5 Ways to Use APIs in Your Business
Don’t you just hate it when developers talk about the things you don’t quite understand? Take, API, for example. Every now and then you’ve probably heard about the API integration or the API platform but just couldn’t figure out what those terms meant. Oh, we’ve all been there, googling “what is API” and hoping the answer wouldn’t involve endless computer science slang. But in reality, the topic is a lot simpler than you think.
We use APIs every day online, usually without even realizing it. Want to see how it works? Keep reading to find out more about APIs and how you can use them in your business.
What is API?
API (Application Programming Interface) is a defined interface through which one software application communicates with another. In other words, it’s a set of contracts that allow different software systems to share information. Thanks to APIs, programs and devices can communicate safely, without knowing the internals of each other. In addition to that, APIs make developers’ lives easier, working like ready-made bricks for building software.
Try thinking of an API as a postman that runs between the post office and the house. But instead of delivering mail, the postman brings requests to a third-party server and comes back with a bag full of data. Even though they are invisible to users, APIs seamlessly connect applications, devices and systems. In fact, everyone on the web uses them all the time without even knowing it.
Using API in Business
Now, let’s take a look at the ways you are most likely already using APIs for business purposes.
- Website Analytics
If your company has a website, you must be using some analytics to evaluate its performance. It helps to measure website traffic and user conversions. And to work properly needs to be integrated into your website. And, of course, you’ll be using APIs for that.
Take Google Analytics, for example. It’s a part of Google Cloud API Platform and it offers several different APIs for analytics. The most common are Core Reporting API and Management API. You use them to get the report data on the website’s performance and manage your Google Analytics accounts. Even when you’re just using online software provided by Google Analytics, without writing any code, you still deal with those two APIs indirectly. Read also, why you should care about API securiry.
- Project Management Tools
When working in a company with many employees, team management tools become a necessity. Trello, Basecamp, JIRA, Microsoft Teams – you’re probably using one of them. Project management tools are great for communication between coworkers but it’s their data-sharing functionality that’s really important. This means easily attaching a file from your computer or another application and share it with other users. Or you can convert data from the project management tool into other programs like MS Excel.
And guess what? All that data-sharing between different services happens through API. So, every time you link some external reports into the project management tool, you’re actually using APIs. They get the information from one software application to another so that your colleagues can see it right away.
- Search Engine
Another way of using APIs is acquiring information from other services. If your business involves searching for the best offers online, like KAYAK or Expedia, you must be using APIs. In fact, third-party servers receive a request through API, respond with what the user searches for and then the information displays on your website.
Or you may just have a small search box that helps users find the right content on your website. Chances are the internal search engine you use is actually an integrated custom website search API. Those are usually provided by Google, Bing or other major search engines that allow API integration.
- Online Payment Systems
If your business involves money transfers and digital payments, you are clearly using APIs. For e-commerce, APIs are a valuable tool because they ensure the security of online payments. A fast and simple way to receive money online is to use the payment gateways’ APIs. PayPal, Stripe, Skrill or Dwolla – any of those APIs can be integrated with your website.
- Social Media
Today, a lot of businesses use Social APIs, and yours is probably too. Social APIs have become a very powerful marketing tool. Their most common use is content distribution through different social networks. Take this article, for example. You might have noticed four share buttons below its title. Well, their sharing ability is a result of implementing API. Feel free to click them and see how it works.
Beyond that, if your website has a signup option, you can be using instant login through social media accounts – Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn profiles. This not only makes the signup easier but also helps to collect valuable market data. When users log in through their social media accounts, you get the demographic data about the user base. Profit!
Over to You
Now you know that API is what makes data-sharing and connectivity possible. We use it to access data from a third-party server, which allows one software application to exchange information with others. And while end users might not even suspect they interact with it, APIs are incredibly useful for their everyday online activities.
If you need help with API integration or building an API platform, don’t hesitate to contact Skelia. Our extended team of professionals in web development will help you get the most out of using APIs for your business.