How do I build a Developer program?
You've decided that you want to build a Developer Program but what next?!
Don't worry there are some fairly standard steps that you’ll need to go through.
Below you’ll find an outline of those stepsSo, here goes:
Why do you think you need a developer program? And are you really talking about a developer program or do you mean a partner program?
Are you looking for people to build standard products for you? Are you looking for them to embed your products in theirs e.g. Paypal? Are you looking to sell more products with a “pull methodology” e.g. if a user is considering buying a fitness tracker they will consider which apps are connected to the fitness tracker as part of their decision process. The “Shine” by Misfit Wearables integrates my data with Wechat, Speedo, Nest Thermostat, MyFitnessPal, AppleHealth, Evernote, LoseIt, RunKeeper, Walgreens etc.
Don’t forget to consider putting metrics in place to assess whether you hit your objectives or not e.g. # of customers, downloads, revenue etc
- Target Audience
You need to consider who you are going to need to work with to make sure that you are going to achieve your goals.
Should you be working with the commercial decision makers at m-commerce apps? Or are you really focussed on working with freelance developers with a passion for tinkering with cool new technologies?
Where would you find these people? What country? What language? Which online forums? At Universities etc. Where do they congregate - both physically and virtually?
- Value Proposition
It’s all very well and good saying “I want to get 1000 developers using my SDK” but why would they bother? You need to build a unique, solid value proposition that explains what your product does, why its great and why it will be of benefit for developers to use it.
This is one of the most important points to spend your time on.
Are you solving a particular problem? Will you make them rich?
Our research has shown that developers look for 4 key things. The country they are in, and the stage of their development alters the priority of those factors but they stay the same.
Money - Its pretty simple - if you make developers lots of money they will keep coming back.
Distribution/Reach - While more technically inclined, developers still like to work on popular products they like but also because of the opportunity for reaching a huge installed base and the associated revenue or awareness.
Tools - either you or your tools need to be “cool”, a tough call for many enterprises.
There are ways to show you organization’s coolness factor without having to change everything you do, (particular if you really aren't cool) but you could consider the following
- Get heavily involved in open source one way or another
- Show code
- Get cool developers evangelizing and, even better, using your APIs.
- Partner with cool brands
Fame - this is a funny one as it means something slightly different dependent upon where you are in the world. In some countries it means awareness/marketing/promotion whereas in others it is actually more about fame within the developer community itself, increasing their respect and credibility with other developers.
Don't underestimate the importance of how you communicate with developers. It is a total waste of money if you don't have people who understand that communicating with developers.
First and foremost is you have to speak to developers with respect. I have been in meetings where I have heard people speak about developers as if they are junior lackeys. The people you are trying to attract are people that you are hoping to tie the future of your company to so you want to make sure that the best want to work with you and that you acknowledge the power that a strong relationship will bring you. Great developers are like rock stars - brilliantly creative - so treat them accordingly.
Developers expect you to make the ways that you present your tools clear and easy to navigate, with as little logging in as possible.
Keep communicating, either directly via chat or e-mails, through social media (the majority of developers fall into the perfect age for this), in developer forums or at developer events (both yours and others). Keep your preferred developers extremely close and communicate regularly. Maybe even showcase them if appropriate.
Developers definitely like PLU “people like us” so it really helps if you have some extrovert developers on your side that can communicate directly. Extrovert developers are like gold-dust so look after them well. Well, treat all of your developers well but really show this one the love.
Openness and Interaction
You need other people talking, not just you. In an ideal world developers would hear nothing from you, only from your fans. They need the forum to do so. Online forums and your blog are obvious and, as we mentioned before, developer events are crucial whether you sponsor someone else's or build your own. Ideally your events should lean heavily toward code tutorials and workshops as opposed to marketing presentations.
You have to have good documentation for your APIs, its how developers will choose whether they want to work with you or not.
Good documentation means it is current, its easy to use, HTML and has code samples.
You want to let people access your documentation so make sure that no login is required and that you put it in all the places that your target developers will be e.g. Github.
It needs to be online, ideally real time and an absolute winner is if it is in the local language. Translating everything for a developer is worth a fortune in terms of perceived committment to the market.
Examples/ Case Studies
Show how your techology is being used, by whom and where the benefit comes. Make sure it is written for the technologist but that the benefit part can be shared with the commercial decision maker.
6. Site/ Flow
Make sure that everything is easy to find.
I mentioned this before because registration processes are a huge obstacle in the onboarding process. It may seem like a small point, it isn't. And that's because developers need to use an API or other tool as part of the learning and, therefore, how they make their decision.
Assume it is a multi-level registration. Wait until the developer has seen some value before asking for more. Stripe, for example, only asks for an email and password but they can play around for a bit first before bothering to register at all.
Speed to TTFHW (Time to first Hello World)
Give developers whatever you possibly can to help speed up their journey to launched product.
- Use tools, emulators etc to showcase your API working
- Sample code
- Consider some guides
Hopefully this will set you on your way to your own program, but do set up some time for a chat if you think that you’d like some help.
Alternatively check out our tools to help you grow your own developer community.