AMA – Motivation to finish a project, done is better than perfect.

Picking the right question to feature is sometimes difficult, because there are so many good ones that you guys have sent in. But this one I particularly like and it was sent in by Oliver. It is an issue that I have answered and have personally struggled myself with it for many years. It deals with the initial excitement of a project, and whether to get something perfect by the end or just to launch it and keep iterating. His email is below in it's entirety is below.


Hi Nguyen,

I'm a huge fan of your journal! I only stumbled across it a month or two ago and it has served as my go to 'design bible' ever since. Your personal insight really resonates with me as a new creative entering the industry fresh out of university, so for that thank you.

The reason why I'm getting in touch is to see if you could lend some advice on a particular project I am working on, or not working on so the case may be. 

I'm currently building a website for client who also happens to be a family friend. The project was informally commissioned at the beginning of this year, being postponed on multiple occasions due to university commitments amongst other things. We're now nearing the end of 2015 and I have the website in the closing stages but I am rapidly losing the love for this particular project and with it any motivation to make it the best it can be. I find myself completing pages to an adequate standard just to 'get something out there'.

Should I push through and get something launched for the client and then work on iterating it via future updates or should I push back the launch slightly longer and force myself to summon up some fresh creativity.

Do you have any advice for drumming up some motivation? What would you advise I do? 


Oliver Stanley


Here is my response. 

Thanks man, really glad the journal is helping you out. I had so many great mentors starting out, so feels great to be able to do the same for others after all these years. With projects it's normal for the excitement to fizzle out. My advice is just to launch it and focus on iterating on future updates. Done is better than perfect. Because if you are trying to make it perfect you'll keep redesigning and no one will ever see it. Verse is actually very far from where I want it to be, it's no where near perfect functionally or aesthetically. Not even close. But people can still read the articles and download resources which is the most important part. 

So in closing definitely launch and reiterate. Try to smash it on your next project, we always live to fight another day. And keep pursuing perfection whether we get there or not.

I will further extend this with something that most of you guys might not be aware of. I love what I do, but I dislike most of the work that I create. I am my own biggest critic. I am usually happy with the work and then look back at it and see all the glaring things that are wrong with it. Some pieces will be better than others, but invariably there is always something that I could’ve been tweaked. Maybe it’ll take me another 10 years to get it right or maybe never. But it is a good thing because it means that I am improving and am not stagnating.

By this token, if I were to wait until my work was perfect most of the time it would never see the light of day. There are A LOT of things wrong with the design and build of Verse. The typography is not right, the spacing is not right, a lot of areas are kinda whack. Unfortunately I am just 1 person so between, client work, writing, putting the word out it all takes up a lot of time. So by the time I got it to production there was the urge to redesign a lot of things. And when I was in production there were major things that needed tweaking, but I decided to launch anyway. If I hadn’t then no one would’ve benefitted from the things I’ve shared thus far, and I wouldn’t have learnt a ton about writing, marketing and building a community. The most important aspect was the content and instead of fine tuning all the other details I spent my time working on the content. The best part is I’m making changes and tweaks based on live feedback and informed decisions. Which is usually better than redesigns done in isolation. 

Back in the day my friend and I would kid that when you designed your own folio you would have 1 piece of text, nudge it up, nudge it down, nudge it up a little bit more. And then by the end you moved your type 1 pixel from where it was initially and half the day was gone. So as cliche as it sounds. Done is better than perfect. Look at all the old sites of brands we love.

Things change, so get it out there.  And finally to be clear what I’m not saying here is to do shit work, aim for the status quo and phone it in. What I’m saying is to keep pursuing perfection but never be crippled by it. Ship and continually refine.