"Done is better than perfect" has been driven into us by entrepreneurs, managers and productivity gurus. "Build the MVP and get it out the door as fast as possible".
This advice was meant to allow us to ship our product before checking every feature box. The theory was meant to drive us to build a great product that did Feature X better than any competitor. What we got instead, was a lot of crap!
Getting Back to Quality
I want to build quality things. I want you to build quality things.
We have accepted that software will have bugs, toys will break, computers will falter, and even our food will have manufacturing defects.
We demand everything to be built faster. If you can’t beat your competitors to market, you’re done. The craziest part is all evidence points to the opposite.
Basecamp is the most popular project management system available, despite it’s smaller feature set. Look at the signups year over year since their inception.
Apple never builds the first version of a product, they always build the better quality one. They aren’t afraid to cut a product if it doesn’t meet their quality expectations.
People love quality products. They look better and feel better to use. People will pay up to use a better product, even if it means giving up something else they have.
I have a friend who loves cars and specifically BMWs. He works an extra day every week so he can pay for it. He loves his car and is willing to give up a Saturday each week to drive one.
Perfect is the Goal, Not the Destination
When people say "done is better than perfect", they are quantifying the state of the product that could be perfect. Perfect is a goal that you will never reach. If you do, it’s time to hang it up and work on the next thing.
You may convince yourself that it’s just your V1, and you’ll build it the right way the second time around. **It’s amazing there is never enough time to build things right, but there is always enough time to build things twice. **
Strive to build it the right way the first time. You have the time. If you believe your product has to go to market in September instead of November, then you have a weak product.
Sweat the details. Does the latch on your product close just the way you NEED it to? Does it feel satisfying when it snaps close? Does it feel like quality?
The V in MVP
When every one talks about MVP (Minimum Viable Product), they are continually referencing the M (Minimum). Build the minimal version you can so you can learn what to build next.
What about part two of the MVP? The V stands for Viable. Making your product viable is even more important than ever. With so much competition, you can’t just ship anything.
What was viable 10 years ago is no longer viable today. The bar has moved, as it should have.
If you are making a task management application, do you think you could provide more features than Asana or Monday.com? Absolutely Not. So how can you compete for find your customer base against those two juggernauts?
You have to pair down and make a few key features of your app. It needs to be so good to use, that I can’t wait to move over my business. Shipping out any kind of task management that is “Done” is a poor way to convince me to signup.
Show me how you sweated the details when entering each task. You didn’t just want to put a datepicker field for setting my Due Date. You went the extra mile to really help me decide when this should be due.
Done is Done
Done is so loosely used today, that I no longer think people even know what it means. Here are a few sentences that make me cringe:
- It’s pretty much done
- I’m about 80% done
- It’s done, I just have to...
Done is not supposed to be a relative scale. It’s suppose to mark it’s absolute completion of the task, and the transition to the next task.
When you are done working on a task, it’s time to set it aside. If you have to come back to something, you’ve left it unfinished.
Take the time to get it DONE before moving onto something else. Multi-tasking is killing your quality. Finish task A before moving on to task B.
Great Companies Get One Thing Right
The world is a crowded, noisy, messy place. People are not loyal anymore to products, companies, jobs, even their shampoo. Even the once beloved Apple is drawing criticism from it’s most loyal fans (Why was Apple ever planning on building a car?).
Some companies battle this with huge marketing budgets (See any Monday.com ad when you try to watch YouTube). Stronger companies have redirected their marketing dollars to creating great things that people want to use.
We host all of our static sites on Netlify. Netlify focuses on making it super easy to deploy and host static websites without having to worry about a server. Github and AWS S3 have been doing this for years. How did Netlify beat those big players?
They focused! When you use Netlify, it is clear they have sweated out all the tiny details about adding a site. It’s clean, polished, fast. More importantly, it’s about 10X easier than adding a site to AWS S3 or Github.
Netlify doesn’t have all the features we need. We have to host our Nuxt and Gatsby sites on Heroku because they don’t support Server Side Rendering yet. That’s fine. Netlify still get’s my money. They are that good at the other thing.
Quality > Quantity
Less is More. We all know that, yet do the opposite. Look at what you have been working on lately. Does your product showcase quality? Does it look like a product I should give money to, or something you only work on during your downtime?
The Internet is filled with amazing things. Unfortunately, it’s also bursting at the seams with junk. You can separate yourself from the herd.
Be an artist. A craftsman. A purveyor of fine goods.