As headless CMSs become more popular, it’s important for organizations to start thinking about how they’re going to manage their backend content. One way to do this is through APIs.
However, not all APIs are created equal – and custom-built, first-party APIs can offer benefits to many enterprises beyond out-of-the-box or third-party API solutions. One prime use case would be if your organization is adopting a microservice architecture. In such cases, having a group of smaller, independent microservices communicate through an API makes perfect sense in terms of data security and the flexibility to remove, add or update individual microservices within the ecosystem. In other scenarios where data security is critical (such as healthcare or financial services industries), or there are intricate use cases, first-party APIs are preferable to give you complete control over every aspect of the API lifecycle including development, design and implementation.
When deciding whether your organization should develop a custom API or integrate with an existent or contracted third-party API, it’s important to first understand the benefits that come with a custom-built solution.
Three reasons to build custom, first-party API solutions
Organizations that are looking to prepare for a modular, headless CMS experience should consider building custom first-party API solutions. Here are three noteworthy reasons:
1. Better control over development and implementation
A custom API can be built for an organization’s specific needs, which allows for more control and a better understanding of how the API works. Plus, a custom API can be integrated with any number of third-party applications, giving you the flexibility to tailor your headless CMS experience to your organization’s unique needs without being limited by the set features of a third-party API. This level of control is essential for ensuring data security and privacy, while also offering the ability to connect to legacy systems and easily integrate with new technologies as they emerge.
2. More data-specific integrations and ability to accommodate specific use cases
A custom API is also built with your company’s specific data requirements in mind. This means that you won’t have to worry about the quality of your data or whether it will be accessible when you need it. By taking into account all of the unique data requirements that you have, the result is a much more efficient and effective process when integrating your API with a headless CMS.
In addition, custom APIs are built to be scalable from the ground up. This means that as your organization grows and changes, your API will be able to grow and change right along with it. Choosing to use a third-party API means that your choosing something designed for mass consumption – often requiring “hot fixes” to tailor to your unique needs.
3. Better reliability and security
Third-party headless APIs can be less reliable because they are not built specifically for your organization. They may also change their software instructions without notice, which can break your integrations. Because custom APIs are developed specifically for an organization’s needs, they are therefore less likely to experience downtimes or other issues. An in-house first-party API is often a great choice due to the simple fact that they can be controlled from start to finish — the entire lifecycle from development to deployment and retirement is fundamentally controlled in-house.1
Building custom API solutions may require more upfront investment, but it will pay off in the long run. They’re more reliable, can be better integrated with your organization’s systems, and offer more control overall. Plus, custom API development is not as difficult or time-consuming as you may think. With the help of a skilled development team, you can have a solution up and running in no time, saving your organization time and money in the long run.
Preparing for headless and considerations for a first-party API architecture
If you are considering a headless CMS for your organization, custom API development should be part of your planning process to ensure that your content is accessible and easy to manage, regardless of how your back-end systems change.
But API development can be complex. So how do you get started?
There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your custom API development project:
- Define your goals and objectives for the API. What do you want it to do?
- Understand what data you need to make your API work. This includes both internal data (from your CMS or other systems) and external data (from your API’s third-party sources).
- Choose the right API development tools, services, or partners. There are many options available, so do your research to find the best fit for your needs.
- Plan for future growth. As your organization grows, your API will need to grow with it. Make sure your custom API solution is scalable from the start.
Building a custom first-party API is a big undertaking, but the benefits are well worth it – helping you ensure that your organization is prepared for a headless CMS experience.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with custom API development.