Leaving Developer Experience for the Experienced

Almost any successful SaaS eventually has to offer some sort of developer tools as part of its growth and integration plans. It can be as simple as a javascript tag to be included in webpages, through REST APIs to SDKs and tools to be embedded and closely integrated by clients.

The tendency, especially since most developers aren’t experienced with developing for developers, is to put the task in the hands of any developer that’s currently available, and usually limiting it to the simplest, dumbest thing that can work for now.

Doing this means that your business is missing out on the relatively low-hanging fruit of the Developer Experience superiority. If you’ve integrated with APIs before, you know that the vast majority are degenerate. They are cumbersome to first set up, have cryptic error messages (if any), and documentation is so useless you have to try a bunch of things yourself and contact support daily. Of course there are also SDKs that somehow harm your actual production code: they litter your logs or even cause performance issues.

You and your company should be different. You can provide an experience like the Stripe team. Stories of the early days of Stripe describe the founders as taking their clients’ laptops and integrating for them then and there. Nowadays, Stripe most definitely has one of the best documented API and SDKs in the world.

Imagine how different POCs would look like if instead of management having to force their development department to allocate time, developers will actually come up with a rough demo within a day?

Invest in proper Developer Experience, research the market and what your competition is getting wrong. Proper documentation and better names can usually take you to the top 2 in your market, use that easy advantage.