After close to twelve years in the mobile app development business, we can tell you the majority of prospective clients have one thing in common:  they’ve never bought a mobile app before.  In many cases, they don’t know which questions to ask, and as a result, make a decision on a developer based on price or a pre-existing relationship.  We can’t tell you how many times we’ve lost a bid because the client wanted the lowest price and selected a company with offshore development.  Or, they had a family relation or friend who knew how to write code and had developed a couple of apps.

So, based on our experience, here are the questions you should ask when selecting a mobile app developer:

  1. Do they create custom solutions, have a platform, or provide both approaches?  There tends to be two types of developers – those who have invested in a platform that allows them to develop apps quickly and inexpensively, or those who provide more expensive custom work.  It’s important to understand the benefits and limitations of each approach.  Beyond cost, platform apps can be versatile and provide an array of solutions, while custom apps can provide a company exactly what they require.
  2. What is their core business?  A lot of mobile app development is done by large software companies where apps are just a part of what they do.  Successful mobile app development requires dedicated teams with specific expertise, working for a company that prioritizes mobile app development.  This is a space that changes rapidly – new devices and operating systems from Apple and Android come out regularly – and without the proper focus, problems will occur.
  3. What is their service philosophy?  Many app developers provide their clients with apps – from there, the client is on their own.  Given the rate of change in this space combined with the fact mobile apps should be refreshed regularly, working with a developer that has an ongoing maintenance and upgrade plan is essential.
  4. Where are they located?  This is a tricky question, but we’ve had a lot of business come back to us from clients who tried an overseas (and less expensive) solution.  Lots of developers have a representative in the US, but the actual development is done overseas, often outsourced.  While non-US developers can be technically capable, there are numerous issues with this approach, including language barriers, time zones for strategy calls, cultural differences, and more. 
  5. Do they provide an end-to-end solution, or do they just develop apps?  It’s important to select a development firm that provides an end-to-end solution, starting with the strategic purpose of the app, and including design, wireframes, technical documentation, testing, and final development.  If a firm doesn’t provide a complete process, there will be surprise costs that emerge.
  6. What was the company’s last innovation?  While a generic question, you’ll learn a lot about how the firm operates.  If they are relatively static, they are sending a message that they are a) too busy, b) not focused on advancing their software, or c) mobile apps aren’t a priority in their firm.  Select a company that can provide solid examples of not only work they’ve done, but what’s in their product plan and their vision of the future.

If you are asking these questions, we would love for you to ask US! Jacapps is always available to answer these questions, and any others you may have about mobile app development.