Explorations | March 21, 2013
Perfect vs. Good
"Perfect is the enemy of Good” - Voltaire
Today a design question is raging at Creo, trivial though it may be: Should we design and build a custom form to gather email addresses when someone clicks “Play” on a blog video, or should we use the built-in Wistia controls? Keep in mind this is for our own website, not for client work. This creates a perfect tension within Creo, letting us sit on both sides of the table. Fun, fun, fun!
It’s a common dilemma here, and probably at all design companies. Here’s how I would explain both sides of the argument:
We’re designers, and we know that we’re judged by the smallest of details. We want to present a flawless, custom, integrated, perfect design and execution, especially on our own brand. In addition, we’re developers, and we’re proud that we can do anything on the web platform. Everything we do represents “us” and communicates our values and talent, so everything we do should be perfect.
We’re busy working on lots of projects, for our clients and ourselves. We’re always under a deadline to produce great work as quickly as possible; that’s the way it goes at professional service companies. In addition, outcomes are what’s most important. If the “Perfect” and the “Good” have the same outcome, then the isn't “Good” actually... perfect?
Voltaire said “Perfect is the enemy of the Good”, insisting that perfection often results in no improvement at all. We’ve all heard of the 80-20 rule, indicating that 80% of the value can be accomplished with 20% of the effort, and there’s a diminishing return as additional effort is applied striving towards the 100% mark (the perfect).
Then we have Apple, who strives for perfect in everything (even packaging!). They’ve managed to place the bar so freakin’ high, how can we help but strive to make our design and execution as beautiful and awesome as they did. After all, we want our customers to feel about us the way we feel about them.
So, what’s the answer? I’m not sure at this late hour, but I want to hear how you deal with this problem. Where is the correct balance between the Perfect and the Good? What variables do you evaluate when making this decision? Tell us in the comments below, or email me at email@example.com. I’ll post your responses, so we’re all a little smarter about this.