Kathy Sierra's “The Kick Ass Curve”

Helping Us Get Better at Developer Relations


Steven Pousty

Crunchy Data (PostgreSQL)



  • Introduce Kathy Sierra
  • Introduce her Kick Ass Curve
  • Show how the curve is a really useful tool for our work
  • Have fun!

Kathy Sierra

Resources for Later - Required Reading




Time for the Curve

Goal: to make users happy and successful on our project/product

Our Goal in DevRel is to make developers happy and successful on our product/project

This curve can be seen in two ways
1. A trajectory over time for a given or typical user

2. The average curve taken over a whole set of users

Two ways to read this
1. User over time


2. The average of most of your users

There are multiple factors that can produce this difference in curves

Why the Difference in Curves

  • Background knowledge and experience of the users
  • The quality of your documentation and teaching material
  • The actual design of the product/API
  • The size and helpfulness of your community

Why we Often Disagree with PMs and Engineers

That all Assumed Greenfield for Product Adoption

Wrap it up!

  • Think about who your audience is (who you are targeting) and how to get them past the suck zone ASAP
  • If we can't get people out of the suck zone before they give up - we will never get them to experience the power
  • Remember, when “talking” to others, to think about where they are on the curve
  • Use the curve when it helps, ignore it when it is doesn't.


Being Better At Developer Relations with Kathy Sierra's 'The Kick Ass Curve - Google Slides