API portals are redefining how organizations approach using APIs to reach their business goals. Beyond better user experience, organizations can now humanize their API experiences and deliver a good user experience for developers as well. That’s why it’s no surprise that Market Data Forecast projects a 34 percent yearly growth rate for the API management market.
In this article, we'll delve into what an API portal is, how it can take your organization to the next level, and the steps you can take to determine whether it is right for your business.
What is an API Portal?
An API portal is a bridge between the internal developers that build your company's APIs and the people who engage with them to move the business forward. This includes internal developers, external developers, as well as your business team members.
Think of it as a directory that houses all the information around your organization's API offerings. While some of these API offerings are gated —especially in regulated industries with portals targeting internal developers— others are publicly available for a wider developer community to interact with.
API portals help with discovery, subscription, and especially API testing — to ensure that all APIs are fully functional.
API Portal vs. Developer Portal: What Is the Difference?
A developer portal is a site that is used almost only by developers to access and organize technical information to configure and manage the APIs used by their organization.
Some features you will find in a developer portal include:
A list of all APIs that are available
A set of API reference documentation (that may or may not be complete)
A space for developers to communicate on how to use those APIs
At a basic level, API portals also provide the same functionality listed above. The key difference is how API portals are designed and built for non-developers.
Where only developers typically use developer portals, the first audience of an API portal can be anyone, and with the rise of the Citizen developer, it is crucial your API portal gives priority to the UI and is built with ease of use as a top priority. In other words, an API portal is a more accessible version and provides advanced features that are not available on a typical developer portal. Addressing this broader range of people opens up new partnerships, access to new and larger markets and creates efficiencies inside and outside of the organization.
Unlike a typical Developer Portal, an API Portal works specifically to promote APIs as a product. With a robust set of tools and features designed for non-developers and developers alike, API Portals allow businesses to maximize returns on their APIs for better business outcomes.
Read More: API Portal Buyer's Guide
Who Will Use the API Portal?
Two major groups will use the API Portal: your business team (citizen developer), and professional developers. For you to succeed, it is essential to consider some standard requirements that your company should include to cater to both segments of your user base.
But perhaps most importantly, it’s critical to understand that for both the business team and developers - you must consider that both internal and external users are going to access and navigate your API portal differently.
Let's discuss the key segments that make up the user base of a typical API portal to help you understand your API consumers better, to deliver the most value to them.
1. Business Teams
An API portal should provide business leaders from within and outside your organization with the ability to locate, manage, and share information from all of your APIs. The data gleaned from APIs will provide insights to drive your business forward - and key decision-makers need the ability to quickly and effectively access valuable information.
Since non-technical people will need to see the bigger picture to make better strategic decisions, it's essential to allocate your resources to constantly improve your API Portals UI and analytics tools to quickly access the most critical data for their business purposes.
These roles might include:
Product owners: The product owners gather and present ideas for new API products or features.
Business Analysts: Business analysts work with companies to help them identify new business opportunities. With easy access to your API portal, they can better evaluate the workflows, spot inefficiencies, and see potential revenue streams.
Marketers and Salespeople: They help promote the API and develop the business strategies for the product. They also recruit partners for the API product.
Digital Transformation Experts: Working similarly to business analysts, digital transformation experts are looking at the big picture and how to bring the organization’s digital experience to employees, clients, and partners. Since your API portal should serve all the above categories, user-friendliness for a non-technical digital transformation expert is vital.
API portals will always need to deliver the features of a typical developer portal - at a macro-level, they must provide a single place to manage API reference documentation, sample code, and SDKs.
This means a portal should have clear navigation and straightforward access to API documentation that enables API consumers, again internally and externally, to easily search for and locate information around the APIs they need.
Some of the specific users include:
API developers: Developers build, publish, and maintain the APIs and their portal.
Developer advocates: They bridge the gap between the developer community and the company.
Technical Writers: Technical writers provide engaging, easy-to-understand content on the API and its usage. They also provide essential content to onboard and get new developers started on the API.
API consumers: Application developers driving today's startup market. These experts are the heart of an ecosystem, driving innovation and empowering disruptive new ideas.
Read More: API Portal Buyer's Guide
What Are The Benefits of API Portals?
An API portal that is accessible to more than developers and data scientists is necessary to provide insights that will drive mission-critical business decisions
Let's go through some of the more concrete benefits of an API Portal.
1. Increase Adoption & Productize Your APIs
API portals make it easier for developers and “Citizen” Developers who are less skilled to discover and consume API products.
From the onboarding process to API documentation, you can set up everything in one place to boost adoption rates and API usage, and turn your API consumers into a loyal user base.
Since API portals enable non-technical people to access and consume your APIs, you can leverage them to expand your potential and existing user base.
The influx of new users can help you boost the business value of your digital assets, increasing the ROI of your API products in the long run.
Additionally, you can take full advantage of the user-friendliness of API portals to develop API products tailored to different user segments, creating additional revenue streams for your organization and providing a bridge to your other digital assets.
2. Reduce Multiple APIs for the Same Function
For large enterprises, it's not uncommon for different departments to independently develop API solutions that partially or fully deliver the same functionality.
API portals help eliminate this issue by solidifying all of your API assets in one place, allowing different departments and teams to access all of your API products without interfering with each other.
3. Promote Innovation in API Implementation
Since API portals drastically reduce the entry barriers for non-technical stakeholders to use and interact with API products, more effective collaboration between departments will bring different perspectives to each issue.
This diversity of views helps organizations and API providers leverage the expertise and experience of specialists across different fields to bring unique perspectives and ideas into the development process.