A Guide to What Developer Community Managers Read in 2019

Measuring ROI, community best practices, hackathons and more.

We took a look at our most popular developer community and developer relations blog posts from this past year. Topping the list are posts that look at the ROI of a developer community, explain how to show that a community has value, or, to speak plainly, prove to the boss that what you do is really worth it.

Other popular topics look at elements and best practices that make communities successful, including gamification and hackathons.

Let’s get started.

A Stocking Stuffer of Posts Highlighting the Value of Your Community

We hope that none of you are struggling to make the case for standing up an online developer community or keeping one you’ve started. Our own research shows 88% of developers expect vendors to have their own online community. But that doesn’t mean you are free from a need to show the community’s value.

These four blog posts take on the issue from different angles.

The first two posts look at communities as a case deflection support option and how this tactic can positively impact your company’s bottom line. The author for both posts, Waynette Tubbs, managed a community for a large analytics company. She knows what she writes.

With highlights from some top companies that use online communities to provide developers with a self-service knowledge sharing option, this post provides specific pointers on how to keep communities vibrant and why developers actually prefer this option.

“Capture the answer and make it available to everyone so that the one-time investment in an answer helps multiple people – even those that don’t need the answer right now.”

-From Can a Knowledge Sharing Community Impove Your Bottom Line 

This post covers some of the same territory as the last one but also specifically addresses how an online community deflects support cases by taking advantage of the wisdom of the crowd. Instead of support staff answering the same question over and over, questions are asked and answered publicly in a highly searchable way.

Measuring the Success of Your Developer Community takes a broad view of the ROI of online communities. I spent a great deal of time with Jesse Davis, our chief technologist, and Mark Hopkins, our customer success manager, to tease out the various ways you can measure ROI.

And finally, in Going Beyond ROI: Finding Balance in Developer Relations, Davis discusses how to avoid getting too caught up in metrics. He also talks about the types of metrics that aren’t worth using.

Here’s the money quote: “There is a more mature understanding of KPIs. For instance, we know that in a developer community your typical marketing metrics (like bounce rate) are not the same. It’s actually a good thing if a developer doesn’t need to poke and peel her way through every nook and cranny of your website. It means she found what she was looking for quickly and is back to being a productive (and presumably), happy user of your software. Yes, there is more to it than just a bounce rate and we can get into measuring search analytics as well, but the point is: On the surface, we can’t simply apply the same metrics we use for a corporate website to an online developer community.”

“It’s actually a good thing if a developer doesn’t need to poke and peel her way through every nook and cranny of your website.”

-From Going Beyond ROI: Finding Balance in Developer Relations

Highlighting Community Best Practices

There are lots of resources for community best practices including some good advice from CMX and DevRel.net, we’ve focused our best practices on online developer communities – whether the community is designed to support developers using your products, assist your internal developers, or help developers who develop on your platform.

How Gamification Increases Developer Community Engagement

Since posting this piece, our developer survey results show that 63% of surveyed developers say that recognition for participation is not needed. We think that online managers should think about the tactic this way: Don’t pay extra for gamification, but experiment with what comes with your online community solution to see what works for you.

5 Best Practices of Online Communities

This post covers some of the basics including an occasionally missed component – the need to appoint a community manager. Seriously, folks, you don’t want to crowdsource this role. The blog post features a couple of links to stories of successful communities.

Getting the Most From a Hackathon

Jo Stichbury is a writer and developer who frequently contributes to our blog. She provides useful insight on the topics of when and why you should consider a hackathon and how to find the right audience to invite.

Our Use Collaboration and Ideation to Drive Innovation post looks at how to crowdsource product ideas, and why it makes sense to not only let your customers vote on the ideas but also to make sure they know where those ideas stand.

Ideation sounds kind of pie-in-the-sky. But it’s really about bringing your developers into the process of suggesting ideas and voting on them. A community approach to ideation does something else: It lets you tell users where an idea is in the pipeline, or whether it made the cut.

It’s a great way of incorporating crowdsourcing and transparency in a controlled and defined way.

We also have the perfect answer for when the community initiative needs to come out of the marketing budget and the marketing team is like, “But we need it for the SEO consultant.” It turns out that communities can help your SEO because communities add pages and pages of relevant, timely content in the form of questions, answers, and contributed content.

Finally, we’ll share my personal favorite blog post on online developer communities—a firsthand look at the subject of community from Quali, an environment as a services company.