What is a product launch?
When people hear about product or feature launches, they might think a product team spends weeks and months working on a feature, and then comes the big reveal of a killer feature at a big tech conference.
In reality, product launches are rarely linear. More often, product launch is an iterative process where the launch is just the beginning of the product development process. It's one of the best ways to validate that the feature you built is useful. Then through usage data and user feedback, your team can continue to improve on your product.
How to launch a new product or feature?
Once your feature or product has been built. There are many ways that you can test or rollout your feature to your users. How you launch your feature depends on many factors - the maturity of your product, your existing user base, the type of product/feature you are launching, the goal/the metric you want to achieve with this feature, etc.
Limited rollout gives the product team the benefit of controlling the size and types of users. Before running a limited rollout, you should set a quantitative goal that you want to reach before rolling out to more users.
After you've validated a new feature and is ready to rollout to a big number of your users, you can roll out to 5%, 20%, 80%, 99% of users gradually over time to reduce risks, etc. server crashes due to large number of requests caused by the new feature.
Sometime a full rollout is required and it's needed to launch the new feature to all of your users at the same time. This could be due to a major product launch/promotion campaign or if a product or feature requires consistent experience for all users in order to bring customer value, for example, any social or chat features.
Holdback group - even for a fully rolled out feature, many times you may want to leave 1-5% of users on the old experience, this allows you to monitor long-term impact of a feature and aid any troubleshooting and debugging needed.
Launch day checklist
Prior to launch day, create a list of jobs that needs to be done, deadline, and owners. I've included an example, but your actual list may vary by product, context, and company.
"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late"
I recently gave a talk at Product School on this topic, you can check out the full video here.