Different Isn't Always Better

March 01, 2011

As you may or may not know, I am the creator of a popular Bible application for Palm webOS.

It was originally released in September 2010, and subsequently received many updates. With changes in my schedule and other projects to draw my attention, Bible Reader has not received major updates for a few months. During that time, I have tested several approaches for a new Bible Reader — a better one — written from the ground up. Many of these designs have been short-lived, though several were released as beta versions for a new update.

I do not want to deny that there are advantages to the new versions I was developing. They were faster, easier to read, or cooler… or I thought they were… and they opened the door to releasing Bible Reader on other platforms, both mobile or desktop. However, an experience I had today helped conclude that I will not be pursuing these versions — not, I expect, in the near future.

I recently updated my phone to a new version of webOS, but I didn’t re-install these new versions of Bible Reader. Instead, I had the free version of Bible Reader and another free Bible from the App Catalog. I had some downtime, and decided I would follow through on what has felt to be a growing need to read the Bible more. Though I began with Bible Reader, I struggled to remain focused. I thought about improvements and various versions, and ran out of ideas for what to read. I felt urged to try Bible Reader Plus again, so I went to the App Catalog and purchased it.

It’s the first time I’ve ever paid money for one of my own products. At once it felt satisfying, yet different, feeling to be on the other side of the consumer/developer exchange for my product. I immediately came to appreciate the little things I had forgotten about my application. Swiping forward to scroll by page. Checking “Mark as Read” as I finished my first chapter, feeling a small sense of accomplishment and reward. Going to the verse of the day, feeling encouraged, and sharing it on my Facebook through the application. Reading the proverb of the day, then continuing to read the first day of a Bible-in-a-year reading plan.

I read five chapters on the Bible tonight, which to some may seem unimportant or excessive, or which may seem humble to others, but this was much more than I have read on average these last few weeks. My primary goal in creating Bible Reader, particularly Bible Reader Plus was to encourage users to read their Bible more. My “old” application, the one I tried to reinvent, helped me read more than my new versions did. Maybe with time, a new version could be an aid in the same way, but this whole process showed me that different isn’t always better.

Most of you probably wouldn’t insist that difference, for its own sake, encourages improvement. We understand that change must be for the better if it is to be counted as improvement. However, I suppose for lack of a cute means of describing this concept, these words summarize to me that starting over, clearing the table and reinventing, can be valuable but must be approached with caution. Building something great is an iterative process of improvement. Sometimes you may tear down or start over, but if you want to grow up, sometimes you need to leave structures in place. The more you start from scratch, the more that, on average, you will have almost nothing to show.

Bible Reader is not perfect, but “perfect” will always be out of reach, always. We need to give ourselves and our past accomplishments space so they can be free to grow without harsh criticism. If something can be improved, improve. If something can be added, or must be removed, then add or remove, but starting over can be a deadly trap, when all we needed was more polish, or new growth on our same old project.

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Written by Joshua Granick. Lover of all things cute and quirky. Writer, speaker and empathetic problem solver.

©2022 Joshua Granick. All rights reserved.