Freelancer Advice: Making Sites go live

Yes, it’s time again when I, an aged learned freelancer, gives
advice out, for free yet, to all the young pups out there who haven’t
made all the wonderful mistakes I have. Today’s topic is: making sites
go live.

Well, you may say, what is there to know about that. Client asks for
site to go live, you make it go live. Yes, it would seem to be as easy
and simple as all that, but life is not easy or simple.

I actually started writing this about two years ago, and the advice I was going to give, unfortunately or not, is the same advice I give today. Choose a time when most people are not online, looking at the site, try to post to a test site first, and lastly, make sure *all* elements on the test site are the same as those you are moving over. One of the first things I learned about the web, when I started working on it nearly 15 years ago or so, is it does not forgive misspellings. At the time, I didn’t know that little things like capitals made a difference to weather a link would work or not. Recently, I misspelled a download file as "dowload". If I had simply moved the whole site over, it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I was moving bits at a time, and working with someone else, and so, the link stopped working, when the site went live, until we discovered the problem.

Worse than moving from stage to production is not being able to do so. The client wants to see things live on their live site. I only have a few clients that ask for that, and usually, nothing bad happens, as html is fairly forgiving. However, php is not so forgiving, and I have a client whose site is done in that, and she doesn’t have a staging site, so I sometimes have to save copy after copy of her files when I update them, so that if I lose something, I can restore it. I thought I was being obsessive, until I came across another freelancer who also did the same thing, although he did it for every little update.

Oh, so back to my advice. Go live on late Friday night, or on the weekend. If you must go live during the week, do so about midnight or so. Gives you the rest of the night to fix your mistake. I was up until 3am once, for a site launch, because of little things that kept going wrong.

And my final word of advice? View it on as many platforms and as many browsers as you can, but most of all, on the browser and platform that you know your client uses, because it doesn’t matter if it looks good in IE on the PC (though it does), if it doesn’t look good on the Mac in Safari (if that is what your client is viewing it in).

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