The importance of a code freeze before the holiday shopping season

July 15, 2013 Written by NetSphere Category: eCommerce
The importance of a code freeze before the holiday shopping season
Making last-minute changes to a website is like opening the door for error. And introducing the possibility for errors can potentially create difficulties for shoppers. As most webstore owners know, there’s no room for errors of any kind during major shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or the holiday shopping season in general.
And that’s why it’s understood between the developers who make changes to a site and the business owners who oversee it that changes shouldn’t be made after a certain date.
Halting all major changes, in technical terms, is called a code freeze. Here are a few things to keep in mind when ensuring that a code freeze happens on your site:
1. Timing is everything: Normally, a code freeze should happen 30 days before Thanksgiving. Although this might seem like a long time, it will help you avoid major issues when it matters most. The key is being prepared for it.
2. Grace periods: If necessary, sites can take a grace period between Thanksgiving and Christmas where some incremental changes can be put into place. After all, six weeks is a long time to not make any changes for a lot of sites especially when the purpose of your site is to be online making you money and not in the shop for repairs, costing you money.
3. It’s not the end all be all: A code freeze will keep development from going into production, but if there’s an emergency pricing or product issue, site updates can be applied and deployed quickly from your quality-assurance or staging environment into production.
4. It all depends on the depth of changes: If you’re doing a major site reface, you will need more than 30 days. The bigger the project, the more changes you make and when you make major changes, there are inevitably going to be issues. You need the time to work through any potential issues. Think of the 30 days as a settling-in period, where bugs that got past your quality-control process are found by you and not visitors or customers to your site.
The philosophy behind a code freeze finds its roots in the fact that when there’s a deadline, more often than not, people tend to rush. Trying to squeeze in last-minute changes or new features is a risky endeavor. It’s just best to avoid it altogether.
If you need help assessing when to initiate a code freeze or if you need assistance completing the work leading up to it, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at NetSphere Strategies.
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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.