For the Sake of Launching
In efforts to elevate and unify the digital design community, Digital and Computer Arts sheds light on emerging product and graphic designers while promoting the tools and techniques that make designing today so brilliant. We are purely observational, identifying those that do create the future.
There was late night anticipation for the launch of a client’s site a couple months ago. “The drums must be rolling in his head,” I thought, 2 hours before midnight. I have launched many client sites, where I spend 2–7 hours figuring out migration and server side capability, making sure that the CMS is secure, SEO is still pointing correctly, all of the, I-wish-I-could-hire-someone sort of feelings.
The 9 weeks before were gruesome bootstrap 3, and core php hell since the client had only a credit card to work with. The product finally looked beautiful and worked. The landing page was welcoming and bright, the forms were light and made entering your name feel like your entering heaven and the young company looked good inside their new profile pages.
We spent the majority of project working out CSS and HTML changes, massaging the platform to appease to a young demographic with fun and bright branded layout, using light blue and purple. The idea was cool and took a new approach to forums and video messaging.
But this launch was different; the client was disappointed. I will never forget his voice on the other line when I said, “okay, refresh the page. Your live”. It wasn't the silence that bothered me, it was his need for improvement minutes after. “Let’s change the hero photo”, he said.
“Give the site a few days to take a breath, heal from all of the twisting, creating, banging and shoving we did to it. Send your emails out and get feedback through the suggest a feature form on the homepage.”
He thanked me for my work and “dealing” with him through all “the pressure he had from the group”. Then he hung up.
The days that followed were difficult to watch. The client changed the menu color, the hero banner, switch to a different icon pack and completely changed the font. “Maybe he wasn't happy”, the thoughts of what I should have done, kept rolling in my head.
4 days after it being live I saw new content and new users. The users however seemed familiar. Their profile images were from stock photos and uifaces.com. Anyway, maybe he was trying to drive traffic. We have all done it.
Day 6. The logo that he must of paid more for then the actual site, changed. It was darker. So was the hero photo, changed twice now. His profile photo changed. He wasn't looking at the camera any more.
Day 7. Day 7 of the launch marked a new beginning for my client. He took the site down, and put a coming soon page up that said, “might be back, might not”.
I gave him a call.
“We are just going in another direction this time”, he said.
Direction, a key word that I hear from the distracted. I have noticed that when one says the term "direction", what they might actually mean is, “I am running away from this particular issue for the time being, opening a beer and will heat up the pizza in the fridge”. Instead he continued and said, “I have a meeting with the group and we are going to give you a call back about the changes and features we want to implement.”
“Not a problem. Keep me in the loop, I am here to help”, I said.
He never called.
Day 11. On day 11 my perception for the rest of my life changed. It was the final day that I discovered that products like these have a different role they play. These types of products are not intended for users at all, but are actually created simply out of the excitement of the uncertainty. Users in this case were simply a bi-product. Projects like these are only created to maintain the sense of mystery and wonder, but once they launch, those feelings end. Clients like mine are addicted to imagining, addicted to the feeling of the launch day.
A couple months later I received a call from the same client. He sounded good, he asked me how I was and how business was going. We chatted and I could hear from the other end he wasn't even listening but typing away at his computer.
The conversation turned back to him and with a subtle tone, he stopped typing, he took a deep breath, and sounded like he leaned back in his chair. Then he spoke the 4 words he lived by, “I have another idea”.
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