Hi, I'm Jan König 👋. I'm one of the founders of Jovo, 28 years old, and live in Berlin. < Go back to learn more.

The Importance of Consistency (80% of the Time)

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great start into 2019.

While it was tough, I resisted the temptation to write a 2018 review. Instead, I wanted to share some thoughts about a term that has been coming up a lot last year: Consistency.

Below are two reasons why consistency matters to me:

Consistency in Product Design

At websites, you can usually find the link to your profile at the top right, in mobile apps you expect a refresh when you pull the screen down. We are creatures of habit, this is why consistency matters in software we use everyday.

When we do product design decisions at Jovo, we care a lot about transparency and consistency. In fact, we believe that being both transparent and consistent in a product can often trump simplicity: If people know why stuff works in certain ways and where to look to change certain behavior, even complex software can be learned fast.

Consistency makes complex systems simple to use.

Consistency as Artificial Deadline

Here's a personal confession: I'm a horrible "deadline" person. I often procrastinate and get stuff done very (very!) close to a deadline. I really empathize with Tim Urban's TED talk.

What I learned last year: Having weekly, consistent goals really helped me create artificial urgency. In fact, this is what brought me back to writing this newsletter every Monday.

Here are some examples how I'm trying to add consistency to my schedule:

  • Mailing Mondays: I struggled to keep this newsletter alive when it was just an "every now and then thing," but having one specific day really keeps sending the letters out.
  • Testing Tuesdays: We always said "we should test more Alexa Skills and Google Actions to learn from them." Never happened. However, since we have one set day with our #TestingTuesday video series, it works. And we haven't broken the streak since we started the video series with the first video in August.
  • Launch Thursdays: Last summer, we tried to release a new update every Thursday, which resulted in great progress. However, it also happened that a lot of the launches did not attract a lot of attention. Some launches were even not really "launch-worthy," looking back at them today.

Why 80% of the Time?

The "Launch Thursdays" problem from above shows how trying to be over-consistent is not always the best solution.

While consistency is great for many things like product design or creating habits, sticking to consistency without questioning it once in a while can lead to just doing stuff because "it's been done like this forever."

Even a report about Jeff Bezos visiting the Basecamp offices states that he values the ability to change your thinking from day to day:

"He doesn't think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait," Fried reports. "It's perfectly healthy -- encouraged, even -- to have an idea tomorrow that contradicts your idea today."

And I agree.

As important as it is to be consistent, it's also necessary to break consistency every now and then. Or daily?

Where are you trying to be more consistent, where not?
- Jan

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