It is important to think of the Developer Portal as a product in its own right. When we have this mental model, we have to adopt a user-centric view. To do this, we need to first identify who the users of our product are. We also need to identify what jobs our users are trying to accomplish.
There have been a few classifications of developer portal users1,2. But I like the one by Bradford Fults. I like it because it approaches the question from a jobs perspective. Bradford groups developer portal users into four categories:
- Developers looking to get started with building an application using the APIs
- Developers who already have an application but are debugging a specific issue
- A decision maker evaluating competing APIs
- A product manager figuring out the what’s possible with the API.
I also like the approach taking by the guys at Pronovix. They take a wider view, looking not just at the users but the portal’s stakeholders in general. They add roles like Sales, Support and Documentarian to the list of stakeholders.
- Different personas, different jobs: Each of these personas has a slightly different job to accomplish on the Dev Portal. It’s important to keep the job they are trying to fulfil in mind when defining the structure of the portal.
- Different jobs, different measures of success: Different jobs to fulfil mean that we need to consider different measures to see if we are satisfying our uses. We need to identify and use the right measures of success to prioritize the work we do for our different users.
- API Management: An Architect’s Guide to Developing and Managing APIs for Your Organization.
- Defining the Personas that Drive API Programs – by Apigee