Dogfooding Your Mother-In-Law

'Dogfooding' is an excellent principle. (in short: developers *use* the software they write, and they use it every day. That way they find and fix usability issues very quickly).

My proposed extension to dogfooding is called, "DogFooding your Mother-in-Law".

The practice has nothing to do with putting your mother-in-law through a mincing machine and feeding her to your pets. (though that may be the topic of a future post.)

Here's the idea: if you want to get real usability feedback about new software that you've written, then install it on the machines of your friends and family-members. Have it launch on startup. When your mother-in-law calls you six times in a weekend to ask how such-and-such-a-feature works, you'll actually start to *care* about fixing that usability bug.

I think Linux for the Desktop would streak ahead if the developers who work on it would Dogfood their Mothers-In-Law. Of course, unmarried developers may need to make-do by Dogfooding their Grandmother, Dogfooding their mother or dogfooding their (un-geeky) neighbours.

If I ever get around to writing 'the bedside book of development best practices' i will devote a page and a cartoon to DogFooding Your Mother-In-Law.


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(By the way, I read every comment and often respond.)

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