Dogfooding is not enough

The concept of “eating your own dog food” is not new. It’s been the core of how we build our products at Wildbit. When we killed Newsberry the importance of dogfooding really hit home. We realized that we were great at building products for people like ourselves (designers/developers), but terrible at building a product for someone else (marketers).

By being your own customer you not only improve the product for yourself, you also validate customer feedback. We get emails all day about new feature ideas. We listen to and consider all of them, but internal validation is always critical to adding that feature on our roadmap. We feel comfortable doing that because we use our products every day. We rely on these features just as much as our customers rely on them.

In some cases however, dogfooding can leave you too confident, disregarding areas of your product that you may not see as often. We recently improved the on-boarding experience in Postmark. We noticed that the on-boarding rate was suffering and left a lot of room for improvement. The problem is, this only bubbled up when we really dug into the on-boarding data.

While we use our product every day there are specific areas that we rarely see. The sign up and on-boarding process is a great example. There are also areas like set up wizards or advanced settings screens that we may only see once as users. These areas can easily get neglected, resulting in a confusing or frustrating user experience as you add features over time.

As product owners and active users, it’s extremely important that we don’t let dogfooding get the best of us. We need to schedule time to use and review the areas in our products that we rarely see. In most cases, these areas can be the most important first impressions that you customers experience with your product.

What areas of your product have you neglected?

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