I present to you a principle of mine relevant to releasing websites and web software.
You Don’t Really Know Until It’s Live Principle
No one Looks At Anything Until it’s Publicly Released. Then it’s a frenzy of real feedback.
- There is no better QA that real users on real software on real hardware in the real world
- You can’t experience software unless you get the full experience in the real world, real set up (and I mean EXPERIENCE, not test or click or review)
- the Halting Problem applies big time – that is, you won’t know what breaks a site/service/software until something breaks it. Even the best unit tests and XP efforts won’t uncover all the halts
It’s been true for the last 78 pieces of software I’ve worked on…
Why does this principle hold?
a) the consequences (the stakes!) are very high when a piece of software is LIVE. Thus it is very reinforcing for people to give feedback and really dig in. (oh shit, it’s live!)
b) Technology obstacles and lots of caveats usually hold in prototypes, mocks and dev sites (oh, ignore that link, we didn’t get to that yet)
c) Websites are very complicated, especially ones where you have lots of mixed media, complete design overall, a new backend, aggregation, and so forth. Mocks can never showcase the full experience and experiential bugs are impossible to uncover unless you are in the flow.
So spare yourself the agony of deciding when to release or trying to be perfect on public release. Just release. You’ll get on with the fixing and improvement cycle sooner.