Among the thousands of web portals available on the internet, API developer portals stand out as the most technically informative and developer-friendly ones.
But, even these portals, which have their laurels resting on their content and features, must pay attention to their user interface (UI) design.
The benefits of a good UI design are clear and well known. It gives the best first impression and makes sure that the visitor does not get lost by helping them find what they want.
So, using a powerful front end is also very important for developer portals. Most developer portals are characterized by heavy technical documentation, jargon and API-related simulation or automation tools.
Your UI design must thus be pleasing to look at as well as have the ability to facilitate easy understanding.
Here are some pointers that will help you develop a powerful and highly engaging developer portal.
Pretty Is Not Necessarily Good
Beauty and aesthetics should not be the only concerns when you design your portal. Your UI design should not only be attractive, it should also make your portal usable. You should thus keep the following things in mind while you commit your design:
- – All the parameters should be easy to understand.
- – The portal should be interactive and easy to use.
- – It should give a pleasant and interesting user experience.
- – The UI should be consistent and reflect the brand uniformly.
Furthermore, developer portals are inherently informative and you should thus remember to accentuate the learnability and presentation aspects of the portal.
Incorporate the Best Elements of a Good Design
It is a best practice to follow some set guidelines to achieve a better product. These guidelines use proven concepts that provide better human computer interaction and thus make the best use of them. Here are three design principles that you need to include in your portal design:
- Information architecture
- Visual design
Prioritize the information that the site visitor needs to know. Then, design your information architecture based on these priorities.
Your site must be designed in such a way that the visitor immediately sees what needs to be seen and the resources must be provided depending on the level of the visitor’s experience.
Furthermore, group your technical documentation and license information into relevant categories and structure all the information in such a way that it is always easy to find specific details.
The information sections must be ordered in a broad to specific fashion. It is also a good practice to provide a search by keyword or topic option.
A good example for this type of information structuring is presented by the MailChimp portal. It orders the information as Getting Started, to How Tos, to Downloads and APi wrappers, and finally to Actual API documentation.
Make your portal clear for both beginner and professional users.
Here are the fundamentals you need to consider when you design your UI:
- Consistency – Make everything on the screen look and behave in a similar way. Keep repeatedly used things, such as search forms, stationary and fixed.
- Clarity – Use easy to understand terminologies consistently. Choose a consistent tone that reflects the brand and maintain that tone throughout the portal.
Plan your UI flow with the help of a wireframe. This will help you identify the key components of each page. You can also use software packages like InDesign, Balsamiq, Briefs, Axure, and HTML prototypes for this purpose.
Moreover, you can use user tests to determine whether your mockups or finished designs satisfy the users and then make the necessary changes before the official launch.
Visuals create the look and feel of your portal. The graphics and visual part of the portal thus decides the subjective perception of each user about your portal. So, you should choose the main style of your visuals based on your brand image. The methods that you can use to create a better visual design are given below:
- Layout – The relative placement of things.
- Hierarchy – Use colors, font titles, sizes and other styling parameters to make information stand out. Do not present flat information as it could confuse the user.
- Grouping – Group similar things based on their functionality or content. Use colors, consistent shapes, and line breaks to help you organize the content in an efficient manner.
- Aesthetics – Make sure that the UI is pleasing to look at and portrays a consistent brand image.
- Grids – Use grid systems and groupings to help you the design.
Not everything has to be original to achieve acclaim. Though you may have brilliant designers on hand, you can always avoid reinventing the wheel by using certain API specification formats and management services.
Although the tips provided above can help you design a beautiful API developer portal, we advise that you seek help from an API specialist. This will ensure that you are on the right track and that all your effort will not go in vain.
Do you have any questions or points to add here? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!