Best API for Adding Video Calling and Chat to a Website in 2023

7 min read
December 30, 2022

Websites are increasingly looking to add live video and chat features to enhance the user experience. In 2023, the way we interact online is largely dictated by a few major players in the online presence sphere. As a result, people expect websites with real-time interactive functionality to offer a similar experience. Companies should be aware of this and focus on creating a cohesive experience between their websites and the major applications that are driving online connectivity.

Table of contents 

1. How does it work?
2. Pricing models
3. Feature sets
4. Operational support
5. Start your journey

It's no secret that the best way to resolve issues with customer service is to speak with a real person. Websites can similarly benefit from the ability to connect users with a person through live video calls or a live chat feature.

While live video calls and live chat features can certainly be an asset in a marketing strategy, they also offer a number of other benefits for websites. For example, they can be used to provide personalised customer support, gather valuable user feedback, and improve the overall user experience. As such, it is worth considering adding these features to your website.

As the use of technology continues to evolve, the demand for live communication options on the web will only grow stronger.

APIs provide the most effective way to add features to web applications

You don't have to reinvent the wheel in order to implement live video calls and live chat features on your website. There are companies that specialise in providing these services and integrating them seamlessly into your web interface. All you need to do is find a reputable provider and let them handle the technical details.

How does it work?

Software can communicate with other software through an API (Application Programmer's Interface). This means that your website can request services from an API provider for features such as live video or chat. When a visitor accesses your website, the regular content is loaded from your hosting provider, while the complex video and chat functionality is handled by the API provider on your behalf. This allows you to easily incorporate advanced features into your website without having to manage the technical aspects of the live video technology yourself.

Using APIs to incorporate features such as live video and chat into your website is an efficient and cost-effective solution. Web developers can simply point to the desired location for the API to deliver the feature, significantly reducing development time. You also don't need to worry about the cost of maintaining the infrastructure required to deliver live video or chat, as you are essentially renting resources from the provider.

When choosing an API for features such as live video and chat, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Rather than discussing every individual API out there, we will examine the main aspects that affect the development process and provide some general examples to help you make an informed decision.

Pricing models

Live video API providers charge you a fee for using their products and services. Various pricing models are used across the industry, but we'll focus on the two models that are most commonly used.

1. Free

Before we dig into the two paid models, note that there is a free option available. You can develop your application using WebRTC, which is an open-source project for real-time communication. If you choose to go down this path, you will have to build your own implementation and host it somewhere in order for your website to have an API endpoint to consume.

The development process is complex and time-consuming, and if your application attracts a lot of traffic, you are likely to face scaling issues. So whilst this is a "free" option, it definitely comes at a cost.

2. Tiered pricing

One common pricing model is tiered pricing, which often includes a free starting tier that is intended for developers to build applications. The free tier usually has the capacity to handle a small amount of traffic, which can be sufficient for an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to generate revenue for the developer.

In addition to the free starting tier, tiered pricing typically monitors metrics such as total users, service minutes consumed, or total resources used and has a billing cycle based on the tier you fall into. However, one potential downside is that there can be significant increases in your service bill if you even marginally exceed the usage rates that move you into the next tier.

Skype’s calling API has a tiered pricing model.

3. Pay as you go

The pay-as-you-go pricing model, also known as pay-for-use or pay- per-use, is a pricing structure where you only pay for the consumption of the product or service. In the context of live video services, this usually means that you pay for consumed minutes. But it's wise to check how the provider actually measures usage, as it could include connections made, click-through rates, or service minutes delivered.

An advantage of the pay-as-you-go model is that it is predictable and easy to budget for because you can easily calculate your costs. It can also be more flexible, as you are only paying for what you use, rather than being locked into a fixed package or subscription.

Digital Samba offers pay-as-you-go and tiered pricing models.

4. Additional notes on pricing

There are nuances and considerations to be aware of when it comes to API pricing. Many providers offer a combination of tiered pricing plans, pay-as-you-go plans, and free usage tiers or demo periods.

They are not mutually exclusive, and it is common for API providers to use more than one of these pricing structures across their product range.

Feature sets

As previously mentioned, APIs enable different software systems to communicate with each other and exchange data. However, the features and capabilities of different APIs can vary. Some live video APIs may provide basic real-time streaming functionality, while others may offer a more extensive set of features. It's important to carefully consider the features and capabilities of different live video APIs in order to determine which one is the best fit for your needs.

Some examples:

Digital Samba offers a virtual meeting and webinar software product that can be customized to match the client's brand identity, a process known as white-labelling. The product was developed using the API that Digital Samba provides to developers, meaning that the individual features within the product can be easily enabled or disabled through the API. This allows developers to use the features in a "plug-and-play" manner. Some of the features:

  • Video calling
  • Live Chat
  • Cloud recording
  • File sharing
  • Whiteboards
  • Breakout rooms
  • Media library
  • Admin controls

WebRTC is an open-source project that provides peer-to-peer tools for developers. While basic live video functionality is included in the standard WebRTC library, developers may need to search code-sharing sites like GitHub or create additional features from scratch in order to access more advanced functionality.

Skype is a widely used VoIP (voice over internet protocol) service that is commonly employed for telemarketing and other business purposes. It can be integrated with commercial software, such as call management systems, and is particularly well-suited for use in the back-end of commercial operations. However, it may not offer the same level of flexibility as other API options for general web development.

Skype may not be as flexible as other API options for general web development but excels at automation. The company has a strong focus on creating automated web bots for chat and voice calls at a commercial scale.

Operational support

Using an API means integrating all of the functionality of that software into your own system. This can involve a significant learning curve and may require careful consideration of any potential security or operational risks. It's important to thoroughly evaluate an API to understand how it works before integrating it into your own system to ensure that it meets your needs and does not pose any unnecessary risks.

WebRTC is a toolkit that can be used to build peer-to-peer web applications. While there are consultants available to help with implementing WebRTC, some users may prefer to develop their own applications without hiring a specialist consultant, particularly if they are working on a tight budget. However, it's important to keep in mind that implementing WebRTC may require a certain level of expertise and it may be worthwhile to consider hiring a consultant to ensure a secure and successful implementation.

When it comes to getting general support for WebRTC, you may need to rely on online support forums like StackOverflow. WebRTC is a widely used technology, so there is a wealth of information available online, but you may not have access to specialised support from the developers. Additionally, any security risks associated with WebRTC are the responsibility of the owner or operator of the website using the application. This means that if you are using a homemade WebRTC application, you will be responsible for any issues that may arise. It's important to carefully consider the potential risks and ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and resources to manage them effectively.

Digital Samba is a European company based in Spain that specialises in live video technologies. They are dedicated to excellent support, which is handled in-house with a team of skilled professionals who are committed to delivering top-quality assistance. Digital Samba is fully compliant with the rigorous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring that your data is treated with the utmost privacy and security.

In addition to having trained technicians available for technical support, Digital Samba also has a comprehensive help centre, support forums, and a ticket submission system to address a variety of support needs, ensuring that customers have the resources they need to succeed.

Skype is a well-known global provider of VOIP and video calling services with a dedicated help centre. If you need support through Skype, you may need to contact your business account manager, similar to how you would contact your internet service provider for technical support. As a long-established company with a strong reputation for reliability, Skype is generally very operationally secure.

Start your journey

Integrating video calling or live chat into a website is a relatively straightforward process thanks to the streamlined nature of modern APIs. Even those without extensive development experience can easily add advanced interactive features to their websites with minimal effort.

If you have an interest in the developer side of modern video calling software, we would be happy to provide more information. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.

If you are ready to dive in, we can help you get started right away.

Get Email Notifications