This is a guest post from our friends at Orbit. It touches on a topic we at RemoteHQ think is ripe for optimization - how to make the developer onboarding experience more collaborative. Orbit helps developer advocates and open source maintainers manage and grow their communities. The Orbit team is behind the Orbit Model, an alternative to the funnel that works better for community building.
At Keen IO, our team ran a program called “Pair with Me”. Using video calls, the program introduced our API to new signups and taught them how Keen IO worked. This led to countless conversations with developers at a crucial moment in their journey with the platform.
How did it work? Each time a developer signed up, they received an email from an engineer or advocate that offered a 15-minute pair programming session to help the developer successfully make their first API call and answer any questions.
During the call, the Keen advocate would offer to discuss data modeling, schemas, event collection, and how to build their first dashboard. If the developer wanted, they could also just talk shop about analytics or infrastructure or company culture—it was all fair game.
Good advocacy builds trust by meeting the developer where they are.
All developer products have a milestone that represents product activation, like first API call, deployment of an agent, or completing a set of activities on a dashboard. Onboarding flows achieve activation with step-by-step flows, usually in a UI or CLI.
In most cases, developers are unsupported during their onboarding experience. In fact, most companies work hard for that to be the case. That’s great: the self-led onboarding should be as fast and frictionless as possible, and the majority of developers won’t want to interrupt their flow to talk to someone.
But whenever devs experience a point of confusion or need to make a complex decision, facetime with an engineer can help.
At Keen, new developers weren’t necessarily intimidated by making their first API call. They could be intimidated by bigger questions like data modeling, dashboard creation, or how to think about their overall analytics strategy, even at the product level.
That kind of fear and uncertainty is hard to resolve with docs alone, but can be addressed efficiently through a chat with an empathetic expert.
Facetime onboarding helps get developers up and running with the product, but there’s another type of benefit too: community activation.
The chance to talk to a real human reduces psychological barriers to joining the community in the future. In person, the Keen team was able to demonstrate that the community would be welcoming and helpful if the developer wanted to participate.
Community activation = adding value for other community members for the first time
That’s important, because product and community activation go hand-in-hand. If users don’t activate with the product, they can’t fully participate as community members, and if they don’t participate in community, they can’t become Fans or Ambassadors.
For more content on Orbit's blog, head over to https://orbit.love/blog