I had planned on relaunching Domain Pigeon today, but decided to postpone it for a short while longer. At this point, I’m fairly confident that everything works the way it’s supposed to, but want to triple check just to put my mind at ease. I’m finding myself making minor tweaks, like adjusting the font sizes by 0.1em or changing the shading of green slightly, which is a good indication that I should just do it already.
One factor that has contributed to the delay has been the payment integration. Technically it wasn’t very hard and because I’m using Paypal I don’t have to worry about handling credit cards. The reason its taking time is that I want the price of the service to be an accurate reflection of the value and quality of the site. It has to match in order for it to be received well.
There are pros and cons to charging the initial users:
+ You’ll know pretty quickly whether you have a viable business model
+ The people that won’t pay will give you lots of valuable feedback/criticism on what you need to improve
+ You won’t miss out on the traffic spike on the day of the launch
+ You don’t have to suddenly start charging for something a few weeks down the road
– Criticism of the business model might draw attention away from the usefulness of the service
– Mistakes in the initial launch are accentuated by the fact that you’re charging for it
– Less buzz (or more, maybe)
– Since the service hasn’t been tested by more than a dozen people, there may be undiscovered bugs
I strongly considered waiting a few weeks before charging, but ultimately decided not to. My fear boils down to the possibility that I’ll have overlooked some embarassing flaw with the site and that these months of preparation will be overshadowed by whatever that is. The problem with that line of thinking is that there’s always going to be that possibility. All you can do is hope that your preparation has paid off and act like a professional in the event of a misstep.
Also, as someone pointed out on HackerNews a while back, you need to move beyond the big launch day mindset. It is important, but, what you do in the weeks following when the traffic has stabilized is what really matters in the end.
A great site with a crappy launch is better than a crappy site with a great launch.