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Information Architect
Jul 17, 2020

The DevPortal Awards category for Best API Business Model was revised in 2020 due to significant overlap with the three award categories of Best API Business Model, Best Decision Maker Documentation, and Best Policies & Terms of Use awarded in prior years.

For this award category, does your developer portal answer the following questions:

  • How can you convince future customers that your products and APIs provide the best solution for their needs?
  • How can you address users that are interested in how to excel their business?

Best API Business Model

This DevPortal Awards category is for developer portals that not only have innovative business models but also found a creative way to present them.

API business models that are well explained can help to convince future customers (not only developers). What are the answers they will search for? Let’s take a look at the first two and the last stage of the downstream developer journey. We can extrapolate them a little to match the user expectations of a wider audience:

  • Discover & research: What is the business model? How can it help us, as customers, to accelerate? What are the advantages for us? Are these the APIs that we need to solve our problems and tasks at hand?
  • Evaluate: How much will this cost us? Can we change models later on and what does that imply? Can we trust this organization and its APIs? How does this organization deal with legal issues? How can I, as a user, check that the API provider plans for the future?
  • Maintain: Will we be able to use this API over a long period of time? How can I, as a user, stay up-to-date regarding legal details? Where can I check updates and how often do changes occur?

Organizations will only use an API if the perceived value is clear. How can you address decision makers, whose job it is to find out what value the APIs offer?
How can you make sure that decision makers can find their way on your devportal easily and find the information they are looking for?
How can devportals build trust through a genuine approach in the topic of legal documentation?

Developer Portal features that contribute to the API Business Model

API pricing models

Ideally, a company’s monetization strategy aligns with user expectations. How can you explain pricing models in a concise and clear way? Here are some examples:

Shopify features charts with clear explanations around the business possibilities they provide.

TomTom supports pay-as-you-grow models, with the ability to check transaction prices in USD or EUR and an FAQ that focuses on pricing related questions.

Case studies and testimonials

When you feature business model related case studies and client testimonials, you can directly address the typical questions and issues your audience might experience.

Video testimonials convey case study content in an engaging way to help future audiences to evaluate Shopify’s models to do business.

Blog posts that showcase business related news

Articles can help an organization to communicate business opportunities, releases, future plans and changes, especially if the blog provides categories for specific topics. A blog can also function as a sort of incubator for ideas, i.e. a place where you can test — via dedicated posts — what your audience would be interested in.

Orange’s blog features decision maker focused news that users can select via different article categories.

Non-technical user stories can showcase the real-life experiences that decision makers are looking for.

This Orange’s API summary page lists regional options, visuals on how the API works, a use case video and partner testimonials.

Dedicated entry points & marketing info

Landing pages can guide the developer portal’s primary audiences towards the place they need to be, e.g. via CTAs and specific links that describe the possible tasks at hand.

The KPN API Store makes sure its users start their specific journey at the right spot.

Product and API descriptions can be formulated in a way that they also target a non-technical audience.

The Deutsche Bank API products page provides descriptions that allow decision makers to evaluate its API products. The banners explain the specific availability status of the API. Clicking through, the API summary pages describe clearly what the API is about and what its features are.

Marketing focused information that lists what your developer portal offers and where it is available can help decision makers find out whether your product provides what they need.

Orange provides the ability to select APIs and SDKs based on region.

Trust signals

Quotes, customer testimonials, a trusted-by section and proof of data security can help to reassure prospective users.

Shopify has a Trusted by section on its landing page. Note: when clicking on the community menu item, users can choose to connect to business owners on the forum.

Deutsche Bank points out what security standards it uses.


Changelogs, release notes, status pages and uptime reports help to decide whether you can trust an organization’s commitment towards its APIs.

Shopify’s changelog allows for e.g. selecting release notes based on recent and scheduled changes, filtering release notes by tag and subscribing to get updates. The box “only show posts that require action” enhances the user experience.

Thorough user research will enable you to reveal your primary personas, and what they need and expect from your devportal. Ideally, this influences the way you present your business models and address decision makers. If your devportal excels in these fields, you might consider nominating it for the DevPortal Awards!

Legal documentation

Legal docs define the boundaries of the devportal, API and API documentation usage. Devportals can have (e.g.) a partner policy, a cookie policy, terms of use, a privacy policy, terms of service, terms and conditions, an agreement, a license, a code of conduct, a copyright policy, a disclosure and an end user policy to describe these boundaries.

Plan for readability, usability & findability

How can an organization depict legal information in a user-friendly way? You can address a heterogenous group of users more easily when you, for example:

  • highlight the most recent changes,
  • point out when the docs were last updated,
  • provide an overview of all legal docs,
  • have short (with common words) and long versions (for legal experts) of the same content,
  • make the legal docs findable.

KPN gives an overview of all terms and conditions in a sidebar.

Ticketmaster provides a detailed overview of their legal documentation via the “Support” menu item on top.

Nexmo (Vonage) lists when they last updated their terms of use and provides a link to the older version.

The examples in this post are taken from some of the previous DevPortal Awards nominees and winners.

Developer Portal Categories

The Best Developer Portals Learn more about the award categories for the Developer Portal Awards and how you can submit a nomination.

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Nominate a Developer Portal

All Pronovix publications are the fruit of a team effort, enabled by the research and collective knowledge of the entire Pronovix team. Our ideas and experiences are greatly shaped by our clients and the communities we participate in.

Kathleen is an information architect helping clients find out how to align business goals and user needs with the knowledge we gathered about devportals. She grew her expertise through early research on developer portals to determine components, strategy, and best practices for user experience. She holds master's degrees in history and in archival science & records management.


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