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It was November 2017 when we pushed the very first version of Vue Storefront to GitHub. At that time, there were only two of us working on it after hours. One year later, we had been invited to almost every Magento event and podcast. Vue Storefront had almost 100 agencies around the world implementing it, and more than 4000 people were on its Slack. New live stores were popping up every week, and SAP had even approached us, asking for help to build its own Enterprise product.
As crazy as it sounded, this was a real story. What was our secret ingredient to success? Developer Experience. Despite having no investment or marketing budget, we managed to leverage Developer Experience to our advantage. The mechanisms that led to our success can be used by other IT companies, both building and consuming developer tools to greatly increase their chances of success.
Developer Experience is User Experience
For a company building tools for developers, developers are their users, so Developer Experience is just User Experience. It’s not a secret that improving the experience of your users can be a great way to increase revenue. A survey by UserTesting found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Some companies, like Amazon, have become completely obsessed with their customers and their experience. It works the same way with developers!
Developer Experience drives web tools adoption
Developers are constantly looking for new and better tools that will allow them to perform tasks more efficiently or decrease the chances of failure.
The reason we became so successful with Vue Storefront was quite simple - we identified a pain point of a huge amount of developers and shipped something that improved their experience. They lifted it up because our success was in their interest.
Developers often look for tools that are easy to use, provide the required functionality, have good documentation, and have good community support. If a tool lacks these qualities, developers are more likely to switch to an alternative tool that provides a better experience.
In our case, we gave Magento 2 frontend developers a way to use a modern frontend framework like Vue, and decouple their work from the PHP world. It was in their interest to advocate for Vue Storefront and convince the companies they worked for to use it. This way, they could learn a new, exciting technology that is much more enjoyable and efficient to work with than what they were used to.
I know what you’re thinking right now - is it really worth investing time in a migration just to make my developers happier? As a leader, or a business owner, should I even listen to their whims?
Developer Experience improves the efficiency of your team
Using a developer tool with great developer experience is like driving on a well-maintained highway, where you can smoothly and efficiently cruise at high speeds towards your destination.
On the other hand, using a tool with a poor developer experience is like driving on a bumpy and pothole-filled road, where you constantly have to slow down and maneuver around obstacles, causing delays and frustration. Ultimately, the former allows you to get to your destination faster and with less stress, while the latter can slow you down and impede your progress.
Developers spend most of their time coding, designing, and testing software applications. The experience they have while doing these tasks can have a significant impact on their performance. Good developer experience can make them more productive and more efficient, leading to timely delivery of high-quality software.
While a bad developer experience can lead to inefficiencies, delays, and ultimately, higher costs. This can also impact the end-user experience, leading to unhappy customers, bad reviews, and lost business opportunities.
It’s not always worth migrating to the next big thing
Investing in tools that can provide better developer experience is an excellent decision, especially for large teams. However, it's essential to consider that not all migrations are worthwhile. If your current tool is already delivering good developer experience, then it's highly unlikely that migrating to a new tool will bring significant benefits that justify the costs.
For example, people migrated from webpack to Vite in large numbers because webpack was incredibly slow in larger projects, leading to a significant waste of time.
However, Vite has addressed this problem by being fast enough, so replacing Vite with an even faster build tool may not provide the same benefits as migrating from webpack to Vite.
Therefore, it's crucial to make a well-informed decision before making any changes to your current toolset.
Developer Experience attracts talent
Good developer experience can also impact employee retention and recruitment. Developers want to work for companies that provide the best tools, technologies, and working environments. Often they switch jobs just to be able to work with the new technology they’re excited about.
According to a survey by Hired, a job search platform for tech talent, outdated technology is one of the top reasons why developers look for new jobs. In their 2021 State of Software Engineers report, they found that 39% of software engineers surveyed cited outdated technology as a reason for leaving their job, making it the second most common reason behind compensation.
By providing good developer experience, businesses can retain and attract top talent, leading to better results and growth opportunities.
Investing in Developer Experience (DX) can be a game-changer for IT companies building and consuming developer tools. DX is simply User Experience (UX) for developers, and improving it can increase revenue, drive adoption, and increase team efficiency.
However, not all migrations are worthwhile, and it's crucial to make a well-informed decision before making any changes to your current toolset. Good DX can also impact employee retention and recruitment, leading to better results and growth opportunities. Overall, businesses should consider DX as a growth hack that can drive success and take them to the next level.
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