After a great deal of effort, the large community site I run has finally been relaunched with its entirely new systems. It was tough work, but well worth the effort and heartache.
Interestingly, a different huge community site I used to be a part of is also in the midst of a massive relaunch. The site has thousands of members, dozens of features, and a massive infrastructure. That’s not the interesting part though.
The interesting part is that they have a team of programmers (a crack team of german software engineers they once proudly proclaimed), a management team, and massive support from subcontractors (the site is a business, unlike my community site, which is strictly a community site and not-for-profit), and they’ve completely blown their launch.
It’s been something like three weeks since they closed their systems for migration, and they’ve barely managed to get their infrastructure online. A bare skeleton system, basically a chat and discussion forums, are all they’ve been able to bring back to the public.
That’s scary. The site has paying customers who pay for storage, email, and integration with desktop applications. This is a business! They’ve utterly dropped the ball on this migration, and it’s got to be hurting.
I think the very worst part is that there has been no communication from the company to its customers. No message saying “Yes, we screwed up, give us a bit and we’ll get it back together.” Not even a “please stand by.” Well, that’s not true. They posted an update once to blame their subcontractors for the problem.
And they did, in fact, hang one of their staff members out to dry in the withering rage of customer dissatisfaction, and that only because he’s a fundamentally good guy who feels bad for the mess.
It looks bad on the company. All that support, money and expertise behind them, and this is the result. It makes me happy that my community site is just that.
It is VERY scary when a business doesn’t have EVERYTHING in place before making a major update and re-launch … Could you see Apple doing something like that? When the updated .mac, everything was in place, ready to go. Very little to no downtime with mail or idisk and gives a great update to backup. I may just have to re-up my membership … although, I must admit, the cost is keeping me from making me from doing that today. I may just forgo it and do it all (email, personal gallery, and backup) on my own.
Hey, GREAT job on the new look site, Adrian! Clean, fast, great community of people. Very impressive! I hope the site continues to grow and flourish. I know I’ll try my best to help where I can to be a productive member!
I’ve been around the site for about two years, a year of that time as a member. I do know something about business and starting a company. I also have been employed is sales, so there is another clue to how business should be conducted.
This “roll out” has been very eye opening. Correct me if I’m wrong. If I am a hosting company, I should have three core elements. Good hardware, solid code and kick ass, friendly and prompt customer service would comprise the core.
Now, I am going to expand my business. First, need money, usually means investors. Then I should purchase some reliable equipment. I should have solid programming and top notch people. I should set up the new system and beat it soundly about the head and shoulder, in other words, beta and stress test. If all goes well, I transfer the data to the new system. Right?
Then I get to set into motion a big PR campaign to tout the new accomplishment and brag about the bells and whistles. Right?
Or should I constantly keep selling only sizzle without a steak to show for it? Every time something goes awry I should assign blame to outside forces. Then I should employ smoke and mirrors with some amateur quality antics, such as holding a “news conference” at the local CC and not having a sound feed. Of course, I blame another “them”. I should also preach my favorite cause to the masses. Or perhaps chide my detractors that they are ignorant and I am superior to them socially, I know bit part celebrities who’s own careers are slowly ebbing.
I met some really great people thanks to that site, wish I had been around to have witnessed the whole Zmai saga. During my stay over there I can honestly say that only one or two members of the entire staff had a clue. Least of those were the tenets of the offices. Shame really, they will never understand that the problems starts at the very place they don’t want to look, themselves.