3 Steps to Avoid Perfection Paralysis

It isn't wrong to want everything to be perfect, just don't let it get in the way of launching. Here are three strategies to avoid perfection paralysis and launch your project by your desired due-date.
Three steps to avoid perfection paralysis.

I get it. You want things to be perfect. Every pixel, every word, every photo, all of it. So you work and work and work to get it all just right. You wait to make your website live because every time you go through it, you find something not quite right. You’ve got perfection paralysis and if you’re not careful, you’ll be in a situation that may cause a failure to launch.

There is nothing wrong with wanting your site to be excellent. However, even the most popular websites launch with issues. One of the most important things you can do as a project owner on a website redesign is to get comfortable with things not being ready to go by your due date. Whether content or functionality, there are often surprises and challenges that get in the way of your perfect launch.

The number one thing you can do at the start of your project is to split your content and functionality requirements into two buckets, must have and nice to have. At Groundwork, this is part of our process with any website project too. It is an extremely useful way to help teams prioritize. This doesn’t mean you can’t work on the other bits, but knowing what has to be done definitely focuses the mind.

There are several ways to go about prioritizing your content and functionality requirements but here are three things we think will be helpful.

Be data-driven in prioritizing content.

Being data-driven about your content priorities will ensure that your most valuable and visited content is ready first. You can use free analytics tools like Google Analytics to get a picture of your most trafficked content. Content is hard, so tackling this as your first and most important priority will yield results in the long run.

We spent almost seven months on our recent website update (not quite perfection paralysis but there were times when I thought it was close!) and the struggle wasn’t with the design or the functionality, it was with the content. In our case, we evaluated all the pages on our site and reduced the number of pages to be redesigned for launch to focus on the ones that were getting the most traffic. Since launch, we’ve added several other pages but at launch, we focused on the big four for us; our home page, our pricing page, our about page and our partner page.

As you can see from our Analytics read-out, these were some of the highest-trafficked pages on our site. There isn’t much content on our contact page and we had a different process we wanted to use for our request-for-proposal page so we ignored those.

These are the kinds of decisions that, based on the data, helped us better understand where our focus should be. As you think through your own site, based on your team’s size and capacity, the effort involved and your desired launch date, you’ve got some constraints to help you prioritize what you’ll do first.

Start with what you’re already doing.

A new website build is a great opportunity to add new features and functionality. Perhaps you want to add new CRM integrations or build out a jobs area. All good things but also things that can complicate a redesign or a new site launch. Features and functionality bring with them additional layers of complexity. By focusing on the features you already have, you reduce the number of unknowns.

If your site already has a jobs area, the content, process and user flows are already defined and known. Updating these features to match the look and feel of a redesign is straightforward. If you are looking to add new features and functionality, there is nothing wrong with that but understanding the impact these features have on build-time is important if launching by your desired due-date is important.

Aim for ‘quick wins’.

Perfection paralysis is a situation where everything must be done before launch. Aiming for great content and great features isn’t a bad thing and the suggestions here aren’t to abandon them, but to prioritize what’s most important for the launch phase of your project.

Once the launch has happened, it becomes much easier to think about and focus on the other aspects and build that cool new feature you want. Your stakeholders will see quickly that things are happening and that there are results, always a good win to have.

In the product management world, there’s something called the ‘Prioritization Matrix’. It’s a grid that project owners and product managers use to evaluate and decide on what things they will do or what they will include.

As you are thinking through the features and content to make part of your launch phase, look for those things that have a high impact and a low effort, what are called ‘Quick Wins’. These are the things that will have the highest ROI and give you and your stakeholders more confidence in the process.

Perfection paralysis isn’t something that you or your project have to contend with. Taking a structured and strategic approach to your next project will bring clarity to what’s being delivered and streamline your project so you don’t suffer from a failure to launch.

For a deeper dive into prioritization (from a product management lens, check out this great article by Richard Banfield).

James Giroux

James Giroux

James is the CEO at Groundwork. He helps organizations of all shapes and sizes build meaningful connections with their audience (often through web design, product management and community development). He is a husband, father, traveler and irregular Instagrammer.

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About Groundwork

Groundwork’s experienced team has designed, built and supported digital products, online communities, company websites and shops since 2004. 

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