Growing up, my dad would encouragingly say, “There’s no substitute for speed.” He was coaching me to leverage my primary asset as a nine-year-old playing sports with older, taller, and stronger kids. Regardless of my age and size, speed helped me succeed.
Recently, the leader of a large redesign project proclaimed that speed was the most important criteria. “Done is better than perfect” was posted on our project room wall. Cute. As a professional who has launched over 150 sites, this reference to speed made me cringe more than playing soccer against kids three grades above me. This redesign project felt like a twelve- to fifteen-month project but we accomplished it in six. The speed was a challenge and many team members got burned out along the way.
But why gripe? The site redesign launched as planned and is a consensus improvement over the previous site. Though I wonder, does speed equate to success? Will the site’s quantitative goals be met when it has been designed by hurried and “consistently inconsistent” decisions?
At the start, a pile of research was done, a strategy was developed, and leaders were full of good intentions. Designers were relegated to skin wireframes and push a lot of pixels. What happens when designers are not given access to copywriters to develop personas that fill the site’s product pages? The task to procure over a hundred photos was more akin to playing a game of Minute to Win It than actually building visual coherence.
In the end, the quantity of decisions made and work delivered was impressive. But how good were those decisions? They weren’t tied to real business metrics, conversion goals, and the like. Rather, they were made with one thing in mind: speed.
Getting it done fast made people feel good—accomplished. Deadlines were met. But getting through it was difficult and came with a cost. Will the new site increase conversions, decrease customer service calls, or increase cross-selling leads? Does it set the brand up in a new, more effective direction? Since decisions were not tied to metrics like this during the design process, it’s difficult to say.
At the end of any worthy game, everyone knows the score. I’m eager to see what the score will be compared to the cost of all this blinding speed.