Ever heard the term preflight? Pilots – and designers – will be familiar with the term, which refers to the checklist to ensure that everything required for takeoff (or print) is present and functioning.

It’s an important practice to follow, but what happens when something gets missed? I encountered an example of this over the weekend. (Let me say before we get to the story that this isn’t a criticism of this company; in fact, I’m really impressed with the brand and what they’ve already done on social – I’m just using this as an example to remind you fine readers why preflight is invaluable.)

Someone I follow on Instagram posted an announcement to officially launch their new venture, Black Fuel Trading Company.

There was a call to follow the company on Instagram, and I was really impressed to see that prior to the announcement, their team had already pre-populated the IG feed with content. This gave me an instant understanding of their brand look & feel, and allowed me to understand what type of content I’d be seeing if I chose to follow them (I did). Major points to their team for that.

Major points to the Black Fuel team for pre-populating their IG feed prior to the brand launch.

Major points to the Black Fuel team for pre-populating their IG feed prior to the brand launch.

But here’s where the user experience broke down.

On both profiles, there’s a link to the official site. The first day I clicked the link (the day it was announced), I hit a domain holding page, with no content. Not the ideal user experience, but I work in an organization that builds sites, so I know the hiccups and last minute things that can delay a site launch.

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Next day, I went back to the site, and was pleased to see a beautifully designed landing page. Being that I hadn’t followed them on other social channels, I clicked the Twitter icon at the bottom of the page. Instead of seeing their branding, I was taken to a blank Twitter profile for a different named organization.

Not quite the Twitter page I was expecting.

Not quite the Twitter page I was expecting.

Hmm.

I clicked on the Facebook icon. Same thing – different company than where I should have been directed.

I know what some of you are thinking: “But they’re just a startup, it’s not really that big of a deal to the few people that actually click the icon.” I’ll agree to disagree with you (size doesn’t matter) – but here’s the kicker in this case.

Black Fuel is the brainchild of Shannon Leto, drummer for 30 Seconds To Mars. So when he proudly announced the launch, the 355,000 followers on his Instagram feed had the same opportunity as me to visit the site and have the experience I had. And those 355,000 then have the chance to share the site with their followers, who share with their followers – you get the exponential growth idea.

This is why preflight is critical, no matter how big the organization, campaign or event. It can range from a basic checklist to a full-blown quality assurance testing plan, but the goal should always be the same: make sure all channels and pieces are accounted for and functioning so you can present a holistic view and seamless user/fan experience.