Last week saw the end of a 16 day conference tour in Europe where we attended 3 conferences and a trade show in 4 different countries. The last two conferences we presented at were NordicAPIs, a conference all about APIs in Stockholm, Sweden, and the other was WebExpo, a general web development conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The audience for NordicAPIs was, for the most part, engineers working on public facing APIs, while WebExpo drew everyone from engineers to managers to designers.
Duh, it's about the audience.
One common thread across talks and workshops was that regardless of the audience, it's ultimately all about the end user's experience. It may seem like an obvious statement, but it can be incredibly easy to forget the people a product is actually intended for while building it.
At NordicAPIs, I gave a talk on supporting users of an API, and how making that a point of emphasis is better for everyone in the long run. My point was that we should consider the person using the API at every step of the process, from initial design to support and everything in between like documentation and quick-start guides. Since API providers depend on the success of implementations, it only follows that we should do everything in our power to help.
What I didn't put together until listening to all these talks on the importance of experience, is that my talk was ultimately about UX from the perspective of API providers. Regardless of the interface a person interacts with, one of the most important aspects of the product is the user's experience, which can be harder to pin down with more technical products.
Casey Wilms, the Zencoder product manager, expanded on the idea of an API as a user interface that should be carefully planned and designed. He walked through the philosophy of a well-designed API in the terms of Jonathan Ive and the Kano Model, and what exactly all this means from the perspective of a product manager. You can find Casey's slides on Slideshare.
At WebExpo, I presented in the development track about the state of HTML5 video. We went through a brief history of video on the web, where things are today, and what's coming soon. We discussed the growing pains of HTML5 video and went into what formats are necessary today for basic playback, then into cool new features such as WebVTT and WebRTC.