The Devil You Know…

In the past few weeks I have worked on several projects.  I know that no project will be entirely, 100%, absolutely, and completely perfect when I’m done.  I’m often aware of possible issues, problems, or potential criticism as I’m designing.  When I’m aware of major problems I fix them, and that’s a pretty clear mandate across the board of not only UX design but most other fields as well.  Sometimes you have to consider the cost or time of fixing major problems, but many times it is clear that major problems must be fixed.

Minor problems, however, can be far more difficult for me to fix.  The reasons are roughly two-fold.  First, there are many more of them.  This means that I have to develop a hierarchy of issues.  Not every issue can be addressed every time.  Even some of the best websites and applications have issues and errors.  Also, and more important in this blog post, I tend to agree with the adage that the devil you know is favorable to the devil you don’t know in these situations.

What that means is that if I’m aware of an issue or problem, that is a much better situation than trying to overhaul and then being unaware of other issues and problems.  The idea isn’t to be perfect (although striving for perfection is a good idea), rather, the issue is know the faults and weaknesses of your design.

If I know the pitfalls and issues I’m in much better shape than if I try to correct every last little detail and leave myself unaware of the problems.

As a writer, I learned that it is much easier to edit than it is to create.  The same idea is true in this case.  It is far easier to correct smaller issues over time than it is to correct larger issues over time.  So long as the concept is stable and the overall ideas are clear, tweaking is a favorable long-term solution.

We all make mistakes in our projects.  In the worst case scenario we are too short-sighted to note these mistakes or too arrogant to fix them.  In a neutral scenario, the end product is decent and the mistakes are both unknown and largely irrelevant.  In the best case scenario, the overall product is very good and we know exactly what the mistakes are and how to go about systematically fixing them over a long period of time.

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