When you want to install a new feature on your website, you have a decision to make — use third-party integration or build your own application programming interface (API) from scratch. It’s important to know the difference between them to make sure you’re making the best decision for your website.
API is a set of requirements for building software apps, while “third-party integration” means implementing an existing API to change or improve the features or functionality to your website without having to completely write the code for it from scratch.
If you’re a smaller business, third-party integrations are a great option when custom solutions are too cost-prohibitive or you want to integrate something that’s been done (and done really well) before — remember, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel (code!).
Some examples of when you’d probably opt for third-party integrations include:
Most commonly, third-party integration is preferred and recommend when scheduling and booking. For example, HIPAA compliance is a roadblock for most websites, but there are third-party integrations already established that make compliance easy. Other examples include hotel or lodging booking or class registration, all things that generally have the same format to seamlessly integrate with your website.
Third-party integration sounds great — and it truly is — but you don’t just want to add every plugin under the sun to your website. Having too many can exponentially slow down your site, and you won’t have full functional control over these features.
With a custom/first-party API, you’ll have total control over the lifecycle — including development, design, and implementation. If security is your number one priority, you may opt for a first-party API to be able to have full control over the data. This isn’t to say that third-party integrations aren’t safe, but first-party APIs, if managed attentively, can give you the most control.
Every business is different, which means every website will have its own unique requirements and considerations. At Cosmitto, we’ll take a deep dive into your business’ needs and capabilities in order to give you the best website recommendations. To hear about your personal recommendations, give us a call.