The definition of ‘developer experience’ is a bit nebulous. At a high level, it encompasses any event that leaves an impression on a developer. Most often, these events include any interactions between your product and your documentation.
The definition of a good developer experience, on the other hand, is a lot more straightforward. A good developer experience is one in which developers can get their questions answered in a timely manner, onboard to new tools quickly, and spend more time coding.
Developers, like any other demographic, want to feel heard, understood, and supported. In this post, we’ll cover the elements of developer experience in detail and explain why developer experience matters.
Essentially, “developer experience” (or DX) is a term for creating an environment where a developer can do their best work. This environment includes the tools and platforms the developer uses across planning and production, as well as the culture in which the developer works.
Everything from SDKs, Getting Started guides, product onboarding flows, solution pricing pages, documentation, reference guides, product changelogs, and developer communities contribute to the holistic developer experience.
Depending on the organization, one or more members of the product team will be responsible for the developer experience. Additionally, companies may have a developer relations or developer experience team that supports and advocates for developer audiences.
Some organizations may also have a specific engineering function responsible for aspects of the developer experience, including SDKs and code samples.
The primary elements of developer experience include documentation, onboarding, APIs, and community. Each element plays a crucial role in creating a positive environment for developers to do their best work.
A good onboarding experience feels seamless and intuitive. Developers who have a positive onboarding experience can start coding quickly, spend less time getting acclimated to new tools, and spend more time doing the work they care about.
There are a few factors that play into a positive onboarding experience:
Developers will look at your docs right away to assess whether your product appropriately serves their needs. Here’s a few things you’ll want to consider when building and displaying your documentation:
Your API must be reliable and contain clear reference guides to minimize complexity and disruptions for developers. Specifically:
Developers need a place they know they can go to get their questions answered and receive support if they run into snags. Building a community can provide the ideal environment for developers to learn more about your product, learn from each other, and solve problems quickly.
A good community has the following attributes:
A good developer experience is the first step to adoption and the flywheel to community-led growth. A bad developer experience can prevent even the most driven developer from implementing your product or tool. It is the risk of churn during trial before value can even be seen.
With a good DX, developers can get onboarded to new tools quickly, start writing code fast, and seamlessly enter a flow state where they can do their best work. If they have questions, they can reference documentation or turn to the relevant developer community for support.
A bad DX, on the other hand, is clunky, unintuitive, and intrusive. Developers that are having a bad experience can barely follow the Getting Started guide, run into snags during onboarding, lack thorough documentation, and have no developer community to turn to for support.
Teams across product, engineering, community, and even customer success & marketing must work in tandem to ensure a smooth, positive developer experience.
An active, vibrant community can help your company take its developer experience to the next level. While documentation, API reliability, and onboarding are important, a good community will transform developers into brand loyalists and product evangelists.
Developers will turn to your community forum to answer their questions, upskill, and learn more about your product. Encouraging developers to form relationships with each other, explore new and more efficient ways to leverage your product, and find the answers they need to do their best work will set your community and your brand apart.
Common Room is an intelligent community growth platform that gives companies real-time intelligence, context, workflow automation, and data insights to accelerate developer community growth against measurable goals.
The platform pairs machine learning-powered insights with engagement and reporting tools to help DevRel teams and community managers build, manage, and measure fast-growing communities.
You can leverage automated workflows to deliver messages to specific users at the right time, customize automated reporting to keep track of your community’s health, identify areas for growth, and track the conversations and activities that are most impactful in your community.
To intelligently engage and grow your community, try Common Room for free today. Looking for more about developer relations? Check out our blog post on Your First 30 Days in a New DevRel Role and connect with 1000+ community and DevRel leaders to share expertise and ask questions in the Uncommon community Slack.