Two and a half paragraphs

“Let’s go with this design; we will instruct [the team] to not write beyond two paragraphs.”

They didn’t go beyond the two-paragraph limit for a couple of months. Then one day, a new line appeared below the second paragraph one page. It was a new hire who missed this critical bit during the onboarding. Somehow it skipped the manual review. Humans make mistakes.

Now, it’s live. But it isn’t too bad. No one notices it for a while. When it does come to attention, the team creates a bug request to fix it.

The bug fix isn’t House-on-fire-priority, we will fix it next week. The next week comes a couple of months later. By this time, there are a dozen more implementations with more than two paragraphs.

“Oh, we assumed it was ok. And we need like two and a half paragraphs.”

The system breaks further. Two years later, it’s time for a redesign. No one around remembers what was important about the two-paragraph rule; those who are don’t have time to explain what happened. They aren’t even aware this meeting is happening.

They commission a redesign.

It looks fantastic with one paragraph on the dribble shot. But we are not shallow designers; we design it to hold even more sections. Our components work with a vast range of data and use-cases: Design Systems, component library, react-native, and all.

We take pride in it. Two and a half paragraphs? Show 10, write a landing page in there. Modular. Tech Savvy. Sexy.

The customer slowly learns to ignore that component. Eventually, all teams stop celebrating or optimising this star-of-the-show component and design detail. Data doesn’t support it; it’s passe’.

We are redesigning our search now. Data shows that people who search convert better. We researched it for months.

“We wouldn’t recommend breaking this well-researched navigation structure. This is the strict structure we must follow.”
“We’ll instruct the team to use this classification.”

Only last week, in the industry review article, I wrote about how we should see at least twenty more social networks, and more loop & mixed-media content — this week we saw Byte taking over by a storm.

Check it out if you haven’t read it already.

You are reading a post that I wrote a long time back—at least 4 years ago. Take it with a bag of salt.

About Sidharth  ·  Listen to the Podcast  ·  Talks

Weekly Conversations about Design, Product & Startups