A decade ago, everyone wanted to have their own little corner of the Internet with a customized website. The way users interact with the Internet is changing to mobile devices, and an app is a pivotal way for several vertical markets to engage their users, boost revenue, and improve customer retention.
A Kinvey report based on a survey of CIOs and Mobile Leaders found that mobile application development is costly, slow and frustrating. 56% of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to more than one year to build one app Tweet This! 18% say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app, with an average of $270,000 per app Tweet This!
The right development firm can make or break the success of an app, which makes choosing the right one a critical part of the process. You don’t have to be a software engineer to make educated decisions on which development firm best suits your project. Here are some best practices that you should consider when you meet with potential providers.
- Can Your Firm Deliver What You Need?
A competent, experienced firm has a great portfolio. Even better — they have a portfolio with items related to your own app idea. A good portfolio for you to review is a given, but you’ll get a stronger feel for the firm’s design standards if you’re able to view items similar to what you’re looking for. For instance, suppose you want an app that finds the best shoes for business women. The firm should be able to display some related apps either in shopping or ecommerce — bonus points for having experience with shoe shopping.
Don’t forget that they also need experience coding for the platform that you want to use to launch your app. Most startups begin with launching an app on one platform and then expanding to the next once they know the app is a winner in the app store. Take the popular game Clash of Clans from Supercell that has generated over $2.3 billion in just 6 years. The game initially launched for Apple iOS and then expanded to Android once the game was an obvious success. This process minimized the amount of support and overhead needed to launch the game, so that app developers and creators could focus on improvements for its users rather than technical bugs and fixes on multiple platforms.
Most startups have the same game plan, and your development firm should have strong experience on the target platform. Development firms usually have teams with both iOS and Android experience, but ensure your team are experts in your target platform.
- Collaboration and Communication are Keys to Success
As an app creator, you’re a critical component in the entire app development process. Some app creators think that they can hand over their idea to a development firm, get updates every week and forget about the rest. In fact, the creator should collaborate closely with the right firm to ensure that the vision is clearly articulated to developers.
We think of ourselves as our clients’ partners, guiding them through the mobile app development experience. This means that we’re not a set-it-and-forget-it shop, either; our clients must be dedicated to participating in functionality debates, scaling decisions, and more. We lend our expertise, of course, but the client is involved every step of the way. It’s a true collaborative process for everyone involved. Keith Shields, CEO, Designli
Every firm has their own way to tackle an app project, but the best ones sit down with the creator, help them transfer their idea to paper, and thoroughly document specifications before any coding begins. Because the development team is completely new to the idea, this step is absolutely critical and requires good collaboration between the two parties.
Your developers will need time to design and code the project, but the team should have a project manager available to talk should you have any questions.
Think of your development firm as a partner and a part of a team that brings your app idea to life.
- User Experience is More Than Just Graphics and Layout
For years, an app’s interface was lumped in with user experience. The two were used interchangeably, but the need to separate them into separate aspects of design and created a new field of study. New app creators often get user experience and user interface confused. User interface is the buttons, layout and design that interacts with your user. User experience is the ease of use and intuitive interaction that these components offer.
For instance, you might have a button that submits information. The button is a component of the user interface. Does the user fully understand that this button is used to submit information and can it easily be found on the page? This is a component of user experience. The user experience is paramount for user engagement, which drives installations and user retention.
Your development firm should have a clear focus on UI (user interface) and UX (user experience). They should have a clear understanding of intuitive design that helps users better navigate the app.
You’re probably asking how you would know such a thing? Since you have the firm’s portfolio, you can find out how they work with UX by downloading their apps preferably on the platform you want to target. Android and iOS have some subtle design nuances, and these nuances are understood by avid users. Download the app, use its features, and evaluate if the design is intuitive and makes it easy to navigate.
- What Happens During Deployment?
There are firms that will hand over the source code and leave it to the customer to figure out the rest, but this only works if the app creator has an internal, personal team of developers or has some kind of app experience. A better option is a firm that steps you through the process from app documentation and design to deploying the application. Leaving the customer to deal with deployment alone doesn’t fully finish the project, and the developers should be there to guide the customer through the process.
You will have a final meeting where the finished product is presented. Once you sign off, it’s time to move the app from a development environment to production. You need developer accounts on the major app stores, but a good firm helps facilitate the move.
Each app store has its own requirements, and the right development firm knows these requirements from the inside out. They can help the creator prepare for the upload such as getting the marketing images ready, integrating any analytics code, and uploading the source code to the right location.
You might need to interview and meet with several app development firms before you find the right one. You should feel comfortable with the firm you choose and feel confident that they can handle your project with professionalism and dedication.
You do this by asking a lot of questions — as many as you need about your app and the processes they use to get the project done. You can even look at reviews if they have any. You can go local or find a firm online, whichever you prefer as long as the job is handled efficiently and published with as little hassles for the customer as possible.