On December 18, after having had the same website for eight years (during which time we made dozens and dozens of sites for clients), we finally launched our new Rare Bird site! In case you ever wanted to know what the process of making and launching a website is like, we kept a journal. Welcome to the crazy world of We Made a Website.
{It should be noted that during this period of time, we often got sidetracked — and happily so — by doing work for our clients. It should also be noted that making a website for yourself is really, really hard, like designing your own house or getting your entire extended family to agree on what movie to see the day after Christmas. Yeah, that hard.}

August 2013
We talk about making a new website. Everyone is very, very excited.

October 2013
We discuss the need to make a new website. We’re all very excited.

January 2014
The idea of getting serious about making a new website this year is bandied about. We order pizza to discuss concepts. The pizza is very good.

March 2014
There is a rumor going around the office that we are making a new Rare Bird website. But everyone knows you can’t have a new website without new t-shirts, so we spend the next month making new t-shirts. The t-shirts are very nice.

April 2014
We get a note from our current website. It reads, “Dear Creators. I’m eight years old. In website years, that’s like 140. I remember when I was young and perky. Things are starting to sag and I’d like to move to Miami. Please help.”

June 2014
Ashley and Lori begin having whispered conversations in back alleys about possibly utilizing an origami theme for the new site. They present it to Jim, Ben and Troy and, as any good team would, Ashley and Lori prepare to throw the other under the bus if the guys don’t like the idea. Fortunately, the guys like it.

The Very Next Day
The guys aren’t so sure they like it anymore.

The Following Week
Origami gets the green light. An origami artist is secured and videotaping commences. This involves donuts. What could possibly go wrong?

The Very Next Day
Things went wrong.

The Following Week
A second origami folding/videotaping session takes place. This time we’re sure we nailed it.

The Very Next Day
We didn’t nail it.

Sometime in August
We all decide we still like the origami theme, but we want to take the video production a different direction. There’s a reason why they say “third time’s a charm.” This ushers in the great Blue Paper v. Yellow Paper debate. As Forrest Gump would say, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

A Few Weeks Later
Design, content and video are beginning to take some kind of shape. We order pizza to celebrate.

Late September/Early October
Ben announces that this year’s Christmas bonuses will be tied to whether or not the site goes live before Christmas, and there will be an extra something just from Ben if we hit the mark. This gets everyone’s attention since previously Ben referred to Christmas as “That Holiday That Must Not Be Named.”

Every Single Day After That Day
Someone will ask Ashley if she’s done with our site yet.

Work on the site kicks into high gear. Wicked designs and coding genius play off the other’s inspiration. Content is drafted and refined. A grand sense of optimism permeates our offices. Because we hardly ever do, we order pizza.

The Very Next Day
We’re pretty sure we’ll never finish on time.

December 1-12
Now that we’ve run out of Halloween candy and are starting on Christmas candy, we know that time is truly running short. A renewed spirit of teamwork overtakes each of us, like we’d just been visited by the Ghosts of Websites Past, Present and Future, and we now know the true Meaning of Christmas: getting this damn site done on time. To-do lists are created and checked twice every day. Hardly anyone is naughty; there’s too much at stake.

Monday, December 15
We run through the site and are encouraged by the very little we have remaining to do! We unanimously agree that we will launch the site on Thursday.

Later That Day
We unanimously agree that there’s no way we’ll be ready to launch on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 16
Buoyed by a good night’s rest and jumped up on coffee, we dive into final to-dos. Programmers, designers and worried project managers scurry around like rats when you turn on a light. “Does it work on your phone?” “How does it look on IE?” “Why is that font so big?” “Should the video be five frames per second or seven?” “Can we make everything 20% smaller?” “Can someone please create a kick-ass 404 page?” Major progress is made. To-dos are devoured like men at a Kardashian party.

Wednesday, December 17
A mysterious parcel shows up at the office. It was addressed to Ben and originated from Canada. It weighed absolutely nothing; it’s possible it even had a negative weight. Scrawled across the package in heavy black marker was this caution: “Do not open until after website launch.” The package was immediately shaken, sniffed, prodded and the name on the return address was Googled (spoiler alert: this would later bite us in the butt). There really is nothing like what appears to be an empty parcel from a neighboring country to motivate very gullible people.

LAUNCH DAY: Thursday, December 18

Where DO those pesky to-dos come from? It’s like the Mom and Dad To-Dos had relations and made dozens of little Baby To-Dos overnight.

The internet goes down for a moment. We take that time to shake Ben’s package again.

Ashley is still designing. Lori is still drafting copy. Tom asks if anyone has decided between yellow and blue paper for the video. Brad and Justin pick up extra to-dos that we keep finding, tucked away in corners or dropped on the floor. Kyle and Craig are no longer able to speak full sentences. Troy wisely stays away from the chaos. Sarah makes sure our chocolate supply can meet current high demand. Mike asks what everyone is working on. Michael has a baby. Jim wonders if the origami theme is really going to work or if we should try something else. Ben lurks.

We order pizza, which only shows how stressed we are, because we hardly ever order it.

Lori suggests that we meet up at 3:30 to see where are. Jim says we need to launch at 4:00 or it “doesn’t count,” like when you were a kid and crossed your fingers behind your back when you told your mom you weren’t the one who painted the cat purple.

We launch the site! (Not.)

We have to hold Craig’s head upright for him. Kyle’s eye twitches every time someone says “Hey, that page doesn’t look right on my phone.” Ashley clutches the Canadian package and shoots furtive looks around the room while Lori rocks back and forth and hums to herself. Jim surfs the internet and reads random news articles aloud while Brad tries to concentrate. Ben lurks.

Believe or not, we actually launch the site. Ben declares that because we “cheated” and tried to Google where the package came from, we have to wait until the next day to find out what’s inside. We don’t mind, because he promises that we’ll be disappointed.
He was wrong about that. It’s beautiful.

So, order a pizza, check out our new website and let us know what you think!