Congratulations, it’s a… Website?

As my wife and I prepare for the birth of our second child, my one-track mind has wandered to the similarities and differences between a child and a website. That may seem a little out there, but bear with me as we take a look.

First, let’s look at the similarities between a child and a website.

Change the diaper often

Just like with a baby, you can’t let the crap build up. You’ll need to watch a number of things. Make sure that your front page doesn’t get cluttered. Likely you’ll have some section begin growing in ways you didn’t anticipate. As soon as you notice it, start planning for the section to be bigger. It’s a lot easier to make changes needed early on than it is to make them later.

If your website is already up and running, check your site right now.. If the front page or any other section is cluttered, make a quick list of five things you think could help improve it. Out of those five things, pick the one that would give you the most bang for your time spent. Sometime within the next 24 hours, get that item on the list done.

Middle of the night feedings

If you’re anything like I am, there will times you make some major change to the site. That night, you’ll lie awake in bed wondering if what you did is going to break, if people will like the change or if anyone will even notice it. Rather than lie awake all night, get up and check on it. Take five or ten minutes to see how it’s going. Most likely it will be fine, and you can go back to bed and not worry.

Of course, not everything is the same. Here are some differences.

Not everyone thinks your website is cute

While hopefully every will complement your baby, not everyone will do so with your website. There will be constructive criticism, but there will also be haters. People emailing or calling you to tell you that your website is the worst they’ve ever seen. Don’t let it stress you out.

Try making a list of all the criticisms you get, whether you think right then they’re valid or not. Email the person back (or just talk to them) and tell them you appreciate the feedback and will keep it mind while you look at updating the website. Then set the list aside. A week or more later, take it back out and take a look at the list. It may be that some points are valid, it may be that some are not. It will be much easier to evaluate when the stinging criticism isn’t fresh on your mind.

The website can survive without you

While you should make updates, your website can survive without you. Take a break! Especially when your website is first launched. At that point, it’s likely that you’ve spent over a month preparing and agonizing over the website. There’s certainly stress as the launch date approaches. Once the website is up and going, take a week or two off. It will help your stress level go down fairly quickly.

And this advice isn’t just limited to when your website first launches. I suggest taking a break after every major update, or just any time you get stressed about the website. Go outside, do something you enjoy.

Your stress level may be high after your happy bundle of HTML arrives, but try not to worry too much. You will need to take care of it and maintain it, but it’s not the end of the world when something happens. It’s not a baby, it’s just a website.