What are the world’s best devportals? What do they do differently? Are there any best practices that everybody could and/or should be doing? Our primary aim with the Devportal Awards was to answer these questions - or at least trigger a discussion about them.
For three years now Pronovix has been researching what makes a devportal tick and to get analytical insights about the different aspects of portals. We’ve seen that there are a handful of leaders in the API space who are developing Developer eXperience innovations for their API products and developer portals, but we haven’t seen any coordination between these efforts, and it is difficult to see clear trends in the API docs space.
We created nine categories for the award, and if a portal was nominated in any of these, it was automatically in race for the Best Overall Developer Portal Jury and Community Prize. Our aim with these categories is to expand the vocabulary the industry uses to talk about DX, so that the conversation becomes about actual experiences instead of brand recognition.
Our main goal is to create an opportunity to celebrate the best developer portals and their API documentation components, so that this could become a learning tool for the API industry.
Great names from the field of developer portals and documentation agreed to form the jury of the Awards and make sure that the best nominees win in the nine categories and the Best Overall Developer Portal Jury Prize. Thank you Anne Gentle, Michael Meng, Lukas Rosenstock, Ashley Hathaway and Jenny Wanger.
Also big thank you to the community, everyone who voted for the Best Overall Developer Portal Community Prize.
The very first DevPortal Awards Gala, where we announced the winners of the categories was held on 9th of November in London. The API the Docs Conference set the perfect atmosphere for celebrating the teams behind the best portals.
Let’s see now the winners and finalists of each category with a short summary of the jury’s justification.
Best New DX Innovation: Cisco DevNet
In this category we were looking for portals that lead the way in boosting developer experience through DX innovations or well executed existing technologies. Among the criteria we can mention various tools for user engagement, such as pay for work, innovative testing, API explorer, visuals.
Erste was praised for the visuals and animation while in the case of Cisco the jury highlighted the fact that they strive to address developers with different aims and they also offer a variety of tools - testing options, tool integration and a strong community focus.
Best API Business Model: Shopify Developers
In this category we were looking for portals that have innovative business models, such as API pricing model innovations and new ways to monetize APIs, and that have found an efficient way to present these.
TomTom has a very well-explained and easily understandable pay-as-you-grow model and some useful extras such as the possibility to compare prices in US dollars and euros.
Shopify offers two possibilities for developers to make money: app development and custom development, which means multiple opportunities for developers to make money. There are clear explanations and charts to help users decide.
Best API Reference Documentation: Nexmo Developer
In this category we were looking for portals that improve on API reference documentation and how they integrate with “try it out”, and sandbox functionality: the heart of developer experience. Little extras that were appreciated are highlighted code, commenting possibility, copy buttons, collapsible columns, programming language selector, interactive links, easy switch between testing and production.
In this category the race was very close. According to the DevPortal Awards Jury Nexmo’s reference docs are a good example to follow for the numerous explanations it offers, the great structure, layout and texts. KPN’s reference docs were praised for being code centered but still containing lots of descriptive information and offering a try out option.
Best Design: Mapbox
In this category we were looking for portals that found the perfect harmony of usability, content and aesthetics and present every aspect of the APIs in a well-structured, understandable way. Developer portals that inspire trust through superior production quality.
The two adjectives that were most often used by the jury to describe all of the finalists were clean and consistent, which can be understood as synonyms of good design. In case of Mapbox the jury emphasized as a positive feature that the portal feels spacious, and it is very easy to navigate. Typeform was praised for the way it uses colors consistently throughout the sections. The jury also liked the way Cisco uses the colors, and the portal was also celebrated for its clear structure.
Best Post-integration & Maintenance Support: Nexmo Developer
In this category we were looking for portals that do an exceptional job in creating trust towards their APIs by clearly, yet innovatively indicating their availability and reliability. Portals that make it easy to maintain an API integration through great release notes and other maintenance support.
The jury highlighted that Orange is very active both in its blog and Twitter. From its blog, Twitter and the latest news Dailymotion also seems to be actively monitoring what’s going on. They have many channels for support and use them actively. Nexmo was pointed out for its separate status page and also for its active Stack Overflow page and blog and for the fact that the team regularly attends conferences, which also shows that they care.
Best Onboarding: Nexmo Developer
In this category we were looking for portals that clearly show what their APIs are about, how they work, how developers can start integrating and where they can find resources.
The jury liked Nexmo’s tutorials a lot - they are numerous and understandable. SendGrid was praised for highlighting its Get started documentation, which also has a nice, and easy to follow step-by-step structure.
Best Community Spotlight & Outreach: Cisco DevNet
In this category we were looking for portals with creative solutions or initiatives to show developers that their work is appreciated. Portals with great community sections where developers can share knowledge and build connections.
Shopify’s main strength in this category was that they seem to pay great attention to events and webinars, which shows that education is very important for them. The jury found that Cisco provides a great example of an engaging landing page, and it manages to give a taste of everything that might be important for community building: blogs, code intent, access to repositories, learning events, etc.
The jury found the terms on KPN’s portal well-structured and easy to scan with a reasonable length. Ticketmaster was also praised for using a clear language with headings to make scanning easier. They also liked that Ticketmaster created separate terms for partner APIs and the way it emphasizes what users shall and shall not do.
Best Decision Maker Documentation: Deutsche Bank Developer Portal
In this category we were looking for portals that could increase the perceived value of their API through spot-on and clear business descriptions.
The jury liked that Orange provides clear and detailed product descriptions that are targeted at non technical audiences. Deutsche Bank was also praised for having a marketing focused API overview and providing entry points for decision makers with short teasers which then lead to detailed descriptions. The jury found Shopify’s main strength in the use cases it offers and how it describes different opportunities for different developers.
Best Overall Developer Portal Jury Prize: Cisco DevNet
The race was very close for the Best Overall developer Portal Jury price. The decisive argument for Cisco DevNet was that they had an unbelievably complex problem to solve with their numerous products and content types, and they could meet this challenge in a truly convincing way.
Best Overall Developer Portal Community Prize: Dailymotion Developer Portal
The community voting opened on 20th September and closed on 31st October. The winner got an amazing 1060 votes.
Congratulations to the winners! Stay tuned for our next post, where we’re going to publish the short interviews we conducted with them about their experience with the award and their future plans.
Mónika started at Pronovix as a content writer. While doing research for the Pronovix blog posts she got fascinated by Information Architecture and UX. Apart from continuing her research into devportal best practices she works with clients in the information architecture phase.