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How Dogfood Makes Us Better Devs

jess profile image Jess Lee (she/her) ・3 min read

Background

I originally wrote this article for UNTOUCHD, a lifestyle magazine for women inspired by tech. The magazine is beautiful, inspiring, and educational. While it's not DEV-centric, it always features badass women engineers and entrepreneurs. Anyway! The latest issue just came out and I asked Holy, the founder, if I could cross-publish my dogfooding article on dev.to since dogfooding applies to all developers. I also like getting meta 😎

While asking Holy about republishing on dev.to, I also asked about her motivations behind UNTOUCHD and how the DEV community can support her. Here are her responses:

"I wanted to show young girls, and women of all backgrounds, and age that a career in tech isn't a scary place. If coding isn't the right layer of technology for you, there is UX/UI Design, Digital Marketing, Data Science, and other many layers of tech to get involved in. By helping introduce tech in a non-formal way, but in an encouraging setting, both visually-driven, real, and humbling. Our hope is to help bridge the gender gap, and open a window of opportunities for all, with open arms!"

How to help: Share us away (issuu.com/untouchdmagazine - more eyes, more impact! We also have a support button on our page to help with production cost, and to keep going! We are an ad-free company, but are open to sponsorship -- I can share more deets if anyone's interested. We are finally cracking down the print part of it and should be set to go early August with a print-on-demand option.

I'm super eager to pick up a physical copy of UNTOUCHD because dev.to has been featured twice in it! And because for this particular article...I included this photo:

jess-with-cake-emojis-floating-around-her-head

How Dogfooding Makes Us Better Devs

One of my favorite aspects of working on dev.to is that when we dogfood, we’re not just learning ways to better our product, we’re learning ways to better our (programming) selves. For you cat lovers (like me), dogfooding is short for ‘eating your own dogfood’ which simply means practicing what you preach. I don’t think it comes to a surprise that testing your own product is a highly effective way to find the bugs and kinks...in your own product.

As a programmer, dogfooding on dev.to is special because it means I can’t help but stay up-to-date on programming. By eating our own dogfood, everyone working on dev.to is learning new stuff about programming every.single.day. We’re all at different experience levels with different interests, so it’s exciting that we share this sentiment. While I read an article about git or watch a video on microservices, I’m checking to see if I can show some love to the content creator by leaving them a unicorn emoji or if I can ask them a follow-up question in the comment section. If something breaks, I can create a ticket immediately because finding the bug wasn’t as chore. While I’m doing that, Walker is discovering how easy/weird/difficult it is to publish JavaScript’s Persistent Popularity which is great because he’s gathering product feedback but also because he’s writing about code.

I’ve met people who don’t voluntarily dogfood because their product doesn’t offer them value - think classpass employees who hate exercising, or meetup engineers who hate meeting up with people, the list goes on. While there’s definitely still a lot to learn from these types of users, I feel really lucky that the product I’m building is also a product that I’d be using regardless of where I work, as long as I call myself a programmer. It’s a delight that I get to have my cake and eat it too. And for all you cool cats looking for a job, have empathy for your future self and ask, ‘would I eat the dogfood?’ 🍽

Discussion

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andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Totally agree. Seeing a bug live is great and makes me want to fix it, because I literally can (try to) fix it right then and there.

Dogfooding has been progressively valuable for me because I find myself thinking a lot more about how the user's perspective. Plus it makes the job a million times easier and more rewarding because I completely enjoy and relate to the product.

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jess profile image
Jess Lee (she/her) Author

+1 @pandyzhao for dogfoodin' RIGHT NOW.

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andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Gettin' real meta over here.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

We're very privileged to get to work on something we want to use.

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notriddle profile image
Michael "notriddle" Howell

Yeah, that is a thing. I wrote bors-ng for my company, but what my company works on is material tracking software for medical labs, and I'm not working in a medical lab and have never been a PhD.

So... we just need a different customer feedback process.