DX, API Design & Documentation

Why is it essential to consider Developer Experience (DX) in your API strategy?


There are thousands of APIs available. To stand out from the competition, it is critical to provide good attention to developers and a better experience when using APIs. 

Number of APIs cataloged in ProgrammableWeb

 In the report Status of APIs 2019 that Sensedia prepared together with PwC, +57% of large companies use APIs to expand the value offer of products and services, foster innovation or increase the number of integrated partners.

This data reinforces that APIs are not just a matter of technology, but the key enablers of new digital businesses.

 Expected benefits with APIs

 In this same report, we also identified that the 3 main criteria to want to consume an API are:

  • Performance / Availability (73%)
  • Ease of Use (63%) 
  • Security (61%)


This reinforces that there’s no point in creating good APIs if developers don’t use them, because they find the documentation and onboarding too complicated, or they don’t get answers from support or any feedback. Taking care of the Developer Experience is essential for the success of your API strategies.

 “We want to treat the experience of our APIs as Apple treats the experience of its products.” – David Ruiz, Paraná Banco

 While DX is vital to the success of API-based businesses, 32% of surveyed companies with APIs are making no effort in developer engagement.

Developer Engagement Efforts (External / Internal)

What if it’s just internal APIs?

Even if they are just internal APIs, if they provide a bad experience, there will be a waste of time and resources, since your developers will try to rebuild components so they don’t need to use these APIs or they will exhaust themselves trying to understand how to use them properly.

APIs that have an excellent DX prevent rework and repetitive tasks, generate more productivity, and accelerate time-to-market. 

So, how to get started with a DX strategy?

“Companies that take APIs seriously should care about developer experience.” – Amit Jotwani, Amazon

A DX Team 

The fact is IT teams that develop APIs often do not have the skills, time and resources to do all the activities involved in a Developer Experience strategy.

To start, I recommend having people dedicated to improving the Developer Experience – a DX team – covering below functions:

  • API/DX specialist, ensuring the quality of APIs and documentation, and the adoption of best practices
  • UX/UI analyst, certifying the usability improvement and good visual appeal of the dev portal 
  • Support analyst, supporting developers and collecting feedback
  • Marketing analyst, promoting the APIs and creating campaigns to engage developers
  • API Product Manager, articulating API Business Value, API Roadmap, KPIs, DX strategy and team alignment.

Lastly, some tips to get started with your DX strategy:

DX Research

  • Identify all parties involved in the value chain of the API and be clear about the value that you can (and want) to offer them
  • Understand API possible consumers, their behaviour and needs (dev profile, jobs-to-be-done, dev journey, pains & gains…), and comprehend the API Ecosystem (competitors, substitutes, partners, channels…)

DX plan

  • After identifying the IDPs (Ideal Dev Profile), define how to promote your API to them and stand out from the competition. Think of Marketing’s 4 Ps:
    • Place: Where can your API be found? (like API catalogs, partner channels, communities, etc – also, optimize to be found in search mechanisms)
    • Price: What is your monetization model? What is the competitors monetization model?
    • Product: How to design the APIs to offer the best dev experience and business value to your IDPs? How to improve activities beyond APIs (like onboarding, reading documentation, testing, getting support, etc) and help with repetitive tasks?
    • Promotion: How developers find out and get to know more about the APIs? How to communicate with them in a way they feel comfortable and heard? How to engage and empower developers? How to recognize their contributions and loyalty?



  • Consider participating in open innovation initiatives (such as hackathons), events for developers and meetups.
  • Think about how to develop an API ecosystem. What partnerships should you look for?
  • Use an API-first approach: in this strategy, the priority is to develop the API putting first the target developers’ interests and then building the product on top of it
  • Don’t forget to establish mechanisms for feedback and KPIs to evaluate progress. Keep researching, testing, measuring and improving.

Do you want to know more? Please, visit sensedia.com and talk with one of our API specialists!

This article originally appeared here.

Nicholas Gimenes
Nicholas Gimenes is a technical marketing lead and growth hacker for Sensedia.

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