Why You Should Integrate Your Web Application with Zapier

In an increasingly API-driven economy, sharing has become key to the success of an app. Apps that can leverage each other’s software, data, and services are proving more valuable to users. They save time, boost functionality, and keep users engaged.

Leading the pack in this software sharing movement is Zapier, a platform that lets users link the apps they use every day in strategic new ways, called “Zaps.” With support for over 500 web and mobile applications (and more being added every day), it’s an excellent integration to consider if you’re building a new app or looking to make your existing app even more useful.

So, should you join the Zapier movement? Read on to see how it works, what Zapier API integration requires, and if it’s a good fit for your app.

How Zapier works

First, let’s talk about how it works so you can start thinking about your app in terms of Zaps.

Once a person or organization gets set up on Zapier, any of the apps they use—whether they’re for an email program, marketing, content management systems, calendars, forms, customer support, or social—can be linked. The integration between two apps is called a Zap, and it’s the key to how Zapier works.

There can be multiple Zaps per app, and they’re all centered around Triggers and Actions. If you break down your app’s functions into possible Triggers and possible Actions, you’ll start to see how Zaps can work for you. It’s an “If this… then that” scenario, and it happens seamlessly in the background once you’ve set it up.

zapier zaps with Slack and Trello

Take Zaps between GitHub and Slack for example. The GitHub code repository allows developers to collaborate on code and track projects, and Slack is a searchable communication platform that keeps teams on the same page. Anything new that happens on GitHub can be considered a Trigger—such as a new branch, a new commit, a new comment, a new milestone, etc. A resulting Action in Slack could be a new notification or a new message. Connecting GitHub and Slack lets you turn GitHub Triggers into Slack Actions—automatically keeping anyone following a Slack board up-to-date on the status of a project in GitHub.

Link GitHub with Google Sheets to log a project’s progress. You can create a Zap that triggers a new row in a Google spreadsheet for each new issue created in GitHub. Or, set Zaps in which new GitHub pull requests trigger new Trello cards, or new JIRA tickets to assign tasks to teams. Or, turn it around and create a Zap between Zendesk and GitHub, where a new Zendesk ticket triggers a new issue in GitHub. The possibilities are endless.

The power of well-designed “Zaps”

When you start to think about each app’s functions like currency that you can use in other apps, a world of possibilities opens up.

Zaps are connections between apps, but they’re also strategic integrations. Consider how your app’s Triggers or Actions could be used by another app in a way that adds value, and vice versa. For example, is linking your app to Twitter an effective use of a Zap, or is auto-generating tweets as Actions just adding more noise to your feed?

Also, a Zap has to be well-conceived, and have great user experience. Don’t create Zaps just because you can—focus on the ones that are effective and useful.

So, is Zapier right for your app?

For apps that have a high demand for integrations, building out for Zapier is incredibly valuable. But it’s not for everyone—and Zaps are definitely “quality over quantity.” Zapier notes that the best apps start with about 2-3 Triggers, and no more. You can always add more later, but this is a good place to start.

Building your app into Zapier and creating Zaps opens it up to be even more helpful to your customers. In this way, it ensures your app stays relevant and useful to them by integrating it into their other apps.

Instead of thinking of Zapier as a distribution channel, think of it as a way to make your customers love your app even more. Most users on Zapier aren’t looking for new apps; they’re looking for better ways to utilize the ones they already use every day. So Zapier isn’t necessarily going to drive new users to your app, but it will engage your current users and encourage them to integrate your app with their other apps.

Getting technical: A look at integrating your app

Developing your app for Zapier is free and relatively simple. The Zapier Developer Platform is how you’ll add your app or API to Zapier, and it should take a developer roughly a week to build a completed app for submission. Zaps work best when they’re built on both great user experience and solid code. With that, you’ll want a project manager and engineer to both provide their points of view and expertise.

Integrating your app’s API with Zapier is easy and you’ll only need to do it once. Developing integrations often coincides with lots of ongoing API maintenance, but Zapier makes sure this isn’t a hassle. They’ll handle all things API for you, taking maintenance, migration, monitoring, failover, and customer support off your plate. All integrations with other apps on Zapier happen automatically.

To get started, determine what kind of Zap you want to build:

Private: Hook your own internal API up to other apps for yourself or coworkers.
Global: Let anyone on Zapier hook your app up to other apps.

If you’re building a Private Zapier app, you’ll just need to go through the Planning and Development phases. If you’re building a Global app, you’ll go into the next phase, which is Zapier’s Activation process. This is when you’ll submit your tested app for approval and feedback, then make any revisions for the Marketing launch phase. Your developer should be familiar with this process as well as the Zapier Style Guide that helps with things like logos and descriptions.

Also, the Triggers and Actions you decide on in the planning phase will directly affect API development—what data your API will expose to make your Triggers work, and what access will be required to run any Actions. Authentication is another important step, as your app’s API most likely requires this in order to allow Zapier to interact with it behind the scenes. Zapier supports the following authentication schemes: Basic Auth, Digest Auth, API Keys, or OAuth V2.

Get started with Zapier today and start leveraging the power of your app—and make your users love your app even more.

The Secret to Building a Team of Top-Notch Distributed Engineers

The Secret to Building a Team of Top-Notch Distributed Engineers

Download Now