Tom Moor

Why Internal Dogfooding Matters So Much

Om nom nom nom

Dogfooding: A slang term used to reference a scenario in which a company uses its own product to demonstrate the quality and capabilities of the product.

I guess I’ve always been a little envious of companies like GitHub and 37Signals, not for the many obvious or usual reasons but because they get the joy everyday of the software they create and the software they use to create it being one and the same thing.

For certain products I feel like this actually goes a lot further than just dogfooding, every company knows they should use their own product. But in this case It’s recursive positive feedback, an upward spiral of greatness where you improve your product and this in turn makes the team better/happier/more efficient at improving your product. I can’t think of a situation more perfect for a newly born startup - where really understanding your customer and market is the most important factor.

At Sqwiggle we’re lucky enough to have this possibility, we’ve been distributed from the day we started working together and have been using the app as our primary form of communication from the moment it became viable. We have morning banter, long discussions, quick questions, rolling laughter and even more on Sqwiggle. Of course, we consistently come across small and big bugs, performance issues, user experience problems and interface improvements. Being the ones discovering the majority of these things also lets us more easily prioritise the pain that they cause.

We recently got to the bottom of a memory leak in Sqwiggle that happened only in the rarest of circumstances, but when it did occur the browser crashed spectacularly leaving no debugging info behind! Had we not been using the app as much this issue may have gone unnoticed or deprioritised for a long time (in fact it had come up in support as a random ‘white screen’).

Great beta testers and users will let you know of major issues and when they can’t understand how to use or find a feature - but there are a myriad of small user interface interactions, improvements and ideas can only be found by exhaustively using your own product all day every day.

Photo by Sh4rp_i