How to Choose an App Developer

So, you want a mobile app. You’ve got a great vision for launching your brand into an amazing communication channel. But, you can’t handle it in-house; you have to hire an app developer.

Once you let the word out, there are tons of agencies, companies, freelancers, basement developers, and offshore teams that will try to win your business. While that may not seem very complicated, you could be in for a wide variety of proposed approaches, costs, and final products. Here’s how you can stay ahead and choose the right team to make your app dream come true:

1. Review their past projects

Perhaps the biggest indicator of a developer’s pedigree: their past projects. Take a look through their portfolio and consider both the quantity and quality of their past projects. Some apps are a dime a dozen these days, and more isn’t necessarily always better.

Also take a look at the recency of portfolio pieces. Are the apps recent — or were they developed on first-generation hardware? Progressive development knowledge is very valuable: meaning your app will work well on current, and future platforms.

2. Ask about their team’s experience & background

Even a developer with a small portfolio may be sitting on a treasure trove of design and development knowledge in it’s team. Ask about both your developer’s company experience — and the backgrounds of the team members who will be working our project.

You’ll sometimes be surprised to find out members of their team may have once worked in your industry, with your products, or even with your coworkers! Sometimes, the developer already knows their way around your world.

3. Decide how much communication you need with the team

Some developers (and clients) prefer a “hands-off” approach to app development: hand over the specifications and a few weeks later, receive your app. Consider how seldom communication could impact your project. Would you prefer to be a part of the process?

Other developers take a more inclusive approach — and like to integrate clients in the process from concept to delivery. This usually results in you being involved periodically throughout the process, and leads to better project transparency, more closely customized solutions and in some cases, more valuable spending of your budget.

4. Check what past clients have said

Recommendations and testimonials can go a long way in representing the quality of the team you’re looking to work with. People rarely provide testimonials for mediocre work (when was the last time you read a “2.5 stars — would eat here again” review on Yelp?), so you can be assured of quality when multiple past clients have provided positive remarks.

Take into consideration the weight these testimonials may have as well: are many of them coming from companies within your industry? This can indicate the developer really knows what they’re doing with regards to your business and operations.

5. Don’t make a choice solely on price

Like any professional service, there will be some people willing to do the work for 20% of the cost of another — and in some cases, this could make for a great bargain. But, be careful when choosing a developer solely on price. What may start as a low hourly rate or fixed price could easily multiply in cost if you’re looking to be involved in the process (#3 above).

Also, a lower price may mean the developer is using an out-of-the-box solution that your competitor may already be using. Consider the value of having a custom solution unique to your business.

6. Still not sure? Start small

In the end, you have to do what’s best for your brand and project. Sometimes that means mitigating the risk of a larger project and starting small — with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). This type of app will help you test your concept, explore the environment, and get familiar with the process without committing on a large scale. An MVP will often have fewer features or polish than the end product, but getting something to your customers is sometimes better than delaying the “perfect” app.