5 Key Considerations to Optimize the User Experience

By Lindsey Jenkins in GET/technical, API Pro Tips Posted Oct 13, 2020

A seamless, connected experience that’s relevant to your customer’s use case is the bottomline of a great user experience.

That’s it. Sounds simple, but the reality of getting there is a different story. 

This post is a follow-on to our updated Definitive Guide to API Integration. Download the full guide for more in-depth content on integration best practices, from pre-build to post-build, or check out the blog series.

integration experience

Your customers want to connect your product to the litany of services they’re already using. And they want the wealth of data that’s already contained in these systems (and your application) to interact with and inform one another. 

In this post, we’ll dive into some key considerations to think about as you’re evaluating and optimizing the integration user experience your app provides. 

5 Key Considerations to Optimize User Experience

1. Identify the Persona: End-User or Administrator?

The first step to building a great user experience is knowing who the persona is that’ll be using your app and how they’ll interact with it. Will it be an end-user or an administrator? 

The type of user persona will guide your choice of where to place the selection interface for the services you’re integrating with your app. 

  • An end user example might look like this: A webinar attendee downloads powerpoint slides from a webinar to their personal document storage account (e.g., Box, Google Drive) to view and share after attending a webinar. This is an interaction that will occur frequently and is not a one-time administrator activity.
  • An administrator example might look like this: A Marketing Administrator selects and authenticates their marketing automation application (e.g., HubSpot, Marketo) so that leads are automatically created from the email addresses of webinar attendees. This is a one-time setup that doesn’t need to be in the direct flow of the application for the end-users. AKA a ‘set it and forget it’ function.

2. Guide End-Users Within the Natural Workflow

In an ideal scenario, users can easily select and authenticate a service’s endpoint and discover and select the data that they want to sync with your product - all within a single, embedded interface. By letting users perform all the actions they need to build integrations to your product within your UI, you eliminate user headaches and make the development process simpler. Some key principles to remember as you consider your workflow:

  • Determine where a simple selection and authentication flow fits best within your app
  • Consider if this a one-time event or if it’s recurring. If it’s recurring, you’ll need to refresh the key and remember the user’s account so they don’t need to re-authenticate every time
  • Your UX team will know the best option for your application: Should there be a redirect, full-window, or pop-up window?

3. Use Settings Pages For Administrators

In our user story example, the administrator selects and authenticates the marketing automation systems only once. This experience doesn’t need to fit in the flow of the application, but can be presented on a settings or integrations page with two approaches.

  • Internal to your App: Adding an “Integrations” or “Connections” section to your settings page within your app is a perfect place to present the one-time interaction. The “set it and forget it” integration is one where the data interchange is in the background and doesn’t need an ongoing user experience to select things like files or instances of data objects.
  • External to your App: Alternatively, you can add an “Integrations” page to your website where users can instantly authenticate to your app and the endpoint they need to connect to. This user experience isn’t optimal, but it often lets you speed up time-to-market since you don’t have to make modifications to your app.

4. Keep Users Within Your App

A seamless user experience shouldn’t force your users to leave your app to complete their work.

Even further, a great experience makes end-users forget that they’re even connecting your app with another service. Endpoint selection and authentication should happen within your application with your brand requesting access to the endpoint.  You manage the experience for the user from end-to-end within your product while optimizing and developing the API use cases your customers need.

5. Anticipate Future API Integration Needs

Many mature apps provide dozens, if not hundreds, of endpoints as options for their users to connect to, and this number is only growing as apps offer new functionality and new products enter the market.  To create a truly great and future-ready integration experience, you need to invest time in getting to know your customers and what matters most to them. You’ll need to ask questions like:

  • Which categories of services do you want my app to connect to?
    • Document Storage, CRM, Finance, Marketing, Social?
  • What endpoints do you use regularly within each of these categories?
  • How would you quantify the value of this connected environment? 
    • What value do these integration points have on your experience?

Any UX designer will tell you the criticality of customer data and feedback to creating an excellent experience. And the need for research and client input is just as important when developing user stories for the API integrations you build. It’s important to offer a seamless UI, but if the integration capability itself doesn’t adhere to user needs, you’ll only get so far.

Learn best practices for API Integration and creating user stories in our Definitive Guide. 

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