In Praise of Cool Clients Under Stress

Big Stress

Launching a new website is stressful, every time. Some of the launches are bigger and more stressful than others of course. Sometimes the launch is for a big client like ProPublica or IDEO or Nokia or Microsoft. Sometimes the launch is for an important website that someone has never heard of before. Sometimes the launch is for something brand new that has not been attempted before on new software that has not fully emerged from 'beta'. Sometimes the stress of a website launch comes from working with a client who has less experience than others. This is fine. You only gain experience and wisdom by going through the clumsy learning process of first attempts.

Stress Foundation: Getting Old Is Awesome

Once you have gone through a few launches or perhaps many, you have a foundation upon which to work. You have a fairly large library of stories you can tell to assure yourself and others that everything is going to be alright. "This looks familiar. We had a similar problem when we tried to launch that new Nokia site years ago and the IT team didn't give us a fresh security token." Over the years we have learned that this quality of having a stress foundation in a client is golden. Working with people who have built and launched websites successfully in the past means there is a foundation for getting through the difficulties inherent in doing it again. With a stress foundation you have solid, stable ground upon which stress and anxiety can fall and be absorbed. This comes with age and experience. Getting old is awesome.

A Chill Client

Over the years I have thoroughly learned the lesson that choosing clients carefully is pretty much everything. You guys already know that Solspace specializes in specific CMS platforms and web technologies: Craft CMS, ExpressionEngine, Laravel, PHP. We choose these because they are excellent and they deliver. They can be counted on to bear up under pressure. Our technology choices automatically filter some clients out. We don't do WordPress. You can't trust it. Clients who want WordPress are not clients that I can help during a super stressful high pressure website launch. I can't count on the tool chosen for the job.

So our platform expertise in Craft CMS has me relaxed by some large degree. My client chose Craft CMS before they chose us. So they are already at least 70% awesome. But they are the other 40% awesome (😉) because they made their CMS choice based on years of experience managing high profile websites within large organizations. They have experience like we do and together we know what that feels like. We know how experience can lead to good, sustainable stress management.

So we're headed into launch week and my client contact at this large company is still totally relaxed. There are a bunch of UI bugs to resolve. (This job is mainly heavy on the front-end interaction stuff rather than the back-end sexiness.) But our client knows this is normal. We discussed our open items regarding pre-warming caches and indexes and the like. We discussed 'The Kill Switch', the way we will just revert to the old site if we had to in the event of a disaster. All of these experience based things add up to a relaxed client and a relaxed me.

Smooth Launch

We don't yet know if the launch will go smoothly. But the stress of that unknown is not allowed into our bodies. Through experience we know that the best thinking, the most professional planning and preparation are done by keeping the mind clear and relaxed. Having done this a few times, my client and I both know that we can handle whatever comes along.