In the decade+ I’ve been managing website launch projects, I’ve had plenty of failures and many successes. (The first 5 years of my business was hell for all involved.) Since then, though, I’ve actually become very good at launching websites on time.
For example, last year I led a huge WordPress-to-Shopify e-commerce migration (200,000+ orders/customers/pages/posts/products), and it went off without a hitch and ON TIME! One guy from our ad agency even told me he’d never seen a launch go so smoothly!
- Manage the project. You can’t half-ass this part.
- Create a project to-do list. Each to-do on the list needs a single owner and a delivery date. IMPORTANT: Ask the to-do owner to set the delivery date – this way they feel ownership of it, and it’s their fault if they don’t deliver.
- Host weekly project status check-ins. These need to be recurring at the same time/day every week. Because humans, most of the to-dos will get done during the hour leading up to the call. I use Google Meet to share the project to-do list (i.e. the meeting agenda) on my screen with the entire team during the call.
- Hold their feet to the fire if they don’t deliver on a promise. If someone continually fails to deliver on promises, they aren’t a good fit – fire them.
- During this weekly call, continually-curate your list of to-dos. Review each outstanding to-do. Overlooked to-dos will pop up during this process, and you’ll be glad they did! Ask tough, direct questions. Demand answers. If someone doesn’t know the answer to a tough question, create a to-do with a specific date saying, “Deliver answer to X.”
- Communicate important dates to the entire team regularly. People with distance often find obvious and important holes in projects. For example, on our recent website redesign of a large e-commerce site, I shared screengrabs, logic, and timing regularly with our Customer Service Superheroes.
Nothing mind-blowing, right? It’s actually very basic and requires diligence and boldness more than anything.
I recognize that dates change – that’s part of all big projects. The important thing is that date changes happen early and often. My goal is not for a perfect process, just one free of anxiety-inducing surprises.
Follow the above formula, and you’ll be on your way to an on-time launch of your website!
Or maybe you do it a different way? I’d love to hear about it – let me know how you do it!
p.s. Also check out my free guide explaining everything you need to know about launching your small business website.