8 Things you should have ready for your app developer when you request a quote
As a development firm, we receive frequent requests for time & cost estimates for mobile app projects.
These requests often come to us with a wide range of detail, spanning from those who just have a “general idea” to customers who have defined wireframes, functionality requirement lists, and even page designs ready to go.
In general, more detail is always better for us as developers to go on when giving an accurate estimate for a project, but “more” detail isn’t exactly a helpful metric, so here’s a list of specific things you can provide to your app developer when you reach out to them (trust us, they’ll be thrilled you’ve done this legwork!):
1. The ‘Big Idea’ / overall goal of your app
Before the fine details, come the broad strokes. Let your developer know, at the highest level, what your app should do.
Here are a couple of succinct examples:
“Our app should allow our customers to order their hair care products from our catalog. It should also include a place where we can push out new blog posts and content to app users.”
“Our app is a social network for handymen/women; we want users to be able to send direct messages to each other, and also want a forum type area where they can create discussions and ask open questions.”
2. How many pages your app will include
While we like to think of apps as distinct from mobile websites (and they are), it’s important to remember that apps are still made up in a number a of interconnected pages. Even a mobile game might have a Login page, Start Menu page, a main page that hosts the game itself, a Results/High Score page, and so on.
It’s important to have in mind exactly how many different pages will make up your finished app, as each will have to be crafted by your developer.
If you can, get detailed with describing how each page should look and what exactly it will do (“this page should list nearby burger restaurants,” “this page allows the user to place an order to their chosen restaurant,” “this is the page where users enter credit card info”, etc.).
3. Key functionalities that need to be included
Get a little more detailed here and describe exact functionality. For example, in the example earlier regarding an app in which handymen/do-it-yourselfers could chat with each other, this would be a great place to delve a bit deeper into the requested chat function.
Instead of just saying “chat with each other”, you might specify that users should be able to…
- send text messages back and forth
- send pictures back and forth (either from the device’s camera or its stored photos)
- Send video clips back and forth (either from the device’s camera or its stored photos)
Using more specific functionalities like this helps to cut down on ambiguity and can make a big difference when it comes to giving accurate estimates of development time. In the example above, creating a text messaging system might not take very many hours on its own, but creating the functionality to access local device storage, utilize the camera, etc. may significantly increase development and testing time.
4. Online or offline?
This is a point that’s often overlooked when first sending off requests for an estimate, but the way in which an app handles data may vary greatly depending on which functionalities of the app will work offline and which will only work with online connectivity.
For example, most people don’t want their apps to be useless while offline, which means your app will need to cache the most recent content it has to display so that it still functions if your user loses connection.
This gets slightly more complicated when it comes to functionality that has to have connectivity.
For example, if a customer submits an order form for a product in your app while their device is offline, how should it be handled?
- Should the user get a message saying to try again when they have connectivity?
- Should their order be queued for sending to you and display a message to the user letting them know the order will be submitted as soon as they have connectivity again?
There are usually workarounds to make most any app functionality feel unaffected even in the absence of an internet connection, but it’s important to give your approach some thought. Some solutions here can get complex, so it’s OK to only have a general idea, and then let your developer work out an exact architecture/solution with you during the initial planning phase of the project.
5. Will you do the design, or will your developer?
Different firms handle design differently: some contract out to third-parties, while others have in-house designers and artists to create page designs as they go.
Either way, providing your own designs (if you or someone in your camp is good enough to do them) can save some significant hours and dollars.
Even if you can’t provide finished designs for your app, providing rough mockups, other apps/styles you like or want to mimic, and any other direction can help your developer get the look and feel of your app right as quickly as possible.
“Sitemap” isn’t the best term, but helping us as developers to understand which buttons on which pages should take the user to which other pages is a big help.
Having a wireframe or map of how various pages will connect with each other can go a long way toward saving time.
Yes, we know, you want your app “as soon as possible,” but so does everyone else. ;)
It’s much more helpful to provide an actual date for when you would like to launch and let your developer create their roadmap/schedule around this date.
8. What you will require after launch
Often overlooked is the roadmap for your app that expands beyond its initial development phase. Here are a few questions related to the ongoing care and growth of an app after launch that you may want to consider:
- Do you need a database solution/hosting, or do you have your own solution?
- Do you need an interface for/help with sending push notifications, emails, and other alerts to users after launch?
- Do you require a CMS/easy way to update in-app content after launch (useful if you have a news/updates page, depending on its setup)?
- Do you want help setting up & monitoring analytics (app user counts, devices used, languages, countries, etc.) to get insights into how your app is used?
- How often do you plan on needing the developer’s help for feature updates?
These may be topics that evolve as you work with your developer, but its not a bad idea to give them some thought as early on as possible so that you don’t hit any surprises down the road.
Provide even half of the things on this list, and your developer will be a happy camper!
Personally, we don’t mind when people approach us with just an app “idea,” but it makes things easier on everyone when there’s a solid plan from the beginning, and every detail you can provide is a detail your developer will be thankful for!