Working on the Box

The first post on here and it’s one that Is particularly close to my heart.

It’s something that’s held me back for large chunks of my career and it’s something I think many creatives are guilty of.

I call it working on the box.

There are a handful of different types of people. There are those that think of an idea and jump in, they work out the kinks in their plan as they go. Then there are those, like me, that think of an idea and plan the heck out of it. The more thought you put in before you start, the better right?

The trouble is when you get so bogged down in the planning, the setting up stage of your idea, that you never actually complete the idea. Maybe you talk yourself out of it, maybe you realise in your planning that the idea is shit and someones already doing it better?

A lot of the creatives I know fall heavily into the second camp.

Working on the box is the name I’ve given this process.

Maybe it’s your website – you’re thinking if you just style that menu a little bit more, the next person that lands on your site is sure to enquire. If you tweak your contact form just right, they’ll come flooding in… or If you change your about page, someone will love you and hire you on the spot.

I’ve been there. This morning actually. (That shade of grey wasn’t quite perfect enough.)

Maybe it’s not the aesthetics of the website, perhaps your more technically focused and thinking If I can write another 500 words on that blog post, Google will love it and I’ll be swamped with more work than I can handle. (Once they see the pretty menu, of course)

All of these are examples of ‘Working on the Box’.

Think of it this way, when Canon/Nikon/Sony/Fuji came our with their last big camera.

How much time did they spend making sure the it did something useful?

How much investment did they make in solving problems their users were facing?

How much design went into the device itself – of course it needed to feel good in the hand and perform flawlessly.

The box, for the majority of people was an afterthought. You got it home, you’re experiencing all that excitement and curiosity – you ripped that box open and started to take pictures right? Where is the box now? Do you think of the box when you’re out taking photos?

Consider that the box is your website.

The box is your ‘preparing to launch’.

The box is your ‘getting it just right before I start’.

Once someone has opened the box and got into your product – that product had better be amazing. That’s where the majority of your time investment needs to go. That’s what they’ll be talking about to their friends, their colleagues – not how lovely the box was, or how great your website was. Unless the box was absolutely astonishing and never before seen, but how often does that happen?

I’m not saying neglect the box. The box can bring in work. But beyond a certain point, you’re just fiddling and distracting yourself from working on your product or your service.

You’re distracting yourself from serving your clients as best as you can.

Always remember, A good box goes hand in hand with a good product.

A good website, a well thought-out concept, a good bit of preparation. All those things are important and chances are, few will see how good your product is without a good box.

But the next time you’re making your box look just that 1% nicer, think if there’s something you could be doing to make your product 1% better.

And then change that menu a few more times 😉

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13 thoughts on “Working on the Box”

  1. I think you have to balance the ‘box’ with the product, I see too many photographers in particular not spending anywhere near enough time on their websites.

  2. There are companies that have better boxes than products though, right? Apple is all about the experience of opening the box! But I do get your point, and am guilty of fiddling with my website in particular at the detriment of replying to emails and other important task.

    • So true Nils, Thank You! I actually considered discussing Apple in the post! I guess you have to think about your own sales process and what your clients will appreciate – even what they might discuss with their friends and whether that is valuable enough to spend the time. It’s just about focusing your efforts to ensure the right balance is reached – but not to keep ‘fiddling’ beyond that.

      Thanks for the coffee BTW!!

  3. Jeez, why couldn’t I have read this at the start of the day?!? Would have saved me hours of tweaking my home page, only to reset it as I preferred it before!!


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