How fast can you move when you’re f’d up?

This tale was told to me by a founder of a startup that is no more.

Like many startups these days, X planned to improve their signup rate through site design.

Along the way to designing their site, they got ready to A/B test various versions of content, visuals and the signup process itself. The problem was, months were passing before any new changes got designed out or implemented. What was behind this slowness?

The team was not organized to move quickly. Any change was first brought up by one of the team, then a guy in charge of designs mocked it up, then it was passed to their actual designer who did the actual design work (I don’t know why this had to be a two-step two-person process), it was then passed to their CTO who implemented it, and then usually their business guy (usually the person who started this whole process off) would notice that the new version had already gone live… and had typos. There was no real ownership or process.

One day after another new version the business guy couldn’t find their signup button — a change in color and sizing made it hard to find on the page background — and so he asked that it be made larger and a different color.

A week went by but nothing happened. He brought it up again. Then followed a discussion on A/B testing and how low a priority this was. To the business guy, this was a 5 minute job that would have immediate benefits and at a minimum not make things worse. So why not just do it?

The designer is out of town.

Why couldn’t someone else do it?

The designer is out of town.

But it’s a minor change. Can’t anyone do this?

Long discussion on whether it’s worth making this change.

Longer discussion about why a quick change needs a long discussion.

Eventually, the designer returns and makes the change in 5 minutes.

The business guy told me that that experience was how he knew that the team had major problems and the startup’s days were limited.

Do you have psuedo-processes like this going on at your startup?
Filed in: startup data