It is common for companies to worry about UX when designing a new app or product. In contrast, developers often do not worry enough about DX (developer experience) when building APIs. This is a mistake if you want to attract developers to your API. Taija Bjorklund over at APInf covers the four attributes you need to get right to provide a good DX.
Taija stresses that it’s easy to think DX is not important. API users are developers like you, right? Yes, but they don’t have your knowledge of the API and they’ll make assumptions about it, how it works and what it’s for that might be different than yours. Their main interest in your API is what it can do for them, which might not be what you had in mind.
Taija asserts that four of the main attributes of a good DX, in order of importance, are: functionality, reliability, usability and pleasure (yes, pleasure). You need to get functionality right: you need to do something new or better if developers are going to want to use your API. Reliability is next in line: the API has to be available and scale with spikes in use (since that’s when devs will need your API most). Usability is as important: if the API is a drag to use, the payoff might not be worth the effort. You have to think about questions like: ‘how many API calls do I need to make to complete this task?’
In addition to the above mentioned points, Taija emphasizes that using an API should be a pleasurable experience. Registration and setup should be easy and docs should be up-to-date and well written. An API is a product after all and you want it to be nicely packaged just like you would any other product.
But how do you get these attributes right? You need to get to know your users. Know what they use the API for, and put yourself in their shoes by using the API yourself.