Polish and Loving Your Products  

There’s a great thread over at Branch.com on shipping products. Well worth a read and probably a bookmark.

There is one particular passage from Evan Williams responding to Jason Goldman that really caught my eye. Goldman is talking about how you need to build something that delights you and that before you have users, you—and your team—are the user.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks or so, as I’ve been immersed in the “Fail Fast” ideas of Lean. On thing that really didn’t work for me was the idea that you can just throw any old thing out there and learn from it.

A few months ago I heard this great interview with Ryan Singer where he talks about designers looking at and thinking critically a design before they build/show/ship it. I really agree with this. There are times when a designer can critically look at their own work (or ideas) and realize they’re not ready. Or no good. In a way you can fail quicker by evaluating your own work.

But the point I’m trying to make here is that you can learn more from something you’ve taken the time to work through than you can from something you just throw out there. Give your idea a chance and make sure what you’re testing is good enough to bring back valuable learning.

Sure there’s a breaking point where you see diminishing returns, and knowing where that point is; that’s the trick, isn’t it?

Anyway, here’s the passage:

@goldman - That’s really well put. If it’s something you would use even if you didn’t have to, launch it.

I generally agree with the other points, as well. Good to push yourself to launch sooner than you’re ready. With a couple caveats…

The bar has been raised in general in the industry. There is more and better competition for every bit of attention in every segment. As a result, users have less tolerance for lack of polish than we used to be able to get away with. They’re more likely to just move on if something is janky. This may be extra true in mobile apps (much harder to get people to try something a second time—but not impossible).

I worry about the mantra of “fail fast.” I think there’s too much churn through ideas by entrepreneurs who are just looking for a hit instead of following a vision or trying to solve an important problem they’re passionate about. It’s good to fail fast on approaches or implementation but solving hard problems and creating really revolutionary things takes a long time, and they’re usually rejected by the market at first.

That makes a lot of sense to me.


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