December 2nd, 2016

Perfectionism is holding your website project back

graphic image of website under a magnifying glass

There is no such thing as a perfect website.

Maybe you’re familiar with this scenario: you start a project. The ball gets rolling. Then just as your project gains speed, the questions start in: do we have the right items in our top-level navigation? Maybe we should name them something else? What about those images? Do they represent our brand? That font looks just a little too curly. Is the best headline we can come up with? Maybe we should go through a few alternatives.

These are important considerations, and you should take time to think about them. But the longer you spend focused on these details, the more time it will take you to launch.

Many of us obsess over these details in the name of perfectionism. And we prize our attention to detail as proof of our high quality standards. But in many cases, applying the ideals of perfectionism to the Internet is an exercise in futility. Here are the top five reasons why you need to abandon your perfectionism and stop holding your website project back.

1. You’re losing money (and opportunities).

You don’t want to rush your project, but you do want to treat it with some real urgency to ensure you complete it in a reasonable timeframe. What’s the difference? When you rush, you panic. Don’t panic. But do be decisive.

Remember that every round of iterations that delays your website from launching costs you in more ways than one. You’re not just losing money as you burn through your budget. You’re also missing out on opportunities to connect with customers, clients, and leads. Every week you wait is another week your old site, with all its inefficiencies, remains the face of your company. Your new site—even in its imperfect state–will do more for you than your old. You need to get it out there and put it to work for you.

2. You’re losing momentum.

Chances are, if perfectionism is holding your website project back, it’s probably holding a lot of other things back as well. Imagine how productive you could be if you let some of the details go and focused instead on building your creative momentum?
Take a hard look at your typical turn-around rate on internal projects. If revisions are consistently causing your projects to drag on past their due date, it may be time to shorten your review process.

3. You’re missing data.

You may not want to admit it, but most of the imperfections you see in your site are subjective. You may not like the font, or you may want to rethink the headline, but so long as your website remains unpublished, you have no way of knowing which of your options is better.

Thankfully, your choices don’t have to remain so uninformed. Once you site goes live, you can start tracking user data to see how they’re interacting with your site. If you have enough traffic, you can even set up some split A/B testing to test things like headlines, page layout, and graphics. This is real data you can use to make your site objectively better. Why lose time agonizing over subjective details when you could be using that time to gather data?

4. Technology changes. So should your site.

Like all technology, your website has a shelf life. Whatever you put out today will be out of date sooner rather than later. Plugin updates, changes in style, and technological innovations all mean that your website will not be “perfect” for very long.

This means you have to think of your site differently. It’s not a once-and-done project, that you finish and then stop thinking about for five to eight years. It’s an experiment that needs to grow and adapt to changing needs.

5. What was perfect for one moment won’t be for the next.

Life moves fast. Much of what seems good today will seem wrong or outdated in a few months. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad, just that its moment has passed. In time, you’ll probably look back at it and feel good about the effort you made. But in the meantime, it’s out of style.

This is completely normal. It also means that all the time you’re putting into making your website “perfect” right now will be lost in a few months when you realize your website no longer matches that standard. Or when the season changes. Or when you have a special event you want to promote. When you focus on making everything perfect, you’re more likely to miss the moment. If you keep doing your best as you go, you may not be perfect but you will stay relevant.

Websites are iterative: don’t be afraid to change them.

Does any of this mean you shouldn’t care about the details? Absolutely not. Those details are important, but there’s nothing that says you have to have them all sorted out before your site launches.

Not sure about your headline? Circle back to it after the site goes live.

Thinking you may want to change the hero image? Play around with it later.

Not convinced that content area will convert? Try it out and keep an eye on the data.

Your website is not set in stone. And to a large degree, when you view it that way, you limit your ability to create your best site. Your website is an ongoing experiment, meaning you have many opportunities to go back and adjust it as you notice areas of improvement.

Websites do not exist in a vacuum, so give up on the idea that it will ever be “perfect.” You’re only holding your website project back.

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