Developer Experience and Developer Relations: Key Strategies for Building a Strong Developer Community and Driving Adoption

Author: Jaemi Bremner

Jaemi Bremner
DevEx and DevRel

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Developers are the backbone of the technology industry, and building a strong developer ecosystem is critical to the success of any software product or service. Two crucial aspects of this community-building process are Developer Experience (DX) and Developer Relations (DevRel). While they share some similarities, they are distinct and related concepts. DX focuses on providing developers with the tools and resources they need to succeed, while DevRel is about building relationships and establishing a positive brand perception with developers.

In this blog, we’ll explore the key components of DX and DevRel and examine how investing in these areas can help companies succeed in today’s technology landscape.

Developer Experience

Developer Experience refers to the overall experience that developers have when using a software product or service. It encompasses everything from the ease of use of the tools, SDKs, and APIs that have high-quality documentation, tutorials, and support. A good DX can lead to increased productivity, better software quality, and a more engaged developer community.

Here are the key components of a great developer experience:

  1. Ease of use: The tools and APIs provided should be easy to use and intuitive, even for developers who are new to the product or service.
  2. Comprehensive documentation: Developers need access to high-quality documentation and resources to help them use the product effectively. Ensure that your developer documentation is easy to read, up-to-date, and comprehensive.
  3. Strong community support: A developer community is essential for the success of any platform. Create forums, social media channels, and other channels where developers can interact and share ideas. Encourage community participation and contribution by rewarding valuable contributions.
  4. Quality support: Make sure developers have access to technical support and customer service when they need it. This will help build trust and loyalty among your developer community. If developers encounter problems or have questions, they need to know that they can get the help they need to keep building on your platform.
  5. Integration with popular tools: Developers often use multiple tools to build their applications. Enable integrations with other popular tools to make it easier for developers to use your platform in conjunction with other tools they’re already using.

Developer Relations

On the other hand, Developer Relations are about building relationships with developers and establishing a strong community around a product or service. It’s the process, people, and marketing technologies that build awareness, engagement, and adoption of a company’s technology by developers. DevRel is focused on creating a positive brand perception and driving adoption by engaging with developers, educating them about the product, and providing them with resources to succeed. DevRel professionals work closely with their Engineering, Product Management, and Product Marketing colleagues.

Developer relations is all about building relationships with developers, whereas product management and product marketing are focused on developing and promoting the product itself. DevRel professionals work to create a strong community around a product or service by engaging with developers, educating them about the product, and providing them with resources to succeed. The ultimate goal of DevRel is to drive the adoption of the product or service by building a positive brand perception and establishing trust with the developer community.

Here are some Developer Relations Organizations I admire:

  • Google (Founded in 2005): Google is well-known for its developer relations efforts. They offer a range of resources for developers, including developer tools, code samples, documentation, and support forums. Google also hosts a number of developer events, such as Google I/O, which is one of the most anticipated tech conferences of the year. Since its inception, the team has grown significantly, and today it consists of hundreds of developers and advocates around the world who work to engage with developers and promote Google’s technology platform.
  • Netflix (Founded in 2011): Netflix’s DevRel team provides developers with comprehensive resources, including documentation, code samples, and support forums, to help them build applications on the Netflix platform. Netflix’s focus on open-source software (Spinnaker, Genie, Atlas, and Falcor) has helped build a strong developer community, and the DevRel team works closely with the open-source community to provide support and resources. This approach has contributed to the company’s success as a leader in the entertainment industry.
  • Twilio (Founded in 2012): Twilio is a cloud communications platform that provides a range of developer-focused tools and services. They have a robust developer portal, offering detailed documentation, code samples, and tutorials. Twilio also hosts an annual developer conference, SIGNAL, and has a strong community presence on social media. Twilio’s focus on developer experience and community engagement has been a key factor in its success as a company. Their Q&A engine is the best in the industry.
  • Stripe (Founded in 2014): Stripe is a payment processing platform that has made developer experience a key part of their strategy. They provide extensive documentation, developer tools, and support forums, and they host StripeCon, an annual conference for developers. Stripe’s DevRel team is responsible for creating and maintaining high-quality documentation, code samples, tutorials, and support forums. They also work to engage with developers through social media, events, and other channels to promote Stripe’s technology platform and drive the adoption of its products and services. The company has become known for its user-friendly and developer-friendly products, and its DevRel team has played a significant role in building and maintaining that reputation.
  • Microsoft (Reorganized in 2014): Microsoft’s Developer Relations team has been around for many years, but it was officially reorganized and expanded in 2014. This reorganization was part of a larger effort by Microsoft to improve its relationship with developers and increase the adoption of its technology platform. Since then, Microsoft’s Developer Relations team has grown significantly and has played a key role in the success of the company’s technology platform, including its cloud computing service, Azure. Today, the team is focused on building relationships with developers around the world and promoting Microsoft’s technology platform through a range of initiatives, including developer events (annual conference called Build), open-source contributions, and partnerships with other technology companies.

DX and DevRel Intersection

Developer Experience (DX) and Developer Relations (DevRel) are distinct and related concepts. Both are critical aspects of building a strong developer community and driving the adoption of a company’s technology platform.

While DX focuses on providing developers with the tools and resources they need to succeed, DevRel is about building relationships and establishing a positive brand perception with developers. The success of companies like Google, Twilio, Stripe, Netflix, and Microsoft in the technology industry can be attributed in part to their investment in DX and DevRel.

Companies that invest in DX and DevRel can benefit from increased productivity, better software quality, and a more engaged developer community. By providing developers with easy-to-use tools and comprehensive resources, companies can improve the overall developer experience and drive the adoption of their products and services. Additionally, building relationships with developers through DevRel can help establish trust and loyalty, leading to increased adoption and a more vibrant developer community.

A focused strategy in DX and investment in DevRel can be key differentiators for companies looking to succeed in today’s technology landscape.

References

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Jaemi Bremner
DevEx and DevRel

DevX and Experience Technologist. LinkedIn: @jaemibremner Twitter: @jaeness