You’ll Never Be Completely Ready

An article by David Brooks on January 29, 2017


The other morning I was neck-deep in client work when my friend mentioned to me that all of his sites were broken. That’s the best, isn’t it? You show up, your site is down and you didn’t do anything. Sometimes you don’t know whether you’re walking into a server configuration issue or a hack attempt. In this case, he fixed it rather quickly and moved on. I didn’t think anything about until about 2PM when someone mentioned to me that the Northward Compass site was down.

Oops. I should have checked that.

But thankfully the fix for the MySQL connection errors took all of 5 minutes. When the site returned, however, I realized why the MySQL errors were in place. Our host had updated versions of PHP without any kind of warning. The Northward Compass site that had been sitting neglected for a few years was filled with PHP errors.

Okay, there were two errors.

Either which way, it looks super-professional (read: not at all professional) when your website and app development company has a site with visible PHP errors and content that’s four years behind. I had been laughing off the situation with clients as a case of “the Cobbler’s children have no shoes.” But now it was well beyond what I could reasonably laugh-off.

Thankfully, we had been working on a redesign over the past 6 months during our downtimes. It was a bit iffy, too, but just in that we hadn’t gotten around to polishing it and ensuring it was the best possible experience. Okay, and the content was still not completely up to date. Instead of spending the time to fix the errors on the existing site, I opted to throw a few hours into this version.

The content may not be up to date yet, but at least we have a more modern and responsive wrapper from which we can show our work. It’s hard to tell people you do responsive design work when your own site isn’t fully responsive. (You could look at it on a mobile or tablet device, it just wasn’t a lot of fun.)

This whole adventure served as a reminder to me that, regardless of how you plan, you might not always be ready when you have to act. Sometimes you have to strike even before the iron is hot, as they say. You’re never going to feel great about doing that, but you have to weigh the alternatives. In this case, not launching didn’t make any sense whatsoever. So, I closed my eyes and turned version 3.0 of our site loose on the world. It was very much like when a mother bird pushes the chick out of the nest with crossed feathers. But, as a human, I have to keep reminding myself that parachutes exist with good reason.


A person paragliding over the mountains

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is a Michigan native who migrated to Orlando, Florida. David is the owner and creative director at Northward Compass. He also blogs, writes music, and writes fantasy stories in his spare time.

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Northward Compass: Orlando, Florida

Founded by David Brooks in 2010, Northward Compass is a small, distributed design shop that claims Orlando, Florida as home. We specialize in dynamic, interactive, and modern web sites, applications, and games.