So you or your business has decided to take the plunge and get an exciting new mobile application. You’ve found a handful of app development companies and now you need to approach them directly to help you decide which one to chose.
It’s a big step and you want to make sure you get the best app developers to design and build your new idea. With so many app developers out there, it is really important to do your homework and come prepared with a list of questions for them. Not not only will this make you look like a serious prospective client, it will help you weed out the amateur developers from the more experienced app development players.
As it’s something we do day in day out we thought we would be make it easy for you by preparing the top 10 questions you should ask them:
My App idea is super secret – Will you support a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
Also known as an NDA, this is an agreement that both you and the development company will sign to protect the disclosure of information, prior to you exchanging details of the project. Views on NDA’s vary considerably based on who you speak to. My personal view is if you feel your idea is unique, you should ask your developer to sign an NDA prior to proceeding. About 50% of all the new projects we work on have NDA’s put into place – Most app development companies will have a standard NDA template they will be able to share with you. Don’t forget the agreement is put in place to cover both parties so review the contract carefully before signing it. If you’re in doubt seek legal advice!
Will you build me a native Mobile App or web app?
You probably already have a good idea of what you want in your app to do. If it’s just a mobile optimised version of an existing website you probably just need a web app. If you have a project that will need to integrate to other third party API’s then a native app will be your best option. Even if your not technical it’s worth asking your developer what language they will use to write the app in. Are they Objective C experts or will the code in Phone Gap? Do they recommend HTML 5 or will they write your android application in Java?
How much will my Mobile App cost me?
This sounds like the most obvious question when speaking to your prospective developer and will probably be the one factor that determines if you move the project forward. One point to bear in mind is Native Mobile app development is not cheap. If a developer tells you they can do it for less that $1,000 then they are probably going off load you with a templated app from one of the big App maker tools. To be honest, this might meet your requirements but for the vast majority of unique app projects, apps will need to be written from scratch, from the ground up. If an app maker template will fit the bill for you, you may as well cut out the middleman and do it yourself online! To give you a view of development effort, a good development company will often ask you for a list of app features and they will turn this into either a fixed price quote or an estimate of development hours. Most good development companies will have a standard hourly rate for development based on what technology is being utalized and the experience of the developer involved. Ask your developer if they will support a time & materials (T&M) pricing model where you agree an hourly rate and the number of hours required to develop the project – This often works out much cheaper that a fixed price! Just be careful with the T&M model in that any changes from the agreed scope will probably cost you more, especially if you ask for new features.
Will I own the IPR of the Mobile app?
Don’t assume you will own the intellectual property of the your app! Most app companies will charge you an additional fee for the IP and source code, so its definitely worth asking the IP question.
Will you do all the graphics/User Interface work as well as the backend coding?
This is the one of the most important questions to ask. It’s one thing having a great developer to write the backend code but will they be able to produce a stunning user interface and screen designs? If you go to a freelance app developer 9 times out of 10 the answer will be no. They will expect you to provide finalised artwork and graphical wireframes. It’s a unique skill to produce mobile device ready artwork and don’t assume a normal graphic designer will be able to produce the required screens. Your best bet will be to go to an app development company who have a specialised in-house designer who will produce the artwork for you app before a line of code is written. Ask to see specific examples of wireframes and artwork – Don’t forget the visual look and feel of a mobile app is almost as important as bug free functionality!
Can I see your app portfolio?
If the app developer doesn’t have any apps live in the App store move on and keep looking. Download sample apps and check the what people have said about them in the reviews. You ideally want to have a developer who has previous experience in developing the kind of app you are looking to create.
Can I speak to your previous clients for a reference?
A reputable app developer will be very happy to let you speak to their previous clients. You want to make sure the developer has a record of delivering to spec, on time and on budget!
What does your Mobile App project lifecycle look like?
It’s always worth asking what the app lifecycle looks like. Will the developer be producing requirements documentation, Followed by a high-level design, followed by wireframes and they a working pro-type of the app. How will beta builds be distributed for testing, who does the testing, who will project manage the implementation, what project methodology to they use? All really important questions.
How long will it take to deliver my Mobile App?
Obvious question huh? You will be surprised how many clients don’t ask the question! Once the initial requirements are accessed a good development company should be able to give you some indicative milestone dates. If you are signing a sales contract (which you should be!) make sure these dates are captured in the contract.
Will you be coding my Mobile App from scratch?
You will be surprised how many “app developers” are just reselling app-maker type services. Again, theres nothing wrong with that if thats what your after but asking a prospective developer if they will be writing native code from scratch and what language they are writing it in will give you an indication how how skilled they are!
I hope this article has helped you and of course if you are looking for an app developer we would love to hear from you?
If you have any questions on the article or want more information drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: 18th December 2013