The Diablog™

You can’t afford perfection.

I was in a meeting recently discussing the status of a website project. The original go-live deadline was already blown, and we were laying out a plan with the site owner to wrap up the project. The most significant obstacle – the one that caused the project to run long – was copywriting. For weeks, the report on copywriting was that it was nearly done, it was almost there, it just needs a little more polish, etc. I suggested that we take the copy in its current state, enter it into the content management forms, and go live. They could continue tweaking the copy in the live site.

The meeting went silent, and I faced blank stares. You would have thought I had killed a puppy.

I explained my suggestion based on the perception that Google likes websites more if the copy changes frequently – that they should consider the copywriting to be more like a magazine and less like a novel. No matter how perfect the words seem, they need to change them next week to keep Google happy.

The trap they had fallen into was the idea that somehow they could achieve perfection. The site owner got on board with my suggestion when I pointed out that every day that their new ecommerce website was offline was another day of lost revenue. The copywriter got on board when they realized that the service they offer is truly more valuable if they never “finish” writing (not to imply that the copywriter was trying to prolong the project just to eke out a few more billable hours). The idea that something must be perfect before anyone can be allowed to see it is a common trap. It can get in the way of many business functions – marketing communications, product development, business infrastructure, recruiting – the list is endless.

Take recruiting as an example. You could take a month to interview internal and local candidates to fill an open marketing manager position. None of the candidates may be perfect, but many may be good. The business decision to be made is whether any candidate is good enough vs. continuing the search. You could run a national search, pay thousands of dollars to post the opening in every recruiting outlet, fly dozens of candidates to your office for interviews, etc. The result of this search will be a pool of candidates that are closer to perfection, but your marketing department will have to run without a manager for an extended period of time, potentially reducing your revenue during the search. You will also throw a ton of cash at the recruiting process.

Business decisions need to be made by balancing the pursuit of perfection against the financial downside of waiting for perfection to be reached. In nearly any business scenario, costs skyrocket as you get closer to perfection.

As we consult with businesses about website or mobile app projects, we help establish a reasonable budget based on the project’s goals, the space the business plays in, the business’ competitors, and what the business can afford. We then apply that budget in a smart way, looking for ways to improve revenue performance. Image is clearly a part of that, and providing a level of polish appropriate to the situation is a part of the process.

Polish is important, yes, but perfection is a money pit.

Dialogs Professional Services has a 17-year track record of getting the most bang for our customers’ buck. Talk to us. We can help you make good business decisions.