Integrations with 3rd party services is a great way to provide additional value to your users for little or no extra cost: use Google Maps to give users visual representation of an address, Stripe to allow for a quick checkout or USPS APIs to get quick shipping quotes.
The best user experience is the one users don’t have to think about. The modern user likes consistency of experience across their entire web and mobile experience. For better or worse, tech giants are setting the standards of user experience, their techniques become the universal user expectations. We expect a certain way to create accounts, maintain online security, shop, share information, restore passwords, etc. It’s impractical for most digital products to recreate all those experiences themselves, you wouldn’t build an entire maps software just to visualize an address. That’s where API integrations come in: you can use other company’s products to enhance experience of your users, everybody wins. However, this convenience does come at a cost, we will touch on this a little later.
Here’s a great mental model for integrations: create the unique part of your product yourself, but use integrations for the peripheral services. For marketing automation software, build content creation and posting UX yourself, but let integrations handle registration, connections to social media platforms and payment. For analytics software, build a unique UX for viewing and configuring reports, but leave crawling, indexing and machine learning to integrations.
Innovation is built by evolution, not revolution. Give your user familiarity and consistency with the rest of their online experience and introduce something that’s unique to you. In further iterations you can keep pushing the envelope to grab more of your user’s attention by separating your product from the herd.
Here’s 3 ways to enhance your product’s user experience through integrations:
- Single sign on. Implementation of standards like OAuth 2.0 and OpenID will help you design and standup registration and user profiles.
- Location and address validation. Services like Google Maps, Open Street Maps or MapBox will help provide users with visual clarity on physical locations, validate addresses and build interactive experiences.
- Device-native features. For mobile experiences, leverage platform features to erase friction from UX: Apple/Google Pay, location services, platform logins, etc.
Security and data governance
One important thing to keep in mind, all the services you integrate with get part of your users’ data. Authorization products will know when and how often your users use the service, maps will know the locations your users are accessing and so on. Even though these pieces may seems insignificant, but when analyzed as a dataset and compared to other information third parties have on users, they can gain unique insights. That’s why these services are often free.
Don’t overdo it, use only the integrations that serve your UX. Performance is another consideration you should keep in mind: the more queries you have to make to external services, the slower and interrupted your flow will feel.
Healthcare Data Interfaces
In the healthcare space, there’s an emerging set of standards that help companies exchange clinical data of a unified format. Tech giants, such as Apple and Google, have adopted the FHIR API for their health and fitness apps. It’s become a de-facto standard to a point where the government requires healthcare providers and payers to make their data available through this interface.
These standards are a welcome development in the area, because it will speed up development of innovation and give patients control over their data. If you are in this industry, it’s well worth the effort to adopt your data to the standards: structure of clinical information is described in USCDI and interface formatting in FHIR.
Using USCDI with FHIR translate into predictable and smooth user experience for health related web and mobile apps from any source.
There is a lot of benefit to be had in your next product design if you know tools in your arsenal and use them wisely. Think about an ideal frictionless experience your product can offer and then apply third party services as needed.