TWD

Breaking Into Developer Experience: The 8 Most Common DX Roles

The developer experience field is constantly growing, and new roles are being established regularly. As a result, it can be hard to understand what roles actually exist in the developer experience field and what responsibilities they generally have.

That's why I've compiled a list of the eight most common roles you'll find in the developer experience field, along with what responsibilities and skills will help you the most when trying to land your next DX job!

Table of Contents

Community Advocate

Community Advocate is an emerging role in DX. Community advocates are responsible for many things as developer advocates, focusing on community engagement over community enablement. Often this role will work within a specific community like a Discord server.

Responsibilities

  • Relationship building - you'll spend your days immersed in the community, building relatiionships wtih developers and fostering engagement.
  • Providing feedback - distilling feedback from developers into something insightful and actionable for the teams at your company is a significant part of the job.
  • Tummling - a large part of being a community advocate is connecting the community, encouraging participation, and raising awareness of what value is available to community members.

Skills

  • Empathy - community advocates have to understand the needs of their community and company, just like developer advocates. But, to do that well, you need to have compassion for both sides of the relationship and understand their goals, frustrations, and joys so that you can adequately assist.
  • Community management - knowing how to run a community will be helpful in this role. While the strategy for the community should not lie with the advocate, advocates should be familiar with concepts like moderation, code of conduct, and community event planning.

Developer Advocate

Developer advocates are one of the most recognizable roles in DX. This role can take on many shapes because of how loosely it's defined. Still, at its core, the role is about building solid relationships with the company and community and using that knowledge to help both sides be successful. It's not uncommon to hear a phrase like "you represent the company to the community and the community to the company."

Responsibilities

  • Relationship building - it's challenging to be a successful developer advocate if no one is telling you what they like or don't like about the products/services your company is making. Inversely, it won't be easy to deliver feedback from the community if you haven't invested in forming solid relationships within your company.
  • Content creation - developer advocates often create content to help address developer pain points or raise awareness about the company's offers. The medium can take on many forms like written content, talks, live streaming, video, and more.
  • Providing feedback - distilling feedback from developers into something insightful and actionable for the teams at your company is a significant part of the job.

Skills

  • Technical writing - communicating about problems and solutions will be one of the most critical skills you can develop. Regardless of the medium, you use to create content. It will start with writing in almost all cases. Whether it's concerning getting buy-in for strategies or changes or creating content to help developers through pain points, you will need to communicate well and ideally do that in writing.
  • Empathy - developer advocates, have to exist in two worlds. To do that well, you need to have compassion for both sides of the relationship and understand their goals, frustrations, and joys so that you can adequately assist each side.
  • Prioritization - even with the best processes, strategies, and frameworks in place, the role of a developer advocate lends itself to chaos if not kept in check. Although there are an endless amount of things you could do and people you could help, being able to prioritize and organize your work will be fundamental to your success.

Developer Educator

Developer educators focus on creating core educational material. The medium can take on many forms, but they generally focus on a more holistic approach to education and think about content as a curriculum. This role is becoming more popular each day, and I think we'll see more companies invest heavily in educational strategies.

This differs from advocates and evangelists who create ad-hoc content to address specific needs.

Responsibilities

  • Curriculum development - developer educators, are responsible for the learning paths and coming up with the curriculum for their education material.
  • Teaching - while it's not always the case, developer educators frequently teach the curriculum they create. The content could take many forms like video courses, docs, blog posts, workshops, etc.

Skills

  • Technical writing - communicating about problems and solutions will be one of the most critical skills you can develop. Regardless of the medium, you use to create content. It will start with writing in almost all cases. You will need to communicate well and ideally do that in writing.
  • Teaching - being a good teacher is difficult. It requires patience, understanding, and a lot of empathy. However, the best developer educators are focused on becoming the best teachers they can so that their curriculum can help as many developers as possible.

Developer Evangelist and Developer Marketer

These roles often focus significant effort on top-of-funnel initiatives, especially awareness. The goal is to get the company's offerings in front of as many developers as possible but in ways still relevant to the right audience.

Sometimes people with these responsibilities will have the title Developer Advocate as well.

Responsibilities

  • Content creation - developer evangelists often create content to increase awareness and draw developers closer to the marketing funnel.
  • Providing feedback - while the focus of this role is primarily outbound, developer evangelists and marketers still get feedback from the community and can give that back to the company.
  • Travel - while this isn't as much of a responsibility currently [due to the COVID pandemic], attending and speaking at events is generally a core responsibility of evangelists and marketers.

Skills

  • Technical writing - communicating about problems and solutions will be one of the most critical skills you can develop. Regardless of the medium, you use to create content. It will start with writing in almost all cases. You will need to communicate well and ideally do that in writing.
  • Prioritization - even with the best processes, strategies, and frameworks in place, the role of a developer evangelist or marketer lends itself to chaos if not kept in check. There are an endless amount of things you could focus on. Being able to prioritize and organize your work will be fundamental to your success.

Developer Experience Engineer

This is another principal role in DX. Developer experience engineers can have a broad range of responsibilities, but they are essentially the engineering power behind developer experience teams. Because engineering is such a broad field and well known, I'd rather talk a bit about the most famous DX engineering roles I've seen in the last five years instead of focusing too much on responsibilities and skills.

DXE - Web Infrastructure

These engineers are responsible for building out the infrastructure for any initiatives coming out of DX. Some examples are docs sites, champions programs sites, microsites for other initiatives, and learning platforms.

DXE - Bots and Automation

These engineers focus on empowering the team (and often the community) by setting up solid integrations within community chat platforms like Slack and Discord and automating processes like content distribution.

DXE - Integrations

These engineers focus on creating integrations for their company's platform to make it easier for developers to work with.

DXE - Examples and Demos

This role is all about making sure any needed demos are created and kept up to date so that developers always have the most relevant examples to work with.

Technical Community Manager

This is another emerging role in DX. The technical community managers are builders of the community. They are responsible for the strategy for the community and for bringing it to life. More specifically, they are generally responsible for setting up and maintaining the central community gathering place and overall community health and engagement.

This role can vary significantly from typical community manager roles you might find in gaming and other industries.

Responsibilities

  • Community health - the TCM is responsible for measuring community health and looking for ways to improve community engagement and happiness.
  • Platform management - TCMs are the ones who are managing the community infrastructure. Managing channels, roles, moderators, and more to ensure a solid community foundation. This could also include some microsites and other properties owned by DX.
  • Tummling - a large part of being a community manager is connecting the community, encouraging participation, and raising awareness of what value is available to community members.

Skills

  • Community management - it should come as no surprise that the more experience you have building and managing communities, the more successful you'll be in this role.
  • Prioritization - even with the best processes, strategies, and frameworks in place, this role can still be hard to manage. There are an endless amount of things you could focus on. Being able to prioritize and organize your work will be fundamental to your success.
  • Empathy - it's important to remember who you're building for and to make sure your community is structured in a way that aligns with the developer personas you find in your ecosystem.

Technical Program Manager

The TPM is the one who keeps the ship running smoothly. They are focused on keeping everything and everyone in alignment, freeing up team members to focus on their core work. TPMs look for ways to automate processes and remove friction from the teams' workflows. They also are generally responsible for the overall health and productivity of a team, tracking initiatives and goals.

Responsibilities

  • Process management - looking for ways to simplify or automate processes that eat up time.
  • Program management - being able to keep initiatives and cross-functional/external programs running smoothly is the key to success for this role.

Skills

  • Communication - TPMs are the ones who are focused on keeping everyone up-to-date and spend a lot of time making sure there is alignment on all the initiatives and programs coming from DX.
  • Organization - making sure work is recorded, calendars are accurate, and everyone is in alignment on what they are doing is difficult. Being organized and developing solid frameworks and process around the team's initiatives and programs will be essential.
  • Prioritization - It's not enough to be organized, the TPM is also the person who makes sure the teams focus is aligned with their goals.

Technical Writer

Technical writer is another typical role in DX. Technical writers can serve many purposes but generally, they're responsible for core documentation, writing style guides, and are sometimes editors or writers of critical messaging content like keynotes, proposals, and more.

Responsibilities

  • Editing- technical writers are often the final pass for any technical content that will be released.
  • Content creation - the word writer is in the title of the role. The bulk of work for this role will be creating technical content across different properties like websites, blog, docs, etc.
  • Guidance - technical writers generally create styles guides for writing, voice, tone, etc and champion them within the company. They may also spend time mentoring other people within the company, helping others level up their technical writing skills.

Skills

  • Technical writing - this is without a doubt a must-have skill for a technical writer. You'll be one of the people helping to make content as clear and focused as possible.
  • Communication - TPMs are the ones who are focused on keeping everyone up-to-date and spend a lot of time making sure there is alignment on all the initiatives and programs coming from DX.

Conclusion

Developer experience is expanding and new roles are being defined rapidly. It can be hard to know how to get into DX or what roles align with your skillset and career goals. Hopefully this list will help bring some clarity to the field, but it's important to remember that these are generalizations and not all roles with these titles will have these responsibilities.

There are a lot of other roles like film maker, animator, broadcast producer, and others that can be found in DX as well. If you feel like I've missed a role that you see often, let me know on Twitter!