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Why MDX (And Docusaurus) Matter To Me

· 4 min read
Tim Post

We pay marketers to come up with landing pages that resonate with developers, and those marketers ultimately pay the very developers they're hoping to entice to build the page .... doesn't that sound a little bit weird to you?

MDX means better marketing. If you take nothing else away from this, make sure that you look into putting MDX/JSX in the hands of your marketing team, so that they can form and bake their own clay in the kilns. Pages that marketers can produce themselves, with no other gate keepers, are going to convert better and faster than anything else.

Why is this?

  • Because your marketing team can make mistakes faster, learn from them, and iterate in multiple directions at once. You're freed when the prospect of possibly wasting someone else's time is off the table.

  • Because your kickoff meetings will stop ending on downers when people realize that it will be weeks before developers can make pages live for them, or anticipation of developers challenging even the premise of the idea in the absence of data. It just feels 'too uphill.'

  • Because people tend to dumb their ideas down significantly when they know that they'll be relying on other people's time to deal with whatever comes of them. I'll be much bolder in initial copy, for instance, if I know I can walk it back quickly if a hunch doesn't play out.

And there are more and more things that come into play, but none of this is new. We've tried developing CMS systems that are more 'friendly' to 'non tech folks' and other things, but in reality, we just end up abstracting all the wrong things and end up giving them something that feels heavy, ill-suited and constraining.

What if the only bar to being able to put raw ideas on the Internet and see how people react to them was learning Github Flavored Extended Markdown and how to copy / paste / tweak a dozen or so React components where a more interactive experience is needed?

When we set up Docusaurus for any tech company, one of the VERY first things we do is provide them with components to embed conversations on social media, videos, arbitrary JS widgets (discord, twitch, etc) and guidance on how to handle images properly. This means their marketing teams don't need developer help in order to devise their experiments and rock on with them, nor do they need to learn some kind of software - they just need to know how to use a text editor and have a markdown cheat sheet.

While we Love Docusaurus and will be continuing to use and promote it, it's just one of many that you can use. Anything that lets you mix components with markdown naturally, with a styling system that's easily abstracted away means you're giving your marketing AND engineering teams equal footing to throw things at the wall. There's probably more friction here than you realize, unless of course you're a marketer.

Most of my best accomplishments in driving growth share a characteristic with my non-accomplishments: they started off as hunches and intuition I needed to see a bigger sampling of before I could explain them to someone else.

Knowing how uphill that can be, I learned to abandon ideas that required more than a trivial level of emotional investment quickly, or defending even just one could get so emotionally-draining that I'd need an entire day off to want to be around people again. That's a shame, because a bunch of great stuff never happened at Stack Overflow, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to back the idea with enough data to justify any engineering time being spent on it even just to see if it would incubate.

Don't let your company be like that. Free your marketing team so they can be contenders for adults in the room before you decide who the adults are going to be when growth slows and someone has to try something. Remove the clogs from the output side of things first.

MDX is a big step forward in that process and you need to make sure your marketing team has access to a platform that enables it.

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