Take imperfect action?!? (A virtual hug for perfectionists)

By Renae Gregoire | Empathy

Oct 30
Imperfect action: A virtual hug for perfectionists

Imperfect action ≠ crappy content 

The gurus say that imperfect action is better than no action. 

In a way, I agree: It's better to have an "imperfect" something out there than nothing at all. 

BUT. 

A huge BUT. 

Imperfect doesn't mean "crap." 

Glaring content issues that shout "CRAP!" to everyone 

Imperfect doesn't mean you let content out of the house with glaring issues, for instance:

  • Poor or unclear navigation; people can't find what they're looking for
  • Broken links
  • Too many fonts and colors
  • Visual clutter; too much is going on at once
  • Hard-to-close or aggressive popups

You'll hear about those types of issues wherever people discuss usability.

Content issues that shout "CRAP!" to me 

But I'm such a nerd about this stuff and so picky that my list of unacceptable website and content issues is longer, much longer:

  • A button that reads DOWNLOAD NOW but, when clicked, takes the reader to an interactive, online guide -- a guide that's not downloadable
  • Using the word "alright" when you're writing to educated readers who know that "alright" isn't a word
  • Images that look skewed or stretched enough to make the reader wonder, "Why didn't they fix that?"
  • Clunky stock illustrations
  • An overabundance of animation

Why crap content bugs business owners and marketers like us

If you're a perfectionist, you know what I mean. You probably have your own list of "CRAP" bugaboos, too.

But here's the problem. You're probably not in the web development or design business. Your expertise lies elsewhere. You know what's wrong, but you aren't sure how to fix it yourself.

In one ear, you hear the gurus: Let it be! Get it out there!

In the other ear, you hear yourself: NOOOOOO! I can't let this crap out there!

I get it! Completely!

That's why I edit my pieces ad-nauseum; I hate typos (yet they always manage to slip by me).

It's also why I bug the sh*t out of people who do work for me; I can't help but to notice details.

I notice when a web designer leaves a 20-pixel gap above an image and a 40-pixel gap below it.

I notice when the bottoms of columns in my pricing tables aren't aligned vertically.

It drives me crazy when I click a button that doesn't work, and then I try it in another browser and it STILL doesn't work.

It makes me feel sick to have paid a designer to rework an ebook and to get back something hideous. #TrueStory

Terrible, no good, very bad ebook design

To put forth your best impressions, trust your gut (Or hire a managing editor)

Listen, I'm here to tell you that you're not alone in this crazy thing we call digital marketing.

So my first recommendation is to be kind to yourself. It's okay to want to put your best self forth. I admire you for that and your prospects and customers will, too. 

My next recommenation is to trust your gut. What's an acceptable level of crap to you? What makes you feel a little uncomfortable versus feeling rage?

Create a list of bugaboos that you deem acceptable, and once those items are all that remain, put the content out there.

Go for imperfect action. 

You can fix the smaller issues one at a time as time marches on.

Another thought: if you're a website or content owner who's worried about the impression you're giving the people who experience your website, landing pages, and other marketing content, then you might also consider hiring a managing editor like me, someone who cares about the reader and buyer experience and will oversee and review your customer-facing stuff.

Because if it matters to you, it will matter to others.

Renae's bugaboo list of publishable glitches

At this point, you might be wondering: "Well, Renae, what kind of imperfect action IS acceptable in your book?"

Here are the types of "glitches" I think you should fix when you can, but wouldn't lead me to think, "This is crap." These glitches are not, in my book, deal breakers: 

  • A page on your site that says "Content coming soon"
  • A typo here or there
  • When one of multiple columns is a little too short or a little too long
  • A missing image
  • Rags, widows, and orphans

When I bump into those types of issues, it's like getting tiny papercuts; they may sting, but just a little. And the sting doesn't last.

That said, keep in mind that many tiny papercuts one after the other add up to feel like a major papercut --  the kind that makes you go, "OWW!" 

And, naturally, major papercuts like the glaring errors I mentioned earlier also lead to reader booboos. They're the kinds of errors you must weed out to save your imperfect action from being considered crap -- both by prospects and you.

Your virtual hug, from one perfectionist to another

If you're one of those people who are, as I am, bothered by stumbles that trip up readers, then here's a hug from me to you.

Virtual hug for my fellow perfectionists

I know what it feels like to want to present the best possible experience.

And given that you want to do so, it will happen.

Give it time.


Join my tribe?

Do you sweat the small stuff? Do you want your online presence to inspire trust and confidence? Do you grit your teeth when others don't care enough about YOUR web experience? Are you all about creating an excellent website and excellent content that makes it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you and buy your stuff?

I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.

When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.


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About the Author

Renae Gregoire is a marketing writer, editor, critical thinker, obsessive questioner, and excellent-results deliverer. Although writing is her talent, empathy is her Super Power; she combines both into a potent formula for creating content experiences that lead more people to YES!

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