Summer is conference season and I’ve talked to a lot of people this summer, so I don’t remember who it was who pointed out to me that people in our industry have a different relationship with perfection from most people.
With legacy media like TV, magazines, and newspapers, the first time your ad or press piece is shown it has to be perfect. You get it as precisely perfect as possible, publish it, and then wait for the results.
That’s not how we do it on the web.
First, we know that things involving computers and multiple users will not be perfect in use, even though they are pixel-perfect when we launch them. Someone will have some combination of tech and user circumstances that will make one of the images behave oddly, and we will not be able to replicate the problem. Someone will decide to use the site in a way that we did not foresee, in spite of testing. Something will break.
This doesn’t bother us. We know it’s going to happen, we’re standing by to fix it, and it will be fixed.
This is completely different from a magazine ad. If the text is in the wrong shade of blue, too bad. If a web page’s text is in the wrong shade of blue, we fix it.
We also know that a new website, social media account, or other web property will be fairly invisible for the first few days. That new web design won’t show in everyone’s browser window right away, because they will see the cached version for a while. The new social media account — absent a big ad campaign or manipulation — will start with zero followers and grow slowly. The early imperfections can be perfected without anyone watching.
Second, we also know that websites are works in progress. Especially nowadays, when we are less likely to put up a site and ignore it till the next redesign, we can always have an idea about how to make it better — or even more perfect.
Just as we expect to need to fix a little problem or two, we also expect to have the opportunity to get data on the performance of elements and tweak them to make them perform better.
The result is, therefore, more effective — more perfect — than what you can accomplish with legacy media.