But they are developers too
I often hear a statement when justifying decisions in building developer tools: but they are developers too. It bugs me a ton because it throws all the developers into the same bag and assumes that they know what you know.
If we want to build great developer tools, we need to start by acknowledging that the developer community is diverse in terms of backgrounds, skills, and levels. Our lazy side would prefer a single persona because we can design the tools using us as a reference, and without researching much. But fortunately, the world is heterogeneous.
Acknowledging diversity is necessary but not sufficient. We need to have the empathy to connect with the various personas that will use the tools. Here are some examples:
- A developer that doesn’t want to make many decisions.
- A developer that has strong opinions and wants to customize their setup.
- A developer is new to programming and is getting familiar with some concepts.
Once connected with those profiles we are building for, we can design a tool that either infers the experience based on the identified persona or provides an interface to indicate it. Alternatively, you can guide everyone through the same initial experience and give them opportunities to diverge and design their own journey. We can also embrace DHH's conceptual compression idea to make the experience feel like you are peeling layers of concepts as needed.
If you are building developer tools, remember. Not everyone is like you. Embrace diversity and build for it.