February 9, 2023
2 minutes

How do you know when you’re ready to launch?

Software, unlike writing a book or releasing a movie - there isn’t one “big bang” launch with software, where the critics give a review the next day and that is either success or failure.

When you hear about software releases on the news - a huge amount of user testing and soft launches has already occurred.

The last thing you want, is your first, most likely to be your best influencer, most likely to buy Customers to have a bad experience.  

You have one chance to impress real customers- and the chance is a few seconds or minutes of attention span.

Friends and family are the worst people to get feedback from. The feedback will always be this is a great product, well done. Your friends and family will probably never use the product.

There is a massive leap in software maturity to go from “let me demonstrate the product, I’ll click the buttons” to “here is a link to signup, let me know how it goes”.

Before you let your potential buying customers touch the product you want is feedback from very critical people, who are evaluating your product in terms of - Do I understand it? Is it easier than what I do now? How much effort will it be to learn how to use it? Is it worth it?

Comments from people who understand your potential customers is useful, complements from friends is not.

You've stopped developing new features, now what? Some questions to start with are;

How many distinct people have used the product? Are they potential customers or just friends and family? (User experience)
How thoroughly have we tested the application? Every scenario? On Mobile? (User experience)
Have Single Sign On scenarios been tested? Payments? Subscriptions? (User experience)
Have we got screen recording in place to review customers journeys? (analytics)
Have we got monitoring in place to detect when the application fails? (monitoring)
Have we a way of understanding when customers are using and not using in the application? (analytics)

If the answers to these questions are “dunno” -  your first Users are Disposable Testers.

At another level there are some practical "to-dos"

  • Have we deleted out the test data? (security)
  • Have we removed or secured the test user accounts? (security)
  • Have we set the logging to the Live/production levels?
  • Have we removed all the test pages and development "backdoors"?
  • Have we got backups in place?
  • Have we checked the security of the app? Is the data as private as we expect it is? Has that privacy of data been tested?
  • Have we got a view of performance? What will happen when 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 1000 customers are using the product?
  • Are we compliant with regional data privacy requirements? (Eg GDPR, privacy terms and conditions) (compliance)
  • Do we understand what will happen when the app has 10x, 100x 1000x more data being stored? (Scalability)
  • Have we switched over the dependent services to the live/production accounts or settings? (Payments, Email, Storage ..) They all worked in the test environment but do they work in the live environment?