Does your web site need to be perfect?

Many web sites never get off the ground; the people setting them up often don’t want to go-ahead and publish because the site isn’t “quite ready”. Indeed, I met a chap a few months ago whose site was still “under construction” after two years of “development” and he was “almost ready” to go live. Needless to say, his site still has to materialise.

So why do so many people keep their web site under wraps? After all, they are allowing the competition to muscle in on the marketplace. There is a significant difference between successful entrepreneurs or successful web site owners and those who do not quite make it. The successful ones simply take action, whereas the ones who don’t make it are dithering and trying to get everything “right”.

The strive for perfectionism could be holding some web site owners back. Yet it’s also true that poorly presented and poorly prepared sites can have a negative effect as well. You want your site to look good, be functional and have an impact, but does it need to be perfect?

New psychological research on perfectionism gives us a clue. Although this study was conducted in sports psychology, it does point towards a possible answer.

The study showed that athletes who aimed for perfectionism performed better than those who were not perfectionists. This runs counter to some arguments, which suggests that perfectionists tend to also be anxious and therefore perfectionism can reduce performance. But the new study added a twist; it also looked at the attitudes the athletes had to imperfection. What it revealed was the fact that the perfectionist athletes who did the best were actually the ones who had the most negative thinking about imperfection.

The research shows us that striving for perfection only works if you are upset by imperfection. For web sites owners this could mean there really is no point in making a web site perfect for perfect’s sake. But if you hate imperfection generally, then your efforts to make the perfect web site are much more likely to succeed. But unlike an athlete who can wait four years for the next Olympics, a web site owner can’t wait; the perfection needs to happen quickly and therein lies the potential stress trigger.

The easy answer, therefore, is to view a web site as a living, evolving thing which is inevitably going to change and adapt.

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