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The Types of Articles Developers Like to Read

DZone's Guide to

The Types of Articles Developers Like to Read

Dissecting the types of articles the DZone audience likes to read, plus 5 tips for improving your content to attract and engage software professionals.

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We see a lot of content at DZone – last year alone, over 16,000 number of articles were published and consumed by the software audience. Whoa, content!

This kinda makes us an expert on understanding the types of articles the DZone audience (and most likely the developer audience) like to read. In this article, we’ve highlighted the top blog types, why they’re so popular, and how you can write engaging content developers will want to read.

Popular Types of Articles on DZone

Last year, the most popular article types on DZone were:

  1. Tutorials / How-tos

  2. Opinion / Editorials

  3. Research / Analysis

2016 Popular Article Types by Pageviews

Why are these article types more popular than others? Because these 3 categories cater to a developer's desire to learn. They give them ideas, resources, and tips to better themselves and produce more effective programs. 

How can you take advantage of these article types in your own content? We explain below.

Tutorials / How-tos

Tutorials are the #1 article type on DZone, which is no surprise as our audience loves learning.

Here's why:

1. Use real examples with code

While screenshots of your process are helpful, showing the code (or code snippets) to back up your article makes it 100x more effective. Developers can easily review it and see how they can use it for their own projects.


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2. Explain why

How is this tutorial going to help? What is a developer or software architect going to take away from the article?

Explaining the why before diving into an article gives the reader a chance to say, “Yea, I have that problem. This is going to be good to read,” – which highlights your authors as subject matter experts (SMEs) and your brand as a thought leader.


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3. Easy to follow

No one likes a tutorial that reads like IKEA assembly instructions. Especially developers.

Use easy-to-read formatting tactics like lists, numbers or bullets, header styles, 2-3 sentence paragraphs, and bold/italicized phrases for emphasis. Also use images and code samples where possible to break up text.


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Check out a few of the best tutorial-style articles from last year: Programming to an Interface by Shamik Mitra, 9 Docker .NET App Templates: A Complete Guide by Amjad Afanah, and Top 10 Best Practices for Jenkins Pipeline by Andy Pemberton.

Opinions / Editorial

The second most popular article type is opinion / editorial style pieces. These blogs range from listicles to industry thoughts to conference overviews.

They're popular because they:

1. Share resources and tools to improve productivity and grow careers

Similar to tutorials, developers are always looking for ways to better their skills. Blogs that offer tools (not promotional), books to read, organizational tips, etc. provide readers with opportunities to excel at their job.

Listicles are perfect for this.


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2. Give industry insights

Knowing the state of the industry is necessary for any developer, programmer, architect, and IT professional. They can’t create new programs and tools if they don’t know where the industry is heading.

Your SMEs are the best way to give our audience these inside insights. Share takeaways from conferences you recently attended, challenges you’re seeing and how they impact the space, and where you see in the industry in five years.

These articles can challenge a reader’s thinking – and spark creativity.


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Three of the best opinion/editorial articles from 2016 are: 7 Habits of Super Productive Java Developers by Lindsay Brunner, The 13 Developer Skills That Will Get You Hired by Yaniv Yehuda, and The Future of Big Data Architecture by Matt Kalan.

Research / Analysis

Data makes for a good article all the time. And we’re (marketers) not the only one who thinks so. DZone readers agree, as analysis/research-based articles are the #3 article type on our site.

These articles:

1. Show real-world problems being solved by technology

What better way to show how your expertise or solution can significantly improve productivity than by showing real-world examples. This allows readers to see the bigger picture, gives them more insight into their industry, and show the strides being made in technology.


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The top analysis and research articles in the last year are: Connected Bees: IoT-Enabled Bee Health by Yogesh Yadav, Is Java Dead? No! Here’s Why… by Lindsay Brunner, and Get Up to Speed with Microservices in 8 Hours by Markus Eisele. 

5 Tips to Get Developers Engaged with Your Content

1. Teach them!

Tutorials are the #1 article type on DZone – take advantage of that fact and start teaching our audience how to they can improve their programming skills, their productivity, or their industry knowledge.

Performing keyword research can identify topics developers want to know about and learn – and help you set your goals for each post.


2. Don't post just to post

The worst thing you can do is write an article just for the sake of writing an article. Our audience can see through that veiled attempt from a mile away.

When writing your content, identify the goal ahead of time. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does the topic and angle fall into one of the popular article types on DZone? (I’m not saying that all your articles should do this, after all your blog should include press worthy announcements and company success stories, but this is a good rule of thumb.)
  • What do I want the reader to takeaway from the post?
  • Is the article going to fully explain the topic or skim the surface?

Your answers can help you gauge whether a topic or idea needs to be developed a little more or if it’s ready to be assigned and written.



3. Use your words!

While there is no exact word length that guarantees an article’s success, we have noticed a correlation between popular articles and word count. Articles with over 1,000 words tend to perform better with our audience.

This is most likely because the article fully explains the topic – instead of skimming the surface.

Another interesting word stat: High performing articles are also written at a graduate reading level.  


4. Avoid self promotion

You want to get more eyes on your brand and product/service, but using overly promotional articles to do that is not going to work.

Try to find a different spin on the topic, maybe boasting the benefits and how it’s achieving real-world solutions (with screenshots) versus a features list and why it’s so great.


5. Write catchy blog titles

Blog titles help your articles get noticed! Instead of using generic titles, spruce them up a bit to entice DZoners to click and read.

So, putting it all together: To engage with our audience, and developers, write content that has a point and teaches them how to improve their skills or increase their productivity. Use your blog title to catch their attention, your words to hold their interest, and formatting techniques to keep them reading.

Happy writing, looking forward to reading some awesome pieces this year.  


Topics:
developer marketing

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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