‘Let it suck for a while.’

I was listening to a podcast yesterday (The Nerdist with J.J Abrams) and heard a very striking piece of advice: ‘Let it suck for a while.’

J.J Abrams was talking about collaborating with other directors, producers, actors and studios and how he manages to create great pieces of work with such large and opinionated teams. One of his key takeaways is that to get the best out of a product, film or any sort of creation is to let it sit there in its first form and ‘let it suck for a while,’ (I’m getting too used to saying that.)

I thought about that for a while and realized how right he is about his approach. It is along the same mythos that you need to fail before you can succeed. If you do not sit there in your own filth, you won’t understand how to clean yourself up. You are always your own worst enemy and what you may have produced may not even be that bad after all.

Let’s take a look at the first versions of websites and tech product (only because the information and pictures are readily accessible and constantly re-iterating).

— — —

Facebook (2004):

Just look at this beautiful piece of work. Even back in 2004 people mainly posted trashy pictures of themselves as their profile pictures. Some things never change. That being said, Facebook definitely did. From thefacebook.com to just facebook.com, Zuckerberg and Parker definitely made some huge changes in the coming years to the Facebook we know and painfully love these days. It should be said however, that in 2004 this design was probably the norm and thefacebook.com was not much different or worse than other sites out there, but still, this iteration has Mark Zuckerberg’s face on every page.

Facebook now:

Clean, intuitive (perhaps because we have used it 57 times already today) and personable. Not to mention, Mark Zuckerberg’s face isn’t on our page at all times.

— — —

Airbnb at launch:

This is my favorite company of all time. Seriously. What a great idea? Travel and live with a local? That is exactly what I want to do with my life. It is a similar inspiration that made me want to create The Sound Gaarden. Experience life and music like a local would.

Just look at this site however. On the right side, Adsense, or some similar ad placement software on their website. Basic. Not the robust and complex Airbnb that we see today. Both the founders still claim that they launched 4 times because the first 3 times, nobody even noticed them.

Airbnb now:

Now how beautiful is this? From the flow os their website, all through the booking process, it is clean and pleasing on the eyes. Graceful UI and UX and a deep portfolio of listings and cities that you could just get lost in.

— — —

The whole point is that without understanding how people interact with your shitty product or website, how are you going to know what to improve? Working without feedback and reactions is like driving with blind-folds on; you won’t know where you’re headed and you may kill somebody and/or yourself.

So let it suck for a while. Let it be shit and pathetic but let people see it and interact with it. Let a large number of reactions guide your way. For all you know, it may only be bad because of your own inner expectations of what it could be. That’s usually a good thing.

P.S: This is what we (The Sound Gaarden) looked like

January 2016:

Our ‘About us’ section. Simple right? Ye, well, people didn’t like this so much.

3 months later, March 2016:

This is what our artist profiles look like now. A good change, I’d say.