Lesson 4: Deadlines Can Make the Impossible Possible
Most of us hate deadlines. Ok…maybe not most of us. Just me. I hate deadlines. They make me rush. They always approach too soon. And they never allow for enough time.
But…they hold me accountable.
For procrastinators like me, they are paramount. If I don’t have a deadline, I may never start or finish certain projects or tasks.
Re-launching wadeoradio.com was no different. As soon as we set a legitmate deadline and communicated this publically, things started moving. Our whole team was committed to it, as we all focused on making it happen.
Ironically, just two days from our propossed launch, the site still looked light years from being finished. We had a timer on the home page telling people we were launching on June 23rd at 12 Noon EST though. So deep down, we knew we had to get it done.
And we did. The banner was done within 24 hours of launch. Posts were fixed that were causing entire sections of the site to display funny. Plug-ins were added to make the site load faster.
The deadline drove the whole train. What seemed impossible, suddenly became possible. We knew we HAD to get the site up. Thanks to the deadline, we did.
Lesson 5: Sometimes It’s Better to Start Over
The current design of wadeoradio.com is actually the second version of our new site. Our initial version was actually a customized version of The Streamline Theme from Yoo Themes. A lot of work went into building the site on this theme, but ultimately it didn’t give me the look and feel I wanted.
Our team was actually split on the issue. Some of us wanted to continue on the current path while some of us wanted to start over. This was a tough decision. I knew that starting over could potentially demoralize us as a unit, given that we were already three months late in re-launching. But I also, knew that deep down, the site wasn’t what I envisioned initially and so I decided to hit the reset button.
At the time, this wasn’t popular. I even second guessed myself privately, as the process continued to drag on. Once we launched the site and received positive feedback, we all agreed that starting over was the right call. Many design and content lessons had been learned during our “first draft.”
In Walter Issacson’s Steve Jobs Biography, he spoke of Steve Jobs going thru the exact same process in 2001 while he was designing the Apple Stores. Initially, they built the stores around the concept of each computer line they sold. Six months in and just prior to their target launch date, Steve realized building the store around various activities: music, video, email, etc. made more sense.
So he made the call to restart the design process. This “step back” would ultimately help them develop one of the most profitable retail business models in Corporate America. I’m by no means comparing what we do to Apple, but its nice to know that there’s prescedence in starting over.
Lesson 6: Set Reasonable Expectations and Exceed Them
Michael Hyatt has written a new book entitled Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. It has been the single biggest business influence on me over the past 5 years.
In the early chapters of the book, Hyatt describes the importance of creating a wow product. Simply put, wow products make your customers walk away saying “Wow” by superseeding your their initial expectations. While it’s a lofty goal, I learned thru this process that its very achievable if you set the proper expectations up front. We didn’t intentionally set out to do this, however, as Platform was released a month before we launched the site.
Because we had taken so long in building the site, most of our listeners did not have high expectations. Most just wanted the site to launch. As long as it was professional and easy to navigate, it was cool. Anything above and beyond that would have created a wow factor by virtue of exceededing their expectations. Fortunately we were able to do that as we didn’t publicize , all of the new content (blogs, album reviews, etc) that would be included, until we launched. Again, we didn’t plan this. Looking back, we just stumbled into it.
I think many artists would benefit from taking this approach. Instead of promoting your album as the next great record, tone it down. If its great, people will likely tell their friends because it has exceeded their expectations.
Building this site was not an easy task. We missed our launch date twice. As a team, we had a lot of disagreements thru out. Many of us spent a lot of late nights trying to get everything right for the launch. And we were literarily fixing things on the site, 15 minutes before we went live. That said, I enjoyed the journey. And more importantly, we are glad to have something that can hopefully bless the lives of every guest that stops by our website.
If you missed Pt. 1 of this series, you can access it here.
- How do you manage deadlines? Are they a burden or do they hold you accountable?
- Have You ever started a major project over halfway thru completion? Was it the right move?