Application programming interfaces, or APIs, are essential tools in the world of computing. They enable different applications to communicate with each other, which is how data is shared across the internet. APIs allow developers to build off of one another’s applications and services, which is good for all parties involved. The programmers who developed the original app get their name and product out there on the web, and the programmers borrowing from other applications save valuable time and energy in getting their new website or application up and running.
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Imagine this: you’ve spent all day hanging out at your local arcade, playing games and winning tickets, and now it’s time for you to cash those tickets in for a bundle of sweet prizes at the prize counter. All of the items you could walk away with are right in front of you and you can get a variety of prize combinations depending on how you divide your tickets, but you can’t just hop the counter and grab the prizes yourself. You need the employee working the counter to go get them for you. APIs do the same thing for code: they take the information about what you want, get information about it from the original application’s code, and deliver it to you so that you can build it up into whatever you want.
APIs can improve your website in a couple of ways. First, they make your site more engaging and visually interesting, which makes it more attractive to visitors and ultimately contributes to your conversion rate. Some popular APIs, such as the Google Maps API, will even increase your website’s SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, score, which means more people will find your site. And more traffic means more conversions.
APIs also give you the opportunity to customize web applications for exactly what your website needs. Using APIs, you can tweak an existing element on your site to better serve your goals or even create an entirely new feature from scratch.
Another way that APIs can boost your conversion rates is by helping you gather essential information about how users interact with your website. The Inspectlet API, for example, provides functionalities that allow you list, search, and retrieve session recording data. This gives you more control over your website analytics, allowing you to more effectively pinpoint and fix areas of your website that may be keeping your conversion rates low.
APIs provide building blocks that allow you to construct your website’s functionality quickly and easily. But first you’re going to need a blueprint. Spend some time thinking about what your website is lacking-- what kinds of interactives would you include if development time were less of an issue? What do you want to get out of your website analytics that you aren’t? If this exactly the functionality you want doesn’t exist yet, don’t sweat it. That’s where APIs come in.
Your next step is to spend some time poking around Google to see what you can find. Start by checking out the most popular APIs. Can you find bits and pieces of what you’re looking for there? Don’t be afraid to mix and match. You may have to use some creativity in your implementation, but there’s definitely an API out there that will at least get you pointed in the right direction.
Even with help from APIs, developing a new component for your website can be tricky. If it doesn’t work out perfectly at first, don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of resources out there that will work through common API problems or break the whole process down to the basics and help you figure out. If you invest a little time to keep tweaking your project, you’ll ultimately end up with a new feature or analytics tool that is a perfect fit for your website’s specific needs.
APIs are an easy way to improve your site and boost your conversion rates. Have an API that you’re totally in love with or an awesome idea for an API-based project? Leave it in the comments section below!