I was house-sitting for a friend in Melbourne a few years ago, while she was out of town. It was an older 70’s style unit. The front door was elevated on a step, painted black with a brass handle. Both were worn down. A small, abandoned garden sat on the other side in the entryway. Every day I would come home, find the matching brass key and struggle to unlock that door. I had to navigate through it’s stubbornness. My friend had already told me the code, ‘pull the door towards you, wiggle the key to the left and pull it out a little, then turn it to the right.’ Eventually I would master it.
I was once short-tempered with imperfections like this. We face them every day. But this door reminded me of the value of imperfection. Eventually I could unlock that door with ease, just like I could on my previous apartment, and just like I would on future apartments.
The door had a personality. And I had grown to understand it. We’d formed a relationship and we worked together. I felt this most when I’d proudly tell my friends the code — having watched them fail to unlock the door on their own.
In contrast, perfection doesn’t do this. It makes itself equal to everyone.
This story came to mind as I read an article from Josh Miller on the design of Facebook Poke. He says that unlike SnapChat, Poke’s design doesn’t support the behavior of the app - to be ephemeral, silly and spontaneous. But SnapChat’s imperfect interface does something else too. It requires me to form a relationship (which is comforting if you’re sending nudies), and creates a feeling of connectedness, knowing my friends and I have all experienced its quirks. Just like that black, worn door.