Developer Personalities: Audience Brief

Software developers are a unique, demanding demographic. Developer Media’s latest research analysis helps marketers better understand them in order to better market to and communicate with them.

Developers don’t think like the average person. In fact, developers are somewhat of a breed apart. They’re likely to identify themselves as craftsmen and artisans, in an engineering, technical-problem-solving sense. While there are many ways to assess personality types, one of the most widely accepted is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), a way to illustrate personality differences.

The MBTI describes personality types based on four pairs of opposing traits, and then describes each of the 16 types using a four-letter acronym. In the influential Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates described personality types based on the “Keirsey Temperament Sorter.” These tools help us better understand how software developers think.

So, just what are the most common personality types for software developers? The accepted wisdom, from the seminal Professional Software Development by Steve McConnell, reports “the most common personality type for software developers is ISTJ” based on two surveys conducted in 1985 and 1990. However, a new Developer Media survey suggests otherwise.

Developers Are Different

In June 2013, Developer Media asked professional developers on CodeProject.com, one of the world’s largest developer communities, to take the MBTI and report the results. We discovered that 70% of developers fall into five personality types (see chart). The remaining 30% consist of the other 11 personality types, and those are each only about 2-3% of developers. (ISTJ, what we used to think was the leading personality type, is the second most frequent type and does not represent much of a difference from the US population personality distribution.)

Developer Personalities by MBTI type

Developers Prefer Facts: INTJ, ENTJ and INTP

Why are these personality types important? They represent the biggest difference from the regular population. These three “NT” personality types represent about half of developers, compared to only about 6% of everyone else. Keirsey describes “NT” personalities as “Rational,” meaning they are objective, and like to reason with facts. They are driven to master their skills and work hard to do so. They are, unsurprisingly, drawn to technology. They judge speakers and statements by their authority and ability to prove assertions. Upcoming briefs will examine developer personality types in greater depth and provide tactical suggestions for effective marketing.

Key Insights

In short, developers are highly competent, driven by technical achievement, and skeptical of everything. These traits make communication challenging. In a July 2013 CodeProject survey, developers revealed they are most likely to describe themselves as “engineers/scientists,” “puzzle solvers,” “craftsmen/craftswomen,” and “artists.” These developer personality archetypes map to the personality types we identified and prefer different communication styles. These top-level insights suggest how savvy marketers can best communicate with developers: good developer-focused messaging should be concrete, relate to skills mastery, and be provable.

About Developer Media

Developer Media is the world’s leading media company focused entirely on software/app developers. The company helps tech vendors and advertisers, from startups to multinationals, build results-driven marketing programs especially designed to drive awareness and adoption of their developer tools, APIs and platforms. Developer Media custom-tailors plans for each client to move prospects through the marketing and sales funnel to become customers.

Developer Media reaches approximately 20 million unique software developers each month across thousands of influential, dev-centric websites, communities, blogs, and projects, including its flagship site, CodeProject, and other leading sites like CodeCall forums, CodePlex, and W3Schools (developer-specific areas). It’s the largest selection of quality, developer-focused media in the world. Each site is hand-selected and regularly monitored for quality, content and performance.

The Developer Media audience is worldwide, reflecting the developer population. Visitors to its sites work for companies of all sizes and use many different tools and platforms. Professional developers — 95% of the Developer Media audience — use not only Microsoft tools for enterprise development, but also tools and languages most suited for Web and mobile development (Ruby on Rails, Objective C, NoSQL, Python, HTML5/CSS3, etc.). As tech marketing experts, the Developer Media team brings decades of experience in the developer market. For more information, visit www.developermedia.com.

Contact:
Jeff Hadfield, CxO
jeff@developermedia.com
@jhadfield

4 Responses to “Developer Personalities: Audience Brief”

  1. Rand Dvorak

    INTJ’s are most of the problem with most of the technological churn in the industry. The vocal INTP’s opinions would probably be the most relevant in terms of any technologies relevance in terms of permanence.

    Reply
  2. kujirakira

    So… that paragraph “Developers Prefer Facts”… INTP is actually 4th at 3%. INFJ is 3rd at 6%.
    So much for facts, but I suppose this wasn’t wrote by an NT 😉
    Maybe you should’ve gone for the “abstract thinking” angle there instead of the “fact fact fact (just ignore the bad data)”. The only type in all of that which doesn’t prefer abstract thinking is ISTJ. And the only type that doesn’t prefer hard data over emotional connections is INFJ.

    Reply
  3. One point worth pointing out: some types, particularly INTJ, ENTJ, and INFJ, show up abnormally high on self-driven tests (as opposed to an MBTI test administered by experts). This is definitely going to alter your test results.

    Reply
  4. Brenden

    The mbti isn’t a legitimate, scientifically verifiable method for assessing personality and it’s widely disregarded by psychologists and mental health professionals. It’s an projects an inaccurate picture of a person, labeling them with a false, external identity. Furthermore, it hinders interpersonal relationship because of the ways it describes and falsely legitimizes healthy and unhealthy preferences.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-myers-briggs-personality-test-is-pretty-much-meaningless-9359

    Reply

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