The Future of Developer Portals in the Era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Maturing Markets

Keep Up or Get Left Behind

John Doyle
John Doyle
CEO, Technical Architect, Drupal SME, Open Source Champion
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Over the years, developer portals have undergone a remarkable transformation, transitioning from optional add-ons to critical components of an organization's digital strategy. In the early days, developer portals primarily served as repositories of technical documentation, offering developers the essential information needed to integrate APIs or SDKs into their applications. As technology evolved and more competition entered the market, developer portals began to prioritize user experience, introducing features like intuitive navigation, search functionality, and interactive documentation. Today, developer portals have truly come into their own, transforming into immersive hubs designed to empower developers, drive collaboration, and showcase platform capabilities. 

Today’s top developer portals boast AI-driven solutions for personalized experiences, advanced analytics, and chatbots for support, reflecting the growing emphasis on leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance developer experiences. Additionally, there is an increased focus on branding to create a distinct identity and enhance visibility in a competitive landscape. As we look ahead, the evolution of developer portals continues, driven by the relentless pace of technological innovation and the ever-changing needs of developers and organizations alike.

Last week our CEO, John Doyle, had the privilege of presenting at the AI The Docs conference. With over a decade of experience helping organizations drive value from their digital experiences, John brings a wealth of insights and expertise to the table. In his presentation, he explored the evolution of developer portals in the era of AI and maturing markets. Today we are going to recap the presentation and provide you with the insights and actionable strategies to thrive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. 

Developer Portals Today Are a Must Have

Screenshot of Miro developer portal from December 2023

With the rapid increase of API products and the increasing demand for seamless integration (low-code/no-code), organizations are realizing the importance of having robust and user-friendly developer portals. However, simply having a portal is no longer sufficient. To truly stand out organizations must prioritize delivering an end-to-end developer experience that goes beyond basic documentation.

Developers are expecting a comprehensive set of features to facilitate seamless onboarding, provide informative walkthroughs and tutorials, offer practical example code, and engage through interactive guides. Additionally, community and gamification elements have become integral to fostering collaboration and incentivizing participation within developer communities.

But it's not just about the feature sets; the overall developer experience is equally crucial. Developers expect developer documentation to offer accessible content that is easy to find and understand, engaging visual designs that make navigation intuitive and enjoyable, and curated user experiences that cater to their specific needs and preferences.

If you are not following API the Docs (LinkedInWebsite), you should be. The Dev Portal Awards showcases the best developer portals on the market, covering several key areas from design and user experience to findability and accessibility. In 2023, Miro took the win in the Best Innovative DX Experience. Miro’s developer portal that not only provides comprehensive documentation but also excels in delivering an immersive and user-centric experience. As organizations continue to invest in their developer portals, they must prioritize meeting these heightened expectations to stay ahead in today's competitive landscape and drive success in the digital era.


The Impact of AI on Developer Portals

The role that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having in shaping the developer experience cannot be overstated. AI-driven solutions are revolutionizing not only how we build our technology, but also how developers interact with these platforms. AI is driving significant changes in two key categories: the speed at which new technologies/tools enter the market and the impacts to user behavior and expectations.

AI is Increasing Technological Advancement and Development Speed:

  1. Development times are decreasing:
    1. AI-powered tools streamline development processes, enabling developers to build and deploy applications more rapidly than ever before.
    2. Automated testing, code generation, and debugging tools powered by AI reduce the time required for development cycles, accelerating time-to-market for new products and features.
  2. Low-code and No-code solutions are expanding rapidly:
    1. AI-driven low-code and no-code platforms empower developers of all skill levels to create applications without writing traditional code.
    2. These platforms leverage AI to automate tasks such as data modeling, business logic configuration, and user interface design, democratizing software development and enabling faster prototyping and iteration.
  3. Competitors/point solutions are created daily:
    1. The accessibility and ease of use of AI-driven development tools have lowered barriers to entry for new competitors and niche solutions.
    2. Developers now have a plethora of options when selecting tools and technologies, leading to a proliferation of specialized solutions and increased competition in the marketplace.

AI is Impacting User Behavior and Expectations:

  1. Search vs. Ask:
    1. AI-powered search algorithms enhance the discoverability of content within developer portals, enabling developers to quickly find relevant documentation, resources, and solutions. 
    2. Natural language processing (NLP) capabilities allow developers to ask complex questions and receive accurate, context-aware responses, reducing the time and effort required to find information.
  2. Shifting buyer persona:
    1. The convergence of technology and marketing roles has led to the emergence of hybrid personas that blend technical expertise with marketing acumen.
    2. Younger generations prioritize technology and expect seamless digital experiences, driving organizations to adapt their developer portals to meet evolving expectations.

How to Stay Ahead of The Rapidly Shifting Market

Finally the part you have been waiting for - let’s walk through how you can stay ahead in the rapidly shifting market, acknowledging both the potential and the realities of AI.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will:

  1. AI will accelerate the pace of documentation & the creation of content:
    1. AI-driven tools can automate the process of generating documentation, enabling organizations to keep pace with rapid technological advancements and evolving developer needs.
    2. With AI, organizations can efficiently produce high-quality content, reducing manual effort and increasing scalability and speed.
  2. AI will accelerate the increase of competition in your marketplace:
    1. AI lowers barriers to entry, enabling more players to enter the market and increasing competition.
    2. Organizations must adapt by continuously innovating and differentiating themselves through superior developer experiences and brand identity.
  3. AI will decrease the complexity of using your technology/solutions:
    1. AI-powered solutions simplify complex processes, making it easier for developers to understand and utilize technology and solutions.
    2. By reducing complexity, organizations can attract and delight developers, driving adoption and loyalty.
  4. AI will augment your team enabling it to do more and keep up:
    1. AI augments human capabilities, enabling teams to accomplish more in less time and stay ahead of evolving market demands.
    2. By leveraging AI, organizations can empower their teams to focus on high-value tasks, driving innovation and growth.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not:

  1. Replace humans completely in the process. (If you care about quality):
    1. While AI can automate many tasks, human expertise and judgment are still essential, particularly when it comes to ensuring quality and accuracy.
    2. Organizations must strike a balance between AI-driven automation and human oversight to maintain the integrity and reliability of their developer portals.
  2. Be a magic bullet to do your work/thinking for you:
    1. AI is a powerful tool, but it is not a substitute for human creativity, critical thinking, and decision-making.
    2. Organizations must approach AI as an enabler rather than a replacement, leveraging its capabilities to augment human intelligence and drive innovation.

As you navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of AI in shaping the future of your developer program, it becomes increasingly clear that success lies in striking a balance. While AI has the power to accelerate processes, simplify complexities, and augment team capabilities, it is not magic and it will not replace human expertise and critical thinking. It is imperative for organizations becomes clear: to stay ahead in the rapidly shifting market, they must leverage AI to speed up time to market while expanding their developer and brand experiences to attract and delight developers. 

Invest in Your Developer Content:

  1. Even with AI augmenting our work, human interaction is still at play and will continue to be a big part of the buying process:
  2. Focus on creating high-quality, well-structured content that resonates with developers and addresses their needs and pain points.

Invest in Your Brand Experience:

  1. Brand experience is paramount to customer satisfaction:
    1. Personalized experiences and product value are crucial for building brand loyalty and trust.
    2. Invest in creating positive brand experiences that resonate with developers and differentiate your organization from competitors.

Ultimately, to compete in today's market, you must recognize the importance of investing in your content and brand experience. By leveraging AI to augment your capabilities and focusing on delivering high-quality, personalized experiences, you can stay ahead of the rapidly shifting landscape, increasing competition and you can drive success in the digital era.

At Digital Polygon, we understand the critical role that developer portals play in shaping the developer experience and driving business outcomes. With our expertise in content strategy, brand experience design, and AI-driven solutions coupled with our strategic partner Pronovix and their expertise in developer portal functionality and developer experience, we are uniquely positioned to help organizations build developer portals that engage, empower, and inspire developers. 

Interested in exploring how to do more with your website or developer portal? Contact us today!