Will your project follow the “Hype Cycle?”

TechCrunch published this really interesting graph yesterday that comes from Gartner. The graph details the life of a new technology. The initial excitement and buzz, the inevitable disappointment, then the slow build.

Does a similar cycle apply to new web projects? Perhaps we have to give the phases different names, but in a broad sense the trajectory applies, both internally and externally.

From an internal perspective, it’s very easy to get caught in your own hype about a new web site. This new blog is going to be the one that puts you on the map. This new wiki is going to revolutionize the way we do business. We all have visions of that instalanch (define: instant avalanch) making our site a household name on the first day.

But when it doesn’t come, we get discouraged, our interested drops, and sometimes we even abandon the project. But sticking with it pays dividends. Slowly, over time the site starts achieving some modest successes. After six months or even a year, perhaps the project begins to take on a life of its own.

The peak, the crash, the long-slog; this is the emotional rollercoaster we experience in web development.The key is keeping yourself grounded and understanding what you want. If you are just chasing the instalanch, then maybe you should give up on a project after three months. But if you believe in your concept and you are committed, you will see slow progress. And if your product is good and you are patient, you will be successful.

The curve applies from an external perspective as well. Often groups will do a great media launch for a site, get an initial burst of traffic, but then see their stats plummet back to earth because they had no plan for long term promotion. No matter how big your initial buzz is, you must have a long-term plan for driving traffic through search-engines, email marketing, and organic links. Without it, the traffic for a site simply can’t be sustained.