Product

A 2-post collection

Launching is like inviting your friends over

For the last year, very few of us have had the chance to have anyone over to our homes, but I was recently casting my mind back to those happier times, and I made a connection in my mind.

I am not sure about you, but in our house, whenever we invite someone over, it’s always a deadline – a fixed point in time to get our house presentable.

I am not saying my house is a mess, but when people come over I want to present the best version of myself and my house to my guests. And when we don’t have guests, sometimes those standards can slip a little. The handful of cups on the kitchen counter. The stack of 5 letters on the kitchen table. The extra pair of shoes left out in the hall.

Having people over pushes me to tidy all these little things up – to wash the cups, to sort the letters, to hide the shoes.

In my mind, that’s exactly what launching / shipping does: you may not be ready, but you have to get your product or feature presentable – ready for others to experience it. It focuses you.

Who care where the shoes go, or whether the cups are in the dishwasher or hidden in the sink. What matters is the place looks good and feels warm and welcoming.

When shipping – who cares if the extra settings option can’t make the cut, or the secondary heading on that alert modal isn’t precisely following the style guide. What matters more than anything is you hit the launch date and ship.

Having a deadline (like knowing a friend is coming to visit) forces you to tidy, focuses you, and restricts you from tackling anything too ambitious. External judgement and validation can be a powerful motivator to prioritise.

Talk it through

When was the last time you talked someone through your product or website?

Try it now. Try talking through – even to yourself – how to do a specific action in your product.

Hard, isn't it?

I find this to be one of the best ways to quickly get a feel for usability problems, and to discover opportunities to make our products better.

If you can't talk it through simply, you probably haven’t simplified it enough.