What Are The Goals Behind Launching An API Portal?

I was getting ready to do some work on a developer portal for a project I'm working on and I wanted to stop, step back and try to define what the goals in launching this portal are. As the technologist on this project, it is easy for me to impose my belief in why I am launching this portal (to publish documentation), but I feel it is important that we get the perspective of all stakeholders--so, I asked everyone involved what the goals were.

In the short term, the goals are to engage these groups around the API resources:

  • Engage Third-Parties - Bring in new, and stimulate existing usage of data made available via APIs.
  • Internal Departments - Ensure the internal groups are also engaged, and part of the outreach.

While incentivizing the following things between engaged stakeholders:

  • Aware - Help make people aware of available resources, and what is being done with them.
  • Conversations - Stimulate focused conversations among stakeholders around data and APIs.
  • Issues - Focus on solving tangible issues that actually make an impact in the community.

Long term the goals to stimulate projects that matter, and can possibly bring in sustainable relationships and revenue that will help ensure the platform is up and running, and serving the target audiences. It takes money to do APIs properly, keeping the servers running, code evolving, active outreach and support in the community, and a passionate, engaged community to develop valuable projects.

I know all of this sounds overly simplified, but it is actually the thought process I'm applying to this project. I would say it is oversimplified to say that we are just launching a portal so that people will use our APIs. We need some basic goals about who we are reaching out to, and what we are trying to accomplish--we can evolve, and continue to define from there. When I lay out the outline for this project's portal I will make sure each element that I include speaks to these goals, or I will not put it in the version 1.0 of the portal. 

Next, I want to make sure my minimum viable API portal definition speaks to the widest possible audience, and not just to developers. Then I will get to work on setting up the first version of the portal for use in this API project, and we'll consider what's next.