What is API and what can it do for your business?

API

What is API? You see it in tech headlines but unless you’re a developer there’s a good chance you don’t know how API integrations could enhance your business. Here’s what you need to know.

API stands for application program interface. APIs are pieces of code used as shortcuts that allow programs to interact with each other. Think of it this way: “API” is just a fancy way of saying “integration.”

However, you don’t need to be a programmer to see how integrations can enhance your website or service.

Your computer talks to your printer via API

A simple integration allows you to print documents from any of the software on your computer. For example, your Mac or Windows operating system publishes a “Print” command. Without it, software developers would need to create code to interface with every printer on earth!

What’s the difference between integrations and web access?

Often, software companies make “open” APIs available to developers for free. After all, easy and cheap integrations mean increased usage of their data.

Here’s how an app might work with and without API integration:

  1. Without integration: An app accesses Wellington’s weather at MetService, scrapes the text on a page, and then interprets the content.
  2. With integration: The app interfaces directly with MetService via its API, passing structured queries and getting organized results.

As you might imagine, the results you get from option #2 above are less prone to error and come back more quickly.

Other examples of popular integrations

There are over 17,000 popular APIs available – for example:

  • Google Maps enable you to embed a map of your business into your website.
  • Twitter allows developers to gather trending topics from its data.
  • Facebook gives developers the opportunity to create games which use its social connections.

How does API apply to your business?

Integrations are an excellent way to add value to your service or website. What’s more, if an API is free, it’s a no-brainer. You can even get creative with what “value” means to your customers.

  • If you own a restaurant, you could inspire a foodie’s interest by showcasing food combinations from Foodpairing.
  • A coffee shop might offer a Goodreads “most read” list as a way to encourage customers to linger longer.

Now, don’t despair if you clicked on those API pages and felt a tad overwhelmed by the coding. The good news is that Prefer’s got your back. We are adept at both coding API integrations as well as coming up with ideas to add value to your website. Just tap over on email and let us know!