Application Programming Interface (API)

Web terminology can be confusing to the general public and to those who need to utilize it for business, but may not have the time or desire to fully understand the technology needed to create a modern and up-to-date web experience for customers and clients. Terms like “Web 2.0,” “content management,” “cloud computing,” or “API” are relatively new additions to the web development and design professions, and integrating these concepts, as well as familiarizing clients with their use can be a difficult hurdle for the web development professional.  With the various social and collaborative efforts now in place in most web site strategies, a general understanding of these applications and their integration within a website is imperative.

Application Programming Interface, or API, is a common term heard in the worlds of web design and development. An API is simply a way for different programs, websites or applications to communicate with each other and share data. APIs are tools that are freely given by companies that set standards online for communication, data sharing or interaction, among other functions. These APIs give control to the web developer in terms of integrating a company’s website with familiar technologies, like those provided by Google, Twitter or retail companies like Amazon or even Best Buy.

By using the API provided by these corporate giants, web developers are able to give clients a way to compete in their industries. Businesses benefit from the use of APIs by integrating well known and trusted web icons into their own web sites. A simple example of an API is the ability of a customer to have a credit card processed through a website that utilizes the API provided by PayPal. Since PayPal is a well known company, not only is the business assured that its payments will be processed in a timely manner, but the end user knows that their credit card information is safe, based on reputation and word-of-mouth reviews of the service. This API also benefits PayPal in terms of branding, as well as securing a portion of the financial transaction for their services. While not all companies that provide APIs are compensated for their trouble, the reputation of the service and the increased exposure to their name can have countless benefits for their own marketing and branding purposes.

While APIs are mostly the concern of web development departments and teams, the use of an API on a company’s website can help create a familiar feeling that inherently provides a source of safety and brand loyalty. The integration of a website with these APIs provided by companies like Google, Facebook or even Reuters benefit the business, end-user and even the company that provides the API for general use.

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