Every time I build a new product we work on the hard parts first: The technology, the basic functionality, making sure it all works without errors. We usually postpone any detail work for later. It simply isn't a priority at that point.
For a while, we are propelled forward as we put the big pieces together. We start to see the shape of something come together and it drives us forward.
But after a few weeks of steady work, something happens. The momentum slows down and the team's motivation does with it. What once felt big and exciting now seems stale and boring. We start noticing the glaring flaws and missing features. We begin losing confidence in the product.
Then we start cleaning up.
We take two or three days to focus on the small things, the details that seemed less important in the beginning. A hover here, a transition here, some UI fixes and labels over there. Before we were stacking the bricks without sealing them. Now we're finally filling in the spaces between, making it solid.
Now, just a few days later, the product feels real again. We didn't add any features or build anything big. It was the tiny details, the stuff that didn't seem so important at first, that made the difference.
Taking care of the details gives us new energy to carry on and solve larger problems. We could have pressed on, continued stacking bricks in an effort to stay on track with sprints and timelines. But eventually, without the mortar and grout between them, the building would have toppled – if our resolve didn't first.
Never underestimate the details. The difference in great products, or even just finished products, comes down to the small stuff.