Business First with API Canvas

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Publishing an API does not guarantee it will be used. More adoption of an API may mean more API consumers contacting the support. The Mind the developer experience phase contains ways to ensure your API can be found, tried and supported by your intended API consumers, especially developers.

Business First with API Canvas

API Canvases help your architects, solution owners, product managers and business analysts answer these and many other questions: Which APIs are missing, which APIs will bring the most value? Who are your API consumers? What are the benefits and costs?


Customer journey map

What APIs should you be working on? How do you know they are the right APIs? How can you improve the quality of your API ideas? 

Good APIs rely on good API design. Good design starts with the right context, namely a customer journey.

A customer journey is like a business process from a customer’s point of view. It shows how and where they interact with your business, your people, your systems.

Business First with API Canvas

API value proposition canvas

What APIs and API features will deliver value, and to whom? What APIs are available or needed? What are the API developers’ needs?

You design good APIs around API features. API features emerge as you map customer activity (‘touchpoints’) to customer journeys.

The API value proposition canvas reveals the “product-market fit” of your API. It exposes the features that will deliver value to API consumers.

Business First with API CanvasAPI value proposition canvas

API business model canvas

Are you an API Consumer or an API Provider and how does that affect your business strategy? What do we need to think about when designing an API? Who else would be able to use this API with the same value proposition?

Use the API business model canvas to explore one API opportunity.

This one-page overview summarizes your API thinking. You get a more detailed design using the canvases and checklists in the next phases.

Business First with API CanvasAPI Business model canvas

Customer journey

Think of a specific customer persona and his/her need. Create a customer journey that helps customer meet that need. It's like a business process, but from customer's point of view, describing touchpoints in a sequence.

API Value Proposition Canvas

What APIs and other services you will need to bring gains or relieve pains from your users?

The Value Proposition Canvas is split into two parts, the API Consumer View and API Provider View.

Start with the API Consumer View. Think like the product managers and software developers of the companies/teams using your API.

Start from the right and work to the left.

It's important your team fills in the API Consumer view first. This will help innovate new ideas, focus on the exact behaviour, features and help needed and avoid building features that are not important.

Remember to validate the assumptions by asking needs from real potential API consumers.

  1. Describe step by step tasks API consumer needs to achieve.
  2. Next, highlight your API consumer pains that prevent or make it difficult to use the API. You can describe pains, risks and negative outcomes consumer wants to avoid, like leaking information or unsuitable payload formats, for example. API consumers may find the API difficult to use due to lack of domain or technical knowledge. They can be afraid of having no control of the features and roadmap.
  3. Continue to the "Gains" section of the API Consumer views: Describe concrete results, benefits, positive outcome your API consumer hopes to achieve.
  4. Now you are ready to switch hats. Go to API Provider View. List the API products or services your value proposition builds on. Describe in which ways these products, services, and features are pain relievers.
  5. Tell how to take away or reduce pains API consumers care about. Outline in which way they are gain creators. The value proposition makes explicit how the APIs relieve pains and create gains. Use it to design, test and iterate your value proposition. Talk to your API consumers. Concentrate on their consumers. Create a clear connection to API consumer needs. Use AVP instructions to learn how to work with the AVP.

API Business Model Canvas

Who wants to use your API, how do you collaborate with them, what is the revenue or other value and what exactly do you need to build, what you don't have? And with what costs?

The API Canvas consists of nine areas that have almost the same titles as in Business Model Canvas.

Start from the right and work to the left.

  1. In the center of the canvas, copy and fine-tune the value proposition based on the identified customer need and benefits you are going to provide (as identified in the API Value Proposition Canvas).
  2. In the Consumers section, list your API Consumer Segments. These are the API consumer groups you bring value with your Value Proposition. It's important your team fills in the API Consumer view first. This will help to focus on the exact behavior, features, and help needed.
  3. In Relationships area, describe how you will interact with API Consumers.
  4. In Channels section tell how the API is delivered to its targeted consumers.
  5. With the Cost section, you describe the financial aspects of the value proposition. In Cost Structure section, list development, operation, and platform costs of the API. Don't forget to list cost savings as well.
  6. Key Activities in executing the value proposition.
  7. Key Resources that are necessary to create value for the API consumer.
  8. Key Partners, people or resources needed to realize API-features in practice.
  9. In Revenue Streams, list revenue models. Or tell how the API helps to improve customer relationship. Sometimes the main goal is to stop losing customers and revenue or to provide something else of value (like keeping people alive or healthy).

APIOps Cycles

method for lean api development

Great APIs need skilled people and a good method, which let's you create APIs as products - fast.
APIOps Cycles method is vendor & technology-neutral.

Read the free e-book "The 8 wastes of lean in API development". Learn quick tips on how to remove the wastes using the APIOps Cycles method.