The Constant RedesignerPublished on 11 October 2021
There are perfectionists. People who put out only what they consider to be - "just right" - usually that piece that ticks all of their imaginary boxes, no matter how important.
And then, there is the "MVP group" - those who put something out as soon as possible: to test it out, get feedback, and maybe even a first customer or two, no matter how their product looks or feels.
Somewhere in the middle, I guess, are the "MLP people." MLP stands for Minimum Lovable Product, yet another acronym invented for an industry already full of acronyms. I'd say those are the teams putting out minimum viable products that people love, the word "love" being key. People don't just "use" them and get something out of them. People "love" using them. Call it a perfect combination of UI/UX and minimum functionality that manages to bring value to their users instead of just being pretty.
Where am I getting with this? Well, personally, I still can't quite find my place among these, as a developer and amateur designer who likes making stuff. I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist, yet here I am again, redesigning this website behind the scenes and not publishing articles for an entire month (!!!). Why? Because "I like the new design more and it would be a shame to publish new articles on a website that already looks dated in my eyes." And so it sits there, without any updates, until I finally realize that, hey, it would be nice to actually publish something and inject some life into the thing.
Rinse, and repeat.
Sure, seeing as I'm treating my website as a product now, and it's out there, I can just keep iterating on it while it's live. But something inside me keeps nagging and prevents me from deploying my work every single time: "Nah. The image isn't right. Let it simmer for a while." And then it does, and it turns out that the image was perfect all along, but I end up deploying a day later, whereas it could've been live a day ago. "Nah. It needs a fresh pass." As if it won't need another one tomorrow. And the day after. "Nah. The icons aren't as good as those found on [insert project I admire and consider miles better than my own]". Repeat after me: "The icons are never good enough. The icons are never good enough. The icons…"
I know what you're thinking. "You just said you didn't consider yourself a perfectionist, but here you are, spouting 'perfectionism'." You might be right. But then again, when I don't consider anything I make "perfect" how does that make me a perfectionist?
"It's like fashion. It never ends." Aaron Sorkin wrote in "The Social Network." I subscribe to that idea.
Nothing I make can be perfect, seeing as it's a never-ending process of refining, tweaking, and fixing.
By that definition, I'm not a perfectionist. Nobody on the web can possibly be. And yet, we tinker and push pixels and constantly redesign in the hope that one day, it'll be perfect. It'll settle. Knowing, all too well, that it won't because it's an extension of our psyche, our ideals and dreams, and our restless quest for whatever.
And as long as we're restless, so are our creations. Imperfect. Eternally unfinished.
Working in the industry I work in, I keep wondering whether that's a problem? Is that normal? Is it worth streamlining, improving? Does it deserve a - here it comes - solution?
In a world obsessed with solutionism, I guess the answer is "yes, of course" and "duh." Solution = product = customers = $$$ = IPO = interviews with Kara Swisher = penthouse in Manhattan = a life well-spent. And who wouldn't want that, right? /s
It just doesn't seem like there is a viable solution to be offered for the boundless quest of the soul. Unless you're just aiming to make some profit any kind of creation, be it an app or a piece of writing, comes out of the dark corners of the mind, those that have retained the capacity to wonder, to walk around those winding pathways in your brain and say "what if?" out loud. Sure, you could life-hack something together: focus, concentrate, don't care so much about what others think, do research and plan it out, don't do research and just go for it, listen to your gut, etc. All definitely useful at one point or another, helping organize the random thoughts racing through your mind, to bring you forth to the pedestal of success, or however modern society defines success: "here is a human being who was able to master his thoughts and put something useful out there". All, however, failing to remedy the pitfalls and edge cases that result in yet another redesign, rethinking, retooling, good or bad.
A constant process of iteration? Ah! Indeed. The pinnacle being "go to market." Curiously though, that's when the real adventure starts, doesn't it? When customers come into play and begin molding and putting your creation through the paces. Like a crowd in the Louvre, packed in front of the Mona Lisa, they hush-hush and exchange opinions about it, and they ask questions endlessly. But unlike the Mona Lisa, which no one in their right mind would even dare touch at this point (even the conservators are scared), you get a waterfall of bug tickets, feature requests and begin hammering them down. Imagine Michelangelo's David, made by committee: "No, the nose isn't right. File a ticket with support, and tell them that the nostrils need to be wider. Thanks."
Congratulations, creator. Your soul searching, which this creation was supposed to help you with, is now infused with the soul searching of dozens, hundreds, thousands of others who are in their own process of soul searching.
That makes me think that maybe, just maybe, because I never stop perfecting, nothing I ever do will be timeless.
The irresistible pull of another redesign. Just like every movie director out there who has a hard time saying no to the temptation of the "Director's Cut" and finish what was supposed to be done. Until someone else comes around thirty years down the road and decides to remake the finished work, giving it a "fresh coat of paint for a new generation of people."
Anyone willing to give a fresh coat of paint to the Mona? And let's put the new thing next to the old one. No one? Anyone willing to remake Michelangelo's David? Come on, maybe do it "for the new generation of people"? No?
As for this website, I'll just redesign it. The old thing's barely holding together anyway.
~ Fin ~