Your product is flawed. That should hurt.

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 8 March 2012

Andrew Chen wrote an excellent blog post a few days back entitled “Why you’ll always think your product is shit

He illustrated his point with a story of visiting Pixar Studios and talking to Matt Silas. When asked what his favourite Pixar movie is, Matt replied:

“This is such a tough question, because they are all good. And yet at the same time, it can be hard to watch one that you’ve worked on, because you spend so many hours on it. You know all the little choices you made, and all the shortcuts that were taken. And you remember the riskier things you could have tried but ended up not, because you couldn’t risk the schedule. And so when you are watching the movie, you can see all the flaws, and it isn’t until you see the faces of your friends and family that you start to forget them.”

Andrew used this as an analogy for designing and producing digital products - and it is spot on. You should never, ever, ever be happy or satisfied with a product you have designed, produced or are running. It doesn’t matter whether it is winning awards or is “best of breed”, doing huge numbers, or making great revenue, you can always improve a digital product, and you should always be striving to improve it.

That isn’t always about adding features. Maybe it is about taking away little-used features to streamline the product for the majority of users. Or looking at download speeds and rendering times. Or optimising micro-copy. Or improving the response time of your customer service team. Or analysing search queries generating null results or few click-throughs. Or making core paths through your product easier and frictionless for the user. Maybe it is about a new research programme to work out the audience your product doesn’t serve well, and adjusting or pivoting the product for greater market share. No digital product should ever be “finished”.

And if you aren’t waking up every morning hurting from wanting to fix the flaws in your product, you aren’t doing it right.

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