The new

Why I planned, designed and built my website in under 24 hours

I’m very happy with my new website design. Honestly, my last design was a bit of a compromise. The design was not quite right, I wasn’t very happy with the text and I didn’t really get the flow I was trying to create. Here’s the thing though – It was ‘in progress’ for about 9 months.

I set up the ‘Coming Soon’ page on October  2011 and finished building it around July 2012. Because I built the blog on a subdomain with a very minimalistic and simple design I wasn’t too worried about the site itself because I had my blog to write in and to help me attract new amazing customers.

Because the blog was up and running I wasn’t that driven to finish the website and worst of all, it gave me the freedom to do everything very very slowly and wait for ‘Perfect’. Guess what? Perfect never came.

At the end I kind of took the same blog template I had, tweaked it a bit to fit my core objectives for my website and set it up. I was very proud of it, but it wasn’t perfect at all. Out of the 9 months the ‘Coming Soon’ page was up, I worked on it around two weeks. Waste of time and online real estate right?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – It doesn’t matter how amazing your designer is, or how much time you put into planning the new UX – you have no idea how good your website is until you get people to actually use it and give you feedback. Fact.

This is why when I finally decided to redesign for a new website, I decided to test a new approach.

Why Did I really decide to redesign?

Before I go on explaining why I did the entire website in only 24 hours I want to emphasize on one very important thing. I didn’t launch a new website because the older one was ugly. That’s not why you redesign websites.

I redesigned my website because the previous one wasn’t working as well as I hoped for in terms of conversions. I had about 52.8% drop out between my homepage and my services pages / blog and the leads that were coming were not strong enough.

The only real good reason to change a website is if it is not working for you. It’s not a matter of design, but a matter of functionality and how it works.

Old design - didn't work so well

Old design – didn’t work so well

Just to get the ball rolling

So why in 24 hours? As I’ve mentioned in the intro, my last website took about 9 months to complete. It was a big, unnecessary waste of time. No website, assuming it doesn’t have any special technical requirements, should take that amount of time to build. It’s idiotic.

What really happened in those 9 months? I was taking my time, looking at hundreds of wordpress templates to work with, I was trying to figure out some phrasings and wording for my marketing content, etc.

Because everything was in stealth mode and my blog was running, I took my time and it took me 9 months.  When I work with startups I always encourage to launch and validate as fast as possible. I failed to do that myself.

This time, I wanted to create urgency for myself so I decided I’d go with my gut instinct and iterate on the way. Once the website is live I will have to change things that bother me as I go and I won’ be able to just “forget about it till I have the time”, because the time never comes.

Knowing that I had only 24 hours to do it all made me ultra focused. I narrowed down my template options in about an hour and not a month, and started planning how to fit the content I wanted into it. Choosing a template I love first helped me better understand the flow that will best suit my content.

Now that the website is out there – 80% baked, I will have to iterate fast enough to get it to 95% as fast as I can. I say 95% because no website ever will reach a 100% ready. Remember, a 100% is a matter of how it works, not how it looks.

Getting live real-feedback

Here’s the list of things I want to test with this new website: Design, copywriting and flow. By putting it out there at an early stage I get to have real feedback on my original assumptions super-fast and can work on second batch of iterations even faster.

My main frame is built; the topics I want covered (or at least I thought I wanted covered) are already there. Now I can get super-focused on what matters to people and what is it they need for my website to be perfectly suited for them.


Launching the website asking for feedback

Launching the website asking for feedback

Two amazing things that happened since the Friday launch:

1. I’m getting feedback from designers that usually cost hundreds of dollars, but because this is an open discussion they just happily give in their tips and opinions and knowledge from their expertise.

2. I’m getting real feedback from my target audience – even from the ones that might have not given me feedback in other way.  No one wants to answer a questionnaire about ‘How good is my website?”, it’s boring. But everybody wants to express their opinion on a work in progress.

As in any product you launch – get feedback as fast as possible.

Getting more people involved

When you’re building something new you want to share it with as many people as you can, right? But you can’t really bother too many people saying ‘Hey, I built something new, want to give me feedback?’  It’s kind of annoying.

Instead, I’m letting people give their opinions promising them that it matters. If you say something isn’t working out for you on the new website, there’s a big chance it will change, because what you said really mattered! Now it’s not just an opinion I’m looking for, but you’re actually giving something back to the product. You’re helping me build it.

Because it’s a work in progress it’s easier and more fun for people to get involved, thus, more and more people are offering their help, opinions and usability test results. For me, that’s amazing.

So what are the main 5 takeaways from defining a too short period of time to launch something new and launching while in progress?

  1. When you don’t have time you have more focus.
  2. Being public makes you do things faster and help you create a real sense of urgency for yourself
  3. Getting real feedback beats every scenario you planned by only assuming. Assume some, test fast, iterate faster
  4. Getting people involved in your process makes more people to notice you, react and engage with your brand
  5. You can do amazing things in only 24 hours.

All your assumptions are worthless if they don’t get tested quickly in the field. Dream, build it, ship it – iterate the hell out of it.

Go ahead and check out the new website – what do you think?

Comments 1

  1. Aure

    Congrats! I personaly believe it’s a best approach to ship early and iterate with small steps. Even 99% finished is nothing, no matter how amazing it is. And I am impressed with you accomplishments so far! Keep it up

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