So your company needs a mobile or web app. However, you’ve realized that you don’t quite have the right in-house capabilities to complete the project, so you decide to work with an app development company on your project. Finding a third-party app developer is easy, but finding the right app development company to work with can be extremely difficult. Determining which company to partner with to build one of your most important business tools can be a difficult decision, and it comes with quite a bit of responsibility—after all, choosing the wrong partner could result in bad code, a poorly designed user experience, long delays, or perhaps even worse, tens of thousands of dollars wasted.
It is absolutely critical that you spend the time to research and evaluate each potential company. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Take the time to really consider what your needs are when it comes to your mobile or web application. Determine your goals, how the app fits into your business model and a few key mandatory features.
Having answers to these types of questions will help the app development company evaluate your needs and will also help you determine if they are a good fit. That said, you don’t need to have all the answers. A good app development company will help you flesh out your ideas and can make suggestions for you based on their experience.
Very few people would buy a product on Amazon without first checking the ratings, and choosing an app development company should be no different. Verify that the company you are considering has done quality work in the past, either by looking through their client list or case studies, or viewing their ratings on external aggregators like Clutch.
This is also a good time to look at the skills of their developers and designers. Hiring a company that stays up-to-date with new technologies and is always learning will serve you well when it comes time to build your app. Not to mention, companies that provide thought leadership are likely more knowledgeable about the space and may be able to provide suggestions that you had not previously considered.
Just like with surgeons and dentists, the cheapest option is not always the best option. Freelancers are typically less expensive than a true app development company, but they work on their own schedule and may be inexperienced in certain areas. While it’s impossible for one person to be an expert in everything, a company like Big Nerd Ranch will have experts for every situation that may arise, from back-end databases to updates to the user interface, and they work closely together to build the best app possible.
You may run into similar problems with app development companies that have developers outside the United States. You can get an app completed for cheap if you outsource your design and development, but we’ve found that you’ll pay more in the long run. Look for a shop that allows you to work closely with the design and development teams so that your app is created with the quality of work it deserves.
The process for building the app is perhaps the single most important aspect to consider, because it ensures not only that your app is built on time, but that it is built right. Before we even think about beginning work on a project, we will have a kickoff session where we define the products and features. After that, we enter a discovery phase by which we research users and their needs, map the user experience and analyze competing products. Only after that is done do we enter a series of sprints where we begin planning, designing and developing. This continues through the test, deploy and analyze phases, and at the end of each week, we have something tangible to show the client.
Speaking of these sprints, the timeliness of production and ultimate quality of the app often depends on how clearly you communicate with the team working on your app’s design and functionality.
We realize that changes are inevitable and often even welcomed. So in order to have a successful project, we ask that our clients speak with us at least once a week via conference call and interact with us between these calls using either Basecamp, Pivotal Tracker or Slack, or a combination of the three. This allows our developers to keep you informed of the progress and allows you to make changes or add features during development, rather than at the end of the project.
When it comes down to it, you’re going to be working with the company and its developers for at least a few weeks, if not months. No matter how low the price tag is or how good the contract looks, the process is going to be miserable if you do not enjoy working with the people who are developing your mobile or web application. Furthermore, you will need to update the app at regular intervals (either due to operating system updates or company needs) so you will likely continue your association long after the first app has been built. Make sure you choose a company with which you can develop a long-term (happy) relationship.
Making sure that you choose the right app development company is hard work, but at Big Nerd Ranch, we have you covered in all of these categories. Our developers and designers (and the rest of our team, to be honest) are brilliant, kind and hard-working and they’re ready to help your company achieve success. To start the conversation on how we can help, please contact us. We’re looking forward to helping you decide if we’re the right app development company to fit your needs.