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The New Era of Developer Experience (Preview)

Matt Hawkins
Co-founder and CEO of Hoss.com. We help companies build better API-driven products by tracking and managing the APIs they consume.
・3 min read

Wowing developers is now mandatory

The API universe is exploding with growth. There are new entrants daily, both new API oriented startups and larger enterprises offering new services to customers. This growth has raised the bar for what developers expect from companies that offer APIs. Companies that see this transformation coming and understand that wowing developers is critical will thrive and those that don’t will find their customers going elsewhere.

It’s important for API companies to understand that developer experience is more than updated documentation or live chat. Developer experience is a broad discipline that deeply examines developers’ needs and expectations to create a better product, a more seamless experience or a quicker solution at every
turn. Understanding this dynamic is a critical competitive edge for API companies - and the landscape is getting more competitive every day. The Bessemer Venture Partners State of the Cloud 2020 report predicts that in the coming year, APIs “will drive innovation across all industries.” (1)

According to the State of API 2019 report by SmartBear, the three most important factors that developers consider when evaluating an API are ease of use, ease of implementation and integration with existing tools. The report found that developers prioritize these factors even above cost or features (2).

It should come as no surprise then, that two of the current API industry leaders, Stripe and Twilio, deliver leading developer experiences. Both are widely respected, successful companies - and both have invested significant resources into building extensive solutions to deliver the gold standard in developer experience. Stripe and Twilio both understood early in their existence that obsessing over a developer’s needs, empathizing with their workflows and continually expanding and improving experience were the keys to success.

In this report, we’ll focus on the practical steps API companies should take to create a world- class developer support program to compete in an increasingly crowded and competitive API-driven world.

(To read the entire ebook, download the PDF for free here.)

Obsessive Developer Focus: The Pillars of a Great Developer Support Program

What your customers want

Knowledge

Great developer support starts with giving your customers quick and easy access to the information they need to use your product successfully – from getting started and integrating to ongoing use and navigating issues. Excellent documentation, well thought out tutorials and a robust knowledge base are must-have table stakes.

Too often, the knowledge developers need from API providers to simply do their jobs is buried in in blog posts or unnavigable docs, incomplete or out of date. Because 77% of developers research and solve API challenges themselves, it’s important to make that process intuitive. Finally, developers need continually updated knowledge about the products they’re using. Companies need to be prepared to regularly communicate about updates, bugs or new features.

Here’s what developers expect:

Clear, concise, and up-to-date documentation

Nearly 80% of developers surveyed for the 2020 Hoss API Consumption Trend Report said that poor documentation was their biggest complaint about API developer experience (3). Documentation should be clear, easy to find and always kept up to date.

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To read the entire ebook, download the PDF for free here.

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