'If You're Not Embarrassed When You Ship Your First Version, You Waited Too Long'

Listen up, creators: Don't wait until that thing you're making is "perfect" or absolutely finished. Ship version 1.0 when it's good enough but you might even be embarrassed by it.

Photo by dno1967b.

The quote above comes from Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress. He describes how trying to fit in just "one more thing" can be detrimental to your project:

What killed us was "one more thing." We could have easily done three major releases that year if we had drawn a line in the sand, said "finished," and shipped the darn thing. The problem is that the longer it's been since your last release the more pressure and anticipation there is, so you're more likely to try to slip in just one more thing or a fix that will make a feature really shine. For some projects, this literally goes on forever.

[...]I imagine prior to the launch of the iPod, or the iPhone, there were teams saying the same thing: the copy + paste guys are *so close* to being ready and we know Walt Mossberg is going to ding us for this so let's just not ship to the manufacturers in China for just a few more weeks… The Apple teams were probably embarrassed. But if you're not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long.

Shipping early and often, he continues, gives you the critical feedback from users that's needed to improve your work:

You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you've created until it's out there. That means every moment you're working on something without it being in the public it's actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world.

Remember that done is better than perfect, so just ship it.

1.0 Is the Loneliest Number [Ma.tt]


Comments

    Going by some recent PC game releases though... it's a good idea to at least wait until you reach v1.0

    This is a stupid advice. I don't know about you, but I for one wouldn't want to be in an emergency medical situation and the medics decided to use a piece of equipment which was shipped before it was perfect, or flying in a plane with autopilot that was shipped before it was perfect.

      I get the impression we're talking about software and consumer electronics here.

      No one (nor any company) would release unfinished/untested medical equipment.

      He's very clearly talking about consumer tech products...

        But my examples will apply to consumer tech products as well. Temperature controller software in your stove or microwave would be dangerous if it has lots of bugs. What if you installed a buggy software in your electronic lock on your front door and you couldn't get in the house? Your home budgeting software accidentally moved all your money to some unknown location?

          Stop being pedantic. Unless you're truly suggesting your ability to copy and past text on your iPhone truly is life threatening...

    I'm completely against this advice. Mainly the last quote, yes, don't do the just one more feature those came came later but to release with out bug fixing is stupid. That is how you don't get return users, and possibly a heap of refund requests, your software needs to be stable and working, word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising there is and will always be, and if you release a unfinished piece of software that isn't complete and buggy, people won't use it, v1.0 should have the base fundamentals required for the software that were originally plan for the software, but those base fundamentals need to work perfectly, then you add new feature with future releases

    Kind of weird to hear someone talking about shipping products when their company develops a product that doesn't ship. All that VC money is clearly starting to go to your head, Matt.

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