Perfection, practicality, & profitability

I’ve often thought of a website designer/developer as a type of craftsman. It’s part art and part science, where aesthetics and utility come together in some sort of balance.

But where that balance lies can be really difficult to find.

A website is never perfect… It could always be faster, better optimized for conversions, more accessible, prettier, or well written (don’t believe me? Post some of your work online and let the piranhas point out everywhere you’ve fallen short). You could spend the rest of your life on just one website and never truly “finish”.

But, of course, we can’t sink that much time and attention into every client project that comes our way. We have to be practical.

And at the end of the day, we are also doing this to run a profitable business.

So, how do we strike that balance? How do we ensure that we provide the best possible product while keeping an eye on our bottom line?

It’s a question I struggle with personally — and have gone above and beyond more time than I could count (even when the client had no idea) — but I’ve come up with a few things to remind myself of that seems to help.

  1. Define the scope clearly. The more precise and granular you can be about the scope of the project, the easier it will be to know when your job is done.
  2. Prioritize the essentials. Ever heard the saying “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze”? I use this one a lot… There are just some things that, even though they may help, wouldn’t probably be worth the time and resources to pursue.
  3. Break Projects into Phases. Tackling an entire project at once can be overwhelming and sometimes impractical. Instead, consider breaking the project into phases. This phased approach not only makes the project more manageable but also ensures that you meet the client’s immediate needs quickly, while leaving room for creativity and continuous improvement.
  4. Set a time budget. None of us like to trade our money for time, but in the end we are trading our time (time we could otherwise be spending with our loved ones or doing something that gives us fulfillment). Having some sort of time budget can help from going overboard.
  5. Don’t reinvent the wheel.Though the artisan side of us would love for everything we do to be unique, the truth is a lot of things we do we’ve already done hundreds of times. Make use of templates, process, systems, and past work to get results quicker. There’s a reason there are “standards”.

If you’re recognizing yourself and some of your own struggles in today’s email, then I want to remind you that you’re not alone.

As creators, we are naturally inclined to lose ourselves in the possibilities of what could be done… The dedication we have to our craft is what makes us exceptional at what we do. But we have to marry that dedication with a pragmatic approach that ensures we’re around for the long haul.

The balance is about finding ways to produce incredible work and nurture a business that supports you and your family.

The key, I think, is acknowledging the natural tension between these two things and being intentional about how we navigate it.

How about you? How have you tried to strike the balance between perfection, practicality, and profitability in your own projects?

Hit reply and let me know — I’d love to hear about it!

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