We can all agree that content is created to be consumed by readers, depending on the medium. With that said, you must know your target audience to ensure that it gets consumed. What type of content do they want? And what steps can you take to make your content valuable to them?
Today, let’s focus on the art of creating content for developers.
Why developers seek technical content
When creating content that appeals to developers, it is critical to understand why they are seeking it in the first place. In general, they are trying to:
Educate themselves on a new topic or technology - Generally speaking, developers are a curious breed. They are always looking to improve their skills in a world where the landscape is continuously changing. It is, therefore, a common practice for a developer to expand their knowledge by seeking out articles, videos, and other sources of information to help familiarize themselves with a new topic or technology that interests them.
Get help solving a problem - Every developer has been there: during the development of a new system, they run into an issue they cannot resolve or don’t know how to solve in the best way. To find a technology or practice that they can leverage to push past the problem, they turn to the internet and search for technical content that can shed some light on the direction they should take.
Stay up to date with changes to technologies and methodologies - This can range from researching popular tweaks to development methodologies that result in the refinement of an organization’s current processes to simply researching the release of a new version of a library used within one of an organization’s applications. Staying up to date with current process-related trends helps to ensure that high-quality software gets developed on time. And being educated on new changes to technologies leveraged during development helps to avoid security vulnerabilities and prevent applications from becoming untenable from a support perspective. Good developers realize this and strive to remain aware of any potential evolutions.
Best practices when creating content for a developer-centric audience
As indicated above, the job of a developer requires in-depth technical knowledge and great attention to detail. Therefore, when seeking materials to assist in the expansion of their knowledge or pursuit of a solution, they search for extraordinarily detailed and highly-technical content. This content can come in many forms, such as blog articles, whitepapers, or videos. It can be found through a Google search, shared via social media, or linked by users on another platform (such as StackOverflow or Reddit) that developers frequent to find answers to their development-related questions.
Consider the following guidelines for producing in-depth technical content that developers will love:
Speak to your audience through code
You can’t get much more technical than providing your audience with code samples. These demonstrations can be developed to introduce a new product or even to compare competing solutions. The bottom line is that developers can wrap their heads around your point with greater ease when you provide them with actual implementations that demonstrate the value of the solution(s) you’re highlighting.
Be sure to model your code samples around real-world use cases, and keep in mind that being verbose is not a bad thing. The goal is to show your audience how to do something, so you should strive to write code that is easy to follow. Code samples are excellent for both written and video content. For the latter, you should walk the developer through your sample application just as you would a colleague. For the former, you should provide your reader with a detailed walkthrough of the code itself. See this article for an example of how to use code to create great developer content.
Organize your content appropriately
It may seem obvious, but it’s especially important to be organized when producing technical content. The topics you are discussing are likely complicated, so don’t make it any harder on the reader by being disorganized in how you convey the information. You should begin by logically arranging your thoughts and developing a strategy for communicating them effectively and then outlining. Remember, you are speaking to developers whose job is to think logically on a day-to-day basis. They’ll appreciate being able to read or view content that is developed logically.
Put the advantages of the subject on display
As mentioned above, developers often seek certain types of material as a form of research, so it’s reasonable to assume that they are accessing your materials to gain insight into what they are researching. Whether the subject is a new framework, a new development practice, or anything else that merits discussion in the world of software development, developers are usually there to see if the discussion can give them insight into their situation. Therefore, you should be direct and emphatic in conveying the potential benefits of your content. For example, if you are focusing on a new software library that can help resolve common coding challenges, then you should highlight these uses as clearly as possible. In other words, don’t be vague. Point out the benefits of your particular subject in a way that ensures they cannot be overlooked or lost in translation.
When creating content of any kind, knowing your target audience is of the utmost importance. This rule is the same when producing technical content for software developers, as well. Developers in today’s climate get to where they are with attention to detail and the ability to learn quickly. In their code, they value technical detail, logical organization, and results that translate to value. If the content that you offer has the same qualities, they’ll be sure to find it beneficial.