How to build strong developer community remotely: 7 phases
For Employers

February 15, 2024

How to build strong developer community remotely: 7 phases

Eugene Garla, VP of Talent on why tech companies should grow community first

The force of community is undeniable. When nurtured effectively, a group of kindred spirits united by common interests and aspirations can wield remarkable synergy to conquer challenges together. Yet, crafting a thriving developer community is no small feat. Developers possess a discerning nature when it comes to engaging with brands. If your motive is solely marketing-driven, you might miss the mark entirely. Conventional marketing tactics often fall flat in front of this analytically inclined group.

Laying the foundation for success hinges on grasping the key ingredients of a robust developer community, mastering the art of creating the right environment, and adhering to the principle of giving as much as you receive. 

Such communities offer developers a plethora of engagement avenues—learning, teaching, and even teaming up with the product team. The space must embody openness, collaboration, and respect, fostering meaningful dialogues. But let’s be real—before scaling those heights, you begin right where every developer community does: at ground zero.

Since founding Index.dev – an innovative tech recruitment platform seamlessly connecting top-tier developers with leading global companies – we continually grapple with the challenge of crafting a remote developer community the right way. Thus, this article is our humble offering to those eager to foster a vibrant tech community around their product, platform, or project.

Community lifecycle

7 steps to a strong developer community 

Engagement is the key. Developers, like anyone else, value involvement and a sense of influence. They want their voices to be heard and their contributions to make a difference. As the architect of a developer community, your role is to provide the platform for these aspirations to thrive. Here are seven strategic steps that can aid you in developing a vibrant developer community.

1. Maintain Online Availability

After generating initial interest with your content, it's crucial to keep the momentum going. This involves actively engaging in ongoing discussions on social media and within online forums. Ignoring community members can be a major turn-off. People want their voices to matter and their contributions to count. However, sustaining conversations and accessibility can be challenging. The resources needed to manage numerous conversations promptly can be daunting. Not only must you respond promptly, but you also need knowledgeable individuals interacting with the community.

At Index.dev, we've overcome this challenge by employing dedicated full-time community social media advocates. They are always reachable on platforms like LinkedIn, Slack, and Discord. Our regular Index.Academy sessions bring developers and thought leaders together in an informal setting to share experiences. Our tech recruiters actively engage with talented developers on social media, inviting them to join our community and explore remote work opportunities with esteemed US, UK, and EU companies. Our communication approach is peer-focused, ensuring shared content and conversations feel authentic rather than corporate-driven, except when soliciting genuine feedback.

2. Give Them Something to Talk About

Human brains are naturally drawn to stories, making content a potent tool to drive community engagement. Consistently delivering content that inspires, educates, and challenges your audience is a surefire way to initiate meaningful conversations among developers about your product. Your content arsenal can include a diverse range of materials, such as customer stories, developer case studies, language comparisons, and remote work tips. Developers themselves are an invaluable source of firsthand material that fuels your content engine.

At Index.dev, we take this a step further by inviting developers to participate in our community writers program. This initiative encourages tech-focused articles from our community on a wide spectrum of subjects. Here are a few examples: Understanding and Fixing Too-Many Re-renders Error in React, Prototyping Ambitious 3D Designs in Flutter, or  What Could Be Done to Integrate Azure Test Plan with Java Test Automation Projects. The underlying goal is to provide a platform for individuals to share their experiences and insights within the realm of technology expertise. 

3. Find Your Influencers 

It's a common oversight for brands to focus solely on getting developers engaged without recognizing the potential of building relationships with influential figures within the community. Developer communities offer a unique opportunity to identify and connect with "power users" and experts in the field. Start by actively engaging with those who contribute the most to ongoing discussions. Listen to their input and join their conversations without overtly promoting your brand or product. Value their insights and incorporate their feedback into content creation and beta testing endeavors.

At Index.dev, we understand that developers place immense trust in their peers. Establishing relationships with influential developers not only encourages advocacy but also demonstrates your brand's genuine concern for the developers who will use your products.

We regularly conduct NPS surveys biannually, providing a platform for developers to share their insights across four core dimensions: Project Satisfaction, Team Integration, Communication & Assistance, and Likelihood to Recommend. Additionally, we recently hosted an Index.Academy event, where esteemed Tech Talents, Bart and Martin, unveiled the benefits of collaborating with Index.dev. Bart, a high-retention Index.dev talent hailing from Poland, has successfully taken on his second project – a key role with a prominent AI-powered luxury goods authentication provider based in the US. Meanwhile, Martin, an impressive tech talent from Argentina, boasts an impressive 13-year track record, excelling in Google Data Analytics, Java, PHP, and .NET. His expertise extends beyond his core role, encompassing Software & Product Management.

4. Be Where Your Developers Are 

Transitioning from digital interfaces to real-world interactions, the value of in-person events becomes evident. Yet, it's imperative to approach offline engagement thoughtfully. While major industry or company-sponsored events have their merits, they might not always be the best platform for cultivating and fortifying developer relationships. Enormous conferences offer broad exposure, but they rarely allow for the in-depth discussions that truly cement connections.

At Index.dev, our esteemed team members, including speakers like Eugene Garla, Andi Stan, and Mike Sokirka, actively participate in local and international conferences. Through these engagements, they connect with tech talent spanning the globe.

It's our way of nurturing relationships in the environments where developers truly thrive.
Developer network

5. Participate in Active Developer Communities

The notion that "if we build it, they will come" often misfires in developer marketing. Developers frequently turn to their peers for guidance in troubleshooting and finding solutions. While developer communities and micro-communities aren't infinite, their engagement is paramount. Ensuring the target audience is truly active, matters. Instead of attempting to establish your own community from scratch, it's often wiser to integrate with existing ones. Authentic engagement in established communities can be more fruitful than forcing individuals to flock to your platform.

At Index.dev, we're deeply committed to this principle. Our team actively participates in Quora discussions, aiding developers in embracing remote work and reshaping their careers through prestigious, full-time roles in the realms of US, UK, & EU jobs.

6. Give Them Swag 

Don't underestimate the impact of cool stuff. Whether it's a hoodie spotted on the street, a logo-emblazoned cap, or a laptop decal, these branded items evoke a sense of delight and pride.

Odd as it may sound, the excitement around swag is real. It can significantly amplify brand exposure. You can even experience unboxing videos showcasing the thrill of receiving and displaying such items. It's said that an individual must encounter an ad seven times to remember it. Yet, the true power lies in the fact that people wear or carry these items as symbols of allegiance. When individuals proudly display your swag, it speaks volumes about their fondness and loyalty to your product. This level of endorsement is a testament to their connection.

At Index.dev, we take this notion to heart. We provide an exclusive onboarding kit for each developer who joins a company through our platform. 

7. Foster Learning Opportunities

A thriving developer community thrives on mentorship and learning. Encourage seasoned developers to guide newcomers, nurturing an environment where skills flourish. Arrange webinars, workshops, and online courses to empower members in honing their expertise. By promoting ongoing learning, you cultivate a community that evolves collectively.

Unlike other platforms such as Upwork and Toptal, or traditional agencies that offer limited support, Index.dev is cultivating a true developer community. Our accomplished developers benefit from the guidance of dedicated Account Managers who stand by to assist them. These Account Managers prioritize critical aspects of the job, including transparent communication, work-life balance, productivity, and avenues for growth within the project.

Strategies with the biggest impact on developer retention

Final Thoughts

The most significant misstep companies can make when venturing into building a community is assuming they have all the answers. A community's essence lies in fostering an open dialogue. Avoid the pitfall of creating a community while keeping information guarded. A community can't thrive if your product remains a mystery. Embrace transparency. Share your roadmap, seek feedback, harness your advocates (and grant them ample chances to offer honest input), and convene customer and developer advisory boards. In essence, involve your community to gain the insights needed to elevate your product to its zenith. You don't possess all the answers, and that's okay. Tap into your community; that's where the true value lies.

If you're on the lookout for adept developers, be it for full-time positions or project-based endeavors, consider Index.dev – a tech recruitment platform with a robust community of over 10,000 developers. Our unwavering dedication to excellence shines through our meticulous assessment process, boasting an impressive 97% successful match rate and an average matching time of just 48 hours. Transparency is the cornerstone of our approach, and with no concealed fees, your journey with Index.dev is rooted in trust.

To all seasoned developers aspiring for remote software roles with esteemed US and UK companies, your search concludes here. Index.dev opens doors to opportunities that align with your expertise and offers thriving developer communities in locations such as Brazil, Argentina, and Serbia. Our engineers relish competitive salaries that surpass market averages across various countries. Register now and let the remote revolution redefine your career →