The Actual Milestone
Aside from this post and announcing it on this Facebook page, lazytech.tv (LZTV) was released early Friday - weeks after its original date of Christmas Day.
Behind The Scenes And Reasons For Releasing Now
There's still alot to do but most of it is downhill. It hasn't been announced on the LZTV Facebook page as well as its Twitter page. Some of the reviews are even pending. This is to avoid the blank spots on its homepage. Call it a soft launch. As of this writing, the LZTV site ranks on Alexa at 4,039,577. The bigger piece is the content of course but how a site looks is important too. Although I'm satisfied with how the front page looks, it will look and operate better over time. My main issue was making sure the templates for each type of article (e.g. Review, DIYs, etc.) displays properly and looked good on 90% of the devices. In 2018, I've been hearing that people can browse the web on anything nowadays. If LZTV looks good on your smart fridge, I've accomplished my job.
Reason #1: Iron Out Production Issues
I probably could've taken a week or more to get a cleaner front page and more content. However, there's something to be said about being able to quietly release things into production with little traffic, catching bugs and addressing small issues quickly. My partner was able to catch issues with typography and it was addressed right away. Imagine being in a bigger company where you got your PR ready, announcements and investors all anticipating a launch. Then, a bug turns into a showstopper and a fix requires damage control and corporate process to come into play. Developers know this.
Reason #2: Continuous Delivery Vs. Big Launches
This really requires its own post. Over almost two decades of experience has taught me that it's better to release things in small doses than big ones (especially ones that involve launch parties). Lazytech.tv "going public" is really a small release impacted by learning curves and new platforms.
Reason #3: Deadlines Matter
I made a second deadline and stuck with it. After really understanding the Ghost structure and learning handlebars.js, I was was off by a day (although it was the second deadline) but the site is out and I'm ecstatic about that.
What I Learned
Some obvious and not-so obvious things that I've learned along the way.
Lesson #1: Always Know Why You're Doing Something
My wife and kids are core to why I build stuff. They know how much I love doing what I do. Reviewing cool gadgets with the kids is fun but talking about the overall way it changes how we do things everyday is one my passions. It is why I've been on this lazytech thing for a couple of years now and why I've rebuilt the site from the ground up.
On a more technical level, think about why you're developing sites and apps the way you do - not just because it looks cool to you (or that it's easier). If you're writing up a use case, make sure it has a purpose. Even better, test it with a target audience. If it doesn't seem to fit the overall goal, chuck it. Or, put it in the backlog. If it sits there after going through several sprints, maybe you don't really need it.
Lesson #2: Aside From Your Wife, Have A Support Team
I'm very lucky. Not only do I have a wife that backs the company, I have my siblings. Even if you don't chat or talk with them often, getting them involved through a simple text, email or a phone call makes all the difference. They'll be there when crap hits the ceiling and/or when you're celebrating a milestone. Some will even give you great advice. But, to me, the most important piece is just letting your closest ones know what you've been up to. Have an open door for those you care about.
Lesson #3: Know Your Time And Plan Your Tasks
Family time is big for me. I have less of it so quality time is more than just watching a movie or TV show together. Two out of my three kids are in Little League, Ballet, Boys and Girls Club, Advanced Learning and Programming. They love every bit of it. On top of all that I'm also their school's Chairman for Site Council as well as its school's webmaster. Of course, all of that stuff takes time. You need to play catch with your kid or take the other to practice. You have the talks while cooking dinner and continue the conversation over what has happened throughout the day. For the little one, I just build forts and have my goof-off time with her. Create your schedule and plan out your week. Stick with it and create some momentum.
Add a short jog during the morning or whatever. Just have a strong consistent routine. When your kids see this, they will follow. If you end up with just 4-6 hours for that day, then that's what you'll get. It's your time anyway. Just make it count. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish with just a few hours when you're really focused and know exactly what needs to be done. I recommend Wunderlist for this reason alone.
Lesson #4: Eat Some Humble Pie
No matter how many years of development you have under your belt, a new language and platform will come with a learning curve. That goes for anything really. How steep that curve will be depends on whether you've recognized similar patterns and models in the past. My mistake was setting up deadlines before the learning curve.
"A new LZTV site shouldn't take more than three weeks MAX," I thought.
Two months later, it's out.
The biggest part was converting a Wordpress theme into a Ghost one. I thought I've seen it all or at least did something close to it. Nope. I struggled. I couldn't Google my way out of this one. It was pure joy cleaning up HTML and CSS classes I didn't need (and I know there's a solution out there to make this faster but I haven't found it). In either case, I had to just relearn how to plan and make a tight development cycle. Sometimes tasks are alot larger than you anticipate and you have to break them down into alot of smaller tasks. I also had to deal with the quirks of one template while introducing new quirks from a platform.
At that point, I realized how full I got from all that humble pie.
Ultimately, I'm in a happier place now. I got the look-and-feel I wanted while working on a CMS I feel will become more popular over time. I believe in the Ghost platform. Both HackerNotes and LZTV are based on it.
Lesson #5: Thank Your Wife - Alot
This is your tag team partner. Your rock. The more gigs and hours you drop to work on your project company, the more your wife becomes the primary breadwinner. Let her say what she needs to say and make sure you listen to every word. She is every bit as instrumental to the company's success. Continue to let her know that. I showed her the initial build of the site and she gave me a simple nod. While I was taken aback by the initial reaction, it was noticing the extra hours she took at her work that pushed me further. I thought of it as an unspoken acknowledgement of yeah, let's make this work.
How I Celebrated
My bros and sis had planned a siblings night just to get together at the House Of Prime Rib in the city and hangout since we don't do it often.
Photo by Rob Castro
When I got there, I unveiled to them that lazytech.tv was finally released and the timing couldn't have been any better. I showed them the site through my phone and my brother setup a round of drinks for a small celebration. Aftewards, we hit Emporium, which was awesome.
Classic arcades from Pac Man to Street Fighter litered the floor, complete with skeeball, air hockey and even a shuffleboard - the game we hogged for and won Comeback Team Of The Night. Good music, good drinks, good games; all after a good steak was way more than I could ever ask for. But that's how my sibs do it, I'm just in for the ride and ecstatic to have told them the good news.
The following next day I took my son to his 2nd little league tryouts and he makes the cut into the next level.
Later on, it was all Chuck. E. Cheese. Baby. The occassion? Their cousin's 3rd birthday party. Great times.
What Comes Next
On the business side, there's alot actually:
- Writing up the actual reviews that are pending on the homepage
- Getting accepted for Google Adsense (which shouldn't be a problem)
- Mostly though it's going to be content and cleanup. Mostly evergreen content.
- Fixing some minor issues like fly out menus for mobile and footer links.
- Start pushing resources towards the next project. More on that later.
On the regular life side, you got your normal crap:
- Smogging the car
- Clear the garage
- Take down the Christmas lights (finally)
- And, well this (below) and 50 other things...
Thanks for reading.