New Site Launches: Learn From Our Mistakes
Jeffrey Bunch (,
Renee McKechnie (@reneemck)
  • Jeffrey Bunch: Two site launches of within a 3 1/2 year period. One with an agency, one in-house.
  • Renee McKechnie: OHSU, managed their web team. Spent 3 years in meetings coming up with horrific ideas.
  • Don’t:
    • Set an unrealistic timeline
      • There’s different levels of understand as to what it takes to get a basic website up, or advanced website. Executives who lack the understanding won’t hesitate to say “I really like the CNN website, can you do something like that for us?”
      • As the manager, it’s necessary to educate the executives on core concepts like feature creep. The technical people have to set the expectations of what is realistic.
    • Allow design by committee
      • We tried to cater to OHSU’s consensus based community. But that doesn’t work for creative design work.
      • “By show of hands, how do you feel about the blue header bar above the…”
      • We couldn’t get consensus on any design element.
      • What we should have done was come in with two discrete designs, and just worked among them. We set a limit: we will have 2 designs, and we will do up to 2 revisions of each. It becomes a “you can have pancakes or cereal”, not “what do you want for breakfast?”
    • Fail to form relationships with the IT team
      • First people i buy coffee for, and take out for beers is the IT people.
      • They are the biggest allies for you in any site launch: they will back up about what is feasible, etc. 
      • In some companies, the IT people aren’t really consulted, they just hired to keep the network up, it becomes a vey adversarial relationship. 
      • Physical proximity to IT really matters. The ability to walk around the corner and walk up to someone and discuss an issue makes a difference.
      • Q: What about being distributed remotely?
        • Basecamp, Yammer, really helps with timeshifting.
      • Q: How big is your group, how do you avoid design by committee?
        • We try to use subgroups of the interested, relevant parties, so it’s just 2 or 3 people, instead of our entire 13 person team.
        • we put out requests for comments, reviews on our blog, and get interested parties.
    • Assign content creation to the wrong people
      • It’s hard to get people to commit to it, to deliver it on time, etc.