The web is no longer a static network of documents in HTML, styled by CSS, and manipulated by Javascript; the web today is more reminiscent of a neural network of information passing between connections. There are multiple streams of data that only become comprehensible when viewed together.

For example, weather data can be more valuable when viewed in context of historical data. It’s very helpful for applications to be able to answer questions like, “what is the weather going to be later; what was it yesterday, or last year?” Add in search and location context, and you have the potential to answer even more answers, like “What will the weather be like when I get to the park I just searched for? When will it be best to head out to go fishing?”

The data needed to answer these questions already exist on the web, but they might not be easily accessible to developers that want to use it. Increasing the availability of information for consumption is the new frontier of web design.

When we create content, we should also think about how the data could be used in greater context than our own site. This philosophy extends to CMS, template, and information architecture design. As Karen McGrane stated in a recent AListApart interview, “Separating content from container means so much more than that - it touches the work of everyone involved in creating and maintaining the website. It changes the way that content creators work. It changes the way the CMS is architected.”

The separation of content from design is a revolutionary way of thinking. It fundamentally alters the roles of the web designer and developer, and integrates these two roles in a way that never before has been experienced.

Instead of focusing on the traditional end users, designers now have to think about how their content interfaces with other developers. The necessary prerequisite to designing a great API is to shift the perspective from that of the API designer to that of the API user. Don’t think about an API as just a data dump; rather think about what your API can do, such as browse, search, pagination, or even calculations. Think about the different ways it may need or want to be used by developers and designers to make their web app.

Therefore, the focus of web design should be building APIs that make accessing and using your data as easy as possible. We have the power to answer the questions our users are asking and give back to the developer community at the same time. Designing great APIs is win-win, and it’s a fantastic chance to build a better web.

Ugh. I wish this information was available from the API. Oh wait, I can just add that! This is great. Me, when designing APIs