API Success Blueprint

Learn about API success factors and their dependence on infrastructure.

Key success factors for APIs

KSFs are critical areas or elements that are necessary for the success of an API. Identifying the KSFs for an API can help us understand what we need to focus on to ensure our APIs are successful.

For an API, the KSFs can vary depending on the specific use case, but some examples could include:

  • Performance: The API should have a low response time, high throughput, and a low error rate.

  • Scalability: The API should be able to handle a high number of requests and increases in traffic.

  • Reliability: The API should be available and responsive at all times, with minimal downtime.

  • Security: The API should be secure and protect sensitive data.

  • Usability: The API should be easy to use and understand for developers.

  • Flexibility: The API should be flexible and able to integrate with different systems and platforms.

  • Adoption: The API should be widely adopted by developers and organizations.

  • Retention: The API should be able to retain its users and create a loyal user base.

  • Revenue: The API should generate revenue for the organization, either through monetization or by creating value for it.

  • Innovation: The API should be able to create new opportunities and bring innovation to the industry.

By focusing on these key areas, an organization can increase the chances of success for its API and ensure it is providing value to both the organization and its users.

To ensure that we are evaluating and monitoring our APIs for these factors, we need an analytics strategy that addresses all these factors. In this chapter, we'll learn about a three-part framework for establishing metrics for APIs: infrastructure, product, and business.

Infrastructure metrics attempt to measure the technical aspects of the APIs, such as performance, usage, and reliability. Product metrics include the measurement of all aspects of the user journey and user experience, while business metrics measure business processes and outcomes such as operations and revenue. In the following section, we'll learn about how infrastructure sets the foundation of API analytics for APIs.

Infrastructure as the foundation for API analytics

If we build a website and it takes too long to load, it does not matter how amazing its design is because a good portion of the customers will bounce off the web page without experiencing it. If we create a checkout page to accept payments and the payments only go through 80% of the time while erroring out the other 20%, we'll be losing 20% of the revenue. These are performance-related issues that determine the user experience without any dependency on the design of the product. In the case of APIs, we tend to spend a lot of time thinking about design and developer experience, but a key aspect of the API experience is the performance of the APIs, which determines their reliability and scalability, and the customer’s ability to use the APIs.

In the same way that a customer doesn’t consciously measure the page load times of a web page but only responds to slowness in a negative way, customers may not be able to measure the infrastructure metrics of our APIs, but this will significantly impact their experience when using the APIs. Our customers, across internal, partner, and public APIs, expect the highest level of quality and reliability. This quality inspires them to integrate our APIs into their applications. The infrastructure of our APIs is a black box to our customers. They don’t know how our APIs are implemented, which tools we use, or which gateways we use. The customer only cares that the APIs work and that they are responsive, reliable, and scalable. To enable this black box experience, our engineering teams have to work on various aspects of the API infrastructure, and oftentimes, as our user base scales, scaling our infrastructure becomes a priority for our product roadmap.

Infrastructure metrics form the foundation of metrics that we establish for our API product. This is because if the APIs aren’t performing at an acceptable level, the work we do to enable adoption will be wasted and, consequently, revenue goals will not be met. It’s only when we are able to deliver stable and reliable APIs that we can expect users to trust our APIs and build their applications using them. The illustration below shows how infrastructure, product, and business metrics are building blocks, with infrastructure being the foundational building block and product and business built on top of it.

Get hands-on with 1200+ tech skills courses.