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Around 9 days ago (or was it months?) Paul Boag compared hiring a web designer to getting married. I would like to continue where he left. As the famous playground rhyme goes: "First comes love then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage"
In this article I will take you through the five steps that you go through when launching a website or having a baby. I have kept it deliberately ambiguous – feel free to read it as a digital professional working with your developers and agencies or as a person about to become a parent. I hope that you will be able to see the comparisons and similarities.
This is the fun part. You go out for drinks, dinner maybe, talking and discussing the different ideas, ambitions and expectations that you have.
You and your partner try out different positions and layouts. You are not sure when you will get it right but you both know when you've got it right! You'll spend endless nights thinking of names and mapping out the future. The future is full of excitement and endless possibilities.
The first trimester
This is a grey area. You're not sure whether you're still planning and experimenting or whether you have the green light to go ahead - anything can happen! It might be rejected, it's the wrong time, or other things maybe afoot. But you're still excited, full of energy and excitement.
This period is all about testing! You can't bear the anticipation whilst you wait to see if the results are positive or negative.
Then it hits you, the message comes back that it's ‘all systems go'. In this one moment all your hopes and dreams are realised. This grainy black and white piece of paper means that in six months time you will actually have to deliver.
The second trimester
All your plans and aspirations are in the hands of the developer gods. They are off building your perfect little bundle of joy. Taking the building blocks of your DNA; combining and fusing it together. Things start to appear, unrecognisable to all but a trained expert. They will tell you “that this is the beginning”, the vital first functions that will form the basis for all that comes after it. You'll get flows, stats and measurements, strange sounds from apparatus you've never even heard of. You will nod your head pretending to understand what they are talking about reporting back that all is well.
You start to crystallize your plan, where will it go, how will it get there, what size it will be, who will do this, that or the other? So many questions, so many books to read, so many experts to consult.
The third trimester
Things are getting serious now. It is starting to grow and develop. People can see that something is happening. You are still none the wiser but there are definitely bits that you recognise. It looks normal, recognition and familiarity from others that have gone before it.
You get early hints at the pain and trials that lay ahead. The odd kick here, the odd pain there. It's all very strange but those who have been there before will tell you that it's normal.
Finally, the day has arrived. Well, when we say 'day'; it's give or take two weeks – no one can remember the exact delivery date any more but it's around now – who cares?! You're weary from the late uncomfortable nights, you're tired of the incessant questions "when is it ready?" and "it looks good from here". But no one really knows, the experts continually tell you that it's all normal, nothing to worry about.
Finally, in the middle of the night, it decides to arrive. After many hours of shouting, swearing, sweat pouring off brows does it finally emerge – kicking and screaming into this world, announcing to everyone that it's here. Immediately you get on the phone to call loved ones and important people that it's arrived and all systems are go; relaying all the important and vital statistics.
But that's not the end, it's only the beginning. Now the hard work begins of nurturing and learning. Only now does your job really begin, taking this bundle of joy and making sure that it turns into the reality that you dreamed about so many months ago.
Like children your website grows and evolves. They adopt whacky styles and personalities of their own. Even once you've let go and said "you are on your own now" many years later people will still recognise who the parents are.