Getting Started with API Integration: A Series
Do your users want to connect your app with the other cloud services they’re using? Are you getting requests from your customers to use data they already have in cloud storage, CRM, marketing automation or other applications? If so, your users are looking for a Cooperative App experience in which your app and the other apps they use all work together – seamlessly.
Cooperative App API integrations generally follow a consistent pattern that you can apply in defining the user stories required to develop the cooperative integration use cases for your application. This series will help you discover your application’s integration pattern by evaluating 10 dimensions in designing integration use cases.
The first-step is to optimize the experience that your users will encounter when selecting the end-points and data they want to use in conjunction with your app. Your goal is to provide a natural experience for selecting and authenticating end-points. Take these five key considerations:
5 Key Considerations to Optimize User Experience
1. IDENTIFY THE PERSONA: END-USER OR ADMINISTRATOR?
Will an end-user or an administrator be selecting and authenticating their account to the end-point? 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 downloading 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 an one-time administrator activity.
- 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. ‘Set it and forget it’ function.
2. GUIDE END-USERS WITHIN THE NATURAL WORKFLOW
In the slidefish example, the service end-points are selected by end-users and files will regularly be selected and attached into the application. Users can select the endpoint, authenticate, browse files, choose files, and download or upload all from a single interface embedded in the slidefish app. A few key principles:
- Determine where a simple selection and authentication flow fits best within your app
- Consider if this a one time event or is it recurring event. If it’s recurring, we need to refresh the key and remember the users 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, pop-up window?
3. USE SETTINGS PAGES FOR ADMINISTRATORS
In our user story example the administrator is selecting and authenticating the
marketing automation systems once. This experience doesn’t need to fit in the flow of the application but can be presented in 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 it doesn’t need an on-going use experience to select things like files or instances of data objects.
- External to your App: Alternatively add an “Integrations” page to your website where users can instantly authenticate to your app and the end point they desire to connect to. This is not as optimal user experience but it’s often a quicker to market as you don’t have to make modifications to your app.
4. KEEP USERS WITHIN YOUR APP
The best cooperative app experiences don’t let your users leave your app. Better yet – the best cooperative app experience makes end users forget their even connecting your app with another service. It just all works, simple and easy. End-point selection and authentication should happen within your application with your brand requesting access to the end-point. You manage the experience for the user from end-to-end within a cooperative application and develop cooperative API use cases optimized for your application.
5. ANTICIPATE FUTURE API INTEGRATION NEEDS
Data shows that the average SaaS app connects to 6 – 10 external services. Many mature apps provide dozens, if not hundreds, of end-points as options for their users to connect to. As you design your cooperative app user experience, take the time to get to know your customers and learn what matters most to them:
- Which categories of services do you want my app to connect to?
- Document Storage, CRM, Finance, Marketing, Social
- What end-points do you use regularly within each of these categories?
- Google Drive, Salesforce, Quickbooks, Marketo, Hubspot
- How would you quantify the value of this connected environment? (What value do these integration points have on your experience)?
After all at the heart of user experience, you should be gathering input from your users. Right? #foodforthought. View our free resource to expand your knowledge and be on your way to creating your own killer cooperative app.