If you’re a human that’s been alive for the past decade or so (if you’re an alien, hello) you know that technology has evolved at lightning speed, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. With the proliferation of mobile devices and the increasing reach of Internet access, we’ve seen a huge surge in software development. And with that surge comes an increase in developers as the world continues to find more ways to digitize…well…everything.
As the number of developers grew, they found new ways to create tools to develop new software. With the introduction of open-source technology, developers now have more freedom than ever to access free programs and alter them to suit their needs (they really are a smart bunch, those developers). Now, they have the ability to choose which applications they use.
And you know what more choices mean.
Yep, they became pickier.
And rightfully so. How else can innovation happen?
Anyways, as developers raised their standards and expectations, software companies had to adapt.
Today, developers have more sway in the buying cycle than ever before. Gone are the days when all software companies had to do was convince the executives who never code—now, they have to convince the hands-on developers themselves that their applications are worth paying for.
This is why software companies today—especially software as a service (SaaS) ones—need to be developer-focused. There’s a growing and pressing need for tools, systems, and environments that enable developers to build more software in more efficient and creative ways.
But much more than creating tools and systems that assist developers, many companies are adopting a developer-first approach to operations and company culture. This helps them retain top talent to help them build, manage, and maintain products while serving customers and clients. This empowers developers, creates a more beneficial and comfortable working experience, and helps them increase velocity and productivity. This strategy is termed the developer-focused, developer-centric, or developer-first approach.
So now the question is, how does one run a successful developer-focused company?
Today, we’re going to learn from the veterans who paved the way and look into the strategies of five developer-focused SaaS companies. Read on to see what they’re doing right and most importantly, how they’re doing it.
Examples of Developer-Focused Companies That Are Doing It Right
First up, GitHub
GitHub is a platform designed to help developers build, ship, and maintain their software projects. They’re one of the most popular tools out there today. In fact, GitHub is used by over 73 million developers worldwide. It’s a cloud-based tool that enables developers to seamlessly collaborate on projects concurrently from different locations. GitHub also allows developers to set up and host professional and personal projects securely.
On the corporate side, GitHub empowers companies to hire technical talent from different parts of the world, coordinate developer teams, and help individual team members track and manage their contributions.
GitHub’s Developer-Focused Strategies
Here’s what GitHub is doing to empower their developers:
- Bringing developers together: GitHub is the largest community of open-source projects. The collaborative nature of GitHub enables developers to create, manage and contribute to open-source projects. GitHub expects to reach 100 million developers by 2025.
- GitHub Education: The GitHub global campus is a community of students, teachers, and schools worldwide with local campus groups coordinated by GitHub campus experts. They also offer the student developer pack with free access to premium resources.
- Localization: GitHub in-house teams became globally distributed as they sought to expand internationally by the end of 2020. This way, they can provide localization support for their products to support various languages and currencies.
GitHub’s focus is developer unity, bringing genius minds together, and encouraging collaboration and education. And because of this, GitHub has gathered a rather large group of loyal users.
Snyk is one of the tech industry’s leading cloud computing companies. They provide security infrastructure for developers to build reliably in the cloud. Snyk plays in the DevSecOps (development, security, and operations) space and has been developer-focused from day one.
Snyk prides themselves on providing developer-first tools and security intelligence that integrates seamlessly into developer tools and pipelines. They also enable you to find and fix security vulnerabilities in code, containers, and their dependencies. In 2021 alone, Snyk was used in more than 130 million container tests, and 56 million vulnerabilities were fixed by Snyk container users. And some notable Snyk customers include Intuit, Shutterstock, Ericsson, COMCAST, Revolut, MongoDB, and Bosch.
Snyk’s Developer-Focused Strategies
The following are marks of Snyk in the developer ecosystem:
- Champions dev tooling with a security mindset: Snyk builds with the mindset of allowing developers to own their security tooling and workflow rather than being managed by a centralized security team. This has pushed Snyk to build delightful experiences in their products that suit developers.
- Supports open-source: Snyk is an open-source platform. It’s used for the visibility and monitoring of open-source vulnerabilities. You can find vulnerabilities, prioritize them and deal with them using tools provided by the Snyk platform.
- Snyk Blog: The Snyk blog features many DevSecOps articles. They offer tutorials, guides, and thought pieces on open source, container security, and developer tooling in general.
Snyk focuses on empowering developers with security tools and giving them space to craft their own creations with their open-source format. And with an active blog that features up-to-date and content-rich articles, Snyk has posed themselves as a trusted source in the industry.
Salesforce is the biggest online customer and sales management platform for businesses. Their cloud-based model positions them as one of the top players in the SaaS industry. They enable businesses to manage their employees, customers, finances, and more.
Launched by four co-founders in 1999, Salesforce allows users to access the software and application data from various devices and operating systems through web browsers. Their platform (Salesforce Customer 360) provides businesses with many apps to manage and interact with customers from anywhere in the world. On top of that, they empower enterprises by providing them with actionable data and operational insights. Salesforce is a strong ally in various teams and industries, including sales, marketing, e-commerce, and many more. Bentley, Spotify, Amazon Web Services, and Toyota are some of their biggest customers.
Salesforce’s Developer-Focused Strategies
The following are some implementations that Salesforce focuses on to serve developers:
- Developer-centric: Salesforce empowers developers to rapidly build with its technology and deliver practical business applications to their customers. Salesforce also offers career paths and learning tracks for Salesforce developers. This is aside from the excellent well-architected developer documentation that the platform provides. The documentation exposes you to the ins and outs of Salesforce while providing all the information you need to build your applications. They do well with conceptual docs, providing code samples, podcasts, and even YouTube videos.
- Integrations: Customer360 itself powers lots of applications for sales, marketing, and service delivery. Then, it integrates with 3rd party applications like Slack, MailChimp, G Suite, and more. It features powerful APIs to even build custom experiences on the Salesforce1 mobile app.
- Community: Salesforce has a robust global community. They’ve been able to connect developers onsite and online through the Sforce meetups. They also have developer forums for discussions and inquiries about Salesforce products.
Salesforce shines in its global reach, connecting developers from all over the world. With proper documentation and integration of various applications, think of Salesforce as a multi-cultural modern city with all the fixings.
Created by developers, Atlassian offers project management software for engineering teams. Their systems help developers track issues and progress and collaborate on projects and tasks. In essence, Atlassian makes developer-focused project management solutions and collaboration tools.
Their primary product is Jira—an all-in-one platform to plan features, monitor tasks, and manage bugs. It’s very customizable—a big win in developers’ eyes!
Another prominent tool among the Atlassian offerings is bitbucket. Bitbucket is a Git-based version control and code collaboration platform. It allows developers to host and share code while working on several different projects.
Atlassian tries to provide an all-around experience for the developer workflow. Recently, they actually expanded their software to cater to other departments that interact with engineering teams—keeping their developer-focused objective in mind.
Atlassian’s Developer-Focused Strategies
Here are some of the ways that Atlassian serves developers:
- One-time platform and seamless integration: If there’s something that developers love, it’s being able to customize and modify things to their use case and taste. Atlassian offers many integrations with 3rd party tools and various plug-ins. These features make Atlassian an all-in-one platform for development needs.
- User-friendly design: Atlassian excels with delightful interfaces in developer tooling. You can customize it as required.
- Excellent support and comprehensive documentation: Atlassian offers a comprehensive knowledge base with contextual guides and API docs for their products. Asides from that, they have Atlassian University, which provides product training and career certification for Atlassian products like Jira, Confluence, and more.
Atlassian is heavily considerate of developers’ workflow and built their products specifically with customization in mind. Along with educational content and helpful documentation, Atlassian is a crowd favorite among developers and their supporting teammates alike.
Auth0 is another great model of a developer-focused company. They offer out-of-the-box authentication and authorization for applications built by developers. As crucial as authentication and authorization are for developers, building these capabilities into the software can be difficult with several edge cases and vulnerabilities. Auth0 simplifies the process by providing a simplified and secure layer to abstract the complexity. Auth0 is easy to set up and integrate. You can also customize it to the required requirements and use Auth0 for web, mobile, IoT, and cloud applications.
Auth0’s message is clear: developer-first, simple, and extensible. As of 2021, Auth0 was already used by 8,000 developers and IT managers in 124 countries.
Auth0’s Developer-Focused Strategies
Here’s what Auth0 is doing for their developers:
- User-friendly experience: Auth0 offers intuitive products that are easy to integrate into existing software. They provide a seamless experience through their dashboard and CLI tools.
- Education-first approach: Auth0 offers various resources on security and software development. The Auth0 documentation is comprehensive and well designed, and organized.
- Blog: The Auth0 blog is read by more than 700,000 developers monthly around the globe. It consists of 8 years’ worth of well-curated articles, guides, quickstarts, and event recaps on several technologies and tools used by developers.
Auth0 understands that developers are learners at heart and have set themselves up to be a trusted source of knowledge within the industry. Along with easy-to-use software, they really are a crowd favorite.
There are many ways to cater to developers. Here are some actionable points for you to take away, consider, adapt, and implement.
- Connect developers with an open-source system: Developers love to modify tools to fit their own needs, and sharing that with other developers worldwide is a great way to build community.
- Enable easy integration with existing tools: With so many platforms and software out there, you’ll seldom find any developer that won’t need to integrate your tool with the ones they’re already using. So, make sure simple integration is a part of your product offerings.
- Focus on delivering excellent developer experience: Consider the entire developer’s workflow, and cater your tool to enhance that.
- Provide useful documentation and invest in blogs: Remember that developers have curious minds, and more often than not, a huge part of their job is researching how certain software and systems work and how to use them better. Knowing that, you can set yourself up as a trusted source of information within your industry by offering comprehensive documentation as well as a blog. You can get started on your own with your tech writing team, or with a tech-content-writing company like ContentLab, who can help you every step of the way.
- Offer products that serve developers and their supportive team members: Set yourself apart by not only taking care of developers when they’re building and coding but also when they take that work to their coworkers. Consider if products made with your tool are easy to share or if there’s a way to show stats and numbers that can be used to present to non-tech team members.
We hope these five examples of successful SaaS companies have given you some ideas to add to your own. From easy integrations to high-level blogs, there’s a lot you can do to become more developer-focused.
Now go forth and wow the developers of the world. Engineers everywhere (and by association, everyone on the planet that uses technology) thank you.