Top Developer Blog Posts and Why They are So Popular

We've dug into our 2018 data to understand the types of content our readers enjoy most.

We see a lot of content. In 2018, more than 13,000 articles were published on and read by our audience of software professionals.

This kinda makes us an expert on understanding the types of articles the DZone audience (and most likely the developer audience) would like to read. In this article, we’ve highlighted the top blog types, why they’re so popular, and how you can write engaging content developers will read.

Popular Types of Articles on DZone

Last year (and for many years), the most popular article types on DZone were:

  1. Tutorials and how-tos
  2. Opinions and editorials
  3. Research and analysis

We’ve learned that these article types are the most popular because they address a developer’s desire to learn. They provide ideas, resources, and tips to better themselves and produce more effective programs.

How can you take advantage of these article types in your own content? We explain below.


Tutorials are the No. 1 article type on DZone, which is no surprise as our audience loves learning.

Here’s what to include in yours:

1. Use real examples with code.

While screenshots of your process are helpful, showing the code (or code snippets) to back up your article makes it 100x more effective. Developers can easily review it and see how they can use it for their own projects.

Code example in tutorial

2. Explain why.

How is this tutorial going to help? What is a developer or software architect going to take away from the article?

Explaining “the why” at the beginning of an article gives the reader a chance to say, “Yeah, I have that problem. This is going to be good to read.” Tutorials highlight your authors as subject matter experts (SMEs) and your brand as a thought leader.

Tutorial explanation

3. Make it easy to follow.

No one likes a tutorial that reads like IKEA assembly instructions. Especially developers.

Use easy-to-read formatting tactics like lists, numbers or bullets, header styles, 2-3 sentence paragraphs, and bold or italicized phrases for emphasis. Also, use images and code samples when possible to break up the text.

step-by-step instructions

Check out a few of the best tutorial-style articles from last year: What Is the EventBus Library and How Does It Work? by Abhishek Tripathi, 23 Useful Elasticsearch Example Queries by Tim Ojo, and Understanding @Output and EventEmitter in Angular by Dhananjay Kumar.


The second most popular article type is opinion or editorial style pieces. These articles range from listicles to industry thoughts to conference overviews.

They’re popular because they:

1. Share resources and tools to improve productivity and grow careers.

Developers are always looking for ways to better their skills. Articles that offer tools (not promotional), books to read, or organizational tips provide readers with opportunities to excel at their job.

Listicles are perfect for this.

list of steps tutorial

2. Give industry insights.

Knowing the state of the industry is necessary for any developer, programmer, architect, or IT professional. They can’t create new programs and tools if they don’t know where the industry is heading.

Your SMEs are great at providing these inside insights. Share takeaways from conferences you recently attended, challenges you’re seeing and how they impact the space, and where you see the industry in five years.

These articles can challenge a reader’s thinking – and spark creativity.

industry insights

Three of the best opinion/editorial articles from 2018 are 9 Things Java Programmers Should Learn in 2018 by Javin Paul, Your Brand Is What You Have. Always. by John Vester, and 20 Books Java Programmers Should Read in 2018 by Javin Paul.

Research and Analysis

Data makes for a good article all the time. And we’re (marketers) not the only ones who think so. DZone readers agree as analysis- and research-based articles are No. 3 on their list of favs.

These articles:

1. Show real-world problems being solved by technology.

What better way to show how your expertise or solution can significantly improve productivity than by showing real-world examples. This allows readers to see the bigger picture, gives them more insight into their industry, and shows the strides being made in technology.

real-world example

The top analysis and research articles in the last year are Major Failures: Three in a Row by John Vester, Top IoT Operating Systems and Microsoft by Ian Skerrett, and How a Product Owner Can Drive the Feature Team Crazy by John Vester.

5 Tips for Getting Developers to Engage With Your Content

1. Teach them!

Take advantage of the fact that tutorials are the No. 1 article type on DZone – perform keyword research to identify topics developers want to learn about.

2. Don’t post just to post.

The worst thing you can do is write an article just for the sake of writing an article. Our audience can see through that veiled attempt from a mile away.

When writing your content, identify the goal ahead of time. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do the topic and angle fall into one of the popular article types on DZone? (I’m not saying that all your articles should do this; after all, your blog should include press-worthy announcements and company success stories, but this is a good rule of thumb.)
  • What do I want the reader to take away from the post?
  • Is the article going to fully explain the topic or skim the surface?

Your answers can help you gauge whether a topic or idea needs to be developed a little more or if it’s ready to be assigned and written.

3. Use your words!

While there is no exact word length that guarantees an article’s success, we have noticed a correlation between popular articles and word count. Articles with over 1,000 words tend to perform better with our audience.

This is most likely because the article fully explains the topic – instead of skimming the surface.

Another interesting word stat: High performing articles are also written at a graduate reading level.

4. Avoid self-promotion.

You want to get more eyes on your brand and product/service, but using overly promotional articles to do that is not going to work.

Try to find a different spin on the topic, maybe boasting the benefits and how it’s achieving real-world solutions (with screenshots) versus a features list and why it’s so great.

5. Write catchy blog titles.

Blog titles help your articles get noticed! Instead of using generic titles, spruce them up a bit to entice DZoners to click and read.

So, putting it all together: To engage with our audience, and developers, write content that has a point and teaches them how to improve their skills or increase their productivity. Use your blog title to catch their attention, your words to hold their interest, and formatting techniques to keep them reading.

Happy writing. We look forward to reading some awesome pieces in 2019.