The API market is estimated to grow to over $200 Billion in the time period between 2017 – 2022. The number is arrived at by seeing the constant growth in the demand for API integration in one form or another in the mobile industry.
Integrating APIs in a mobile app come with a series of business benefits, something which we will talk about in the article after a while. For now, the fact that APIs have been the reason behind 80% of Netflix revenue, would suffice how every business irrespective of what industry it belongs to, should incorporate API in their business strategy plan.
This need for API that has made them synonymous to something as basic as a company website, has brought with itself a need for API development company as well.
If you have a business that deals with developing APIs, this article is for you.
But, first thing’s first. Let us start with the basic!
What is an API
API or Application Programming Interface is a framework that allows one app, suppose Google Maps to interact with another app like Uber. It gives power to apps to offer much more than they were set out and at a much lesser development time and cost implication.
The definition is fairly simple, right? So, why does the world of businesses going gaga over the power of APIs? And what is equating having an API incorporated in the mobile app to something as basic as like having a website?
Let us find out.
Reasons Why Businesses Integrate APIs in their Strategy
Having an API incorporated in your mobile app comes with a number of visible benefits, let’s take a look at some of them.
Since the incorporation of APIs in a mobile app enables it to access the features of another app or program on the web, apps become more scalable. This allows businesses to offer more value to their customers without needing to spend the same amount of time and money initially put in the app’s development stage.
Create Long-Term Partnerships
By connecting an app with the other apps or services or the web programs in the connected world, businesses are able to create long-term partnerships beyond the geographical realm. The partnership that is created using APIs is usually the most valuable offering ones for both the parties.
Extends the Market Reach
Using APIs, businesses are able to develop a product on another app or web program, which might be having a great user base in a geographical location other than the businesses. Also, using APIs, businesses are able to add features which are specific to any one or set of geographical localities.
Empowers the End Users
With APIs, most often than not, businesses are able to introduce such functionalities which might have not even been there at the original app development stage. Offering a new set of functionalities and features in the app, businesses are able to shift the entire power to their users’ hands, giving them the ability to do a lot more from within the app.
Now that we have touched upon what API stands for and what are the reasons that are making APIs an imperative part of modern day mobile app industry, let us now get down to the crux of the matter – How to draw an API Strategy that gives maximum returns to your business.
What Goes into The Making of a High ROI API Strategy
These factors that we are going to discuss now are also the rules that ever great API design should follow.
The one factor which would keep your users from using your APIs is when they do not have the necessary documentation to help understand how your API functions or what new they would offer to their Mobile Apps.
The bottom line – You want the world to use your API? Get your documentation game right.
The most obvious/ first part of the documentation is to create a document that contains the API methods like responses, requests, your API functions and its endpoints.
The secret of taking your documentation to the next level is by introducing tutorials and videos as a mode of orientation to your users. Next, when you are done making the documentation, send it across to the developers in your network with no instruction, and if they are able to create a basic integration in under 15 minutes, give your document a go ahead.
2. Consistency and Stability
Until you are not as famous as Facebook and Netflix and their APIs, you don’t have the privilege to keep updating your API versions as and when you feel like.
The API that you create today should be prepared to stand the test of time to survive at least 5 to 6 years in the market with the same consistency.
Another thing to note here, when formulating your mobile app API strategy is to have it ready for all the different devices and different OS versions that you are planning to target. You will have to ensure that irrespective of what device or OS version your users are incorporating your API on, the speed and resulting action should be the spitting image of each other, all the time.
When designing your API, ensure that it is not too rigid and have plenty of flexibility scope. It is very difficult to estimate how your users would be making use of your API. And because not every client’s platform would come with decent OAuth library or a good JSON support etc., have the scope of flexibility in your API.
One way of being flexible is by allowing different input variables like JSON, XML, or simple POST variables. Aim for supporting at least the standard POST variable.
The point here is to note that not all your user will come with the same set of technical preference as yours. And, you can make them use your API only when you offer the scope of flexibility.
Security is the most obvious and crucial part of an API strategy. The information on how to authenticate and authorize the security feature should be clearly mentioned, with example and tutorial in your documentation.
While the most commonly used security method is token-based authentication, where the token is a random hash that is assigned to the user with the ease of resetting the password in case they lose it at any stage, as a mobile development company that has developed 500 apps, we rely on OAuth 2 +SSL security method. Also, we ensure that we validate a series of URLs for every account for the token. This way, nobody is able to go and inspect calls to the API, steal the user, and then use it for their personal use.
5. Ease in Adoption
Another obvious way of making people use your API for their mobile app is by making it easy for them to understand and then incorporate it.
Easier to talk about than act upon, there are only a few ways you can ensure that your API is accepted, here they are –
- Ensure that people get a hang of your API functions the second they finish reading the documentation.
- Make your API with the tools that are already available in the market, so that the developers only have to learn your API and not the tools.
- Offer language specific library
- Simplify the sign-up process
- Provide 24*7 Support
Author Name: Tripti Rai
Author Bio: Being in the writing business for several years now, Tripti Rai is presently focusing on unfolding the elements that make mobile devices interesting. Currently associated with Appinventiv as a Content Manager, she is keeping herself well read with how lives are/ about to change in the wake of the world entering the Mobile Era and how to prepare the world for the race. When not writing, you can find her slurping chocolate shake in a stray dog’s company.