For most teams, API documentation is an afterthought. This mindset almost certainly costs you in terms of bringing developers on board with adopting your APIs! Your documentation is the first encounter most developers will have with your APIs, so providing great documentation is essential to helping them understand what your API offers, how to use it, and what to do when they are ready to start integrating.

5 Steps to API Documentation Success

  1. Deliver comprehensive API reference documentation using the OpenAPI Specification (aka Swagger) or a similar standard. Without reference documentation, developers cannot use your API.
  2. Launch a developer portal that addresses the needs of both business and developers and drives marketing and recruiting opportunities. The developer portal is your communication hub for the community that grows around your API.
  3. Integrate documentation into your delivery process. If it isn’t documented, your API isn’t done.
  4. Refine the portal to make sure it includes the right mix of artifacts: reference documentation, a straightforward guide for getting started, case studies or walkthroughs, and other resources to accelerate developer success.
  5. Add content for non-technical decision makers: marketing and sales, executive team, and product/program managers. Help every role understand how the API addresses their needs

Self Starter?

Use our Minimum Viable Documentation (MVD) template to get started on your own. The template is an-MIT licensed developer portal based on the Jekyll static website framework.

The MVD template incorporates common practices that we recommend to all of our clients, as well as tips and guidelines to help you create a high-quality developer portal that addresses your audience’s needs. Just fork this repository and use it to jump-start your API developer portal!

Let Our Technical Writers Help

If you want help with your API documentation or developer portal project, contact us. Our technical writers can help you develop your API documentation strategy, write documentation, and launch your developer portal.

“Moving Beyond API Reference Documentation”: API reference documentation is important, but focusing only on reference docs can cause you to miss the hidden value that API documentation can bring to your customers and your team.

“10 Questions Your API Documentation Must Answer”: “Documentation is the third user interface for APIs, and the most important”.

“Building Your API Documentation Strategy For SUCCESS”: It is critical to define an overall API documentation strategy that unifies your API design and documentation so that they work together to produce a better developer experience. As a bonus, your strategy will help resolve questions that key decision-makers have along the way.