API Management

API Team Best Practices: Curating a World-class Developer Experience

In this blog series, we’ve discussed key personas on the API team and the importance of designing and releasing quality minimum viable product APIs.

Next, API teams can prime themselves for success across the API lifecycle by focusing on three important areas: the developer portal, monitoring and analyzing performance and consumption patterns, and promoting API evangelism.

Establish a developer portal to drive adoption

The faster a developer can go from accessing an API to creating a new experience or service, the more information an API team can gain about its customers and new business opportunities.

Businesses can significantly improve time to market by investing in a developer portal that facilitates easy access to well-documented APIs, testing tools, blog posts, forums, and other features to encourage easy consumption.

Thomas Squeo, senior vice president at Google customer West Corp., recently described the developer portal as “the primary interaction point where somebody can go from awareness to activation to acquisition for an API and be able to bring it up to a ‘hello world’ within maybe 30 minutes.”

Monitor performance

Developers’ apps and services only work if the underlying APIs do— so it’s vital to monitor performance, ensure that SLAs are being maintained, and protect against abuse.

Proactive monitoring of API traffic also conditions the team to focus on measures of consumption rather than measures of completion—and to start identifying problems and wins and charting possible paths for the API’s iteration.

Invest in API evangelism

In the world of API products, there is no “if you build it, they will come.”

For external APIs, the API team needs to establish a presence in the communities where developers already congregate, whether that’s forums, meetup groups, or conferences. The team should support its APIs with marketing and promotion, whether it’s targeted ads buys or webinars with influencers or thought leadership content.

For all APIs, including internal releases, the team needs to sell developers on adoption, which means making the value proposition clear, providing tools that make the API easy to use and experiment with, and creating feedback loops with API consumers. Developers are the API team’s direct customer, so the team should expend significant effort understanding developer needs and catering to their preferences.

Coming up next, we’ll wrap up this series by exploring the importance of championing the business value of APIs.

To learn more about API teams and managing APIs as products, download the eBook, The API Product Mindset.