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How to Create Successful Developer Products

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Jean Yang, Akita Software

"I often see functional programming enthusiasts make arguments about how their languages are better for developers for technical reasons (more guarantees; elegance) that aren't related to the high-priority problems that software teams are experiencing."

Jean Yang is founder and CEO of Akita Software.

In the midst of Jean Yang's analysis of why there aren't more programming language startups, she identifies three ways to improve the odds that a developer-oriented product will succeed. Whether you're building an open source library or a proprietary CI/CD tool, Yang's suggestions ring true. The key, she says, is design, but not in the sense that developers may read that word.

For Yang, design is all about "reducing friction to help developers get to where they need to go, not increasing prettiness or dialing up the trappings of good user experience, like cute error messages or dark mode."

Design isn't necessarily what a developer sees on a screen, in other words, but rather how a developer engages with the product.

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