Sunday, June 24, 2007

Post-Mortem

I love the title of this blog posting as it refers not only to the standard post-project review, but more appropriately it describes my mental and physical state lately.

I really do feel like I'm back from the dead. My health is back to normal and I'm eating and drinking much healthier. I was feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated and incredibly exhausted! I never did get my relaunch party (moments like this were made for Lesley Gore songs) but since that was cancelled I used the time to go to Toronto Island with my family and we had an incredible day.

So here comes the lessons I am passing on to Webslinger readers that may be undertaking a big web project.

Lessons learned
1) If I were to do a project of this magnitude again, I'd have the entire core team working in the same space and preferably cloistered from regular business operations - too much got in the way, distance or otherwise
2) Get a caller ID telephone - I screen and filter my emails, why can't I do that with my phone? The equipment is relatively cheap and the time they would have saved would have been invaluable.
3) Hire one extra person to do the HTML. I'm sure that that everyone who has ever done a project like this feels they need more people, but one extra person - even a temp - would have saved me some time I really could have used for more complex decisions and deliverables
4) Insist on professional testers - we recruited volunteer testers and some found some problems, but over all they missed a lot - this meant the programmers and I were testing and finding things and this wasn't the best use of time. Testing is a valuable skill and it's worth the cost to hire professionals
5) Deadlines met or else! I had difficulties getting people to hit deliverable deadlines despite knowing about things well in advance. This ended up meaning I had to work insane overtime to do the work or things got dropped. An electric cattle prod and pillory would have definitely helped.

Pats on the back
1) We hired excellent partners that offered really useful suggestions and expertise
2) I booked people's time for this project months in advance
3) We resisted the evil powers of scope attack, like Superman valiantly resisting kryptonite
4) I held focus groups which raised some good points and confirmed things I suspected
5) User testing found things that needed to be addressed but that I had not considered - it was relatively easy to do and garnered great feedback
6) I reviewed other websites - I looked at a lot of other industry and general websites and got lots of best practices and inspiration - it took some time but ended up with some great ideas, living examples to prove my points, and saved re-inventing the wheel
7) I did tons of research including reading Jakob Nielsen's book and columns, Jennifer Kyrnin's newsletter, other newsletters, attended lectures - this was also a lot of time but really meant that we knew what we were doing beforehand
8) I put our user first in devising the new website - we solicited their feedback and really listened to them. Usability was paramount as was the KISS method.
9) Great team - committed, intelligent and diligent
10) ME - I was amazing!
I programmed, designed, tested, researched, planned, wrote, edited, troubleshot, presented, trained, project managed, consulted and compromised. Yes, with much stress but also with unparalleled skill!! I have yet to meet someone who can do all these things - so the biggest pat on the back goes to me!

4 comments:

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Bargainista said...

I take exception to your last point. ; ) There are at least couple of us with a diversity of communications and technical skills producing corporate websites.

Stephen Fetter said...

One of the things I'm discovering is that the further you go up the corporate ladder, the less your superiors seem to know or appreciate your work. I don't understand this. Managing a team is so much more than just writing code ... it's a huge conglomeration of skills and insights that most of us are never trained for, and certainly never appreciated for.

I try to remember that when I'm the one doing the managing ... we live in a society that loves to criticize in minute detail, and yet only ever praises in such ambiguous generalized terms (if at all) that you wonder whether the praise is really serious.

Glen Farrelly said...

In my patting myself on the back, I failed to acknowledge that I have met two people as multi-talented as myself. That is, people uniquely able to do design work, fix programming bugs, write killer web copy, etc.

One is definitely Eden and the other I won't name just to keep people guessing.

If there are any others, I'd love to meet them. Let's start a group too!