What is DX? (Developer Experience)

Albert Cavalcante
Oct 30, 2019 · 5 min read

Terms like UX, UI, and the overall user experience are no longer news to many tech-savvy people, content like these are multiplying, and you can learn a lot about them within minutes.

It’s important to note that the experience has no longer been just layout and CSS for some time, and today, it’s much more oriented to the consumer’s journey, his touch-points, pain-points, and how to help this person to solve a problem in a better way.

Among the various rising digital product markets, we highlight development, where every day devs become more active and demanding with their experience and the quality of the products they use.

By contrast, in the vast majority of products designed for them, the experience is terrible and can be traumatic. I don’t understand why this happens, but I think because it’s a more technical persona, the product’s UX owners end up believing the developer will turn around, but that’s wrong, developers deserve solutions as well designed as non-technical people.

This thought, as I said earlier, generates terrible and even traumatic experiences, and these are one of the factors that have rejected many new solutions in this market.

Going deeper into this theme, I ‘ve seen many people already talking about rich experiences for developers, where the concept already has a name, DX — Developer Experience.

What is DX?

Developer Experience is the equivalent of User Experience when the primary user of the product is a developer. DX cares about the developer experience of using a product, its libs, SDKs, documentation, frameworks, open-source solutions, general tools, APIs, etc.

DX and UX share some principles, but with differences in good practice, this is because developers have different needs in their daily context compared to an average user.

In short, DX is important for the same reasons that UX is important. Developers who find good DX are happier, promote more, and use their product longer.

Those working in the technology world are used to getting recommendations for new solutions from colleagues, friends, and peers, and the products that top the list as the most recommended are the ones with good DX.

Developer Experience Pillars

Just like UX, DX also has premises and pillars identifying when the experience is positive and when it is not. Below I list some pillars and explain more about them:

Function

The foundation of the developer experience, a dev tool is as good as the role it offers to perform an activity. Good interface, marketing, miracle promises, and bullshit, in general, won’t be able to hide bad functionality. If it doesn’t work, it’s no use, there’s no DX.

Stability

In addition to working, your product has to have high performance and reliability, of course, the software is subject to bugs, so it is important to quickly fix product errors so as not to cause major harm to users.

Instability in the relationship of trust with your product begins to build without it, the perception of value drops dramatically.

Ease of Use

Ease of use in DX is beyond what it seems, it’s not just about navigating the tool, but also accessing what you need at all stages of the journey quickly and efficiently.

Rich documentation, use cases, communities, knowledge bases, keyboard shortcuts, snippets, intuitive filters, previously saved searches, as well as deeper points like performance, together add speed to the process of developer interaction with your product and increases engagement.

Clarity

At this point DX is committed to providing a simple interface that brings the information the developer needs to get their work done, helping them with critical actions in their daily lives. Clarity is about giving the developer full visibility of the possible consequences involved in an action and the history of these actions.

DX Cases

As I said earlier, DX may seem like a new term in the market, some companies are already concerned with offering rich experiences for developers and have really interesting cases, below I list some examples and why they are good cases of DX.

Stripe (https://stripe.com) — One of the best online payment tools on the market, Stripe stands out for its concern to provide developers with the best possible experience with their tool, documentation, use cases, demo videos, webinars, tool’s ease of deployment. All this together gives the message regarding DX.

Atlassian (https://www.atlassian.com/) — Atlassian today can be considered the largest software development and collaboration suite on the market, its maturity providing a developer self-experience in any of its tools (such as Jira for project management, Confluence for the knowledge base, and Bitbucket as a repository) is something most software companies should look into.

Firebase (https://firebase.google.com) — Google’s mobile and web app development platform stands out for ease of setup, the highlight of your experience is the ease of use and clarity with which actions can be performed inside the platform.

Conclusion

DX will be increasingly addressed in digital product alignments and strategies, as developers are increasingly considered to be a major player in the business, and often decision-makers.

Here at LinkApi, we are looking at DX with extreme attention and importance as we are a tool for developers looking to eliminate trauma with software integrations.

One thing I can tell is that when you can leverage the experience of developers using your product, you can eliminate at least half of the friction in adopting it, and increase the engagement by 50%.

This article is the first in a series of articles I will write about DX and how we apply it to LinkApi to revolutionize the developer experience with integrations, so stay tuned for more!

One last thing for you, how much DX is covered and how important is it in developing your products and services? Comment there, let’s talk.

Albert Cavalcante

Written by

Co-Founder at @LinkApi. I’m a product, tech, and design-obsessed, who is in eternal love with UX and how people can find new ways to achieve better results.

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