Let's talk about developers and customer experience:
- What are their expectations of how the APIs work?
- How they get access to the API?
- Should they pay for the API or get it for free, at least for trying out?
- What kind of examples, documentation, layout, and content they expect and what are the channels where they expect to find your API?
Pre-purchase touchpoints are where the developer understands she has a specific need. This can be something functional, like face recognition or calculating shipping costs. It can also be about accessing data like mapping street addresses with postal codes. The developer then starts looking for internal or external solutions. Remember, she always has the option of implementing the necessary feature herself. As in any customer journey, the important thing to understand is the impact of the developer customer’s previous experience. This can include experience using other APIs or other services. These past experiences will have an effect on how they perceive your APIs.
When the developer moves forward in the journey, she needs a way to try out the API. With APIs, like any software products, it's important to try it out before buying. Keep questions to the bare minimum before they have actually had the chance to try at least a minimal set of features with the API.
The post-purchase touchpoints are super important. Like getting support, advocating about the API. Understand what are the channels and the ways for the developers to get assistance in using the API. No matter what you decide to offer them as support channels, they might look for support elsewhere. The developer might be searching the web or listening to their favorite YouTubers. She may ask a question from peers in Stackoverflow, Gitter, Reddit, or Discord.
If all ends well, and the developer manages to solve their coding problem using your API, they may be your best advocates. They might even make tutorials, videos, useful code libraries, or use your API to train others. They might answer other developers' questions about your API in some community support forums, and reduce your support load.
There are some other points to add to API usability or the effect of API design on developer experience.
- What is the technical format for the API?
- Are there any code examples?
- What is the graphic design and layout of the API documentation?
- Are any of these typical and familiar from other APIs and are they using the same technical standards?
- Does the API documentation and developer site look trustworthy and in line with your company branding. Is it too "salesy" for the technical audience?
Are you starting a new API inititiative? Changing jobs? Looking to learn more business or more tech.