Why Ask a Developer?
It’s fun getting to know each developer! But we know individual stories can have unmerited weight. That’s why we also use data like that collected by Evans Data Corporation, SlashData, and our own surveys. However, running an idea, question or assumption by a member of the audience (MOA) can still add value. In this case, our MOAs are your audience, too — developers and other IT professionals.
Sure, there are as many answers as there are developers. Nonetheless, often interesting trends as well as hard-to-find nuances emerge. Unsurprisingly, stories told at a human scale often appear as overarching themes or trends at a population scale. That’s why we asked celebrity developer and Twitch Live Coder Jeffrey Fritz to ask fellow developers some of the questions technical content marketers most want answered.
Meet Allison Day
Fritz recently spoke with developer Allison Day. Day is an independent web developer who also writes games on stream. She goes by the screen name “SushiCodes” on her developer channel and has a SECOND Twitch channel called ”SushiDay” (https://twitch.tv/sushiday) where she does cooking shows on the weekends.
What makes tech content easy to use?
Day reveals that she prefers text blog posts over videos. Why? The choice is personal. Day tells Fritz, “So I’m the kind of person who — I’m more of a reading kind of person than a watching kind of person.”
Day does occasionally watch videos that show something that is hard to describe with text. In general, Day finds technical content delivered as text in blog posts a lot easier to consume than video.Day finds technical content delivered as text in blog posts a lot easier to consume than video. Click To Tweet
Do you prefer content written by the developer in the field or the developer from the company?
Day finds that the independent developer, or the developer in the field or practitioner offers more honest and credible content. Often, a company’s technical blog written by product developers will sound like they’re trying to market the product, because they avoid writing about what could go wrong. They don’t admit to the tricks you need to use their products.Often, a company’s technical blog written by product developers will sound like they're trying to market the product, because they avoid writing about what could go wrong. They don’t admit to the tricks you need to use their products. Click To Tweet
Day points out, “…when it’s [content from] somebody who’s not in the company, that tends to be a little unbiased.” A company’s developers can offer value if they write about something only someone very close to the product can know. Nonetheless, the most useful content comes from the developer in the field. Day says, “I do think the [content from an] independent person [developer] is better most of the time, more useful most of the time.”Day says, “I do think the (content from an) independent person (developer) is better most of the time, more useful most of the time.” Click To Tweet
Is technical content from the practitioner outside the company more likely to talk about workarounds?
According to both Fritz and Day, the answer is yes. The developer in the field is much more likely to address how to work around something with a vendor’s tool. Day observes, “You won’t always see that from the company themselves because maybe they don’t want to point out the things that don’t go right…”
Another benefit of the outsider perspective is that they know what is not obvious to a new user. Day understands that for the developer inside the company, “they’re so used to the product that they kind of already know how to use things, so it doesn’t even occur to them that this might be an issue for people because they already do the workaround all the time.”
How-tos can be almost recipe-driven. Do you prefer that or a review-type of an article?
Day prefers how-to’s to review articles because they are more useful to her. Most of the time, if she’s looking for content, she wants to know how to use what she has, not what tool to use.
There are exceptions. Day notes that reviews “…can have value, especially if I’m trying to decide what to use.” However, most of the time, if she’s looking for technical content, she is looking for information on how to apply the product she is working with.
Day explains, “… I have this product that I want to use, now what do I do with it? How do I get into it? How do I do this specific thing with it? So I do find the how-tos to be more useful.”Day explains, “... I have this product that I want to use, now what do I do with it? How do I get into it? How do I do this specific thing with it? So I do find the how-tos to be more useful.” Click To Tweet
Is it valuable if brands allow third-party contributors to send pull requests to update their documentation?
Bringing people from the outside into the documentation party is hugely helpful to Day. She explains,”…if you’re pulling those third-party pull requests, not only are you telling the [developer] community that you value them and you value their input — so you’re making a stronger connection with the people who use your product — but you’re also getting a lot of input.”
In Day’s view, this input is invaluable, because it comes from developers who don’t know how the company wants things to work. These developers experience the documentation as an outsider and know how things actually work. They notice when documentation is confusing or incomplete. Third-party pull requests can give a real world explanation of how the features ACTUALLY work.Third-party pull requests can give a real world explanation of how the features ACTUALLY work. Click To Tweet
Are tutorials an effective way to learn about new technologies?
Day can’t get enough of tutorials, especially right now. Her team has gotten into game development, which is new for them. What does that mean for her? Day says learning game dev means “…it’s been all about all the tutorials that we can get our hands on, and we’ve been watching tutorials, we’ve been reading tutorials. We love tutorials…So many tutorials. ”Day says learning game dev means “...it's been all about all the tutorials that we can get our hands on, and we've been watching tutorials, we've been reading tutorials. We love tutorials...So many tutorials. ” Click To Tweet