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The Developer Journey

Updated: May 28, 2023

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash
Photo by T.H. Chia on Unsplash

Like a customer journey, The Developer Journey is the path a developer follows and experiences as they interact with your brand, team, and product.

The Developer Journey Map we created (see image below), visualizes this journey for you.

The Developer Journey Map

Stages, goals, questions, touchpoints.

As developers move left to right across the stages of the map, their level of interaction increases. The Developer Journey map is one of the most valuable tools in DevRel as it helps you to think holistically about the experience from the developers’ perspective while providing a practical guide for you.

Those interactions, which we call developer touchpoints, are used to map the developer’s experience along the way - how they engage, what and who they engage with, how it makes them feel, and how they react. Organizing these touchpoints into a map helps you identify shortcomings or friction, which you can then optimize to create a better overall experience.

Your goal with the map is to progress your developer from left to right as quickly as possible to increase product adoption and revenue potential. But not too quickly that the developer leaves out of frustration from not allowing them to get to the point of adoption that works best for them.

The Five Stages

Discover, Evaluate, Learn, Build, Scale

The five stages on the map indicate significant changes in the developer’s intent and actions. They do not imply elapsed time.

For example, a developer may complete the first three or four stages on the same day if they invest the time, and you have provided a friction-free experience. Conversely, the adoption cycle to become a user could take a year if you piqued a developer’s interest, but they haven’t found the right use case or project to build with your product. Also, the type of developer product matters. For example, an API typically has a faster journey time than an IOT hardware board.

Note that each stage has a stated goal for the developer. If the goal is achieved, the developer will move on to the next adoption stage. Each goal has key questions that you need to answer for the developer to achieve the overall goal of the stage in question. The goals and associated questions may be different for your program. This is fine. What is critical is you have identified them and can provide the answers necessary for the developer to progress.

As a DevRel leader, it’s your job to develop and optimize each of the “touchpoints,” ensuring you answer all of their questions and meet the goals for each stage of the journey.





Owned and Earned

Owned touchpoints are the properties and content that your company owns and controls. You have complete control over what a touchpoint is, what it does, and how it contributes. Examples include your website, developer hub, documentation, your messaging on social media, your advertising, pricing information, code samples, support, etc.

External touchpoints are the opposite. You do not have direct control over them, however, they are key resources and channels to reach both your existing users and your potential future customers. Ensuring your brand and tools are visible, discussed, and supported on these properties is absolutely vital to ensure awareness grows, reputation is positive, and adoption rises. Examples include developer-focused media, industry analysts, 3rd party communities, external forums, etc.

On the Developer Journey Map above we included forty-two touchpoints for you to consider. We have also placed them in the spot where they are typically first encountered. Of course, touchpoints can be relevant in more than one stage of the journey. Don’t feel constrained by what these are or where they are situated in our example - do what is right for you. We encourage you to iterate on our example.

How To Find Out If Your Journey Is Working?

We recommend you use this Developer Journey Map at the initial creation of your program and periodically to audit the effectiveness of your journey with ongoing reviews and tests. The key is to remove all the friction from your journey.

Here are three ways to identify friction in both quantitative and qualitative ways to understand if your journey is working optimally:

  • Ask your community

  • Conduct a Developer Experience Audit

  • Journey Data Evaluation and Measurement

Your Developer Journey Map is one of the most important documents you will create. It enables you to walk in the shoes of the Developer. It can be used to document and level set the understanding of your Developers’ interactions and their experience with every facet of your company. It also signposts the key external places your customers and prospects spend time.


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