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This article was published on October 21, 2021

Don’t be perfect, people hate it

We can’t accept anything that’s perfect; because nothing ever is

Don’t be perfect, people hate it
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

Boris is the wise ol’ founder of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

The amount of time and effort I spend on being efficient is… highly inefficient.

I’ll spend more time thinking about how to efficiently plan meetings than the time I’m actually in them. I know it isn’t very pleasant for me and those around me — but the perfectionist in me won’t let go. I really need to learn to though, because of one simple truth…

People don’t trust perfection.

One great example of this is Coinstar. This machine is used to calculate change, and it does so with inhuman speed and accuracy. You throw in your fistful of dollars, and before the penny drops, the machine will have counted and totaled everything.

The only problem was that it happened so fast that people didn’t trust it. Most people actually demanded a recount when using it for the first time.

So what did the company do to optimize the machine? It made it slower.

The machine still counted the small change instantly, but the team behind it built in a delay before the results were shown. And to comfort customers even more, they added a small chip and soundboard to simulate the sound of coins making their way through the machine.

In its perfect first iteration, it was quiet, fast, and efficient. But to make it acceptable to users, they made it loud, slow, and inefficient. And that’s how we like it.

Don’t believe me yet? Well, here’s another example.

I saw a story on a workshop back in 2004 about the redesign of Blogger. The creative team behind it shared that they found out that when new users clicked ‘Create my Blog’ on the last step of the setup process, they were confused by how quickly their blog was created and most thought it meant something had gone wrong.

To fix this ‘bug’, they added an interim page that had nothing on it but a spinning animated GIF along with the words ‘Creating your page…’. Only after few seconds of staring at the fake processing did users get the confirmation their page had been created. And the results? Users were more satisfied with the new, slower experience.

Basically, we can’t accept anything that’s perfect; because nothing ever is.

That’s also why you need to start an insightful article by saying you suck at the very lesson you’re trying to teach.

Can’t get enough of Boris? Check out his older stories here, and sign up for his newsletter here.

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