Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Testing on the toilet

These days even my twin boys in kindergarten know about Google. They know it is something mommy uses on her computer but they think it also means the biggest number in the world.

"It was so big, it was Google."

And how does Google become one of the biggest numbers in the world? You have heard it before: Its quest for new ideas, its relentless testing and its addiction to numbers, data, etc. When you consider the research showing most companies don't test much at all, Google's commitment to testing is really quite something.

Just how far does it go? Take this post by Avinash Kaushik (Google's analytics evangelist) reflecting on his 11-months with Google.

He says Google apparently tests all ideas in the toilet.

Yes, you heard it right. They put their test results in the bathroom.
After a year at Google, Avinash wrote recently:

"I can only speak for the men's restroom of course. As you stand (or sit :) you can’t fail to notice that in front of you a page that teaches the importance of testing. Each week a new “episode”. Techie stuff, python and sawzall and bigtable and loops and so on and so forth."

He says the amazing thing is that "these docs, deeply technical as they are, are written with a great sense of humor. Often subtle, usually techie, always entertaining. It is not unusual for even someone like me to just stand there and read the whole thing (sadly blocking traffic!). I don’t understand everything they teach but I am consistently struck by how well written it is, and the passion of the people who take writing better code so seriously."

I'm surprised by two things: I can't believe this would work in the women's bathroom. We just don't spend as much time there as some men. And by the use of humor and the passion for the new ideas. What would happen if you put up something similar in your rest rooms? Where else could companies post test results, thoughts, new product ideas? In the lunch room, near the water fountain, near the coffee pot?

Google may be a monster, but it certainly is a smart, well-educated, nicely brought up one. So the next time my kids try to shirk doing their homework, I am going to say, "Google does its homework, boys. That's how it got so big. So Googly big."

By the way, Avinash's blog, called Occam's Razor, has a great recent post on how to use data and rival info to embarrasses higher ups into giving marketing more resources. (Sorry, I'd add the exact link but my computer is extremely temperamental this morning.) But the whole site is well worth a visit.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power Tuesday March 11, 2008



James Hare said...

Julie, while your blog posts are nearly always erudite, comprehensive and accurate, I must point out an obvious miss-statement on today's blog, regarding rest room facilities and their dual use as libraries:

"We just don't spend as much time there as some men"

Perhaps your upbringing on the antipodal island continent was different from the typical US woman's but it's been my experience (backed up by years of observation in the hallways surrounding shopping mall restrooms) that the female of the species tends to vacation in the loo far longer than the typical male - hence the mob of gentlemen loitering around the above referenced hallways, waiting patiently for their mates to emerge from the WC, freshly powdered and primped, ready for another onslaught against The Bombay Co, Sunglass Hut, or KayBee Toys...

burtom said...

I have to spring to Julie's defense here. According to unasked.com the average female spends 6 months of their life on the loo (Julie can translate that. How long does the average male spend on the toilet in their lifetime? THREE years! That's right! Men spend five times on the toilet as women according to http://unasked.com/Question11177.htm.
This of course raises a whole lot of definition questions: is a mens urinal counted as time "on the toilet"? And what was not clear in the Google example was how they were "testing." Was it a case of sticking it to the urinal wall -- as often happens in bars for example. In which case this will mean women completely are excluded from the Google bathroom test! More info required please

Finally in the interests of Julie's twins not growing up a victim of the fact that techs can't spell: the number one followed by 100 zeros is a googol. The big search engine founded by the techies who can't spell is google

ketura said...

That's a great post, Julie! And I'm so glad to read these hilarious and insightful comments, too.