Benefits and Tips for Offering a Third-Party API Program
Partner programs that offer an API (application programming interface) for 3rd party developers can be a great way to:
- Acquire users inexpensively. Ultimately, users of the third party application will learn your brand and make their way back to the mother ship.
- Cheaply increase your development efforts by incenting third party developers to build interesting applications on top of your API or include your API exposed services as a complement to their core application.
- Ultimately, increase your revenue.
When designing your API program, consider the following.
- Start off small, offering a small set of core services. If this proves popular, then selectively increase the API offering.
- If you also offer a client application, you may not want to offer every single feature so that users eventually end up migrating to your own application client. You may also want to disallow competing applications, only allowing your API to be used as a complementary piece of content in third party apps that do not directly compete with your business.
- Set a minimum split amount that a developer’s third party app must produce in business before they get paid commissions. This will save time and money in micro-payments.
- Publish the split, and avoid any negotiation. It takes too much time.
- Standard contract ready to go.
- Good documentation, forum, sandbox development environment, and make sure to budget time for a developer to monitor the forum.
- PR for your API. Development groups and local programming meetup’s make a great spot to spread the word.
- Use simple API technologies, like RESTFull services or simple HTTP XML or JSON services if you can. Avoid complex SOAP services if you can help it because not everyone can do SOAP easily (ahem… Ruby).
So get going on your API program, and get on to the internal arguments of what services to expose!