Mapping the Journey of API Managers: part 1

When an API owner has 1–2 self-developed APIs, s/he is usually aware about their details: API endpoints, methods, consumer calls made to those APIs, restrictions applied on third party over API usage, etc. Now imagine the scenario, where an API owner is designated to manage all APIs of an organization. Now s/he has several things to take into consideration:

  • monitoring APIs to make sure they are updated, secured, up and functioning.
  • providing satisfying service to API consumers with regulated API usage.
  • generating revenue for the organization with the help of API services.

So it is important to provide an API development and management platform that can meet the needs of highly-skilled technical people as well as people building business models around API services. A customer journey focusing on API Managers can be beneficial here.

Mapping API Manager’s Journey would help to get answers to the following questions:

  1. “Why people should be coming to your API platform among the others available?”
  2. “What are the factor(s) that could hook your potential customers?”
  3. “How can consumers have an quick start using the platform?
  4. “How can you give your customers a great experience of using your platform so that they choose to return in future?”

APInf has come a long way since 2014, evolving into a Minimal Lovable Product (MLP) from a simple API hosting platform. With features like API Usage Dashboard, Swagger Documentation Support and Multiple Proxies, APInf has earned huge praise and attention from API developers, consumers and potential investors. It still needs to reach to that apex when people behind APInf can answer the above questions in “human”, “user-friendly” way without using technical jargon. Hence we decided on an approach to map out customer journey.

Target audience of APIs can be: 1. API Developers and 2. API Consumers. In this phase of mapping customer journey, we are focusing on “API Manager” — a persona evolving from API Developers. An API Manager designs, develops and maintains one or more APIs. The APInf team had the first meeting on for this purpose on Tuesday, 7th February, 2017. To make the process of mapping this customer journey we focused on the following segments:

  1. Listing a set of needs that are relevant to an API Manager. For example making APIs discoverable and easy to be used, having their APIs secured, making money out of the APIs, direct communication between an API Manager and API Consumers, etc.
  2. Reaching out to API Managers and verifying their needs, for example by taking part in technology events and hackathons, webinars, cooperation with local universities, Demola projects, etc.
  3. Catching the interest of API Managers with APInf
  4. Giving them free trial of the product
  5. Keeping the API Managers happy.

Here we used the concept of creating affinity diagram of defining a problem and finding out a solution to some extent. The reason is that we had defined earlier the flow by which APInf team would try to conduct mapping API Manager journey (segments described above) and later wrote down individual elements for each content. To save our work, we decided to build this pseudo affinity diagram using Trello board. We decided to continue with the discussions with our regular Tuesday discussions

As closing remarks, I would say it is hard to make concrete decisions about mapping API Manager’s journey. From UX perspective, the experience needs to be measured not only during the journey, but also during the “pre” and “post” journey time as well. API Manager is a human, so this is natural that the needs, visions would change with time. It is up to us in APInf to reach out time to time to ensure we are providing a satisfying use of the platform by charting the right path.

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