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Can devs discover your platform from the toilet?

This paper from Google engineer productivity researchers examines the effectiveness of 1-page printed newsletters written by devs and posted in restrooms for the purpose of promoting awareness and adoption of software tools and practices, a tactic called “Testing on the Toilet” or TotT. It also compared TotT to other tactics such as social media, email announcements, and peer learning.

Here’s how their findings can help you sell your Internal Developer Platform to your devs 👇

  • TotT works for most tools because of the toilets. 🚽 Researchers found that newsletters posted to the bathroom performed better than the same posters posted ar an annual project fair. The discrepancy was attributed to poor placement at the job fair and the fair’s audience being too broad.
  • Social media can help drive awareness, with a small caveat: unlike with printed newsletters, the magnitude of the impact depends on the dev’s personal network. Consider if social media is a viable medium to promote your platform given the size of your platform advocates’ network.
  • Targeted emails to relevant mailing lists effectively boosted users, but not for as sustained a period of time as TotT. One explanation raised by the researchers is that emails are more likely to be deleted or buried under new emails than a single newsletter displayed in the bathroom for an indefinite period of time.
  • Devs reported learning about tools from peer devs. This is why platform advocacy is so important. Create opportunities for users to show how the platform is adding value.
  • Platform design still matters. Is your platform easy to try? Is it relevant to your developers’ responsibilities? Is it intuitive to use? If the product is a dud, better advertising won’t fix your adoption problem.

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Community Highlights

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