8 Tips in Creating a Successful API Product

Posted on Sep 02 2020 by in Uncategorized 

The decision to release a new API product shouldn’t be a careless one on behalf of the API company. The demand for APIs is at an all-time high, and there are so many capable API design teams out there. Your business should do more than simply launch a product—it should put in the hard work of building an excellent, distinctive, and enduring one. Make an API that integrates smoothly, is easy to maintain, and is of lasting value to your target market, and you are sure to profit. You could also stand to earn the respect of major players within the API industry.

But with such stiff competition out there, what can you do to make your API product stand out from the crowd? How will you win the following of the developers, clients, and end users that you consider part of your market? This article seeks to answer those questions and help you craft a topnotch API product. Here are some planning, design, marketing, and product management tips that will give your API the edge it needs.

Decide on the Type and Purpose of Your API

Before anything else, your company should decide on what type of API to release and what purpose the API is meant to serve. Even those who are well-versed in API technologies would benefit from understanding the types of API and matching the service to its intended users. You may plan to launch an open API, a private API for internal use, or a composite API. Whichever you choose, make sure that the API’s core purpose is obvious in the product’s design.

Define Your API’s Contract

The next step after preliminary planning is to define your API’s contract. In simple terms, this involves setting clear expectations between consumers and developers about how the API is meant to behave. The contract should include the data types, arrays, and objects that will ultimately be handled by the API. In this stage, you should also decide on an API specification framework or a blueprint to follow for the API’s development. Many people in the API industry use the OpenAPI Specification framework to help define the contracts of their APIs.  

Think of the People You Want to Work on Your API

Next, you will want to assemble a “dream team” of people to get your API off the ground. This team should consist of skilled API programmers, testers, marketers, and support specialists, to name a few. Understand each of their roles, and strive for coordinated efforts to make an API worth remembering.

Invest in a Great API Design Platform

As with many other types of product, the quality of an API rests in part with the quality of its toolset. Broad and efficient toolsets enable “design-first” approaches to building APIs. Oftentimes, this can boost the caliber of the work done on your API. If you can invest in a hosted toolset for API design, consider doing so, as this could make your API much more competitive.

Take API Testing Seriously

API testing is the phase where you can work out the kinks in your product. You can determine how ready it is for launching based on its performance for certain testing metrics. Among the ones that matter are the following:

  • Validation testing to see if the API is working as a holistic solution to its chosen problem
  • Functional testing to survey specific functions in the codebase
  • Load testing of how much traffic the API can handle against its baseline and theoretical maximum
  • Security and penetration testing to see how the API will respond to security breaches from malicious agents
  • Fuzz testing to see how well the API can handle random “noise” to its system

A well-tested API will result in a final product that users are happier with.

Keep API Documentation

In the absence of a very visually oriented interface, API documentation is the best way for the API’s audience to get to know the product. API documentation is like a user manual detailing the API’s parameters, endpoints, and other important info. It doesn’t have be presented in a boring and static manner, however. You can use creative, engaging, and interactive API docs to draw your audience to the product. This, in turn, increases its chances for adoption.

Have a Marketing Strategy for Your API

Once your API is in its final stages, you will want to run a marketing campaign to drum up interest in the product. This can involve pitching demos and releasing API-related content online. You can also cultivate a developer community just for your API. Word of mouth, as well as the endorsement of respected developers, will contribute to the success of the API product.

Make Room for Incremental Development

Lastly, remember that APIs aren’t meant to perform the same way out of the box for successive years. They should always be improved upon. That said, you put a premium on the feedback loop of your API product. Listen to your API team when they bring up concerns during development. Pay attention to what both developers and clients have to say after they’ve integrated with your API. Use their feedback to drive incremental development on your product, which will result in it getting better over time.

It’s a challenge to make ripples in the API industry, but with these tips at your disposal, you’ve got higher chances to succeed. Best of luck in releasing an API product that will leave a lasting impact on its target market!