Learn how Impala uses Mockoon to conduct API UX research to offer the best experience to their users
Building an API requires a lot of work. But designing an API that feels intuitive to use and is effortless to integrate for your developers probably represents a greater challenge. We all know that conducting user research is crucial when working on graphical interfaces, but did you know that API user research could help you nail API design? Impala understood it and successfully integrated user research in their API development workflow.
Impala is creating hotel booking APIs for the travel industry, and lets developers book hotel rooms through their API within minutes. To live up to their promise, they strive to create the best experience for their users. The first reason is because ease-of-use is one of the most important factors when choosing an API. The second is because APIs that are easy to reason about and with clear documentation translate in fewer integration mistakes and errors. It results in a win-win situation, happy customers, quick integration time, and fewer support requests.
Impala understands this fact better than any other company, and their API design process is well-proven. After writing extensive documentation and OpenAPI specifications for each new feature or endpoint, they invite a few outside developers for 45 minutes user research sessions. During these sessions, they ask the participants to perform several tasks in the new API. By getting this immediate feedback, they ensure that the feature will be easy to understand and integrate.
Since Impala started doing these users research sessions during API development, they also mocked their APIs to provide the new endpoints to the participant without too much hassle. However, API mocking presents challenges, especially if you want the experience to be realistic and have limited time to set it up. And creating convincing mocks for short sessions of 45 minutes can be very time-consuming and sometimes a bit overkill. Impala found that available mocking tools on the market provide limited mocking possibilities and don't offer enough features that guarantee the realistic experience required by such focus groups.
Mockoon offers a unique set of features like templating and rules that allow to set up great mocks in no time. Some of these advanced features help to create complex scenarios that closely mimic the behavior of APIs. It's also the kind of setup you wouldn't want to put in place by hand, especially when you need to do this every time you plan new focus groups.
Mockoon's advanced features allow Impala to quickly create realistic scenarios without the hassle of assembling multiple tools or libraries. They can easily set up endpoints returning dynamic and realistic content by generating fake data and reacting to participants' entries. Simulating authentication or pagination mechanisms become a breeze thanks to the available templating helpers and responses rules system.
One advantage of using Mockoon is the possibility to quickly adjust and modify the behavior of a running API mock. Thus, following participants' feedback, Impala can rapidly fine-tune the API parameters, rename confusing property names or update the endpoint responses. It can be done seamlessly from the interface without the need for redeploying or restarting the mock.
Impala is creating their API documentation using the OpenAPI specification, with which Mockoon is compatible. By importing OpenAPI specification files in Mockoon, they can quickly create a skeleton for the mock. It allows Impala to retain their API design tool of choice while ensuring an excellent mocking experience.
Besides, Mockoon makes it easy to test new features that are part of larger workflows thanks to its proxy mode. Impala can set up partial mocks covering the endpoints related to the new feature while forwarding the rest of the calls to their existing APIs.
Impala's found that thanks to Mockoon's complete set of options but minimal learning curve and easy-to-use interface, they can offer more complex mocking scenarios during user interviews without spending too much time setting up throwaway mocks. The result is thorough UX research by testing and validating more complex scenarios, accelerating feedback, and ensuring a high-quality release.
If you want to learn more about how Impala implemented their API user research workflow, you can read their detailed article.