Zoltán Gócza on the dangers of believing in instant internet success stories
The idea of an instant success story is a romanticisation that prevails throughout the entire tech industry, and especially online. People talk of meteoric rises to fame, leading to the sales of companies and services for massive sums of money, everything seemingly happening in the blink of an eye. But Hungarian designer Zoltn Gcza has spoken out against this notion, argues that this idea is hogwash, and "it takes many years to be an 'overnight success', even for internet entrepreneurs".
In a recent piece for UX Myths, Gcza, who is head of UX at Kirowski, looked at a number of apparent overnight successes that are actually anything but. For example: "Amazon launched in 1994, but […] it was 2001 before they even posted a profit. It's easy to ignore this, and look at their success from this point onwards".
Gcza tells us he felt compelled to write the piece because of frequently working with people who "believe their service or website will be the next iPhone or Amazon, and will become an instant success. This is a very harmful idea". UX Myths is there to collect misconceptions like this, he explains, "debunking them with examples and research, to help people move away from design decisions that are based merely on beliefs and personal opinions".
Sadly, Gcza sees an increasing number of people banking on and expecting almost instant success, binning ideas if they don't immediately take off. "Most startups don't need to be a gamble. Moreover, this mentality makes hard work and perseverance unsexy," he says. "The media favours the exceptional over the ordinary, but believing that overnight success is the only way to go gives people a distorted view on what's really happening."
However, some might argue that the web makes it easy to rapidly test and bin things that don't work, and that it's not always obvious how to tell the difference between something that's growing slowly because it's a fundamentally poor idea, and one that could be a huge success, given enough time to grow. "I don't really have an answer for telling those apart, but I do believe in prototyping an idea, firing it off as a minimum viable product and collecting feedback early on," says Gcza, and this process should at least assist in deciding whether something's worth persevering with. And over time, he offers some straightforward tips to ensure success: "Have confidence. Be patient—many great innovations came from slow hunches. Work hard, or, as Gary Vaynerchuk put it, 'Stop watching fucking Lost'. Learn from your failures and, more importantly, celebrate your successes."