Nature of our nerdom

It starts out innocently enough… A straightforward objective in need of a solution. But before you know it, you’re knee-deep in articles and debates about “best practice” and the “ultimate solutions”.

Whether it’s the underlying code from your page builder of choice, setting up an internal process, or choosing the right project management tool, it feels like we always end up in this same dilemma.

Social media makes it even harder — as we feel pressure to conform to other people’s standards, letting others convince us that the “best” solution is the most thorough and complex.

But is that always practical?

Yes, I could spend 4 days hand-coding a solution that makes a page unbreakable, perfectly accessible to anyones unique needs, and uses the fewest lines of code humanly possible… But is that necessary to archive your objective? Or might a quick template give you the same results?

The temptation to over-engineer solutions is an easy one to give into — but are you measuring its cost?

I’ve found that too often it’s not any more effective, efficient, or cost-effective.

So how do we avoid this trap that draws us in by the nature of our nerdom?

Here are a few questions I like to ask myself…

  • What’s the simplest solution? Often the simplest answer is the best, but be sure to consider its drawbacks too (everything is a compromise!)
  • What are the benefits of adding complexity? And, are they worth the cost?
  • Am I addressing a real need or a perceived one? There’s often requirements and “nice-to-haves” — but make sure you know which are which.
  • What is the appropriate budget to solve this problem? Think not only in terms of money, but in time and energy.

Quality isn’t a binary thing. Just because you’re not willing to go to any length to solve a problem doesn’t mean you’re not offering something of quality and value. By asking yourself these questions, you can determine where on that spectrum each challenge falls and develop an appropriate solution.

Sometimes the “best” solution is the practical one that gets the job done efficiently and effectively.

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