Ramkarthik Krishnamurthy

Just Right

I was watching the new Netflix series - Abstract: The Art of Design. It is always interesting to know the perspective of other people, especially the creatives.

In the first episode, Christoph Niemann (illustrator) talks about creative process, just getting on with work without expecting inspiration to strike and other things like being in New York.

At one point he explains about realism, abstraction and just right. He explains it with the example of illustrating heart. It can be illustrated with complete reality but people would not want to see that. It can be illustrated with just a red square but that would be too abstract. And then there is a middle point - just right - where you show a red heart shape.

Christoph Niemann explaining realism, abstraction and just right in the Netflix Series - "Abstract: The Art of Design".

The moment I saw that I thought maybe we should use this model of thinking for many things we do.

If you are building a product, it could be too complicated for the user to understand or it could be too simple that it doesn’t solve any pain problem. How can you make it just right?

If you are working on a pricing model, you could price it too high that no one buys or you could price it too low attracting customers who tend to complain quite a lot or ask for refund[1]. How will you price your product just right?

And this could be applied to life too. Are you working too much that you are depleting your cognitive resources quickly or are you working less that you are way behind the things that you want to achieve? How can you plan your work and put in just the right amount of time?

And going meta, I could apply this thought process to this post and my blog. Am I going to write excessively just to convey a simple point or am I going to write less and fall short of making my point clear? How can I explain a concept with just the right number of words?

Just right is what we should always strive for. We may not find the exact centre but we will be thereabouts and that makes a huge difference.

[1] - In an interview with IndieHackers, John O’Nolan talks about how pricing Ghost (open-source publishing platform) at $5/month was a bad decision. He says “One key lesson we learned early on was not to charge too little. $5/month customers are just terrible. They have the highest rate of failed payments, the highest rate of credit card fraud, the highest amount of support tickets submitted, and are the least friendly people. We’ve doubled our prices 3x since then, and each time we do, we get nicer people who value the product more and create fewer problems.” Read the complete interview here.