When To Release Your Awesome Project?

When To Release Your Awesome Project?

Software developments (including web-based/cloud apps) are very different from physical goods manufacturing in a sense that you can choose to release your product prematurely and iterate later. Nice.

The timing of your release can make it or break it

But with this option comes another decision making headache to endure. Literally there’s no right or wrong in how you choose the timing and version of your release. There are 2 ways that you can see to it.


Release Earliest Possible

The Getting Real philosophy (curated by the people at 37Signals, founding developers of Ruby on Rails framework) advocates the “Release Early, Release Often” approach with introducing “Half-A-Product, Not Half-Ass Product” early on and improving it later.

[quote]Take whatever you think your product should be and cut it in half. Pare features down until you’re left with only the most essential ones.[/quote]

Thousands of software developers have been inspired by their Getting Real concept including us here.

But that’s not all to it..


Release When It’s Awesome

But Joel Spolsky (CEO of THE Stack Exchange/Stack Overflow), meanwhile, suggested a slightly different approach.

[quote]”I couldn’t stop thinking that you never have a second chance to make a first impression.”[/quote]

With that, he underscores the importance of releasing a really good product on the launching date, as with the case of his latest project Trello (Check it out! We’re using it!)

[quote]”We got 131,000 eyeballs on 9-month-old Trello when we launched, and it was AWESOME, so 22% of them signed up. If we had launched 3-month-old Trello, it would have been NOT SO AWESOME.

Maybe even MEH. I don’t want 131,000 eyeballs on MEH.”[/quote]

This is a valid way to see it too, but he also used a closed private beta (a hundred of closed friends!) to cover up the feedback gathering stage that the Getting Real emphasized on in releasing early.


The considerations..

…depends on your resources.

Our team here at Fulkrum Interactive deals with product launch decisions several times a year (the Apple App Store ‘New Apps List’ can really make a difference in market traction if the time is right), so we recommend you to pounce upon these questions:

  • Do you have enough private testers to help you refine your product pre-launch?
  • Is there any significant event (as in expos and conference) that you can launch your product into the limelight?
  • Do you think your core, basic product is the same as the current competitors’, but the add-ons are what make it stand up?
  • Do you think your product is not time-sensitive (time-sensitive project like developing using the ever-changing iOS SDK)
  • Do you use any outside platform which policy is somewhat volatile? (like third-party APIs)
  • Do you already have the funds needed for your early operation?
  • Do you have a complete team in-place to execute the big idea?
If your answer to the above are all (or mostly) yes, then release your product only when the whole awesome package is ready! Otherwise, if you’re starting with a small team, you need to impress some VCs to keep you moving, or if your product environment is constantly changing, release your Minimum Viable Product and prove to the world that your project deserves more attention to keep going.

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1 Response

  1. A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Set off on to way
    December 6, 2011 | Reply