In 2021, the worldwide market for open APIs stood at a valuation of USD 2.39 billion.
By 2030, projections suggest this figure will escalate to an impressive USD 13.21 billion.
Talking about good API design is a hot topic for teams aiming to perfect their API game. We touched on why API design matters in a previous blog post.
And hey, there are some pretty sweet perks to having a well-crafted API, like a smoother developer experience, speedy documentation, and way more folks jumping on your API train.
But what’s the secret sauce to making an API that rocks?
Well, we’ve got you covered. This blog post dives deep into the best practices for designing Web APIs.
Now, complete completeness takes time – API designers and developers usually build things up step by step when it comes to designing web APIs. But it’s the ultimate goal every engineer or company with an API should aim for.
Let’s put these concepts into action with some of the best practices for designing web APIs.
How Much Does It Cost To Build An API In 2023?
Interestingly, a vast majority of developers, over 90% to be precise, incorporate APIs in their work.
“How much does it cost to build an API?” is a question many businesses and individuals ponder when diving into the digital realm.
The expense associated with developing an API largely hinges on the intricacy and scale of the project. Generally, costs oscillate between $10,000 and $50,000.
Several factors can influence this price tag:
1. Number of Endpoints
Every endpoint in an API signifies a specific function or data request. More endpoints can increase the development time and, therefore, the cost.
2. Data Volume
If your API is designed to handle large amounts of data, especially in real time, the infrastructure and architecture might need to be more robust, leading to higher costs.
3. Security Requirements
Security is paramount in today’s cyber-threat landscape.
APIs requiring stringent security protocols or needing to comply with specific regulations (like HIPAA or GDPR) may necessitate more investment to ensure they are bulletproof against potential breaches.
So, when asking, “how much does it cost to build an API?” it’s essential to consider these determinants to get a clearer picture of potential investment.
6 Best Practices for Designing Web APIs In 2023
Developers allocate approximately a third of their coding hours specifically to API development.
Wondering how to create an API for a website?
As the digital landscape evolves in 2023, crafting an efficient API has become more critical.
This section will share the best practices for creating an API for a website in 2023.
1. Resources and Documentations
Resources and collections are essential in REST.
A resource refers to an object significant enough to be referenced independently.
It contains data, relationships to other resources, and methods for accessing and manipulating the associated information.
Conversely, a collection is a group of resources.
The contents of both collections and resources can vary depending on your organisation’s and consumers’ specific needs.
If you think it would benefit the market to have access to essential information about your product’s user base, you can expose this information as a collection or resource. This allows others to retrieve and utilise the data.
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is used to identify the online location of a resource. It points to where your API’s resources can be found. The base URL is the consistent part of this location.
In the case of the photo-sharing app we mentioned earlier, we can provide data about the app’s users through collections and resources. This data can be accessed by using the appropriate URLs.
– “/users” represents a collection of users.
– “/users/username1” represents a specific user and provides information about them.
By designing a web API this way, you make it easier for others to interact with and use the data you provide.
2. Keep Simple URLs
URLs should be simple and easy to read, especially for developers using your product.
If the base URL is long and difficult to understand, it can lead to mistakes when recoding it. Trust the nouns when creating your URLs. There is no rule on whether to use singular or plural nouns for resources, but it is recommended to use plurals for collections.
Consistency is vital, so ensure all resources and collections have the same plurality.
By keeping the nouns self-explanatory, developers can easily understand what the URL is describing. This will make them more self-sufficient when working with your API.
Look at a hypothetical photo-sharing app with a public API. It has two collections: /users and /photos. Notice how both nouns are plural? That’s intentional.
By using plural nouns, we can infer that /users provide information about the registered userbase, and /photos gives information about shared photos.
Using self-explanatory nouns in your URLs can clarify what information is being accessed.
3. Describing API Functionality With a Standard Method
Resources in a RESTful API have specific methods that can be used to interact with the data they contain. These methods are based on HTTP, each with unique action.
Here are some commonly used HTTP methods in designing RESTful web API:
– GET: This method retrieves a resource representation. It allows you to get information about a specific resource or collection.
– POST: With this method, you can create new resources or sub-resources. It is useful when you want to add something new to your API.
– PUT: This method updates existing resources while designing RESTful web APIs. It allows you to modify the data of a specific resource.
– PATCH: Similar to the PUT method, PATCH is also used to update existing resources. However, it is used to make partial changes rather than complete updates.
– DELETE: As the name suggests, this method deletes existing resources. It allows you to remove a specific resource from your API.
Instead of using verbs in your URLs, it is recommended to use nouns. This makes it easier for developers to understand and work with your API.
With the GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE methods, you can efficiently perform CRUD operations on your resources.
For example, in a photo-sharing app, you can use the /users and /photos endpoints to access and manipulate user and photo data.
4. Give And Get Feedback From Fellow Developers
You want to give feedback to developers to help them succeed while designing web APIs.
Good feedback is essential for improving adoption and retention. Each client request and server-side response is a message in a RESTful ecosystem, and these messages should be self-descriptive.
- Positive Validation
Good feedback involves positive validation for correct implementation and informative error messages for incorrect implementation. Errors provide context for using an API.
- Error Alignment
Align your errors with standard HTTP codes, such as 400 for client-side errors and 500 for server-side errors.
A successful method against your resource should return a 200 response. Many response codes are available, so check out this REST API tutorial for more information.
There are three possible outcomes when using your API: client error, server error, or success.
Providing precise and concise error responses is essential to guide your end user to win.
Include enough information in the error codes for users to fix the issue, and provide links to additional documentation if necessary.
5. Give Examples To Your GET Responses
When designing an API, it’s important to provide examples of the responses that users can expect when making successful calls to a URL.
These examples should be clear and easy to understand. For our hypothetical photo-sharing app, we have two URLs: /users and /photos.
The /users endpoint will return an array of objects containing all registered users’ usernames and join dates.
We can use an API design tool to define this in the Swagger (OpenAPI) specification. In the response section, we specify that the response will be an array of objects, each with a username and created_time property. We also provide example values for these properties.
To give an idea of what the actual response would look like, here’s an example in JSON format:
When a user successfully makes a GET request to this endpoint, they should receive this data along with a 200 response code, indicating success.
If the user makes an incorrect call, they should receive an appropriate 400 or 500 response code, along with relevant information to help them troubleshoot the issue.
6. Stability Factor
Facebook’s API is not developer-friendly because they constantly deprecate and rewrite their APIs.
However, as a smaller company, you don’t have the luxury of a large user base, so you need a stable and consistent API. This means keeping old versions running and supported for a long time.
- Version Your API From The Beginning
One way to achieve this is by versioning your API.
Incorporate a version number in the URL, such as http://myapisite.com/api/widgets/v1, so people can rely on version 1 working.
If you need to phase out a prior version, give plenty of notice and offer a transition plan.
- Include Major Versions
It’s also essential to have a good URL scheme that includes significant versions. Any changes to the output format or supported data types should result in a new major version.
Keep the same version if you add keys or nodes to the output, but bump a version if the output changes.
Additionally, make sure your API is internally consistent. Avoid changing parameter names or methods of POSTing data for different endpoints.
Instead, handle standard parameters globally and use consistent naming conventions and data handling throughout the API.
Lastly, maintain a changelog to show differences between API versions and guide users on upgrading.
7. Flexibility In API
Regarding web API design, many programmers follow the mantra of “garbage in, garbage out.”
This means that strict request validation is necessary to ensure quality output. It sounds good – no mess, no problem. However, there needs to be a balance.
You can’t anticipate every way users will want to use your service, and not every client platform is consistent. Some platforms may not have good JSON support or a decent OAuth library.
That’s why it’s essential to have some flexibility in your input and output constraints.
- Example: 1
For example, many APIs support different output formats like JSON, YAML, and XML.
Usually, the design is specified in the URL. But it’s also good to allow format specification through an Accept: application/json HTTP header or a query string variable like ?format=JSON. You can even make the format case-insensitive to alleviate frustration for users.
Another example of flexibility is allowing different ways of inputting variables.
Besides plain POST variables, you can support JSON and XML input formats. These are commonly used, so it’s a good starting point.
Remember, not everyone shares your technical preferences. By researching how other APIs work and talking to other developers, you can find valuable alternatives to include in your API.
BlueZorro: Crafting User-Friendly Websites for Tomorrow’s Users
In today’s fast-paced digital era, having a website isn’t just about marking your online presence; it’s about delivering a seamless, user-centric experience that caters to your audience’s needs.
At BlueZorro, we understand this deeply, and it’s reflected in every website we craft.
BlueZorro’s Approach to User-Friendly Design
1. Understand the Audience
Before we begin designing, we spend time understanding your target audience. What are their preferences? What challenges do they face? This insight lays the foundation for our design.
2. Minimalistic Design
Less is often more in web design. We focus on a clean, clutter-free design that highlights your content and services without overwhelming the user.
3. Responsive Design
With the surge in mobile users, we ensure that every website we build looks and works perfectly across all devices – desktop, tablet, and mobile.
4. Easy Navigation
Our websites feature logical page hierarchies and clear navigation paths, ensuring users find what they’re looking for with ease.
5. Feedback Loop
We incorporate interactive elements that provide users with feedback, be it through form validations, animations, or hover effects. This ensures users always know the result of their actions on the site.
6. Regular Testing
Before any website goes live, we run extensive usability tests, ensuring every element works seamlessly and provides the intended experience to the users.
Whether you’re a startup looking for its first website or an established business aiming to revamp its online presence, we’re here to build a website that’s not only visually appealing but also user-friendly to its core.
Contact us today and dive into the future with BlueZorro’s user-centric web designs!
Summing It Up
For those curious about the sheer volume of available APIs, ProgrammableWeb lists an astounding 24,000+ APIs in its directory.
Designing web apis are important because it helps the end consumer use your API. Their needs should be your guiding light when designing and building a great API.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to API design.
The suggestions we gave earlier are just advice and recommendations. Depending on your user case and requirements, you can use or discard them.
The goal is to find what works best for you. It’s all about creating an API that meets the needs of your users and makes their experience seamless.
Think about how you want your API to be used and what your users need from it. Consider the functionality and features that will make their lives easier. Keep in mind that your API should have a clear and intuitive structure.
Make sure it’s easy to understand and navigate. This will help your users get up and running quickly.