Praxis put out a ton of valuable content. I profit from almost every article they publish in terms of the boost to my productivity, approach to work and life, or ways I can signal my value.
One mantra the Praxis team have is to build and ship now and improve it later. Having it operational is the primary goal. Design can come later.
It makes sense, you don’t want to sink time into beautifying something if it doesn’t work out or shifts in an unexpected direction. Better to have shipped and failed (or even abandoned) than to never have shipped at all.
My CEO operates on a different mantra that I find just as, if not more, enticing. “There’s 3 ways to respond to a design, there’s ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘wow'” — Milton Glaser.
Well shit, I want to be a wow. Who doesn’t want to be a wow?
My experience with wow
Towards the end of last year I started up a 2D animation project. While it was bad quality (I was learning from scratch), I was going (partly) for the wow. I spent about 12 hours on the first 2 seconds of the video. After 30-40 hours working on it, I realised it wasn’t working and I could better spend my time elsewhere. The learning curve for drawing well, combined with the necessary time required to produce 2D animations were too steep and too high. I took so long before calling it quits because I loved doing it. The time sink to get to an acceptable standard wasn’t worth it.
Likewise at work, I’ve worked on several projects where we went for the ‘wow’. Most of these projects are still backlogged, yet to see the light of day. Some still aren’t ready. Our clients are relatively high tier, so we don’t want our website or services looking shabby. At the same time, there’s a considerable expense when holding a new service off the market for 6, 8, 10 months plus. Likewise, sales pages that might not be optimal yet are complete and unpublished is costly too.
My homepage for this website—I’ve actually forgotten about it at this point. The legwork’s done, I just have to a) find (complete) several projects to link to and b) figure out how to display it without it conflicting with my WordPress theme. Essentially it’s perfectionism holding me back. Not good.
My experience with ship now
Virtually every post I make here is ship now. I spend way too much time editing and optimising the Yoast readability score but I could spend many, many more. It feels good for my soul to hit ‘publish’. Done. It’s out of my head and I can focus on the next thing. Awesome.
When it comes to design and article writing for work though, I always miss some little thing or several things. Sometimes it’s a result of me not having all the information but others are proper screw ups. There’s a balance of getting it done fast and getting it done right, and I’m just not hitting as well as I need to. Yet I can’t justify spending any more time than I already do on most tasks. I’m not slow or unfocused, but what I do tends to be time-heavy. I do lots of ad-hoc tasks which involve learning or doing something for the first time. I seem to routinely make the wrong decision when I ask myself if I’d prefer to fix or redo something I haven’t adequately checked, or risk being told that I’m taking too long. This is probably a legacy mindset from my previous work on the farms.
Interestingly and unhelpfully, my experience with one makes me lean towards the other…
How do I reconcile these views?
I want to be a doer. I want to prove I’m someone who gets shit done. Yet, I don’t want to offer something half-done unless it’s a free trial to a small group for feedback.
I want my websites, content and collateral to be presentable and a reputation for producing quality. Yet I have no desire to get bogged down perfecting things or delaying launch significantly.
The lacklustre and common sense answer is to apply ‘create and ship now’ vs ‘go for the wow’ on a case by case basis. If it’s a side project that I don’t have too much invested in I’ll get it out fast. If I want to build something great and value first impressions, I’ll take my time and make it ‘wow’. That way I’ll have the incentive to see it through and won’t risk perfection induced delay.