If you are trying to reach developers, engage them, help them learn, or sell them something, keep reading.
We surveyed 800 developers recently to better understand what they are thinking because the stakes are high for both technology and tech-enabled companies. Developers are critical to key business processes – from building apps to digitally transforming more traditional businesses.
And tech companies are eager to get their newest products and services in front of developers because while they might not write the check, but they often decide if it will get written.
- Business pressures weigh on developers. The majority (69%) agree or strongly agree that upper management is keen to increase their productivity.
- Developers believe they know what hinders productivity. Two-thirds of the developers (66%) say maintenance of legacy systems and technical debt strain improved productivity.
- They are drivers of new product adoption. While only 21% of surveyed developers have some type of purchasing authority, 87% say they research product alternatives, and, separately, 69% identify needs and make product recommendations. They also test software where there is a free trial.
Developers also have specific work and learning styles:
- They are self-reliant. A whopping 77% say they seek to solve a problem on their own before opening a ticket. One-third (35%) haven’t reached out for technical support in the past 30 days.
- They are active in communities. Nearly all (94%) of the developers say they are active in at least one developer community. And 88% expect the vendors of products they use to offer an online community.
- They have specific preferences for how they like to learn. Tutorials are their top pick (83%), 74% like blogs, and 66% like short articles. And while podcasts might be all the rage — only 18% say they like to learn from podcasts. Social media is last at 10%.
One interesting finding is that video comes in fourth as a popular content type at 61% (those surveyed could choose more than one content preference and video came in fourth.) With YouTube as the second leading search engine, you would think video would rank above more traditional forms of content like a short article or a blog post.
We asked our developers about video and they explained why it isn’t a top pick. It’s much harder to grab a code snippet from a video than it is a blog, tutorial, or short article. Video is great when you are learning how to play an online game, assembling a bed from Ikea, or julienning a carrot for the first time. It can help build awareness but isn’t a great content type to teach anything that involves complex, step-by-step instructions.
Engagement Changes as Developers Gain More Experience
Novice developers (one to five years of experience) are participating in leadership activities at higher rates than more experienced developers (16 years or more). Our hunch is that they are testing the waters as to whether management is the path they want to take.
And what better way to do that than to moderate an online discussion? Novice developers are nine times more likely to raise their hand to do that. They are twice as likely to contribute long-form content.
Developers with three to 10 years of experience are most likely to post an answer to a question (in the 30% range), and the most experienced are right behind at 30%.
The survey data offers much more detail on topics from what developers get from participating in online developer communities to how they want to hear about new products and releases.