“Good” is Relative

“There’s no absolute definition of ‘the best’ solution. The best is relative to your constraints. Without a time limit, there’s always a better version. The ultimate meal might be a ten-course dinner. But when you’re hungry and in a hurry, a hot dog is perfect. The amount of time we set for our appetite is going to lead us to different solutions. We could model a whole set of database columns in the fancy version, or just provide a flat text area in the simple version. We could redesign the main landing page to accommodate a new feature, or we could push it back to a screen with fewer design constraints. We can only judge what is a ‘good’ solution in the context of how much time we want to spend and how important it is.” – Jason Fried

This is the single hardest thing to get creative professionals to understand. Because, at our core, we’re tinkerers and perfectionists, that if left to our own devices, would nip, tuck, and tweak something until someone comes along and pries our hands off of our keyboards.

But it’s not realistic. It’s not sustainable. All projects have (positive) constraints. These constraints are impacted by everything from client budget to accessibility and legal issues. Scope is a real thing in the creative world, and time is precious. It’s important for us to always know internally where we are with a project and our primary goals and objectives. Never losing sight of the endgame and purpose to what we do is imperative at maintaining investment and focus.

This idea of “good” being relative is also critical for clients to understand. If you’re paying $10,000 vs. $50,000, you’re going to get a very different final product. One isn’t necessarily better or worse, to Jason’s point, a hot dog may be perfect – you’re not always hungry for a filet.

We set expectations early and often both internally and with our clients, so they know what to expect and so we know what constraints we must work within.

Good isn’t necessarily more expensive. It doesn’t need more bells and whistles. Managing expectations and understanding that “good” is relative to context keeps us focused on delivering the best possible branding and creative work to everyone we partner with.

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