Some Stuff You Learn Launching a Service

Okay, so I’ve sent out the alpha invitations and I’m sure glad I’ve only sent it out to people whose support I appreciate because it’s been a very very rocky start. I hope to iron out a bunch of uptime issues and build out some core functionality (I plan on using it myself soon if it doesn’t prove to be so craptastic that I wouldn’t want to risk my reputation with it). You just have to be there to appreciate the futility of spending months on development to be greeted by a 404 or 500 error.

Everything that Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong at Launch

Whoever said Murphy’s law was dead? That bastard is living large and has a special place in my heart (reserved for people like Hitler). You can develop websites all day and throw yourself imaginary high fives all around until you hit that button to upload your latest and greatest earth-shaking code only to watch your dreams crash in a flaming death.

The web is held together with a mesh of inter-related technologies and web services are no different. The programs we write stand on the shoulders of giants and sometimes they shake us off so we can plummet straight to the ground and splatter our brains on the concrete.

This makes perfect sense since you tend to test your site in very well-defined ways because you’re designing it. You know how it can and cannot be used so naturally you don’t cover everything. Users will quickly help you find faults with your service. It’s been a rocky ride but I’ve got some tricks that I hope will remedy some of the immediate concerns.

After All is Said and Done, It’s a Microsoft World

Even without touching Javascript, CSS is enough to trip you up when designing a site. It’s not so much the fact of learning the code but all the problems you’ll deal with when optimizing for IE. You only have two choices. Let standards be damned and develop for IE to start only to watch things crash and burn when viewed on more sane browsers or developing for Firefox and applying hacks or subtracting stuff as you pull your hair out over IE rendering bugs. You really need to design a website to appreciate the true crappiness of IE. It’s like a software reincarnation of Steve Ballmer.

Oh and watch the colors you use because monitors display colors differently. Yeah, I’m seeing purple when I should be seeing blue on this screen in fact. You need to stick to safe color schemes and also check on a couple different monitors. I don’t know of any way around it.

Feedback or Lack Thereof is Good

Feedback or no feedback is a good thing. It’s easy to picture yourself on a yacht cruising the ocean surrounded by hot babes pouring champagne as your site adds yet another million users when in fact you hear virtual crickets chirping. It’s the hard, cold reality and a sign that you’re not doing something right. Still, it’s so much better than writing line after endless line of code in an eternal feedback loop between you and your disconnected computer. Having something live and at a freely accessible location is fun in and of itself.

The Journey has Just Started (I Hope)

Well, I’m having some fun so far. Just wait until I get a decent number of users and go into the hell that is customer support when they use my alpha service! Stay tuned.

Categories: web