Webinar Recap: Improving the Developer Experience in 2023 & Beyond

Nylas experts weigh in on developer experience trends that will fundamentally disrupt how developers work and make decisions in 2023 and beyond.

Improving developer experience in 2023 and beyond

Nylas recently held a webinar exploring a topic rising to the top of every software company’s – and every company that uses software, for that matter – priority list: the developer experience (DevEx) in 2023. 

The role of the developer is becoming increasingly critical as businesses look to technology to build resilience and position themselves for future growth amidst a looming recession. According to Gartner, nearly 60% of IT executives say they already have increased, or plan to increase, emerging technology investments. 

However, the same survey found 64% of respondents feel that talent availability is the largest challenge to adopting emerging technologies. Businesses with developers – and perhaps more importantly, those creating developer-facing tools – must bring DevEx to the forefront of their strategies. 

In our webinar, Nylas’ Senior Vice President of Product Isaac Nassimi and Director of Developer Relations Ash Arnwine gave their expert takes on the DevEx trends that will significantly impact companies in 2023. A few key themes emerged from the conversation, including: 

  • What is DevEx? And how can you improve it internally (for your employees) and externally (for your customers)?
  • Why is DevEx receiving greater visibility and buy-in at the strategic level? 
  • What are the biggest opportunities for businesses to improve DevEx in 2023 and beyond? 

Let’s dive deeper into these themes and reflect on key highlights from the discussion. If you missed the session, don’t worry! You can check out the full video on demand here

Internal vs. external DevEx 

To kick us off, Isaac shared his definition of developer experience: 

“[DevEx] is just like a user experience (UX). In a normal web application today, your UX is the interface you’re interacting with – how it feels, how intuitive it is, how hard it is to work with, how easy it is to learn… what you expect to get out of the interface and what you actually get out of that interface.” 

However, he described a nuance between UX and DevEx: 

“DevEx functions in the way developers work. Developers write, deploy, run, and maintain  code; DevEx has interplay with how developers do those four functions.” 

There are two ways to think about DevEx. Internal DevEx is the experience developers and engineers have within a company. For example, are they continuously learning, being challenged in their roles, and solving meaningful problems? External DevEx looks at developers as customers. Is the technology you offer developers intuitive, and does it bring quick value? Can users easily find help when needed?

Isaac and Ash highlighted a few areas businesses should consider from an internal and external perspective when searching for opportunities to improve their DevEx. 

Internal DevEx: 

  • Attracting and retaining developer talent 
  • Helping developers overcome productivity obstacles 
  • Exploring processes, tools, and programs developers want 

External DevEx: 

  • Demonstrating quick value at the evaluation stage of the tools consideration process
  • Simplifying the developer journey as they build your product 
  • Giving developers an easy experience with your tool as they enter deployment 
  • Assuring support as developers switch into maintenance-mode 

DevEx at the strategic level 

DevEx is becoming strategically important at the executive level as business leaders are starting to recognize how removing developer friction can directly increase ROI. 

Isaac and Ash took a look at this trend from an internal and external DevEx perspective as well. 

From the slide deck “Improving the Developer Experience in 2023 & Beyond” presented by Nylas. 

“Everyone understands that interfaces have to have good UX… and the market has shifted accordingly. Where the attention hasn’t been put is where the improvement hasn’t been made, up until now. Many companies – even smaller companies, maybe even companies that don’t produce software as an end product – now have internal software development teams. And those teams are expensive…, and usually, they’re backlogged pretty far into the future and have a million things to do that they haven’t done yet.” 

Isaac Nassimi, Senior Vice President of Product at Nylas 

Biggest opportunities for businesses to improve DevEx in 2023 

So, we know that DevEx is essential, but what can businesses do to enhance this experience and make it their next competitive advantage? Isaac and Ash discussed many actionable trends in detail, but we’ll highlight a few examples here. 

From an internal DevEx perspective, our experts explain that businesses should focus on the following: 

  • Having a mature process in your organization — Is there clear documentation for how developers write code, deploy code, and solve engineering problems as they arise? If there’s maturity, developers will know they’ll spend most of their time solving the problem vs. struggling with your toolset. This is a crucial consideration for developers looking for their next opportunity. 
  • Implementing technology that will improve a developer’s productivityAccording to Stack Overflow, nearly 30% of developers have one to four years of coding experience – and this number is increasing. Some engineering problems can take months to solve, particularly for junior developers. That’s where an off-the-shelf solution can really help. 
  • Removing knowledge silos — Factor this into your decision-making regarding building versus buying technology features. Only one or two people will know how the technology works when building it internally. There’s a high potential that those folks will be over-indexed, out sick, or on PTO at some point, and this will hold up other developers trying to operate that technology.  

From an external DevEx perspective, businesses should focus on the following: 

  • Highlighting product features upfront — We’re seeing a massive trend of non-technical resources being able to do some or most of the technology evaluation themselves. Make this step seamless. For technical personas, let them see the process or platform in action via tools like GitHub Codespaces.
  • Showcasing ease of use during the building stage — The building phase is the most complex and most extended part of using a development product. This is when developers implement code within their company’s codebase, which may introduce challenges. Excellent documentation, SDKs, and an onboarding UI experience are essential here. 
  • Making scalability effortless – Most people who build software know that things break every time your business grows. However, using API services like Nylas and others help mitigate that challenge. 
  • Providing ongoing communication during maintenance — Deprecations and breaking changes will happen. Have clear SLAs, and help people understand what your policies are. 

Looking for more details and in-depth examples from the webinar, “Improving the Developer Experience in 2023 & Beyond”? Watch the full session on-demand now. Or, for more information on Nylas, register for one of our upcoming Nylas 101 demo sessions.

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