Will a Self-Service API Area Ever be Enough?

One of the essential ingredients of a successful API, is a self-service area to support your API developers. In my opinion this is a no-brainer. You have to have registration, documentation, code samples, forum and other essential API building blocks available to developers in a self-service way--so they can engage with your API 24/7 without asking for access.

I’ve worked hard to make sure the CityGrid API area has a logical navigation, taking developers to the essential information they will need to learn about and integrate with the APIs:

With those 13 links you can get to everything you need to know about the CityGrid Places, Offers, Reviews and Mobile, Web and Custom Advertising APIs.

I keep a regular flow of information going through the blog to make sure there is excellent SEO content, so developers can search for anything at Google, and the blog will support linking to whats relevant in the CityGrid Developer Center.

Even with all of this, I still get some pretty basic questions like:

  • I need PHP code samples? - Immediately available on the code samples page.
  • What does the API cost? - Says that it is FREE on Getting Started and FAQ.
  • Can I save your data in my database? - Says it on the Usage Requirements
  • Do I have to show your logo? - Says it on the Usage Requirements

That is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve posed this question before...are there enough doers in the world to make this whole API vision work? It’s hard to tell if its just my view, while in the pit of despair, or if it is just the way it is.

It seems like there will always be some users who need hand holding, and they refuse to read the self-service material available in the API area. When I’m hacking on an API, I always make sure I search exhaustively before I ask a question, but I’m discovering a new breed of developers who won’t search, won’t ask questions--then when you reach out to them they’ll ask for what they need, no matter how basic.

It seems, that self-service API resources are essential, but there will always be a segment of our audience who aren’t quite doers, they need more hand-holding and information presented to them before they get what they need.