Woman using a laptop, as she holds a cute dog that attentively looks at the screen

Eating our own dog food

After launching our updated site, a few people asked what we learned in the process—and how it relates to client work. This made us think about the idea of “eating your own dog food.” It’s reported that this phrase originated at Microsoft as slang for a company using its own products or services for its internal operations.

Here’s some of the advice we often serve our clients, followed by reflections on how it went down at Durable:

Agile costs the same as Waterfall and delivers fast results—with effective project management.

Dog Food:
We built this website with all processes running in parallel, which ultimately led to a higher quality finished product due to feedback loops. However, as an internal project with a small team, we didn’t assign a project manager—which was a mistake. In retrospect, we believe the overall project timetable could have been reduced by a third with committed project management.

Don’t underestimate the content effort—copywriting and content migration typically requires eight or more hours per page.

Dog Food:
Our website launched with 29 pages requiring about 270 hours to write, edit, and enter into the CMS (9.3 hours per page). We migrated a few pages from our old website, but by far most of the content was new. Since we had a very small team reviewing content, approvals were probably quicker than on a typical client project. On the other hand, the 270 hours includes time spent creating illustrations and sourcing photography, which some clients might include under a design line item. 

When accessibility is built in from the start, the additional design and development cost is minimal.

Dog Food:
This website was designed to meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards, which added very little additional effort aside from adding accessibility testing to our QA process. When accessibility is initially rejected for political or cost reasons, and introduced later, the cost can be substantial because accessibility affects all aspects of work from content and design through development.

Componentized CMS solutions are best practice, primarily due to the flexibility they offer.  

Dog Food:
This website is built on the Umbraco CMS, using a componentized approach more typically found in systems such as Sitecore. It would have been quicker to get the site launched using a template-driven approach, but we now benefit by being able to change the layout of a page without developer intervention, by sharing content between pages to ensure consistency, and by extending the capability of all pages at once by introducing new components. Article closing icon

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