Plugins, XML, widgets, APIs, etc. are all so convient because they allow you to easily include content, functions and features from third parties without much effort beyond the initial setup. Most modern sites have at least a few third party integrations even if we are just talking Facebook, Google or Twitter. Of course those big three probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and changes to their systems are typically well documented.
So what happens if you build an integration with a third party and things change or worse the third party goes offline temporarily or even permanently? Obviously it depends on the function of the integration and how much it is relied on within your site. A third party changing or going offline can cause major disruption to your site and even render it unusable depending on how much you relied on the third party for your content and functions.
We are currently in the process of reviewing an ecommerce Website which relied on a third party service to display product images. It appears that something with the third party has changed and as a result hundreds of product image views on the mentioned site are not displaying properly.
There are times when third party integrations make perfect sense, just be careful as you plan your integration and ask yourself
- What does it mean for my site if this service goes offline for an hour?
- What does it mean for my site if the service goes offline for a day?
- What does it mean for my site if the service goes offline permanently?
- How will know if there are changes to the service?
- Can I afford and can I plan for a day when that service might change or is no longer be available?