It’s been a crazy week, but earlier this morning (around 8 AM I’d say) the new Detailed Image finally went live. I’m planning an exhaustive post about the new features, how they compare to the old site, and why they are important for our customers and our future. For now though, the tour page does a nice job of overviewing what’s new if you’re curious.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m totally spent.
It started last Saturday when we tested the site. After months and months of positive response to the demos, I rolled everything out to my partners and we went to town trying to quality test every feature. Over the past few years we’ve seen our customers do some crazy shit, so we tried to replicate every one of those scenarios and then take it a step further. The whole ordeal lasted about 10 hours. We ordered a bunch of pizza’s and really went at it hard. The result was a slew of minor things that needed to be fixed, but nothing major.
From there, I spent the next few days fixing things and coming up with the launch day plan. This launch was nice because we weren’t moving servers so there was no propagating involved. However, this launch was confusing because we needed to do a lot of data manipulation to get the info from the old database working in the new, much more complex one. Much of which couldn’t be done until the old site was temporarily down this morning (things like user accounts and purchase history that need to be accurate up to the second).
So I woke up at 4:45 AM this morning and started prepping things. My partners came over around 6 AM, and we pulled the old site. The temp home page listed our AIM account, phone number, and support email in the case that customers needed to contact us. Amazingly, a few did contact us that early on a Friday morning, our slowest day/time of the week. George and Greg took care of that type of stuff while I spent about an hour getting all of the data merged.
Around 8 everything was up, and we all began testing the shit out of the live version. Greg and George placed live credit card and PayPal orders, while Mike and I focused more on testing the intricate functionality. We found a few little things that we were able to fix immediately, and a few more that took us until about 10:30. Nothing needed to be fixed today, but before announcing this thing to the world we wanted to make sure we put our best out there.
For example, WordPress and our cart had some variable confusion that we didn’t notice in testing, which caused one of the banners not to work on blog post pages. Our DI blog is almost solely for announcements and isn’t really read much. But we cleaned all of that up beacuase we’d rather do it today than let it sit for days.
In much the same manner, I’m going to spend the rest of the night cleaning up a few things on the back end. We went from my apartment to a diner for food (we were starving!) and then over to the warehouse to test the order processing system and pack orders. As I should, I paid much less attention to some of the details on the back end, leaving a lot more to be tweaked over the next few weeks. Some of the inventory functionality needs to be improved, for example. I plan on being in the warehouse every morning the next few weeks to get all of that performing at a level higher than the previous system.
Once the Daily Special goes off sans issues at midnight (fingers crossed), this bad boy should be in pretty good shape.
All in all, we’ve gotten a ton of great feedback already. For the next month or two we’re going to spend extra time investigating every customer inquiry. We have all of the tech questions going to me now (as opposed to Greg, who gets the rest of the questions), so that I can really be on top of them (and also to give Greg a reprieve a bit).
This was a great project to work on because I felt that we were all at our best. Mike did amazing design work. 98% of what you see up there is his work. It’s even more impressive when you factor in that it works cross-browser (even in old versions of IE that don’t support CSS tables) and that it all passes W3C validation. George and Greg did a great deal of work overhauling the content and the organization of the products, in particular the absurdly in-depth how-to guide. And I thought I did my best programming work, writing code that’s more secure, easy to debug, and easy to scale (in theory, with a new stylesheet and a few new images, you could have another version of this cart up in a few hours running off the exact same back end code).
I should be back this week with a more normal posting schedule. We’re heading out tomorrow night to celebrate, which will sound more appealing after I get a good night’s sleep tonight and fix the few remaining issues on the site.
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