Our much anticipated user experience mini-series returns! We return to a user experience tactic and underrated buzzword: dogfooding! Dogfooding could also fit under our “quality code”, as well as our “Jargon” series. That’s just how exciting this topic is, folks.
Dogfooding is simply using the stuff you build to learn about it more effectively. So for example, if you build a tool that allows people to perform a task better - test the tool by using it yourself!
Improving the User Experience
The goal of dogfooding is to improve user experience. By becoming a user yourself, you put yourself in their shoes. Walking a mile in their shoes will give you a valuable perspective into what they see, think, and feel while using your tool. You might think this is super straightforward and only crazy people wouldn’t do this, but it is not that simple.
Consider a simple example where a carpenter is selling an easy to use “build your own birdhouse” kit. By virtue of the fact that they are an experienced carpenter, they would never ordinarily use a kit to build anything. The carpenter might also not have considered things like what tools a user might have (the carpenter has a workshop the average consumer won’t have.) Dogfooding is something that comes up naturally in some situations - but almost anyone can take advantage of the benefits!
We build web software. Anyone building a software interface has to be concerned that they are only considering power users, or worse - only themselves. Convention across web interfaces is slowing becoming a thing, but the beauty and pitfall of software is that it allows you to do essentially anything you want. We use our web services for our own products (like this website!) Our custom admin interfaces and dashboards are also where we get our information. While this process is not perfect, it helps reduce obvious/glaring issues quickly.
Let Them Eat Dogfood
Everyone can take something away here. Often when we build process, products, or software specifically - there is a large opportunity to look at it from the user’s perspective by actually becoming a user/customer and getting the real experience. Also, you can totally drop a new buzzword around your close friends and at parties.
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