Don’t say ‘it will take five minutes’
It’s commonplace to emphasize that your product will let users achieve their goal in next to no time:
“Follow one of our quickstart guides to get started in minutes.” - Firebase quickstart
“Be up & running with Pusher in 3 minutes” - Pusher tutorials
“Learn how to build an Android Chat App in 10 minutes” - Pusher tutorials
“Deploy a serverless microservice With Lambda, API Gateway in ~2 minutes” - AWS console
There are two possible reactions to this:
- The optimist. “Just five minutes!”, he thinks, “let’s do it!” One hour later, when he is still installing Gradle, he now thinks: “Five minutes?! I must be a fool. I give up 😭”
- The realist. “Surely it can’t take five minutes. I can’t believe a word this says. 😒”
Other guides are more honest:
“You can go through the whole tutorial in a couple of hours or you may want to spend a pleasant day really digging into it.” - AngularJS tutorial
“25 min read” - Nix by Example post on Medium
I believe this approach is more successful. Consider our characters again:
- The optimist. “Two hours? I bet I can do it in an hour.” Two hours later, he thinks: “Well … okay, it did say it would take two hours.”
- The realist. “Two hours seems reasonable. I’ll block out the time for it.”
What causes the unrealistic push to lower time estimates?
- A belief that this will draw people in. However, the people you draw in are impatient and unrealistic. They are unlikely to be real customers.
- A failure to see the complexity of what is described. The vendor has internalized the complexity of the system he sells.
More by Jim
- Project C-43: the lost origins of asymmetric crypto
- How Hacker News stays interesting
- My parents are Flat-Earthers
- The dots do matter: how to scam a Gmail user
- The sorry state of OpenSSL usability
- I hate telephones
- The Three Ts of Time, Thought and Typing: measuring cost on the web
- Granddad died today
- Your syntax highlighter is wrong
I wrote this because I felt like it. This post is not associated with my employer. Found an error? Edit this page.