Product quality & incompleteness

Oct 4, 2021 6:14 PM
Inspired by, with quotes from John Maeda's How To Speak Machine.

Quality and embracing incompleteness

Quality is about speed — in computational products timely design is better than timeless design. Working quickly and incrementally and abandoning notions of completeness and museum quality builds understanding faster.

We need to fundamentally renounce the traditional notion that design ought to aspire to completeness.
the metric of quality is far more about how often it changes than about maintaining an unchanging product that pretends to be timelessly perfect.
quality is about proudly embracing the attitude of working incrementally and completely underwhelmingly [ instead of "finished perfection"]

Perfection isn't as good as understanding

This ties in with a quote from CIVIC's board chair Steve McGeady: "The quickest way to get a right answer is to put the wrong one on the internet"

“For a computational product designer, waking up each morning and asking yourself how you can lower your high standards is an odd way to get started.”
“Your goal is to create what is perfectly appropriate for a low-cost prototype—which no self-respecting perfectionist could ever tolerate showing the public. But think of it instead as going off and creating what is beautiful and appropriate for the earliest stages of an idea, and then doing the even more important work of finding out what people think about that idea, if even in its minimal form.”
But the beauty of sharing an incomplete product with others is the opportunity to share it with folks who are unlike yourself.
You don’t need to guess anymore, because the answers are out there and immediately available to you by gathering reactions from all over the world.
The beauty of delivering unfinished and incomplete products is that you can always improve them later.

An incomplete idea is only a good one if you iterate.

Digital products can follow exponential rates of improvement or decay. Your product can get 1% better per day due to iteration (1.01 ^ 365 = 37x better after a year) or decay due to technical debt and changing landscape at 1% per day (.99 ^ 365 = 3% of original value after a year).

“I urge you to think carefully about the higher value of incompleteness, and the importance of investing in constant iteration while being ruthlessly unsatisfied with the incomplete product that gets pushed out into the world.”
“And keep in mind that the need to iterate quickly should not serve as an excuse to avoid reevaluating your strategy along the way. As my friend Alexis Lloyd likes to say, “Speed and thoughtfulness need to coexist in order to make good things—not just fast things.
“Launch and leave” means pushing out an incomplete idea, never making improvements on it, and accepting the 0.99 ^ 365 downsides of compounding debt. So when you make the shift to the world of incomplete products, be careful that you don’t neglect to invest properly in making constant improvements after your idea makes it out into the world.