'It's perfect' is the enemy of 'it's useful.'
We occasionally receive inquiries from prospects who are brand new to the website design and building process. They've got plenty of experience developing projects that result in a static end product, such as research papers, brochures, annual reports or other printed marketing pieces. They might even draw from experiences where a physical end product is the result of all their effort.
Those experiences demand perfection at the end of the process. So naturally, developing a website means exactly the same thing. Right?
Don’t believe me?
- What if I told you that Google...including all its key services like search, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Apps…was officially “beta” for the first eleven years of its existence? This is a full 5 years after its initial public stock offering. They didn't let "perfect" stand in the way of making billions of dollars.
- How about Facebook? How often have you gone to bed after a long evening of looking at your friend’s cat pics and vacation selfies, only to log in the next day to a completely different look? Annoyingly often, I'll bet. Yet, they too earn billions of dollars per year.
Let's think smaller:
- Got a smart phone? How many app updates do you have queued up right now? Go ahead and look. I’ll bet you paid for more than a few of them. Meaning that the author earned revenue on an app that in his or her eyes was more useful than perfect.
Anything based on code (like software, a web app, a website or inbound marketing campaign) is changeable at a moment’s notice. (It's a lot easier to revise digital content than print media.)
It's something the folks at Google refer to as:
'Push. Then iterate.'
Every major software company agrees; it's how they roll out product updates. This is the process:
- Decide what you want to build.
- Plan it out and collect what you need to build it.
- Build it to the point that it works, strictly based on what you establish in step 1.
- Launch it.
- Tweak it.
- Improve it.
- Repeat steps 5 & 6 as necessary.
- Go back to step 1.
If you work in any other industry, you may find this counterintuitive. You may have been advised to 'touch something once' and move on to the next project.
A website is an evolving entity. As in car design, digital marketers apply the lessons of the previous version to inform the features and functionality of the next. When done properly, a website becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Eventually, it becomes a key driver in the performance of your company or organization.
But as I mentioned at the top: some people come into the process with the best intentions, only to get stuck on the idea of a “perfect” website design. On occasion the problem is severe enough that feature after feature gets added to the specification, taking more time, adding more cost, and delaying the launch of a perfectly usable product in the name of a “perfect product.”
Meanwhile, the utility and revenue that the site could deliver goes untapped and unused.
Learn to recognize when “good enough” really is good enough.
The test of when to launch a new website, a new landing page or a new email marketing campaign boils down to a single question: 'does it meet the specifications I laid out at the beginning of the project?'
If the answer is 'yes,' regardless of if you’ve had other insights along the way, then it launches.
If the answer is either 'almost' or 'yeah, but we had this great idea along the way that would make it so much better,' then you have a decision to make:
- If 'almost' means a few tweaks that take a day or two, then make those changes and launch.
- If 'almost' means something that got overlooked and threatens to delay the project launch, then if at all possible save whatever it is, launch the main part, and then bring in the rest when it’s ready.
- Lastly, if the 'great idea' is truly revolutionary, then it might make sense to work it in. It’s far more likely that you will get more utility and better results out of launching with what your original specification called for, first. Then take the time to develop your great, revolutionary idea into a later stage of your website or digital marketing program.
The bottom line:
The point of this article isn’t to argue against the idea of pursuing perfection in digital marketing, website design, or any email marketing campaign you might create.
Quite the opposite.
The point is that just like the computer that was perfect for you in 2005 is probably a dinosaur today, what is “perfect” today will become less so over time.
Understanding this concept fundamentally redefines perfection from being an absolute. It evolves into a process ... perfection is quantified by results.
Ultimately, perfection in website design or digital marketing is incremental. It does not come from giant steps that take months or years to accomplish or that are ends unto themselves. Your needs and objectives will change over time, so your website first must be useful and available. It must then be able to evolve with those changes to achieve perfection.