your product during development has a unique perspective of how to define launch success. After all the effort everyone put in to get the product close to the finish line, the last thing you want to do is overlook a vital viewpoint or miss a critical step — and that’s why we’re writing this “Launching to Success” series.
The Many Meanings of 'Launch'
Different members of your team — from engineers and designers to project managers and strategists — will view the launch through their own unique viewpoints.
I posed a few launch-related questions to a sample of Skookumites to illuminate how each role focuses on varying areas when it comes to the launch process:
1. What are the most important things to do when prepping for a launch?
“Throughout the build, it’s imperative to circle back to your initial goals and make sure that it will be clear to users what this product does and how (and why) they should interact with it. With that said, the most important items on your launch list should be cleaning up the bugs, making sure there’s a happy path for your users, and applying analytics to the back end. Your users’ feedback is key to determining the success of the product and how it can evolve.” - Mel Shields, Product Designer
“Ensure that the core functionality of the application is working as intended. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ product come launch time. Bugs will be found. The trick is to minimize the big misses and make sure everyone on the team understands what type of issues could arise once the product goes live.” - Matt Carter, Quality Assurance
2. How do you define a successful launch?
“Launch, for me as a developer, is when the application goes into production. A ‘successful’ launch is one in which deadlines are hit, the bugs found in production are not deemed critical, the server can handle the load of users, and those users receive the UX you expect.” - Jeremy Conkin, Senior Mobile Engineer
“To me, a successful launch means taking either an MVP or additional features of an existing product from its staging environment to a space where users are able to interact with it to accomplish their goals.” - Mel Shields, Product Designer
“A launch is when the project goes from no users to some users. A ‘successful’ launch is one in which you don’t have to undo that.” - Glenn Goodrich, Senior Engineer
3. Looking back on past launches, is there any advice you’d give to your former self before the launch?
“You are never going to have enough time, and it might not be perfect. Don’t waste what little time you have at the end of a project focusing on minute details that users won’t notice. Instead, work on polishing the big-ticket items for maximum impact.” - Heather Scott, Senior Project Manager
“Testing is arguably the most important aspect of a successful project and launch. Be sure to bake it in from the start. If you cut testing to meet a deadline, you now have two problems.” - Glenn Goodrich, Senior Engineer
“Develop a plan that includes contingencies for at least your three most likely issues. Make sure the plan is documented, discussed, and distributed to your team and client.” - James Wyler, Senior Product Strategist
Launches need to be approached holistically in order to ensure the product’s introduction to the world goes smoothly and successfully. Regardless of how lean your team is, there will be many different opinions to take into account. Incorporating each one into your launch strategy will set your team up for the best possible outcome.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, in which we’ll explain why it’s essential to collaborate across the company to create a launch checklist that sets the schedule and defines everyone’s roles and duties.