Of all of the greatness at the Automattic grand meetup this year in Utah, one of the most impactful moments was Andrew Spittle’s call to do a better job of dogfooding our apps.
For those who don’t know, dogfooding is the practice of using your own products. This goes a bit beyond simply testing products. Instead, the idea is that a company uses its own product to be able to more fully evaluate it.
At Automattic we do this by using our own software such as WordPress.com, Jetpack, and CloudUp as well as testing internal only builds of the WordPress mobile apps before they’re released to the public.
Andrew’s talk presented the fact that Automatticians used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter much more than they did WordPress when using a certain hashtag — #a8cgm if I recall correctly.
After Andrew pointed out the disparity in how Automatticians share their experiences, he mentioned that he wondered how many bug reports and UX suggestions we missed out on by not using our own software.
Wow… That was such a way to put it.
Making Dogfooding a Priority
Up until this point I thought I had been dogfooding Automattic’s products. But, the reality was that while I moved my site over to WordPress.com, I wasn’t using much of the functionality on WordPress.com or the WordPress iOS and Android apps that I had installed. :facepalm:
Starting right away, I began to use all things Automattic much more often. My website is on WordPress.com. I have the beta versions of both the iOS and Android apps installed on my devices. I use Simplenote periodically for taking notes.
Since making more of an effort to use Automattic products, I have been surprised at how many bugs I have found and reported.
The beauty is that all it took was to start using our products more, which is the true power of dogfooding. Each bug we find ourselves is an opportunity to give our users a better experience.
As a developer, it’s very easy to test things how they should work, which is why we often miss bugs. When an entire company dogfoods its prodcuts, you’re getting experience and feedback from all sorts of people which will help find those edge cases and unexpected usage patterns.
Photo Credit: laffy4k