verbal croquis

ship, then test

Posted in general by verbalcroquis on February 1, 2010

Or test, then ship. How much testing?

I re-read this gem from The Fashion Incubator’s archives this weekend and got into a rather heated debate with my software engineer husband about item #3.

>>3. Ship, then test. I disagree with Guy on this one. He thinks most entrepreneurs over perfect their products prior to shipping. In my experience, most designers haven’t perfected their products enough; excessive product features that people don’t value is rare in this business. Still, I’ve seen a lot of paralysis by analysis from DEs. Some of you can’t get off the perfection treadmill to make a first launch. You have incredible laundry lists of “musts” that just aren’t tenable or realistic.<<

Like I said, my husband, A, is in software and his view of things is very different. That being said, he’s already co-founded a still-thriving company years ago and left it to start another, all while publishing a couple of books on software so he might know a thing or two about what he’s talking about. Ha.

Of course no one means to not test at all before shipping, there should be some testing. Pattern corrections, fittings, etc. But when do you just let your baby fly? (I know it’s dangerous to treat your products like your kids but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t slip once in a while.)

A says ship ship ship. Easy for him to say. If software tests poorly with the public, it’s very easy to issue a newer version. You fix the bug and post it on twitter. A few retweets later, everyone’s got the upgrade. Firefox, anyone? Isn’t your computer programmed to automatically scan for upgrades and notify you? There is a publicly accepted tenet that software is never as awesome as it will be in a couple of weeks/months.

Whether you work in “fashion” or “apparel”, it’s different. Clothing consumers, for the most part, don’t buy a dress thinking it will tide them over until the designer makes a better one. They buy a dress because it looks nice, it fits well, it’s priced well. Garmentos can’t ship everyone a new t-shirt because we discovered the way we sewed that collar doesn’t fit over a good percentage of the large-noggined public. And I’m thinking Toyota is wishing they tested a little more right about now.

What do you think? Am I making excuses or are my points valid? How do you reach the point where you’ve got something good enough? When you run out of time? (And yes, A and I have arguments like this on a regular basis. I’m very forgiving and he has selective memory.)


6 Responses to 'ship, then test'

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  1. susie said,

    In my expert (bwahahahah!) experience, I think one should test test test until it is time to ship ship ship. Perfecting a garment is a road one must take in order to ensure quality of product, but at the end of the day when the deadline is yesterday, I remind myself, no one is going to die if this stitching is not perfect. So as much as we designers want things to come out perfect, I think close-to-perfect will win everyone over. Especially when they see another magnificent design you do a month later is their next obsession and they forget about that off-stitching.

  2. >>Especially when they see another magnificent design you do a month later is their next obsession and they forget about that off-stitching.

    so true.

    sometimes you do have to remind yourself they’re just clothes, not cancer drugs.

  3. andrea said,

    Oh Zoe! In my opinion, you set parameters in your quality control. Make at least 2 of something before you sell it. All of your testing should happen in product development….I sit on a design about a month before I try to sell it so I know what all the pros and cons are. By and large, designs evolve based on your feedback. If you look at your designs as a collaboration between you and your customer, it’s a lot easier to let them go out the door, just know them well and make sure your construction is always picture perfect. I disagree that the customer will forgive obviously wonky stitch lines. It makes you look unprofessional. I agree that you can’t expect your customer to bear the burden of waiting for a mistake to be fixed on an item already purchased…but, if the item was purchased at all, the customer ALREADY loves it and will wear it and will be looking out to see what you do next. My biggest lesson in my design career has been to test fit and construction almost to the exclusivity of anything else. It sucks to get something back because it fell apart or didn’t sell because the fit sucked.

  4. Caitlin said,

    Miss you greatly.
    Please keep posting, your such an inspiration still

  5. thanks for sharing
    ship, then test

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