The Case Against Perfection

Hi, I’m Sarah Peters, and I am a recovering perfectionist.

There’s nothing wrong with perfectionism per se. As a part-time visual artist, I admire craftsmanship, the single-minded determination it takes to produce an enduring work of art.

But as a web designer and business owner, I have learned (the hard way) that the pursuit of perfection can actually hurt your business. You can get so tied up deciding on the perfect idea/perfect approach/perfect headline that you miss out on opportunities you could have had if you had only taken action.

There’s a great article on the Harvard Business Review blog by Ron Ashkenas that takes a look at what he calls The Problem with Perfection.

Briefly summarized: spending too much time on research and analysis in search of the perfect solution can lead to paralysis by analysis, which can prevent you from taking timely action and seizing business opportunities.

To break out of this way of thinking, Ashkenas suggests the following approach:

Instead of viewing “action” as something that follows research, think about how action can occur parallel to research. In other words, rather than coming up with perfect recommendations and then flipping the switch months later, start by testing some of your initial ideas on a small scale immediately — while collecting more data. Then you can feed the lessons from these experiments into the research process, while continuing to implement and scale additional ideas.

Here’s the great news: your website is the perfect vehicle to do this!

For many years, creating a web site involved months of research, planning sessions, and many hours designing graphics and coding. (Web marketing expert Ben Hunt compares it to the way monks hand-copied manuscripts before the advent of the printing press.) In the end, if all goes well, you get a website that is fully-realized and pixel-perfect and probably very expensive.

But will it work? Will it drive sales, bring in leads, improve your business?

Instead of spending the bulk of your resources on research prior to building your site, use your site as your research tool! Instead of hand-crafting a custom website, use a tool like WordPress to get a website up and running quickly and cheaply. Take action! Test different offers and see what kind of response you get. Use what works, throw out the rest, refine your message. Your website will be more cost-efficient, more flexible, and will help you respond to market changes rapidly.

When I discussed this idea with my colleague Tony Eddicott, he took it even further:

The web doesn’t have time for perfection, only outcomes. So in this sense ‘perfection’ is the perfect outcome within a given set of precisely defined parameters and that same outcome a year later could be massive imperfection.

And what’s more important to your business, perfection or outcomes?

Don’t waste time and money trying to achieve perfection on the ever-changing web. Instead, take an idea, prototype it, get it online, field-test it, refine it, and start seeing results TODAY.

Need help? Get in touch. I can help you find the best approach to getting your business online quickly and cost-efficiently.

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1 Comment

  1. Whats up are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to
    get started and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!



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