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Packaging up API usability testing for agency reuse

Over the past year, a GSA collaboration has seen a project that offers API Usability Testing to federal agencies go from the pilot stage to a regular, robust series. Already, 13 agencies and programs have participated, and several more participate with every monthly session that passes. The best examples from across the government have made clear that one of the most important tasks of API producers is to regularly engage their developer community and listen to what they have to say. But just encouraging agencies to do this only goes so far.

In addition to offering any federal agency direct support by hosting them at an API Usability session, we’ve also been working to document and open-source the actual process itself. We want every agency to realize how readily they can scale out these exercises on their own. Within the API Usability Kit, agencies will find proposed schedules, email and handout templates, an overall guide, and frequently asked questions. But since each component is itself an open source project, anyone can easily edit any page or fork the entire project.

As we move forward, it’s our hope that you’ll join us — in person for API Usability sessions for your program, but also through open collaboration with the material that we use to run the program. Help make this program better! Anytime you have a suggestion, all you have to do is click the ‘Edit’ button in the sidebar and propose away.

As with any good open-source project, we eat our own dog food and strive to ensure that this program grows through an open, organic process. We’ll continue to edit and build out the resources that make up the API Usability Kit. Through that, we believe we can ensure the best product for agencies and the best results for the final customer — the people of the United States.

See also, Gray’s presentation from last week’s 18F Demo Day

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