NPR Everywhere: Even better APIs and Content Strategies

Zach Brand (NPR, Digital media)
Development, Product Management
Location: Conference Room E Level:
Tags: mobile
Average rating: ****.
(4.14, 7 ratings)

A follow up to the NPR Everywhere presentation at Web 2.0 NY 2010. This presentation explores the emerging best practices in API design and product implementation with concrete example from NPR, the media leader who first brought a public content API to the market in 2008. NPR continues to innovate and learn about what it means to have flexible content. Our philosophy assumes that to maintain relevancy in an online world media companies need to be adroit at delivering content to multiple channels and disparate platforms. This in turn has led us to keep a strategic focus on our API development. This positions us not just to meet our distribution needs, but has also helped drive business opportunity and allows for effective design and user experience whether in a browser or on a mobile device.

This presentation will share our lessons learned and key metrics around successful creation and use of flexible content – from technology needs to business, editorial and design opportunities in an increasingly fragmented online product landscape.
In the past year we have completed a major refactoring of the code in our API. As ever increasing demand of the API validates our overall approach, we needed to make changes to the underlying code to support ever growing traffic. These changes have resulted in a 22% increase in performance and a much more maintainable code base. This session will examine the flaws with the original design, and explore the latest changes and forthcoming improvements to NPR’s suite of APIs.

Ensuring good architecture of systems and flexibility of content has also allowed NPR to have the freedom and agility to quickly deploy solid user experience and elegant design to multiple platforms. From the Peabody award winning website, to rapid development on various mobile products, this approach has required changes and created new opportunities for editorial, design and product processes. We’ll further explore how content, technology and design intersect and what has worked in NPR’s content and platform initiatives.

Photo of Zach Brand

Zach Brand

NPR, Digital media

Zach Brand is the Senior Director of Technical Strategy and Operation at NPR. In this position he oversees all of NPR’s Digital Media technical efforts, which include the website, the NPR mobile site, the RSS feed, NPR’s Application Program Interface (API), NPR podcasts, and online services for stations.

Since Brand joined NPR in October 2007, he has focused on developing extensible and reusable architectures for tools and content. Brand played a critical role with the team that developed and launched NPR’s API, which provides a structured way for other computer applications to get NPR stories in a predictable, flexible and powerful way. He was instrumental in the production of the various iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile applications.

Brand’s contributions to NPR Digital Media have helped earn the company several top industry awards, including an Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for in 2010. He was part of the team that earned a 2009 Peabody award for the redesign of and two Online Journalism Awards for NPR mobile apps and the API in 2010.

Prior to working at NPR, Brand oversaw technology for Washington Post Newsweek Interactive, including,, and

A Boston University graduate, Brand earned a Bachelor of Science degre

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Picture of Piero Muscara
Piero Muscara
10/11/2011 4:41pm EDT

Zach very interesting presentation. I was wondering how your API deals (if it does) with Google’s policies on “content duplication” ...

Picture of Zach Brand
Zach Brand
10/11/2011 7:41am EDT

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