Having a well-designed API does not mean much if not adequately utilized. Its marketing campaign and advertisement is critical for its adoption.
One other business reality is that despite all the fanciness of your API, the developers are the ones who make or break your API strategy. They are the best source of feedback. They know all the ups and downs of your API. Helping your developers succeed will help your own success.
To give developers what they need, you need to first understand what they are looking for. They have lots of options and they can show you what leads them to choose one API over another. To be able to engage with developers, you should focus on:
Why should developers use your APIs? API owners need to get the attention of developers and make them use their APIs, not some others out of a large ray of options. Having a well-designed API may motivate developers to change their routines and habits.
Ease of use of your API is as important as its functionality and power. Developers should be able to register and start working with your API in no time. Although some APIs require a formal partnership agreement and other forms of legal contracts, you should allow room for at least some operations to bypass such processes.
Monetary expectations around SLAs and restrictions, if any, should be clearly and proactively set. This will reduce issues with developers later on.
Clear documentation of the API may be the differentiator between your API and the competitor’s. One of the materials most commonly requested from the developers’ are examples of applications and actual codes that can be copy-pasted. Laying this info on your developer portal so that developers can easily understand how to get their apps up and running with your API can be another big differentiating factor.
Once you have a great API, your focus should shift to getting the word out to as many developers as you can. To drive awareness to your API, you can lay down your content where developers can reach it, or you can take it directly to them. You can do traditional marketing campaigns or press releases for initial API launches or major milestones. However, not all developers follow press. To ensure reach, it may be a better idea to publish informative articles in influential tech blogs or publications.
Making sure your API developer program has a simple and straightforward flow to use and that your API lifecycle is smooth from a developer perspective are vital. Some ways to create a great developer experience include:
Self service capabilities
Productivity tools to speed development, such as test harnesses, API consoles, and sandboxes
Forums, blogs, or app galleries to increase levels of engagement between your teams and the developer community
Easy access to support, FAQs, and terms and conditions
Developer’s community is inspired by one another to create apps in the finest environment. Thus building a strong and healthy community is extremely important. Its importance also lies in empowering and managing a large group – especially if the community managers are few.
API programs have a developer portal that acts like a resource center for the API. The Canvas Developer Portal offers:
- Web Content Management
Guides and FAQs
LDAP and SSO support
Notification emails and disclaimers
Documentation – Interactive documentation
Code Samples – SDK and Sample Apps
Test Tools – Simulators and a Test Platform
Support Tools – Forum, Ticketing System, Blog, Email, Notifications and Announcements
Legal – Terms and Conditions, Licensing and EULADeveloper Dashboard – Profiles, applications, billing history, messages, notifications, analytics and reports
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