While the initial app craze may have died down a little, apps themselves aren’t going anywhere. In fact, if anything, apps are going to be playing a larger role as more traditional businesses who haven’t embraced technology in the past are going to be forced to integrate apps into their everyday offerings. While technology is still an ever-evolving creature, apps have mostly retained the same functions that they did several years ago. As a result, the challenges of creating an app today isn’t on the subject of designing it correctly, but by finding the right developer or development team.
Fortunately, app development is still a growing industry, and there are plenty of options available. Some are huge development task forces that cost a ton, and others are budding developers building apps from the ground-up in their bedrooms. But before you hire just anyone to develop your next app, there are five questions you should ask first before hiring them.
Do They “Get” It?
It’s one thing to have the technical know-how to complete your app, but it’s an entirely different situation for the developer to understand the basics of what your app is. And while this is sometimes the fault of the client who only has a vague understanding of what they’re trying to achieve, this can also be a problem from the developers’ side as well. If they can’t see how the app will be used from the perspective of the user, then they’re going to miss obvious design choices. Make sure they understand your real vision for your app, or else it will wind up being overly complicated to use.
One of the biggest complaints regarding an app from the customer side is it just doesn’t work the way that they had hoped. From performance issues and bugs that force an app to crash to a UI choice that’s overly complicated, many design problems can arise from a team that doesn’t understand what, exactly, they’re building. Think of it like hiring a construction company; do they know what sort of building you’re asking for, or will you wind up with an entirely different one than the blueprints in your mind?
Are They Interested, or do They Just Want the Work?
The economy is still rough out there, and if you’re looking into a freelance developer, you may be getting a song and dance. They may only be after a job that they know they can hammer out quickly, rather than looking out for your best interests. Be sure to choose the developer who has an actual interest in the project and not just your wallet.
It’s a common occurrence for someone to hire a developer based on price alone. Either the hiring party ignores their lack of credentials, or they take everything that they say at face value. At the end of the day, negotiating an app’s development is a business deal. Your decision should be similar to that of bringing in any outside team to an existing company. They need to have the right mix of skills, experience, and price to be viable. Otherwise, all you’re left with is a wildcard.
Do They Have a Portfolio?
Speaking of experience, if they don’t have some type of portfolio or their existing apps aren’t readily available in the app stores, then they probably aren’t right for the job. Of course everyone has to start somewhere and inexperienced developers cost less. But, there is a rule of thumb in the app building world that if it’s a cheap price tag, you’re going to be hiring someone even more expensive later to fix mistakes.
Any developer worth their salt can’t wait to show off both their previous projects and the ones that are currently in development. Any reluctance in providing you samples of their work means that they know that they aren’t quite ready for the big leagues yet. While some developers just may be shy about showing off, it’s a clear sign when they are hiding their low quality past work.
Do They Only Work In-House?
Whether it’s a team or an individual, it’s important to know if they do all the work themselves, or if they plan on outsourcing part, or all, of the project. Low-cost freelancers from overseas are abundant, and they also rarely achieve the quality you’re seeking. If they aren’t going to do the work themselves, find someone who will.
Many development teams will defend their choice, saying that they only outsource the technical parts of the project. Or, they may offer the rebuttal that it saves them money and frees their time up to handle the harder aspects. While this is true, it’s never ideal for them to hide the fact until you find out. If they aren’t upfront about their outsourced labor policies, then they may be hiding other issues as well.
What OS is Their Specialty?
If they keep repeating that they can “do it all” without specific examples, then they’re probably telling you just what they believe you want to hear. Most developers start out only working on apps that support iOS or Android. While they may have enough experience in working both platforms and others, they will undoubtedly have a preference for one over the other. If they dodge your questions, ask them how they plan on making your app accessible to both stores. It’s also a good policy to ask them how they plan to optimize your app for other devices as well. If they remain vague, then don’t hire them.
Some development teams may insist that you should projects to build apps for multiple platforms at the same time. The thinking here is that by launching for each market, you can quickly have the apps in the hands of the most number of users. But not knowing how an app will perform on one platform runs the risk of massive problems later on. While it’s tempting to try and tackle multiple markets at once, it’s a better idea to release it and catch problems as they happen slowly. This way you can prepare better for other platform launches.
Sachin Gupta, marketing for Code Brew Labs (https://www.code-brew.com/), has a lot of experience in bulding his own start-ups from the ground and handling marketing needs for notch start ups and enterprises.