To understand the impact of API performance on a business, we need to look at how users and customers behave online. Almost half of the internet users expect web pages to load in two seconds or less, with each second of loading time potentially leading to a 7% drop in conversions. In these instances, time does cost money.
For APIs, there are several pinch points to look out for:
- API Requests: As we’ve covered before, APIs work by processing requests from the user to the backend software. At times, APIs can be overloaded with these requests and crash, causing a blockage in the system.
- Lack of Integration: In digitized businesses, integration is vital, and APIs need to be a core part of a fully integrated system. Any weak link in the system will lead to data not feeding through and cause APIs to fail.
- Poor Quality Data: Data is the fuel of APIs, and in the same way of putting the wrong gasoline into an engine, bad data can cause APIs to cut out.
- Using Generic APIs: In recent years, it has become much easier to create customized and duplicate APIs using management tools. Failing to take advantage can lead to companies not fully utilizing the capabilities of APIs for certain processes.
In essence, managing an effective and coherent API network involves being in a continual state of maintenance and adjustment as the business evolves. Using an advanced API management solution, companies can add, subtract, and customize APIs to meet changing business needs and objectives. The ultimate goal is to have an optimized API network that facilitates an optimized business.
Steps to an Optimized API Network
In order to curate an optimized API network, any organization needs to lay the foundation to build on. There are five key steps that a business can take towards API optimization:
1. Implementing an API Gateway
The purpose of an API gateway is to control the number of requests and filter the data each API handles. As set out in more detail in a previous post on the topic:
“The API gateway’s role is to act as an authenticator of the data before entering the main API ecosystem. The purpose is to prevent APIs and their management systems from being overburdened. As APIs make an ever-increasing presence in businesses, the role of the gateway becomes more critical. In an ideal world, an API would be able to accept a request and send a response.”
Acting as a gatekeeper of tech, the getaway can help businesses achieve several key aims, including more efficient integration, distributing a single request to different applications, and at a macro-level, managing the overall network.
2. Create APIs for Specific Tasks
A core benefit of implementing an advanced API management platform supported by a gateway is that it gives businesses the ability to create APIs for specific tasks. Using the management platform to duplicate and customize APIs in minutes, companies can optimize a multitude of processes.
A good example of this can be seen in e-commerce when the customer makes a purchase. Utilizing the management platform and gateway, the store can create two APIs - one to process the transaction and the other for the delivery details. In doing so, the gateway will ensure each API has the details it needs to complete the relevant tasks, no more and no less. The result is a secure, fast, and fully optimized API network.
3. Utilize Caching
Another way of controlling the data flows into APIs is to use caches. A cache is a temporary storage for files and data that websites can access quickly. This is particularly useful for repeated requests that require similar data, such as purchases by a similar customer demographic.
This process reduces the amount of data generated and helps websites run more quickly, leading to higher conversion rates.
4. Focus on Integration
The key behind any digitized business is integration. An interconnected API network has the benefit of being responsive and adaptable in real-time. When requests come in from users, the information will likely be distributed across multiple APIs to complete the processes. Having an API management platform enables companies to take an integrated approach with their API network.
Using one platform ensures the data is funneled to one place, where it can be easily accessed and organized.
5. Analyze Performance
One of the advantages of using an API management platform is the real-time visibility on performance. By retaining an overview of the wider network, analysts and teams will be able to identify potential bottlenecks within the system. Spotting these blockages and fixing them quickly can be invaluable for businesses, particularly in highly competitive industries.
Any delay in a customer experience increases the risk of them leaving and going to a competitor with a slick and smooth website or app. Getting the basics right is essential for businesses seeking growth and building customer loyalty.
Having the ability to find and fix those issues proactively can turn previously clunky websites and apps into fast and smooth operations that draw customers in.
Optimize APIs Lead to Optimized Businesses
The moment a customer lands on a website or app, it presents an opportunity but by no means a guaranteed purchase. Conversion rates in e-commerce are notoriously low, at just under 3%. Additionally, cart abandonment rates remain stubbornly high, with an average of 88.05% in March 2020. There are several factors at play here, including unexpected fees and shoppers simply doing research.
However, slow websites and crashes are often cited as one of the top ten reasons customers abandon their carts. Having a fully optimized API network will alleviate these issues and help to increase conversions. Ecommerce is just one example of how a slick API network can be hugely beneficial to businesses.
Companies from all industries stand to benefit from fully optimized APIs. It helps to ensure processes run smoothly, with a high degree of accuracy and security. A manufacturing firm, for instance, will enjoy greater integration, faster communication, and ultimately, increased productivity.
By following the steps above, businesses can fully embrace digitization and all the advantages it brings. Optimized APIs directly lead to better conversion rates, faster processes, and increased profits. An optimized business.