Why a great developer experience is key to success in 2023

A look into how the right environment and tools are crucial in order for developers to deliver projects on time and within budget.


When we think about user satisfaction, we often forget that developers are users too! And developers, just like any other technology users, deserve to have a smooth and intuitive experience when using a company’s technology or platform. This is referred to as developer experience and tooling (DX) here at VirtusLab.

Major companies such as Amazon and Uber have come to understand the significance of DX and have made it a key part of their business strategy. For instance, Amazon used its understanding of developers’ needs to create Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has become a major player in the tech industry. This technology not only meets the needs of their users but also enables their teams to work more efficiently and effectively.

By prioritising DX, these companies have been able to create cutting-edge technology that supports their business objectives and leads to success.  

What is a developer experience strategy?

The current economic conditions are characterised by contracting markets and cost reduction, as well as restricted access to technical resources for development teams and a budget for team growth. Now is the time for technical leaders to prioritise developer experience and tooling (DX) and treat this as an opportunity to create a positive and efficient environment for their teams. 

This process involves:

  • abstracting developers from the complexity of infrastructure,
  • providing the right tools and support, and
  • implementing effective processes and best practices.

In challenging times, a focus on DX can help teams work more efficiently and effectively, even with limited resources.

A DX strategy should involve looking inward and identifying areas for improvement and growth. This can include addressing architectural design and developer workspace, as well as making small changes and tweaks that can have a big impact. By focusing on DX, companies can help their teams stay motivated and engaged, so they can continue to innovate and deliver high-quality solutions.

Developer experience strategy: How do I start?

As a technical leader, take on the responsibility to ensure internal processes, tooling, and documentation prioritise developer experience (DX). By focusing on DX, you can increase developer satisfaction, reduce burnout, improve retention, and ensure that your team can deliver high-quality solutions, even when considering the aforementioned challenging market conditions they all face.

To start, you should identify the bottlenecks in your current DX and create an action group with representatives from different parts of the IT team. This group should focus on areas such as software developer kits, application programming interfaces, open-source code repositories, and other essential tools and resources for developers.

As you assess and prioritise these areas, you should create a backlog of activities and work closely with your developer community to make decisions and contribute to the overall DX strategy. It is important to measure the impact of your efforts and iterate on your approach as needed to continue improving the developer experience.

Making significant changes to your DX strategy can be challenging, especially for a team that is already stretched thin. However, by maintaining focus and prioritising the areas that will have the greatest impact, you can create a positive and efficient environment that will help your team succeed.

Areas of focus might include: 

  • Software Developer Kits (SDKs) and code libraries, Tools IDE’s 
  • Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Open-source code repositories, 
  • Code libraries, sample code, or tutorials, 
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), 
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), 
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and CloudOps, 
  • Specifications and open standards and all processes around the SDLC

It is crucial to develop metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you track your progress and identify areas for improvement to measure the success of your DX strategy and ensure that you are making progress. That can include metrics such as developer satisfaction, retention rates, and the number of successful projects delivered on time and within budget. Other measures like the size of a single contribution, time to market, deployed code, code compile and test loops, also add value.

As you implement your DX strategy, you should regularly review and analyse these metrics to assess the impact of your efforts and identify areas where you can make improvements. This can involve making small tweaks to your environment or processes or implementing more significant changes to your workflow or technology stack.

In some cases, these changes may require upgrading key solutions or making fundamental changes to your workflow or architecture. These can be daunting for an already stretched and busy development team., However, by focusing on the areas that will have the greatest impact and prioritising your efforts, you can successfully navigate these challenges and improve the overall developer experience.

How to succeed with your DX strategy

In today’s challenging market, it is important for businesses that have mission-critical systems and rely on mid – to large-size teams, to seek support from third-party vendors and consulting firms to help with their digital transformation and developer experience (DX) strategies. 

In Summary

Developer experience is gaining recognition for good reason. It was previously overlooked as the focus was primarily on the end product, but many companies are beginning to realise how crucial it is for achieving success. Creating a positive developer experience may require effort, but it is a worthwhile investment. Do not view it as a luxury but rather as a necessity. Providing a good developer experience will make your developers happier and ultimately bring numerous long-term benefits.  We look forward to hearing from you and to helping your team succeed.

Written by

Peter Ratcliffe
Peter Ratcliffe Regional Head of Sales UK & Ireland Feb 6, 2023