If you are new to the world of computer programming, there are a lot of terms that are thrown around that you may or may not be familiar with. One of these terms is something called API, which stands for application programming interface. APIs are essentially a set of tools, protocols, and subroutines that form the building blocks of computer programs.

When it comes to API design, programmers hoping to create a successful API need to create something that is easy to use, but allows for exceptional functionality and scaling. In this article, we are going to make our case for RESTful API design. Not only does REST help to solve these API design problems, but it can turn an ordinary API into a superior platform. Let’s begin.

api design

What is REST?

First things first, what is REST? REST stands for representational state transfer, an architectural style for designing networked applications. It relies on a stateless, client-server, cacheable communications protocol, and the HTTP protocol. Each of these aspects of REST API design offer developers’ advantages that are either not available or simply too complicated for other design styles.

When thinking about API design, think of it the same way as UI with app development. UI stands for user interface, which is basically what an API is, but without the UX (user experience) design, the app would not work as well. It will still perform the right functions, it just will be more difficult to do so. Like UX, REST makes API functions not only work better, but look better too.


For those who are still wondering “why choose REST?” here are a couple of reasons provided to us by Dr. Roy Fieldings, an expert in the field.  

  • Scalability – REST can take any API design and make it incredibly easy to apart, grow, and be plugged into other systems.
  • Use of HTTP – since many of the applications that APIs run with also use HTTP, integration becomes easier with REST.
  • Independence – When you are designing with rest, you can change certain areas of the program without touching others. This allows for a sense of flexibility not include in most API designs.
  • Security – HTTP specification can increase the security of your API design with HTTP headers.
  • Encapsulation – REST allows you to hide or show what you please. This allows programmers to hide necessary code that doesn’t look good, while highlighting other areas that do.

Each of these would be enough to warrant use of REST, but when they are put all together it shows just how powerful the program can be.

Read also: 5 Must Follow RESTful API Design Guidelines

rest api design

Successful API design

Now that you have a better understand of REST API design, let’s review how you can turn your API into a success. There are few different REST API best practices that programmers should follow, but ultimately standardization is what can set your API apart.

Since APIs are basically a series of tools that developers use, it would make sense that having a standardized set of tools would make the process easier for everyone. It has been said that APIs are like artists performing on a stage, with users being the audience. By playing to your audience, i.e. programmers, you are able to meet their needs and deliver a great experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of REST that make it perfect for building a winning solution.

Saves time and money

From the very first API ever designed, the concept behind APIs was to cut down on time spent working with programming tools by providing everything developers need within one interface. Not only that, but most APIs allow users to access the data stored there as well. Since APIs are created for implementation, any aspect that increases efficiency is highly valued.

When it comes to standardization, the same logic applies. If you are able to design a REST API program that doesn’t require a handbook to explain its functions, you will have done a good job. Again, the end users (programmers) who will be taking advantage of your API are who you should focus on, so create tools within your API based around your target programmer.

Improves sustainability

Creating an API is a long-term investment. Ideally, the reason you would use RESTful API design is to continue scaling as more companies begin to use your API and build out further functionality. The sustainability of your API program will ultimately rely on standardization and ease of use.

For instance, if you don’t standardize and a company begins using your program, only to discover they need to build out a function you don’t have, they won’t have the tools they need. Whereas, if you had chosen to standardize, you could give them your design guidelines and they could build it for themselves. If this isn’t in place, given the first scenario, they will likely leave and find someone who can better meet their needs.

We want your API design to last, which is why standardization is so important. If you have been working on an API already and haven’t standardized, do it now before it is too late.


Ensures good developer experience

Finally, as we mentioned, the most important factor when determining the success of your API design will be developers having a good experience working within it. Even if the programmer is already skilled in HTTP, standardization will only improve their experience. Not only that, but it shows a level of technical sophistication that most API designs will lack.

Over time, as your API continues to grow, it will be up to you to perform maintenance and keep everything flowing well. However, if you work with REST, most of these issues will be taken care of. The scalability of the program coupled with the independence and capsulation of features takes the guesswork out of scaling the API. Use REST to save you, and your audience, time and money.