Expert API Design Techniques

Designing Successful APIs

I’ve been working with dozens of API designers at my company. Along the way I've noticed nine top qualities that set the best apart from the average. Behaviors they exhibit, mental frameworks that informs their understanding, and goals they set for themselves.

You can leverage these actionable insights to change your habits and gain more success.

  1. Successful API designers ask the best questions to understand where the business value really is.
  2. Successful API designers think about how their services will be developed, but spend more time on how their customers will integrate them during their development.
  3. Successful API designers are often surprised by what goes wrong because it's hard to predict, but they write a history of those defects, and use them to create a better future.
  4. Successful API designers sometimes find the best work they can do is nothing - instead they reuse an existing service others have provided.
  5. Successful API designers do one thing better than everyone else - they read other people’s requests and responses. Then they allow the best lessons to influence the interfaces they create.
  6. Successful API designers understand APIs are user interfaces. It’s the literal interaction point between a human being and a computer system. Thinking that way changes everything.
  7. Successful API designers understand great usability of APIs means they are three things: intuitive to understand, efficient to integrate, and a joy to use.
  8. Successful API designers balance short-term deadlines with long-term thinking.
  9. Successful API designers know their customers will forgive them for introducing breaking changes in version upgrades, but will appreciate them for considering backwards compatibility.

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