One of my favorite companies is 37signals. Although they are a web development firm, there is a lot of similarity between what they do and what a traditional architect does. Their blog, Signal VS. Noise, is very worthwhile. This post about not tackling detail too soon is something that designers of all types struggle with from time to time. Seeing someone you admire address the topic is gratifying.
Ignore details early on
There’s a lot of talk about how important details are. But what’s often left out of the discussion is timing. Details and timing are intimately related.
God, the devil, beauty, perfection, precision – these aren’t the only things you’ll find in the details. You’ll also find stagnation, disagreement, meetings, and delays. These things can kill morale and lower your chances of success.
How often have you found yourself stuck on a single design or code element for a whole day? How often have you realized that the progress you made today wasn’t real progress? This happens when you focus on details too early in the process. There’s plenty of time to be a perfectionist. Just do it later.
Don’t worry about the size of your headline font in week one. You don’t need to nail that perfect shade of green in week two. You don’t need to move that “submit” button three pixels to the right in week three. Just get the stuff on the page for now. Then use it. Make sure it works. Later on you can adjust and perfect it.
Details reveal themselves as you use what you’re building. You’ll see what needs more attention. You’ll feel what’s missing. You’ll know which potholes to pave over because you’ll keep hitting them. That’s when you need to pay attention, not sooner.
(Reprinted from Getting Real, The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application.)