I’ve been trying to build the perfect Love + Money website for seven years now. And one thing I can now be totally sure of is that I never will.
Every time we get close to launching something, we think of a better way to do it. Every time we get close to adequately articulating what we want to say, we think of a better way to say it. In hindsight, with the benefit of more time, data and experience, everything that’s been done before can be more obviously improved on.
We have 11 versions of our LAM website up on a staging server. That’s 11 versions of a website that we’ve put both love and money into developing. And those versions never saw the light of day. We’ll never learn what people thought of them. Never figure out what we were doing right, and what we were doing wrong. Why?
Because I keep letting perfection get in the way of progress.
Not actual perfection, clearly. I wasn’t setting the bar that high. Rather, that I was hiding behind perfectionism as an excuse to not publish. I was afraid of putting our collective necks on the line and saying to the world “Hi, yes, this is the best we can do.” Of our work not looking as good as we knew it could. Of not getting across the depth of each project we’ve worked on. Or showing the results in a compelling enough way. Of having rote “About Us” copy. Of having the design community think that what we’d done was pedestrian or unoriginal. Of users pointing out dead links we missed. Of having passive-aggressive SEO sales emails turning up in my inbox like:
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It’s exhausting, it’s scary. And I know I’m not alone in thinking it; I think everyone who’s trying to put their mark on the world goes through some version of this. We fear the wrong thing, and so do nothing at all.
David Foster Wallace described it as growing up.
“I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing faster and faster every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I’m starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life’s sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. It is dreadful. But since it’s my own choices that’ll lock me in, it seems unavoidable — if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them.”
I used to identify so closely with that quote. Now, at 33, I identify that as a way to waste a life.
A few weeks ago, one Friday afternoon, I was getting acupuncture. As my mind wandered, I started redesigning our LAM site in my head for the 50th time. And as I got frustrated at myself for always wanting to push and improve on it, and started worrying about what my team would say, having to work on the site yet again, I had a realisation:
We were always going to be building this site. Always testing. Always evolving.
Building websites for the last seven years has taught me the benefits of the iterative process. You research, you hypothesize, you create, you build, you test, you fail, you learn, you do it again. I realised at that moment that we’ve internalised the same approach to branding. I’ve realised that brands in the digital age need to be fluid, responsive, and in dialogue with their audience. They need to be willing to learn and grow, to change with the times. To bend without breaking. To tack and jibe to go where the wind blows, without being blown off-course.
The idea stuck in my head. Love + Money will forever be in beta. Anything we do is only a snapshot of us at that moment. I want us to be in dialogue with our audience, too. If we wait until we have all the answers, we’ll never start the conversation.
It’s not finished. It never will be. There’s more to come. Things will change. All feedback welcome. We’re here to learn. We’re happy to share.
Beta today, better tomorrow.