Editor's Note: This is the third profile in what ProgrammableWeb is calling it's "Growth Series." One objective of this series is to profile API providers that are driving growth in 3rd-party consumption of their APIs so that other API providers can learn about what works and what doesn't from real world practitioners. If you're an API provider that's interested in being profiled by ProgrammableWeb for this series, please contact us at email@example.com.
Business processes that rely on paper as the primary means of transaction management will eat into a company's revenue significantly. According to Forester's March 2015 report on the digital transformation of business, 37% of companies report that paper-based processes cost them 11% to 25% of their revenue, while 20% of companies estimated they lose 6% to 10%.
For those who can envision the benefits and efficiencies gained through Digital Transaction Management (DTM), neé digital signing, recognizing such losses is an important catalyst to improving a company's bottom line. As such, given how companies are only just discovering the benefit of DTM, the technology is poised for significant growth over the upcoming years.
HelloSign, a provider of eSignature technology is reaping the rewards as businesses race to claim the revenue savings of DTM. Developers use HelloSign's API to implement DTM functionality by putting code in the digital document that redirects the user to the HelloSign site for eSigning. They can also use the API to create an eSigning experience that's a seamless part of a digital document on the developer's website.
The company, founded in 2010, has experienced 10x growth in API consumption since 2015. According to Bill Farrell, director of Product at HelloSign, this astronomic growth is due to six reasons:
- A growing awareness in the industry about the benefits of DTM and eSignatures
- The frictionless nature of HelloSign's signup process
- A quick "Time to Hello World" experience
- Support for white labeling
- Comprehensive documentation
- A full-time dedication to developer support
Farrell points out that presently only about 20% of businesses use DTM, but they're experiencing market demands to speed business process, which is driving the adoption of eSignature capabilities. "We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg," he says.
HelloSign makes quick signup and onboarding of customers a priority. The company eliminates the extensive qualification process required by others, which often involves many telephone calls and a lot of paperwork. Instead, the signup process requires only that a developer to fill out an online form, submit the information, and respond to a confirmation email. The process is straightforward and fast, and a developer can onboard in a matter of minutes. If the company is using HelloSign in white label mode (where the eSignature functionality is presented on a company's web pages without HelloSign's branding), HelloSign requires that a company schedule an App Approval call before the code goes to production.
A Speedy "Time to Hello World" Experience
Getting a developer up and running with the HelloSign API quickly is critical for HelloSign. A developer should be productive using the API in non-embedded mode in minutes, Farrell says. (Non-embedded mode is when code redirects a user to the HelloSign site to make an eSignature.) Implementing eSigning in embedded mode takes longer — perhaps two or three days. For this the developer needs to do additional work around visual styling to make sure eSigning is a seamless experience with the customer's overall look and feel, which results in the longer setup time.
Support for White Labeling
According to Farrell, allowing developers to implement eSigning easily in a way that integrates seamlessly with a customer's overall digital experience makes HelloSign an attractive option for companies needing to implement a unified, consistent brand. A developer can use the HelloSign API to work in embedded mode to create page layout templates that are dedicated to a given business. Each business can have its own look and feel built into its own suite of templates. These templates then become a natural part of a company's eSigning and verification workflow. Using the white labeling capabilities of the HelloSign API eliminates the "brand confusion" that can result when users go over to another site to make an eSignature. All signing activity takes place under a company's distinct brand identity.
A Single Application Can Support Many Clients
The HelloSign API allows the developer to support multiple companies under a single access token. This is a definite benefit for third-party developers who work with many companies that need eSigning. Instead of having to make multiple applications, with each application requiring particular access credentials for the given customer supported, the developer is granted one access token that can service all of his or her customers. Of course, each customer will have a unique identifier, but making and supporting that distinction is work for the developer.
Behind the scenes, the API supports the level of security necessary to ensure that one customer can never access the data of another.
"Similar to most multi-tenant SaaS applications, there are logical access controls in place that check at multiple levels that a given user should have access to a given file," Farrell said.
Were it not for the seamless, embedding capabilities of HelloSign's templating feature and tool's ability to support multiple customers under a single access token, Hellosign might not have grown as fast as it has.
HelloSign's documentation is broad. It provides the API Reference, a number of QuickStarts, and useful examples.
HelloSign documentation provides reference and tutorial material.
The documentation for the various HelloSign client SDKs references readme's on GitHub repos. The choice of supported languages reflects HelloSign's preference for consuming applications to be server-based, which is generally regarded to be more secure than those that are browser-, desktop-, or mobile-based. The organization of the SDK documentation is consistent in those languages. Thus, developers writing in Python, PHP, Ruby, NodeJS, Java, or C# have a similar documentation experience.
Full-Time Dedication to Developer Support
HelloSign employs a full-time staff of support engineers whose only job is to help developers. Providing quality on-demand support not only gets developers moving forward faster, but showcases the company's developer-friendly reputation. The company asserts that one of the best ways to grow an API is to provide a level of developer support that exceeds general expectations. HelloSign's hope is that outstanding service will continue to provide the valuable word-of-mouth endorsement that has spurred its growth.
Putting It All Together
The eSignature market is still in its infancy. Only about 20% of companies use DTM in contract and approval processes. Thirty years ago few companies used email, but today all do. The same will be true of digital signing; it's only a matter of when. Given its significant growth over the last two years, HelloSign might very well be one of the significant players in DTM when when their market matures.