Invest in the last 10%

Does this sound like nitpicking? Details matter!

Simple, visible details that are regularly overlooked create a sort of background “cognitive grinding”. And be sure, this builds up a negative (often subconscious) emotional response from your customer towards your product. Once a customer told me: “if it does not look good on the outside, how can I trust it be to good on the inside?”

There is truth to that. If there is evidence of a habit to leave visible details unattended, this is also evidence of a habit to leave non-visible details unattended.

Here is the (unchanged) experience I have had with a software product for the last six months:

Step 1 – Do a date range search.

Right brain reaction: Blah.

Left brain analysis: This alignment is just careless. The content of the date boxes is shifted towards the top. Why? The image with the ‘calendar’ icon is shifted to the bottom-right. Why?

Step 2 – Enter date: January first. I type 1/1/2020

Right brain reaction: Uh?

Left brain analysis: Wait? Invalid date? Let me check. Nope, that date is right. Tick, tock, tick… Oh, wait. Read the rest of the red text: mm/dd! Really? Fine.

Step 3 – Enter two-digit day and two-digit month. 01/01

Right brain reaction: BONK.

Left brain analysis: Now what? Still invalid date? But… I fixed it! Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick… Oh, wait. Read ALL the red text: dd/mm/YY! Two-digit year. Really? You could not figure that out yourself?

You get the idea…

Now I am just annoyed. What else is wrong with this?

If the date IS invalid (e.g. 04/31/20) I get, yup you guessed it, “Invalid date. Please enter as mm/dd/yy.”

If revisit the page after I entered an ‘invalid’ date I get a gratuitous error:

And, if I enter an ‘invalid’ date in the date box and then try to correct it using the calendar widget… the calendar icon becomes non-responsive to clicks. Clank. Groan.

Are these issues fatal? No.

But it is attention to the last 10% that makes us stand out. Seek excellence. No need to buy an expensive patent. Just do the work. Do it because of pride, shame, or sheer stubbornness.

This is not an end-user problem; it is a creative laziness problem.