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Beyond CX: The case for Developer Experience

Mark van der Walle
June 30, 2021

It has been over 20 years since Steve Ballmer’s famous “Developers, Developers,
Developers” rant. While at the time his performance was aimed at the developers of
Microsoft at that time and more about motivating them, it did already signal the importance of
engineers in the modern world.
Fast forward to today where many organizations are transitioning into a DevOps way of
working. This is due to an increased demand of customers to deliver faster, provide better
service and at the same time reduce cost.
This demand places a large burden on the teams to be faster, better and more reliable than
ever before. To be able to shoulder those challenges engineers turn more and more towards
tooling, libraries, frameworks and automation.
For pleasing customers it is very common to have customer experience (CX) practices in
place to ensure the journey is as smooth as possible. This to ensure that they like our
products and in turn generate more revenue. Everyone understands the importance of such
practices. It is equally important to focus on Employee Experience or more specifically for
this topic Developer Experience. However this is far less common and understood.
Engineers often have to deal with clunky user interfaces, severely lacking documentation
and tools that make them jump through hoops to get the simplest things done.
The time engineers spend dealing with such problems, they are not spending on improving
the products and services your company provides to your customers. So it is not surprising
that if engineers are not provided with the tools they need, they will be looking elsewhere.
Elsewhere could mean an entirely different company or more simply: other tooling. Such
endeavors often lead to problems due to Shadow IT.
From the perspective of tool suppliers, Developer Experience is perhaps even more
important. If your tool, framework or library does not make the life of an engineer easier they
will simply move on to other tools that do. In this case DX obviously equals UX or CX.
Developers are a fickle bunch and they tend to hold a grudge. If you annoy them they might
easily walk away from your, perhaps awesome product, and never look back.
Fortunately a lot of companies have seen the need for UX for the engineer persona. With
more fluent journeys, clear and comprehensive documentation or tutorials; and the rise of
the Developer Advocate such companies are in a far better position to become popular.
Toolings, frameworks and more have become easier to work with
For your own developers it is similar, they might not be walking away, but they are also not
the most productive. The costs spent on dealing with issues in their workplace and toolset
are far higher than the cost of providing them with the right tools. One can easily understand
when a carpenter spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars on his tools.
For IT companies and companies with a big IT component, engineers are a very valuable
asset and they become far more valuable when you provide them with the right tools. The
benefits will far outweigh the costs.

So as an IT company and a tool provider keep this in mind. The importance of Employee
Experience and especially Developer Experience cannot be overstated. I am not saying that
every company should perform the developer monkey dance, however taking a good look at
how your company supports its engineers to make their daily work easier and more efficient
is likely very beneficial.
Because as Richard Branson said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. if you
take care of your employees, they take care of your customers.”.

About the author

Lead Software Architect | Netherlands
Mark is an experienced software architect with more than 14 years professional experience in software development and operations. In his years of experience Mark has always had a drive of building and designing reliable and simple solutions to complex problems. To realize this Mark has a strong focus on quality backed by solid engineering, CI/CD pipelines, DevOps principles and craftmanship.


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