So you’ve decided to get an app for your business or organisation. Great decision! But who do you get to build it? Maybe you’ve heard that your neighbour’s daughter dabbles with apps, or there was that overseas company that send you an email every week offering to build you an app. Here are some suggestions as to what you should consider when choosing an app developer.
As with any supplier you should check they tick the most basic of boxes: how long have they been around, what is their client list like and most importantly you need to see samples of their work. An app developer should have a store account on at least one of the iTunes App Store, Google Play store or Windows Phone store, although some apps may have been developed for third parties. Can they provide you with testimonials or allow you to speak with previous clients for a reference?
There are three main app platforms: Apple (iOS), Android (including Amazin Kindle) and Windows Phone. These make up around 98% of the UK smartphone/tablet market. If you want to maximise the audience for your app then you should at least support the Apple and Android platforms (which covers around 91% of the UK market). Many suppliers will only work with one platform meaning that you have to find other developers for the remaining platforms, which takes time and costs money. If an app developer supports multiple platforms it usually means a big saving in the overall costs of the project because of code/design sharing.
Make sure you know what you are paying for. Agree a specification with a developer, preferably using screen mockups. Agree who will provide what and when, such as images and content text. Developers hate project creep after the work has started. Identify any development costs and any ongoing fees such as support / cloud data / notification fees. What about future modifications? Try to find what would be charged for and the approximate rate. It is not unreasonable to pay a deposit but this could be tied to a “deliver by” date. If you are working to a deadline, bear in mind the actual submission process can take an entire day to submit an app to all three of the main app stores. It could take up to two weeks for app to be approved by the app stores, or even be rejected and require modification before resubmission.
Are you special?
Is a developer actually producing a beautiful looking bespoke customised app for you or are they just taking your logo and inserting it into a template that is used for every single client. This could be checked by looking at the developer’s app store accounts. If every app looks the same apart from the logos and colour schemes then you are not being treated as special. You may be happy with that, but make sure you are paying appropriately. An app developer should be able to produce something beautiful for you, that feels natural to use on a mobile device.
It’s important you have a good working relationship with your developer. Try to visit their offices to see what their energy is like, they should be loving building apps, it’s a fun and creative thing to do. You have to be not just comfortable with your developers but happy with them. Make sure you know who is your primary contact, if it’s a large team try to meet the individual designers and developers. Make sure the team knows what you want and how enthusiastic you are for them to build you a great app. Software developers are simple folk, they like to build things and have what they build appreciated.