“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
“DVD players don’t make fake whirring noises for five minutes before letting you eject a disc to simulate rewinding. Similarly, nobody should need to perform a full-width swipe gesture and wait two seconds for their fake page to turn in their fake book, and nobody should need to click the fake Clear button and start their calculation over because their fake calculator only has a one-line, non-editable fake LCD.”
(from his post “Overdoing the interface metaphor” on Marco.org)
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
“More than half of our week is simply engaged in looking for stories and then trying stuff out. [...] We’re really good at our jobs–we’re as good as anybody who does this kind of thing–and I’ve gotta say, we tinker around at a lot of stories, and between a half and a third of everything we try, we’ll go out, we’ll get the tape, and then we kill it. [...] By killing, you will make something else even better live. I think that not enough gets said about abandoning crap.“
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
“Fuck the exposition, just be. The exposition can come later. If I can make you curious enough, there’s this thing called Google. If you’re curious about the New Orleans Indians, or ‘second-line’ musicians–you can look it up.”
(from an interview on Dan Meyer’s blog)
Throughout my life, and increasingly since starting The Image Distillery in 2006, I’ve been intrigued with the concept of continuous incremental improvement. It was only yesterday I learned that the Japanese have a word for this: “kaizen“.
Continuous improvement has two immediately-apparent side effects: 1) it frees us from the paralysis of having to achieve perfection all at once, and 2) it breaks the decisions we make into manageable chunks.
Kaizen is reflected in the web development maxim: “Release early and release often.” That is, don’t let fussing over details keep you from building and launching something. As “living” (constantly evolving) documents, websites can be continuously refined and improved… all the while gaining traffic and spreading your message (instead of sitting on a development server for months awaiting tweaks that will unlock the mysteries of the universe).
This idea is also readily applied to anyone thinking about starting a new venture… instead of waiting for the timing to be perfect and your skills/product to be honed to perfection, start working toward that venture today. Take a conscious step–any step–that gets you closer to your goal, and continue to improve yourself throughout the process by actively seeking experience, knowledge (read!) and mentorship.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from the owner of a commercial printing shop that I ran jobs through back when I was more involved with print. He’d opened a small printing business right out of college, and he was now in his late 40′s with a much larger, more comprehensive operation with highly-capable machinery and the clientele to match. He told me (I paraphrase):
“Do one thing every day that improves your business. Maybe it’s getting a new client, maybe it’s investing in new machinery, maybe it’s having a conversation with someone you can learn something from… but always be conscious that you’re taking steps forward.”
Living in the information age, our access to options is effectively limitless. If I want to subscribe to a design blog, for example, there are far more options available to me than I could possibly hope to read even once, let alone read repeatedly to make an informed “subscription” decision.
Given that, my practice (and what I recommend you practice) is to establish limits for myself when it comes to web consumption. In the case of blog subscriptions, I keep the number at or below the number I can squeeze into my browser’s bookmarks toolbar (usually between 10 and 15, depending on how succinctly I can label them).
The most important commodity in my day (and, I assume, in anyone else’s) is time. Browsing hundreds of blog subscriptions every couple of days would cost me a LOT of time, with very little return (how many blog posts actually affect decisions you make in life).
Limiting the time spent browsing by capping the number of entry points into the blog world (knowing, as Frost said, “how way leads onto way”) gives me a view into what’s going on in the areas I care about, without the constant lingering anxiety of having unread items in my feed reader.
When you’re reading a good post, there will be references to other interesting sites and blogs which that author found valuable (it’s the nature of the web). What’s important from a bang-for-your-buck standpoint is that you don’t hesitate to axe one of the subscriptions in favor of a better subscription. The evolution of your bookmarks toolbar should be constant, ensuring that you’re getting the best value for the time invested (while the list might not change, it should at least be put to decision).
Deciding whether an up-and-comer is worthy of a spot in the 10-item lineup is much less anxiety-inducing than deciding which of a hundred new feed entries is worth your time. And focusing on the quality of what you read instead of drifting through filler-post after filler-post will get you more valuable (and usable) insight per unit of time spent.
In the end, indecision is itself a decision, and a statement (in this case) of how we value our time and attention. Setting limits forces us to focus on value and prioritize the spending of resources (time, attention, space) over which we have some control.
What is tID?
The Image Distillery is a clarity-focused creative shop which specializes in website design and consulting for small businesses.
We've operated out of Green Bay, Wisconsin since 2006, crafting and maintaining websites for small businesses, typically those with 50 or fewer employees.