In the final part of our series looking at the strategies businesses are using to engage with developers (B2D), we summarize three Developer Experience (DX) models from Brian Koles (ChallengePost), Pamela Fox (Khan Academy), and Ronnie Mitra (Layer 7). In the first part of our series, we looked at the API-coming-soon landing page and how to use this approach to draft up developer personas. In Part 2, we discussed the private beta release and how it helps to gain valuable feedback from early adopters. In Part 3, we reviewed API documentation and pointed to ways API providers are trying to provide the benefits of documentation without needing developers to leave their coding workflow.
Brian Koles, Business Development Manager at Challenge Post, has been guest posting a Developer Evangelist Playbook series on ProgrammableWeb since June this year. His first entry summarized the components that make up a strong B2D strategy.
These include some of the mainstays – like a developer portal page and documentation – as well as encouraging ongoing communication via social media and by providing marketing asssistance to help developers who are making use of a provider’s API.
At the recent API Strategy and Practice conference, Frontend Engineer at Khan Academy, Pamela Fox, posed five questions that API providers need to ask to design a rewarding on-boarding experience for developers.
Fox reminded API providers that a positive developer experience creates a multiplier effect in innovative usage of an available API and increased evangelism where developers are motivated to talk up and market an API (for free!) on a business’ behalf.
Fox’s five question approach asks business API providers to imagine themselves as consumer-developers and ask:
After surprising attendees at September’s NordicAPIs event with a presentation that started with Powerpoint bullet lists and Comic Sans font to drive home the message of poor design, Ronnie Mitra from Layer 7 Technologies presented a three-tier model to designing an effective API and providing a great developer experience as a result.
Mitra’s tiered model focused on:
Mirroring Jerome Louvel from APISpark’s approach in Part 1 of our B2D series, Mitra encourages businesses to define developer personas, noting: “You can’t design for usability if you don’t know who is using your API.”
Mitra is still working on his DX model in full, but is finding that when an API has been designed with consumer-developers in mind, it is much more likely that it rates higher on key aspects of a successful API experience: engagement, pleasure, familiarity, trust and safety.
Perhaps some of Mitra’s suggested design aspects could be used by businesses when initially releasing their API, in order to measure the potential strength of their DX. Things like how quickly a new user can make their first API call, how difficult errors are to fix, and how many new concepts and terms must be understood before using a new API could all help track the potential level of future developer onboarding. As Brian Koles points out in his Developer Evangelist series, the battle to engage with developers is on. The number of APIs is growing at a much faster rate than the number of developers, so having a solid B2D plan is set to become an essential component of API design and deployment, if that moment hasn’t already arrived…