Look to hire a mobile app developer? Sure you are, otherwise you would not be reading this article. Correct? Below are a number of factors you should include in your conversation with an app developer.
Let’s talk source code. Who owns the source code after the project is completed? Check the company’s policy. You paid for the development, therefore the IP (intellectual property) belongs to you. If they appdev company say’s otherwise, you better run!
What are your technical capabilities? Some appdev companies focus solely on 2 platforms – iOs and Android. Other appdev include Windows and Blackberry. However, Windows platform developers are small in comparison to iOS and Android. Blackberry is fading away. A well run appdev company will have a team of talented developers to focus on iOS, Android, backend developer, UI/UX designer, project architect, and project manager.
I would stay away from one and two man appdev shops that perform all tasks. The scope of a complex app requires multiple disciplines with years of experience to become a master in their area. Would you hire a backend developer to create your UI/UX work or would you hire a creative agency for UI/UX work? UI/UX. The best solution would be to have entire team operate in the same facility where communication becomes a success factor.
Can I see your portfolio of mobile apps? Here is where the rubber meets the road. An established mobile app developer will have their entire app portfolio displayed on their website. What a better way to display the quality of your work – provide a link to all the apps in Apple’s app store and Google Play App. Allow anyone to install, evaluate the design work, the flow of the app (user experience), and read all the reviews.
Now that you have checked out the apps, the next step in your decision criteria is seeking references. References are a vital component in the ability of a developer to collaborate with you and your team. You want to determine is the app developer has a documented process of app development. Do they utilize best practices? Most established app development companies utilize Agile development. I have written about Agile development in some of my past posts.
While you are talking to some of the references ask questions around responsiveness – are they responsive to your inquiries? How long does it take to get an answer – 1 hour, 4 hours, 1 day or 3 days?
What is their communication style and how do they communicate? Many onshore and offshore app development firms are located in different time zones. For example, if you contract your development work to an offshore company in India, there is a 9hr time difference. The appdev company would typically communicate via email.
How helpful was the appdev company in getting your mobile application launched in Apple’s App store or Google Play? An experienced appdev company knows the procedures and requirements. They are also experienced in APO (App Store Optimization). APO is the process of improving app visibility in the app store.
Another key question, one that I find very important: How well and/or responsive did the app development company resolve your application issues (bugs)? Every developers goal is to launch a bug free application. Rahul Varshneya, from Entrepreneur.com wrote “There is no such thing as a bug free app”. Why you ask? Rahul states, “it’s just not economically viable, unless you are building a life- or mission-critical application. Therefore, knowing how responsive your app development is to your app crashing, will dictate their post development “customer service” skills. As your customer base grows, the likelihood of adding additional features to your application will grow exponentially, requiring additional development work. You want an app development company who is responsive, with great communication skills, and who treats each customer like they are their biggest client.
After checking customer references, I would check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB collects and provides free business reviews on millions of businesses. The BBB serves as an intermediary between consumers and businesses for business complaints. Businesses pay BBB to be part of their organization. If a consumer files a complaint against a business, the business has to address the issue at hand. If the business is at fault, the business will be dinged and lose their AAA rating. If you are seeking to conduct business with an app developer, I would check BBB. If they business is not registered with BBB, I would stay clear from the firm, just my opinion.
I had a customer ask me this question: What happens if the developer quit or was fired, what is your backup plan? I understood what he was asking. Your goal in getting this question answered is making sure the appdev company has backup developers to step right in where the last person stopped. I have been fortunate to be able to offer a portfolio of resumes of current developers on staff. Many Fortune 1000 businesses, want to be able to interview and review a developer’s past portfolio.
Your next question: What is your development process? I touched on this briefly – Agile development. Agile is the new wave of development. It is a transition away from Waterfall. I can write a whole article on the different methodologies. The answers you are seeking should be around these types of questions:
- How often you do provide feedback?
- How are scope changes handled?
- Do you assign a project manager to each appdev project?
- How often do you have project meetings?
- How is communication handled?
- What type of project management tools are used?
- How is QA (quality assurance) handled?
As you evaluate your application development company, you are seeking a company where you get a “good” feel of organizational structure. If the appdev company is providing UI/UX services, you want open communication with a negotiable feedback period. The last thing you want to happen is to receive your completed wireframes without your input.
I discussed the likelihood of an application developer building a bug free application – it’s not going to happen. As you continue to evaluate application developers, you want to discuss future upgrades and a maintenance plan. All smart application vendors upgrade their software on a quarterly basis. Many times these upgrades will crash your apps. You need to inquiry into how “they” handle new platform upgrades and/or maintenance. Additionally, as your app continues to evolve, by adding new features, you also want to ask them how they handle upgrades? My experience in the appdev space, I have worked with internal IT departments trying to trouble shoot their crashed app. Only an experienced mobile application developer knows how to trouble shoot a crashed app.
And finally, ask the developer about their warranty, and get it in writing! Typically, a warranty is only related to the specific SDK (software developer kit) kit. The appdev company cannot be responsible for problems caused by platform upgrade – iOS or Android. I would also ask them, what happens if a bug is discovered after the app is launched in Apple’s App store or Android Play store?
But wait, what about pricing? How much? This is always a tough question to get a direct answer. I wrote about this subject in another article:
I can tell you, you can get an app built for $795. I can provide examples of smart applications that cost in excess of $1M. If you ask me how much an app cost, my answer is always – It depends! All I can say is do your homework. Weed out the cheapest 20% of your bids and 20% of the highest bids, then look at the medium average price. That should be a good starting point. As I engage with all size of businesses, I throw out a price after discussing their requirements. If I feel resistance, I walk away. My analogy is, they do not understand the scope of their project. If their comment is in line with my thinking, I ask for their requirement list, detailed wireframes, ask about API integration, and discuss backend services.
So what are you waiting for? Give me a call 630-375-9700.