Simplicity Equals Catchiness
At the beginning of 2021, I recorded a podcast discussing our theme for the year. Simplicity. All too often, especially in our business, processes, communications, products, and even email can descend into a complicated mess. The pandemic certainly didn't help workflows. There are now dozens of "productivity tools" that were supposed to help us work together remotely but only led to adult-onset ADHD for many. Our goal this year has been to simplify everything, not only for our sake but for our clients as well. And, as we roll into the mid-year checkpoint, we're reflecting on the many ways we've kept our eye on the ball.
Do we really need five meetings, three sign-off forms, and a folder full of files for every project, or can we accomplish our clients' goals with half of that and pass on the savings? In my experience, processes are often born out of what-ifs and fear of the unknown. "What if this happens?" Well, we should have a process for that. "But what if that happens?" Well, then let's set up a process for that too. This can go on and on without "this" or "that" ever actually happening. Before you know it you end up with process bloat that creates more busywork than actual work. We reviewed all of our project processes and ditched the unnecessary. Rather than trying to solve for 100% of every project nuance that may ever happen, our process now only includes everything that we know 90% of clients will absolutely need. This allowed us to streamline and speed up our timelines while passing on the savings in the form of lower pricing on our projects. And, for the 10% of our projects that may need a little extra? We can handle those as add-ons as needed.
This can be a tough one since, as a business, you want to be available to anyone who might need your services at any time. Unfortunately, this can quickly become unsustainable. There are now hundreds of communication tools available and more are being created every single day. They all promise to make communication easier, faster, and more efficient, but the sad truth is they almost never do. More often than not communications tools just get added to the plethora of tools a company is already using. Before you know it, you're being inundated with notifications, pings, and dings from every corner of your screen. Hopefully, you've set your notification options correctly. If not, that new tool will send a notification to your screen, shoot you an email about the notification sent to your screen, and follow up with a text telling you to check your email. If that wasn't enough, this new tool also integrates with your old tools, so you get notifications there, too. While it was a hilarious bit on The Office over 11 years ago, we're now living this very real nightmare. Contrary to what we've been hearing for so long, more communication is not ideal. What we need is better communication. As with everything else in life, quality beats quantity every time. For us, this means choosing to use the fewest amount of communications tools possible. This not only alleviates the constant window-flipping, trying to figure out who said what where, but also allows us to focus on projects knowing that when we need to communicate it's done in this place for everyone to see.
This last point is where we have spent most of our time. We work in an industry that is constantly trying to create products that solve for everything, for everyone, at all times. However, with that mentality comes complexity, and complexity breeds frustration. We see this consistently with people using products like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix to try and manage their website. These products are so complex for non-developers that websites often go unchanged for years because it's too hard for a business owner to figure out. We have spent countless hours working to keep simplicity at the forefront of our products and services. There's a fine line between new features and simplicity, and we have to walk it every day. While it's tempting to always be adding cool new features, if those new features make our products hard to use, it's ultimately not a great feature. This does mean our products and services aren't meant for everyone, and we're ok with that. If you think of us as a coffee shop, we'll brew you the best cup of coffee, but you won't find chicken nuggets on the menu. We leave the saucy nugs to the chicken people. At the end of the day, we want our customers to have the best of what we have to offer. Simple as that.
If you're interested in learning more about how we keep things simple for our clients, check out our Framework CMS that powers everything we do. Contact us and follow us on Instagram to keep up with the latest and greatest work we're doing.