Steve used my app. It was the best and the worst. Of course you want to hear that someone big and important and smart is watching what you’re doing, but there’s a second meaning to that kind of attention. He was watching my every move. It was highly unlikely that a some crappy bit of UI I made would result in an email from Steve, of course. But what did happen was, I installed a sort of innerSteve, an Angel of Better telling me to make it simpler, try once more, don’t forget to delight, and remember that greatness is possible.
Early this year, I got an email from an Apple executive who mentioned that he used Instapaper. I was surprised and flattered. I don’t know if Steve ever saw Instapaper, but knowing that this executive did made it a very real possibility.
But beyond the pride of knowing that at least one very important person at Apple used my app, I also became deeply embarrassed about the state it was in. Like Neven, I looked at it with a fresh critical eye, and I saw so many places in which I was sloppy or neglectful. (Damn, I hope they never saw the website.) With the 4.0 release due out next week, I’ve gutted and renovated many parts of the app that needed the most improvement, but I still have a long way to go before it’s where I want it to be.
I don’t even think it’s possible to be “done”. Great is never great enough. There’s always room for more improvement.
The inspiration of that culture in his company, and in our industry, is one of Steve’s greatest legacies. I’m pushing myself as much as possible to adopt that part of Steve’s work ethic and standards, because he sure as hell was never “done”.