Redesigning my workflow timeline (stage #3)

Missed the first post on my workflow timeline? You can find it here. Missed the second? Head this way instead.

Stage #3: Training and launch

We’re in the home straight now. It’s been a bit of a journey. Thanks for sticking with me this far. If you’ve just found this and are determined not to read parts one and two, then prepare to be confused. For everyone else: welcome back. We’re dealing with the last bits of that workflow monstrosity now – it’s down to training and launch.

Believe it or not but not all clients want training, especially if they’re opting for some kind of maintenance package, but WordPress training remains a key part of the services I offer. It’s definitely something I get a kick out of too: it’s good to share knowledge, and adapting my approach to each individual client is a task I never fail to enjoy. On the old workflow I’ve listed training in blocks pre- and post-launch. In truth I don’t really remember why I listed them separately. I also don’t remember why I put an asterisk next to them. I’m going to assume it’s because I meant for the client to choose one or the other, based on the situation. That doesn’t message well in this document. Clearly, as even its author now can’t make much sense out of it.

Let’s list training as pre-launch for the new version. It’s easy enough to offer post-launch training instead (or as well, if the client requires) on a case-by-case basis, but by settling on one for now we’ll get to maintain consistent presentation across the workflow. Pre-launch training also makes sense, I think, in most cases. Yes there’s a post-launch grace period for content changes, which we’ll come to shortly, but ultimately most clients will likely want a sense of confidence in their own ability to maintain and manage the content of their website before it goes live.

Launch! The actual launching of a website is usually the least labour intensive part of the whole project. Turning off under construction notices and letting the site free is a button click. Distinctly undramatic, no fanfare (though I can supply a digital fanfare if really necessary). There’s really nothing to it. Sometimes I do the launch together with clients whilst finishing off any minor administrative duties we’ve left over, but it can likewise be done remotely.

With that said, the word launch is apt in that there are some similarities in the launching a website to that of, say, a rocket. It might just be a big red button press that sets the thing off, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story. Just as the moments after a rocket launch still require careful monitoring and occasional tweaks back in mission control, the same applies here. Of course, part of what I do in the development and build stages of the project is setup, prepare, and test the website and related services (email, for example) – and a good launch depends on this. But the real world can and does often surprise us.

This is what the grace period is for. It’s written into the contract for every client that they get 14 days from launch (not the four weeks written on that original workflow – goodness knows where that came from). This gives us both an opportunity to make sure we’re happy with how the website is running out there IRL, and make any needed changes without the client incurring additional cost. (As might be expected, there are limitations to the kind of work this grace period covers: significant alterations will always require a further estimate of cost.)

So whilst everything we do prior to launch should allow for the grace period to pass relatively uneventfully, it’s worth leaving in the workflow as a reminder to both the client and I that the launch is not the end. I’m not the sort to abandon projects as soon as they’re set free – I offer lifetime support for everything I do, and that starts here.

Stage three complete!

Workflow timeline redesign: stage 3

By the way, I’m not including that grace period in the overall stage time, as it gives a false impression of the main thing clients are really interested in when they ask about my process: how long all this takes.

That’s everything. Time to put it together.

Workflow timeline redesign: complete

Has balance been restored? In terms of reimbursing my work, I think so. Does it look less like Tetris soup? Sure! A bit. Maybe? Well it’s definitely an improvement. I think. Let me know, if you like. There’s a definitely left-to-right, top-to-bottom flow going on now, where before it looked more like the aftermath of a food fight.

In other key good-things-we-can-take-away-from-this, I’ve now got a nice little series of three articles explaining each stage – ideal for prospective clients who happen to be browsing my site, or the uncontrollably nosey with a penchant for reading articles about web development workflows. Thanks for reading!