Is "Good" Better Than "Best"?

Marketing and sales loooves to sort things as “good, better, best”. It is simple scheme: easy and catchy. But is it meaningful, especially for product development and design? Hardly…

Voltaire once said, “best is the enemy of good”. The trouble with the “best is the greatest, better is ok and good is just meh” approach is that–well–it does not make sense. For starters, the good is obviously a separate category than better or best. The latter two belong to the terminology of comparison, whereas good is simply a quality that can be assigned to things that prove themselves and survive the scrutiny of real world.

Especially in the product world, striving to create a “best” does not necessarily yield a “good” result. The poor old “good” never gets the cookie among all the fancy comparatives and superlatives. 

When designing, there is nothing wrong with trying to be the best or better but then your success hinges on what the reference is. Here lies a special caveat for “better”. Taking a competitor as a reference is not a healthy habit for design. That means looking over your shoulder constantly, instead of focusing on the one important thing, your users. Especially in a competitive landscape where intellectual property is more valuable than diamonds, getting ahead of your competition by just trying to be better is a fool’s dream. Instead, keeping your eye on the ball which is not your profit, not your revenue or your next quarter, not even your awards, but your end user, is the key.