While it’s impossible to predict how any one software project will go, there’s one oft-overlooked aspect that requires significant consideration: the launch of your product to its end-users.
It seems obvious, but in many cases, this next step often presents hurdles that can cause your investment to under-perform or worse, outright flop. While there are a few tricks to keep in mind as your project progresses, we take a holistic approach and will help manage the total software development lifecycle, from launch and beyond. The way you coordinate the launch of your product or the release of new features, whether internally or externally, is vital in generating interest, exploration, acceptance, and engaged, repeated use.
Depending on the size and scope of the audience, your launch may take one of several forms. Here are a few approaches that we’ll help you consider to help generate initial and ongoing interest in the project:
- Early release/alpha/beta versions of the application. This is a great option for applications with a predefined or reliably available initial user base who have an interest in the project already. If this is a new application and a new market, you’ll want to curate this list manually by enlisting friends or the community. You can further grow your initial beta audience with small focus groups assembled from online communities or with small incentives through services like Craigslist. Internal projects will likely use power users, key stakeholders, and anyone else in the interest who has shown interest in the problems you’re trying to solve. This approach encourages early engagement and user feedback, and with properly motivated users, you’ll find the feedback extremely valuable for tweaking your assumptions and validating your approach while it’s still relatively easy to improve.
- Teaser release. With this approach, your software can be shown to future users through screenshots, videos, webinars, etc. but without early access to the application itself. This is a great option for internal, company-wide rollouts to build excitement and anticipation, especially as a part of a revamp or product extension so as not to disrupt existing work processes. Depending on the depth of the teaser, meaningful feedback can still be generated at this stage.
- Rollout to a subset of the user base. This is a strategy employed for existing applications, where new features are released to just a small percentage of users before others. This provides an opportunity to gauge usage, gather feedback, evaluate any significant production-level issues, and determine if a full-scale rollout is advised. This allows for manageable communication and feedback and can help with gathering testimonials and case studies used to launch to a broader customer base. Some additional infrastructure has to be built into the application architecture to support partial rollouts, and certain features may be more difficult to rollout partially than others, but we’ll help evaluate if this strategy makes sense for your project.
- Mass rollout to all users. For existing applications, it’s often simplest to deploy new features to everyone at once. Depending on the scope of the release, it’s important to consider that usability issues can arise if customer personas and user journeys weren’t completely accurate. This also means users will be less accepting of flaws or defects, requiring more up-front investment in detecting and fixing as many issues as possible before launching. We’ll work with you to evaluate how to roll out new feature releases, and when to involve your user base in the process.
- New market launch. Launching your product doesn’t end when we deploy the code —that’s just the beginning. It’s absolutely vital that we coordinate your new product launch with your marketing messaging, advertising, press efforts, existing beta user base, potential new user base, and that we ensure there’s a plan in place for continued pressure. (Potential users may take several “touches” before they’re convinced to sign up for your product.) Internal projects may require a rollout plan that involves training and workflow alteration, and compliance checks to ensure the product is being used by its target audience. It’s probably no surprise to you, but internal users can be resistant to change, and default back to their old ways if you’re not helping them get the most out of the new system. A launch strategy is crucial in ensuring the rollout of your application is communicated to the right users at the right time, in the right format and in the right place for them to understand what’s coming, anticipate a change and a format for sharing their feedback.
We’ll work closely with you throughout the development process to ensure we have a launch plan in place that will maximize the potential success of the application.
Get in touch with us about your project today.