Boost API Usage with 7 UX Pillars by Peter Morville

Nicholas Gimenes
November 13, 2023
min reading time

Boost API Usage with 7 UX Pillars by Peter Morville

In 2004, Peter Morville introduced the User Experience Honeycomb, a diagram outlining key elements crucial for crafting an outstanding user experience. When applied to APIs, developers emerge as the primary users, with their experience termed as Developer Experience

The decision to adopt your API hinges on whether its Developer Experience (DX) and overall usage value surpass alternative options. Elevating the user experience for your API entails focusing on the 7 pillars outlined in the User Experience Honeycomb diagram. These pillars serve as strategic areas for developers to focus their enhancements and refinements, ensuring a compelling and competitive API offering.

Now, let's delve into the core principles of the User Experience Honeycomb, exploring the seven pivotal pillars that developers can strategically leverage as part of Developer Experience best practices to elevate the user experience of your API.

7 Pillars of UX (User Experience Honeycomb)


The initial measure for evaluating an API's effectiveness revolves around its utility, defined by the principle of usefulness. This entails thoroughly examining the API's ability to meet tangible and authentic needs within the developer community. The central question focuses on whether the API satisfies identifiable requirements for developers, thus confirming its justification for existence within the broader context of a DX platform.

Implicit in this evaluation is a critical consideration of purpose; if the API fails to offer a solution or fulfill a significant demand, its creation comes under scrutiny. 


The second aspect of evaluating an API is its usability, which gauges how easily users can understand and navigate its interface and functionality. This criterion focuses on the simplicity of developers' interactions with the API, stressing the importance of a minimal learning curve. 

An API is deemed user-friendly when it adheres to established Developer Experience best practices and industry standards. It offers thorough documentation, illustrative code snippets, and examples within a Software Development Kit (SDK). 

Augmenting usability includes features such as a sandbox environment, diverse use case explanations, robust support systems, and the incorporation of task automation, all working to alleviate complexities tied to repetitive tasks. 


The third key aspect in evaluating an API centers on its "findability", focusing on how easily developers can access and discover both the API and its features. This criterion highlights the essential need for developers not only to be aware of the API's existence but also to locate crucial components such as support resources and documentation effortlessly. 

Effective "findability" hinges on the establishment of a logical and intuitive structure that aligns with developers' cognitive processes. A well-organized framework ensures that developers can promptly and efficiently identify the API and its related elements, streamlining the developer onboarding process. 


The fourth crucial aspect in evaluating an API revolves around its accessibility, determining how effectively individuals designated to engage with the API and its features can do so. This criterion prompts essential inquiries about the availability of the API and its features, the provision of necessary support, and the inclusivity of individuals with disabilities. The assessment also ensures that those intended to access the API Portal possess the required permissions. 


The fifth aspect in assessing an API focuses on its credibility, evaluating how much confidence it inspires in potential developers. This evaluation considers the accessibility of the API, the responsiveness of the support team, the currency of documentation, and the extent of successful utilization by other developers, aligning with DevOps practices. 

The decision of a developer to build an application with the API depends on the perception that the API is easily accessible, backed by a responsive support team, equipped with current documentation, and endorsed by a community of developers who have successfully used it.


The sixth criterion in evaluating an API revolves around its desirability, prompting an examination of its inherent appeal and advantages to potential users. This assessment involves critically exploring the unique benefits that distinguish the API from competitors, encouraging developers to choose it over other solutions. 

The evaluation centers on identifying the unique selling points and advantages that make the API an appealing choice. Developers' decisions to select a specific API depend on its perceived value, underscoring the importance of clearly communicating the benefits of choosing the API over alternatives. 


The seventh and final criterion in evaluating an API focuses on its inherent value, assessing its meaningful contributions to stakeholders. This examination emphasizes the API's need to enhance value for a range of parties, including owners, collaborators, partners, developers, end-users, and other relevant stakeholders. 

At its core, the assessment revolves around whether the API serves as a valuable asset, aligning with stakeholders' varied objectives and interests. 

In essence, within API evaluation, the value criterion highlights the strategic importance of ensuring that the API functions as a valuable resource, generating positive outcomes and benefits for all parties involved in the API Portal. This strategic emphasis on value creation reinforces the importance of API connectivity to integrate with partners within the broader stakeholder landscape.

The efficacy of your API hinges on ensuring a positive Developer Experience (DX).

Simply releasing your API is insufficient; to bolster its utilization, you must optimize the benefits it delivers and provide an exceptional Developer Experience (DX)

By incorporating the seven pillars of user experience outlined by Peter Morville (usefulness, usability, findability, accessibility, credibility, desirability, and value), you can comprehensively address various facets of your API beyond the technical aspects, thus contributing to a superior developer experience. This holistic approach extends to improving developer satisfaction and loyalty, consequently enhancing API consumption. 

Strategically working on these pillars ensures that your API not only meets technical requirements but also aligns with user expectations, fostering a more favorable and engaging experience for developers.

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