Brian Krausz

I build internet things

The Last 10%

July 1, 2007

I’d like to touch on something that seems to be lacking lately, something very necessary to most aspects of life. The last 10%.

It’s incredibly easy to release a product. All you need to do is design something, manufacture it, and bam, you’re done. But releasing a really good product, the kind the revolutionizes things, requires a lot more. It requires getting every little detail right, every small thing perfect, to such an extent that people have to try to find something wrong with it. It requires the last 10%.

There are three products I can think of that are good example of the necessity of this. Now, I’m not going to comment on the quality or completeness of these three, but they illustrate why getting everything right is so important.

  • Facebook Platform — This product has the potential to “revolutionize the internet”, but will it? Look at the documentation. Now try to use said documentation. It’s missing several things, and there are several non-intuitive quirks that make it difficult to write apps (did you know that clickrewriteurl requires a clickrewriteform if it’s not inside a form?). They also change the API and tell people to “make sure their programs aren’t broken”. It’s called consistency. They should be catering to their developers when it comes to the API, instead they’re taking the stance of “you’re lucky we’re doing this for you”. While Facebook is probably big enough that they can afford to do that, it’s still a very poor business practice.
  • iPhone — I’ve yet to see an iPhone, but look at the media attention it’s been receiving. We have one of the most advanced all-in-on devices every created, and the main focus has been on the keyboard, and how “it’s so hard to type on”. I’m not saying this is true, false, or important, but it’s noteworthy that the media focus always lands on the bad. For a product to get great, or even above-average reviews, it can’t have a single flaw, because the media likes disasters better than triumphs (thus the phrase”no news is good news”).
  • YouTube — YouTube is not a technical triumph. Sure, it’s a lot of data and a lot of bandwidth, but there wasn’t a whole lot to it that wasn’t thought of before. Then why was is the such an astronomical success? A lot can be attributed to timing, but just as much is in the site itself. It did one thing, and was the first to do it really well. Upload your video, regardless of what it is, and let people view it. Done. Brilliant. W00t!

So next time you’re about to launch a potentially revolutionary product, think to yourself “did I finish that last 10%?”. Because if you’re not giving 100%, what’s the point in even trying?

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