Iteration

Earlier this year around June, I, along with my handler (B) made a decision to overhaul The Meteor Chef. After running into a handful of issues with the existing site that threatened the longevity of the business—and our continued interest in it—it was decided that we needed to rethink the technology underlying the site. On Tuesday of this week, that rethink was finally released to the world after six months of labor as version 3.0.

The work that took place on the site was moving from a less-flexible “static” site (one that doesn’t have a backing database or accounts system) to an actual application. The goal was to give us a way to actually track users (so we could host members-only content) as well as a platform that we could build new tools into without a lot of fuss. It was also a chance to improve a lot of other stuff that had been—either logistically or aesthetically—biting at us for awhile.

Through all of this, I developed an understanding for the importance of iteration. Nowadays, it’s incredibly common to see folks start a new “thing” every few months, eventually scrapping it when it requires its first tune-up (or loses its initial luster). Throughout the life of TMC, several times I’d considered dropping it for something else. I hesitated, though, as I looked at all of the people I looked up to and saw what they did. Instead of scrapping something entirely, they iterated. They tweaked a few things, improved rough spots, and made what already existed into something new unto itself.

The question I kept asking over the past few months was “given what you already have, what would a better version look like?” It wasn’t about creating something new for the sake of new, but improving something that was already successful so it could—hopefully—be more successful. After the past few days, I can say undoubtedly that the changes made to the site had a direct impact on the performance of the business. This wasn’t the result of some brand new, revolutionary idea. We kept 90% of what existed intact. It was simply…better (and perhaps more accessible) than before.

As I scratched off the last few todo items on Monday night, I finally accepted that no matter how much effort you put into something, you’ll never really be finished. There’s always more to do. Always things you can change or improve. It’s in seeing this that you need to let go of the fantasy that you’ll be able to reach perfection. Instead, it’s important to look forward to the next iteration when your understanding has improved. That next jump may be a few weeks, a few months, or a few years down the road. Don’t give up on an idea, just ask “how can I one-up this?”

Adding something to this…it’s also important to hit pause once you’ve completed an iteration. Following the launch on Tuesday, my lizard brain tried to keep going on items but my body wasn’t having it. On Thursday night, I finally hit the wall around 6pm and decided to go to bed. I knew it was the right thing to do because I didn’t wake up until 6am the next day. Though I fought it at first, I finally admitted it was time for a break. I accepted that this week was just one point on the road and that it’s okay to take a few down days to relax [1]. Don’t work too hard and understand that there’s always more work and more time to do it later.

[1] Emily Gilmore’s bullshit rant on the Gilmore Girls revival was great. Yes, I watched (and enjoyed) that. Throw your punches.