Design’s elusive “final ten percent”
~ 29 January 2009 ~
With every design effort, there’s a point at which we become satisfied with what we’ve produced, and we can either terminate the iterative process or refine one final time. I’ve yet to figure out what to call that point, but the best I’ve come up with is “90 percent”.
Framed in terms of satisfying consumer needs and our own desires for a finished design, it’s the point at which we can either stop at 90%, or continue on and get as close too 100% as possible. Often, I’ve found the detailing that comes after 90% can make a big difference in the overall success of the design.
Prior to posting the new design for Authentic Jobs, I knew I was at 90 percent-ish. I recognized it after a conversation with Suzanne the night before posting it. But I wanted to hear from others whether or not my assumptions about what was lacking were correct.
You all confirmed they were, and you pointed out a few other important things along the way. Here are a few of the common themes that emerged.
Search area needs finessing
Comments included adding more contrast and color to this area to help ground the page, making the category labels larger and allowing room for the addition of new categories, and allowing for filtering by location. In general, the response is positive to adding search and filter options to the site. (Um, duh, Cameron.)
“Post a Job” box needs better organization
Lots of dissenters here. From the color of the button to the organization of each element, in general the feedback suggests this box needs some serious lovin’.
More contrast needed overall
Several of you stated you’ll miss the dark masthead, the leather texture, and the red/beige color theme. This one I don’t totally concur with. I recognize the contrast levels are less elaborate in the new design, but for the most part I’m okay with that. After all, part of the aim of this new design is to reduce the contrast of the masthead and place more visual emphasis on the listings. I do agree, however, that it’s not there yet.
And that returns me to the point of this post.
You won’t ever reach 100%, nor should you try. I call that final ten percent “elusive” for a reason — quality and utility will inevitably yield diminishing returns at some point. (See #2 on Eight Things.) But it is in your best interest to push through the final one, two or even nine percent after you’ve hit 90. The ability to recognize when you’ve hit 90 percent — and knowing when to stop thereafter — is a skill that I’m certain takes a career to develop.
Anyhow, thanks for the excellent feedback. I’m off to see how close to 100% I can get with this design. I probably won’t post another screen until the new site is in public beta, at which point all of you will be invited to kick the tires on it.
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