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Mar 20th, 2024 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Build Products That Don’t Suck (Or Risk Losing Everything)

John Lilly, my former boss and then-CEO of Mozilla, once offered a piece of advice so obvious it seems absurd: build products that don’t suck. This was back when Firefox was running circles around Internet Explorer, delivering a vastly superior web browsing experience. Simple, right?

Apparently not. In the relentless pursuit of profits, countless companies have forgotten this fundamental rule. They cut corners, skimp on quality, and prioritize short-term gains over long-term customer satisfaction. It’s a recipe for disaster.

The Slippery Slope of Suckiness

Once you start compromising on product quality, you’re on a downward trajectory that’s hard to recover from. It starts with a few minor issues that you convince yourself aren’t a big deal. But those small problems compound over time, eroding user trust and loyalty.

Before you know it, you’re in a death spiral. Your once-happy customers start looking for alternatives, and your reputation takes a nosedive. You may try to course-correct with hasty improvements, but by then, it’s often too late. The damage is done.

The Temptation of Quick Wins

So why do companies fall into this trap? It usually comes down to the allure of quick wins and easy money. In a world obsessed with rapid growth and quarterly earnings, it’s tempting to sacrifice product quality for a temporary boost in profits.

But this shortsighted thinking ignores the long-term consequences. Sure, you might get a brief surge in revenue by cutting corners, but you’re also setting yourself up for future failure. It’s like eating junk food every day—it might taste good in the moment, but it’s ruining your health over time.

Staying True to Your Principles

The solution is simple, but not easy: stay true to yourself, your product, and your customers. This means investing in quality, even when it’s not the fastest or cheapest option. It means prioritizing user experience over short-term metrics. And it means having the courage to say no to tempting but ultimately harmful decisions.

Will this approach lead to explosive growth overnight? Probably not. But it will build a solid foundation for long-term, sustainable success. You’ll cultivate a loyal user base that trusts your product and evangelizes it to others. You’ll foster a reputation for excellence that attracts top talent and partners. And you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing you haven’t sold out your principles for a quick buck.

In a world where mediocrity is the norm, building products that don’t suck is a powerful differentiator. It’s not just good business – it’s the right thing to do. So take a stand against the tide of suckiness, and commit to creating something truly exceptional. Your users (and your future self) will thank you.

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