“Developer-Centric Design Approach To Building Technical Solutions”: Mudita Tiwari, Senior Director of Product, Developer Experiences at PayPal (Video + Transcript)

March 18, 2023

Mudita Tiwari (Senior Director of Product Management, Developer Experiences at PayPal) talks about how to build products for developers / technical users, shares collaboration best-practices with UX research and design for holistic product development, and discusses building low-code solutions to scale product adoption.


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Sukrutha Bhadouria: She’s a Senior Director of Developer Experiences within the product organization at PayPal. Before PayPal, she was a strategic technical partner to eBay’s chief architect and VP of Developer Ecosystem. She has a master’s in public policy and a business degree in information technology. Mudita is passionate about empowering customers by deploying initiatives for financial literacy and enablement. We’re so excited to welcome you Mudita. Thank you

Mudita Tiwari: Thank you so much for making time to attend this session today. It’s truly a great honor to be doing this during the International Women’s Day Week. To all the wonderful people who are joining, please make sure to say a big thanks or a pat on the back to the wonderful women in your life who support you and are great advocates for you. So with that I wanted to talk a little bit today about how do we think about developer-centric design and technical approaches when we build out a solution for this audience.

Mudita Tiwari: The way I’ve structured the discussion is to ensure that we get through the persona who is a developer how do developers typically interact with systems, and how do we really champion a developer when we build out solutions that are specific to this technical audience. Please throw in the chat in case you’re not able to hear me because I’m not able to get the response back. Or if you have any questions, please make sure to put them on the chat as well. This session goes for about 20 minutes. I’ll try to end within 15 minutes or so so that we can get some questions at the end as well. Let me move to the next screen.

Mudita Tiwari: A warm welcome again wanted to share just on this wonderful week, wonderful occasion. A couple of things that I’m admiring about women women that I look up to. There’s definitely a, a tech journalist, I’m a big fan of these days. Kara Swisher who’s been really smart about the, the changes that are happening in the tech industry. And I follow her podcast, so quite interested in what she has to sa that is she’s definitely a person I wanna call out.

Mudita Tiwari: And then of course, a big fan of Eleanor Roosevelt. And a quote from her that always inspires me, but certainly inspire me in these days is the future belongs to those who have those who believe in the beauty of their dreams, which is always true, right? I mean, there’s something beautiful about things that we build and things we aspire for, and absolutely fighting for that future and believing in that future is something that we dearly hold hold to our hearts. Last but not the least, I read a book very recently. It was recommended by my mentor who’s a woman. It’s called power and Why Some have it and others don’t. It was a very different way of thinking about power dynamics and how to think about your your life as a leader. Kn case you’re looking for something fun to read, this might be a good easy read and a book that you might enjoy.

Mudita Tiwari: With that, let’s get into the details of the presentation. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the developer persona. Oftentimes we think of developers and as engineers or, or folks who are coding actively working on technological pursuits. And that is actually the right framework and the right way of thinking about developers. But essentially the role of a developer and what a developer does, has truly expanded, especially since Covid. As you know, Covid resulted in mass digitization and essentially that led to quite a bit to scarcity of developers. But at the same time, also their influence in deciding the technical solutions for businesses increased quite a bit. Folks who are developers know that, you know, you are prized possession by by businesses, so certainly developers who who identify themselves with technologies, language, languages or specialties, also often take pride in self-sufficiency.

Mudita Tiwari: There’s a lot of pride in learning and developing and coaching themselves as they, as they build out solutions. And in order to self-service, of course, then developers need systems that are reliable, performant systems that can be learned, systems that you can scale your technical solutions with. That’s typically what we think about when we think about the developer. And in some studies we’ve found that over 35 million folks, a across the world, identify themselves with developers. And I bet the number is actually much higher because there’s this category of business developers, folks who don’t do coding and development as a full-time gig, but certainly are savvy with technology and are often putting out technical solutions for their own needs or the business needs. That’s the developer persona. And then I just wanted to quickly touch on developer trends. The image on the right that you see was developed with with Midjourney AI.

Screenshot at .. AM

Mudita Tiwari:  Fun fact. I had a lot of fun. I’m having a lot of fun playing with some of the AI tools, but certainly that is the trend we’ll talk about in today’s discussion. We talked about the need and the scarcity of developers. Ergo, the importance of developer productivity is equally important, and making sure businesses build tools, platforms that can increase developer productivity is increasingly seen as an important area. In addition, developers themselves think that their role and their influence in business decision making is growing and will continue to grow. And the last two points, point number four and five are really interesting. Low-code technologies that you can think about, modular technologies that can be assembled together and then customized to scale are really where the future is going. And in addition, you must have heard everything I don’t need to repeat in this intelligent forum of the impact of ai.

Mudita Tiwari: And so certainly everybody’s thinking about how to embed AI technologies in the development lifecycle and what that means for the next generation of developers. Those are roughly the trends that we are seeing in the market. And I’ve attached some reports as well that you can Google and, and look up. But certainly Gartner and Forester talk a lot about these trends in the market. All right, so even if we’re, we are building for a technical audience, the fundamentals of product design, product development, lifecycle don’t change. Cross-functional collaboration with your researchers, with designers who are thinking about the segment and the audience with your engineering partners does not change. Understanding what your customers want or your developers want does not change. You need to make sure you understand the voice of the developer, their technical needs and how they’re thinking about the lifecycle is still important.

Mudita Tiwari: And then of course, product development is never a linear journey. You learn a little bit, you do early MVPs, you put out a product in the market, you learn from the market, you bring back the learnings, and the product should essentially keep its rating. That’s truly, you know, the product journey that we go on, which does not change. So the fundamentals are still there. However, what I wanted to do today is just talk about the developer’s journey as a hero’s journey. We hear about the hero’s journey. When we listen to Marvel comics, we watch Marvel movies. Think about the developer’s journey in your organization or an organization that’s that’s, that’s part of another industry to be very similar. Typically, a developer is working on a business problem. They’re trying to understand what is it that the business wants from me, and that’s what they’re trying to solve for.

Mudita Tiwari: They may start an early journey by putting together a prototype, a proof of concept, and then start aligning with their adjacent teams in order to validate their assumptions, their buildouts, their early proof of concepts and prototypes. At some point, there is a decision that is made in the journey about whether the, the ecosystem can scale or not, whether it’s a viable product or not. And this part of the journey is very important. That’s the pinnacle of the hero’s journey, getting the sponsorship from the right leaders and making sure your product is set up to scale. This is an area where we see a lot of products needing that brute force, essentially that tenacity commitment to communication community, commitment to the art of telling the story about your product to the right stakeholders and leaders, and making sure that you take your product on a movement by through those cross-functional partnerships that you’ve been thinking about from the early get-go.

Mudita Tiwari: And then, of course, should everything fall in place, and usually it doesn’t. There is an iteration that we go through anytime we put a product, there will be a successful implementation or there will be an implementation in the market. And the journey kind of repeats itself again and again because there is no such thing as putting out a product and being done. The second course of the journey starts when we scale the product or expand the product based on geos or on segments that we have not reached before. If you think about a, when, when a developer is going on a journey, they’re doing the same thing. They’re trying to solve a business problem based on the company that they’re serving, based on the merchant they’re serving, based on the business they’re serving, they’re aligning with their stakeholders. They’re trying to get spon sponsorship from their leadership teams.

Mudita Tiwari: They’re building out the solution and then putting it out in the market, very similar to how we think as in-house developers, in-house engineers, there’s a parallel story happening for people who are consuming your product, integrating your product, and taking it to the market. Then let’s talk a little bit about when you design for a technical audience, what are the best practices that you should use? Certainly that outside in approach, walking a mile in your developer’s shoes is critical. And that brings us to the point of customer centricity. Reliance on your UX research team can actually be hugely advantageous, but in case you do not have the right resources, they have many ways to talk to your customer and making sure you always are listening to what the market is saying. This can be done through social channels. This can be done through actually just having some surveys run.

Mudita Tiwari: This can be done by running large scale studies or market research as well, and understanding what are we baselining against, where do we wanna go and how do we see the delta of our product and how do we slowly get there? There’s another huge value add statement for for developers when we build for our technical audience, which we, we have to think about how a technical audience’s journey fits in the larger business ecosystem. Let me take an example from PayPal. Folks come to PayPal. Developers come to PayPal because they often want to implement a payment system for their merchants or for a business there that they’re working with. And they typically start by trying to understand, does PayPal fit into my narrative into my business? How will I make sure that PayPal as a payment pro service provider fits with the rest of the back office management that I have to take care of?

Mudita Tiwari: A developer’s thinking end to end, they’re thinking about the business process and a payment service is part of the entire journey. So it’s almost like when you are thinking about a developer’s journey, you have to understand from their shoes what is their end to end, and that is truly the customer empathy and truly walking a mile in your customer’s shoes, that is important. And of course, that requires patience. That requires honing in the craft. That requires us speaking to a lot of our stakeholders to really understand what’s going on with the journey, because we’re just one human obviously, and it’s hard for us to know everything about everything. Therefore your relationships will very key when you lay out the groundwork in order to support any persona and especially the developer persona.

Mudita Tiwari: Last but not the least I would say taking action. Of course, you don’t wanna be in an analysis paralysis. It’s very important to communicate with your technical audience, with your developers. They’ll give you very quickly what they like, what they don’t like. I’ll tell you, it’s a very, very vocal audience the developers and, and that’s actually truly advantageous. While the feedback might be, might feel sour sometimes, but it’s very important to listen actively because developers want to be heard. Their time is precious. Their efforts are precious for the business as well. And therefore ensuring you study and listen and communicate with the audience and your developers regularly is absolutely critical part of your mission. And then, of course, the traditional product principles. Please keep an eye on your competitors. That is extremely important. And seeing what’s happening in the industry.

Mudita Tiwari: And of course, making sure that your executives are continually on board and they see the win in, in your efforts is equally important. And I cannot emphasize this enough. Oftentimes when we’re leading passion projects, we are leading and building products that we truly care about. Making sure managing upward, managing laterally and managing our teams is critical component of the way we scale our ideas and our product. I just talked about that so I won’t belabor the point. But essentially making sure that our sponsors also understand that a successful implementation is truly never done. And this is an iterative cycle is an opportunity for education and alignment with the leaders early on. But through that sponsorship, through that alignment, what happens is an opening and essentially an opportunity to make sure that executives are able to provide us the resources as our product needs skilling over time or might need a different time of lateral shift over time.

Mudita Tiwari: Let’s say if you’re moving from one market to another market, you will definitely need a lot of guidance as your product scales. So therefore making sure you align with your stakeholders and especially your sponsors is extremely important. And this is my last slide. Designing for developers actually starts with bold collaboration a bold vision and certainly an okayness with, with learning iteratively through your experience. An outside approach outside in approach is very important.

Mudita Tiwari: Being able to listen to your customers and your developers is extremely important. Sitting on that feedback and executing on that feedback is equally important. That’s where the virtuous loop of product iteration it comes in. This never stops. That is truly the joy of building a great brand, a great product is making sure that folks who are using our products are truly listened to. Last but not the least your first MVP always is important, but so is the executive sponsorship so that you can fly high and fly bold. Thank you so much for listening to this quick presentation about how to scale and design systems for, for developers or technical audiences. I’m happy to take questions and happy to dig into any point that you found interesting.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you so much. This was wonderful.

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