Done is better than perfect: How to design in a startup environment

October 21, 2021


When working on client projects as a freelancer or at an agency, it was important to make sure everything was as close to perfect before it was released.
When working for a startup, however, perfect isn’t always possible.
Steve Jobs would often say that “real artists ship.” That is, you can spend as much time as you want working on your product, but if you don’t release something out into the real world for your users, it’s worthless.
The philosophy that works best at a startup is “done is better than perfect.” It’s so much more valuable to release a product or feature that isn’t 100% polished, and then continue iterating based on user feedback and data.
If you keep putting off a release because your product doesn’t look perfect, then it will never be released! There will always be something that can be improved or tweaked.
As someone who’s usually a perfectionist, it can be extremely hard to let go and just let a feature be released despite it not looking as perfect as I want. The key thing is: does it still solve an important problem? Will it be easy for the user to understand? If the answer to those two questions is yes, then I’m usually ready to let it go.
If the most pressing question is something like, “Is the right shade of blue being used on the hover effect for the button on the third screen of the checkout flow?” then I can probably relax a little and wait until after the feature is released before I start worrying about making the change.
When working at a startup, time - and how you spend it - can be your most important asset. You should be spending your time shipping products, not perfecting spacing or fonts on a privacy policy page.