Best Questions To Ask To Find the Right App Development Company
Building an app presents incredible opportunities, and that’s not just for tech disruptors. You can sell your product, grow your business, delight and engage customers—even transform your customers’ experience.
All the above are possible with the right app development partner. But finding that partner means asking the right questions at the forefront.
To determine which app developer is the best to hire for your project, focus on these areas:
- Developer capabilities
- Developer process and communication
- Financials and legalities
For the best questions and considerations behind these areas, read on.
Questions on Developer Capabilities
What technologies do you use and why?
This question helps you understand how the development company thinks. Worry less about the specific technology they use and more about whether the development company can clearly articulate their reason for using it and the benefits to you and your product. Unless you are already a technology pro, you choose a partner for their expertise. Let them use tools they know to get great results.
Have you done anything similar to what I’m asking you to do?
You don’t need an exact match or even a company that has developed a similar app. Still, your potential development partner should be able to draw parallels to relevant work they’ve done. Shared points of connection, whether on the industry, product, or technical level, will increase the likelihood of your project’s success.
What are the riskiest parts of my project?
Asking your app development partner this question will give you insight into your project and its areas of expertise. To know whether it’s worth continuing down the development path, consider risks early on to develop a plan. The riskiest parts are those that will likely make or break the product.
Questions on Developer Process & Communication
Do you outsource or offshore any part of your development process?
Most app development projects loosely break into several stages: discovery, design, development and testing, and deployment. Some companies choose to outsource one or more parts of this process. Seek to understand how the company will work with outside contractors, if at all.
Offshoring may offer reduced hourly rates but consider other factors. Offshoring typically requires extra project management effort. It can introduce risk to the project through cultural differences. And, it can increase the total time required due to less cohesion and familiarity among team members. Do these trade-offs decrease the price?
Who will be my main point of contact once the project kicks off?
Multiple people will probably be involved in building your app, but you don’t want to be navigating who is the right contact for what. There are also times when it’s more efficient to go right to the source when you need to talk about technical or design challenges.
Make sure you will be able to talk with developers and designers as needed, but that there is a project manager keeping tabs on your project—and who is your first point of contact for any needs.
How will we communicate during the app development process?
There are significant benefits to live conversation and collaboration via regular check-in meetings or for ad hoc questions. When a developer prefers to communicate only through email, it can limit your options.
There are numerous ways to interact, from phone calls to video chat to screen sharing to face-to-face meetings. The best app development partner takes advantage of all these options. Ideally, your app development partner provides seamless interaction, whether you are working through complex issues or getting answers to quick questions.
Electronic communication is equally essential for project management and knowledge capture. Many developers will use tools such as GitHub, ZenHub, Asana, Basecamp, and others to track project progress. Teams can use these and other invaluable tools to help ensure the project is on the right track. You might already have such a tool in place, and your potential app development partner should be on board with using it to streamline project management.
How will I receive status updates, and how often?
The answer to this question should take into consideration your personal preference. You want to make sure the frequency of status updates is compatible with your desire to receive them. As noted above, there are numerous ways for you to stay connected, and your chosen app development partner should be willing to adapt to what you want.
How involved will I be in the project? When do I get to provide input?
Big reveals make for good television on home renovation shows, but it’s not how you want to receive your product. It’s best to keep an eye on your software throughout the project’s life, so you can make course corrections as needed.
The best app development shops are working with agile methodologies, building and testing small sections of code at a time. Expect to interact with the app early in the process and as your developer adds each piece of functionality.
Furthermore, you are likely the subject matter expert for your product, and your partner ought to rely on you for knowledge of your industry and customer. Your feedback, including help with testing the app during development, ensures that the best product is delivered.
What if my priorities or scope change during the project?
Successful software projects are rarely defined completely and then built to that definition. You want a software development partner who can adapt to your needs. Ideally, your developer will provide you with a central point of contact throughout the project and expect things to shift while allowing flexibility to meet your changing priorities and timelines.
Questions on Financials & Legalities
How much will my project cost?
You want to be able to plan both your time and your budget for the length of the project. Make sure your development partner provides you with a written estimate to have an explicit agreement on the expectations. Beyond the total cost, it’s essential to understand the pricing structure. The most common options are an hourly rate or a fixed cost, plus maintenance and support.
- Hourly Rates: With hourly pricing, the developer charges a rate for each hour worked and tracks the amount of time spent on your project. In the proposal, the development company estimates how many hours they believe the project will take but will charge you for every hour worked, whether that total time is below or above the approximation.
- Fixed Cost: In a fixed-price project, the developer will provide you with the project’s total cost and (hopefully) stick with that number. When work above and beyond the original scope is necessary, the developer should tell you how much extra work will cost before moving ahead.
- Maintenance & Support: Ongoing work after the app launches is almost always required to acquire new users and keep current users engaged. This type of work ranges from bug fixes (there will always be bugs!) to testing updated operating system releases and adding new functionality to the app. It’s worth understanding upfront how your partner would recommend structuring a maintenance and support program and the associated fee structure.
Who will own the app?
As the customer, you should own the finished product.
Find the Right App Developer for Your Project
For the success of your project, take the time to find the right developer—one who:
- Has the experience and capabilities for the app you want to build
- Communicates well
- Has the proper cost structure for you
Use these questions and considerations to help you learn more about potential app development partners before you choose.
For more resources, consider reading our free book, InspiringApps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps, to gain a foundational understanding of the business and technical considerations involved in building an app.
And, if you’re curious about how InspiringApps would respond to questions like the ones we’ve just shared, find our answers in Your Journey With InspiringApps.
Build a product that will delight your users & help your business thrive
If you’re looking to build a custom application, there are many different questions to ask an iOS app development company. Still, one of the most common questions we receive about the development process is whether we recommend building both iOS and Android versions of an app simultaneously or just one at a time. And if app development for each platform occurs at different times, should iOS development or Android development come first? We touch on this question in Chapter 3 of our book InspiringApps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps, but we will provide more insight on this debated topic here. Should we develop iOS & Android at the same time? When feasible in mobile app development, we recommend picking a single platform to start with rather than developing for both simultaneously. You may not have that luxury if you’re developing an app to release to consumers who all need to have the mobile app at the same time—perhaps in conjunction with a film or other product release. If it’s possible, though, we think one at a time in the development process is better because it will enable you to learn from your customers on the first platform. Unless a mobile app is extremely simple, it will go through several iterations before it offers the desired experience. Trying to manage learnings across both iOS devices and Android devices is cumbersome. Instead, the feedback and refinements from the first platform can be leveraged to speed mobile app development on the second platform, saving both time and money in producing across mobile devices. What factors should we consider in picking an OS? When advising customers whether to focus on Android development or iOS app development first, we consider these factors to help guide the decision. Industry & Demographics You may find an industry bias for operating systems (OS) that affects your project. For instance, we found iOS devices more prevalent in medical applications, while Android app development seems more prevalent in construction. If you don’t have industry insight, try checking your website’s analytics to determine user platforms. Trends might help decide what type of platform may be best suited. You can also use sites similar to Mixpanel to discover applications and software that would be more suited to that platform. If one platform is used far more than the other, you know a preference exists and should develop accordingly. Likewise, depending on the market you are serving, you may also find that age-related differences affect whether you should focus on iOS app development or Android app development first. Market Share For app developers who intend to produce mobile applications for the general public and do not know the OS preference of their target audience, these market considerations may provide some guidance: In the United States, the market share of both iOS and Android has stayed just about constant over the past year, hovering at or around 60% and 40%, respectively. In Europe, the UK, Asia, and many other countries, Android has had a higher market share than iOS. Android maintained its lead in global market share capturing around 70% in August of 2022. Android devices have captured most of the global market share for many years. Google provides free, open-source software that manufacturers can install on their smartphone devices. Because of the large number of Android users and the lower cost of Android devices to consumers, Android developers are at an advantage in many markets. Unquestionably, Android is the world’s most popular smartphone OS. However, Apple has a powerful brand, particularly in the US, where Apple's ecosystem, stable OS, and device durability enable iOS to keep large numbers of active and premium smartphone users. OS Adoption Rates & Upgrade Complexity Apple has a remarkable track record of getting iOS users to upgrade to current versions of its OS, whereas Android adoption is much slower: As of May this year, 89% of users are on the current iOS. As much as 60% of users keep older versions of Android on their phones. Apple handles the distribution of its iOS updates exclusively. Developing for and supporting a smaller number of OS versions on Apple devices leads to quicker builds, faster testing, and more straightforward support in the long run for iOS developers. Google only gives direct updates to its products, like the Pixel series. Other manufacturers like Samsung must first get the update from Google and optimize it for Android devices before they can send it to Android users. Some mobile carriers also go through updates before distribution, too. Android developers may have to deliver more app fixes as a result. Speed & Ease of Development & Publishing Speed and ease of development and publishing are not as cut and dry in terms of pros and cons. Android pros include: The Android platform enables a more flexible development environment. Because Windows, Mac OS, and Linux all support Java—which Android relies on—Android developers can build Android apps on various machines. Google Play allows developers to publish multiple versions of the same app (alpha and beta) to ensure developers can test the app live, fix bugs, and launch it to a broader audience. However, developing and maintaining apps is generally more time-consuming for Android than for iOS: Whereas iOS developers build for a limited type of device (iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch), Android accessibility to a wide range of devices means more devices to test and support. Google has become less lenient and more time-consuming towards apps that developers want to post on Google Play, narrowing the line between ease of publishing on Google Play vs. the App Store. And through TestFlight, Apple does support previewing versions of an app with up to a thousand beta testers before releasing it for wide distribution in the Apple App Store. Development Cost & Profit Opportunities Cost and profit will vary depending on the type and complexity of the app you’re developing; still, Android apps are generally more expensive to create than iOS apps are for iPhones. Overall, Android users tend to favor free apps and spend less on in-app purchases than iOS users, which can lead to higher sources of profit on iOS, not accounting for market differences. Should we develop for iOS or Android first? If you’ve considered all the above factors, and neither platform is the clear winner, we’d recommend starting with iOS for a US-focused app. Our reasons are speed to market, lower development cost, and revenue generation potential. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss your particular situation or have other questions on this topic. We’d love to hear from you.
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Boulder, CO—InspiringApps, a premier web and mobile app development company, is proud to be Certified™ by Great Place to Work® for the second year in a row. The prestigious award is based entirely on what current employees say about their experience as part of InspiringApps’ team. This year, 92% of employees said it’s a great place to work—35% higher than employees at a typical US-based company. InspiringApps recently celebrated its 15th birthday. Over the years, its leaders have rolled out various initiatives to boost employee engagement and retention. Listening to employee feedback is a big part of that. For example, team feedback as a result of last year’s Great Place to Work survey created IA Commits, pairing inspiring not-for-profit clients with developers who can use a hand-up early in their software career. “InspiringApps wouldn’t be what it is today without our amazing people,” said Brad Weber, CEO and President of InspiringApps. “InspiringApps is better because of the people who work here. We are all passionate about our craft and united in our goal to make a real difference in the world.” According to Great Place to Work research, job seekers are 4.5 times more likely to find a great boss at a Certified great workplace. Additionally, employees at Certified workplaces are 93% more likely to look forward to coming to work and are twice as likely to be paid fairly, earn a fair share of the company’s profits, and have a fair chance at promotion. “Great Place to Work Certification™ isn’t something that comes easily—it takes ongoing dedication to the employee experience,” said Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Vice President of Global Recognition at Great Place to Work. “It’s the only official recognition determined by employees’ real-time reports of their company culture. Earning this designation means that InspiringApps is one of the best companies to work for in the country.” About InspiringApps App development that makes an impact. InspiringApps builds digital products that help companies impact their employees, customers, and communities. Yes, we build web, mobile, and custom apps, but what we offer is something above and beyond that. What we offer is inspiration. Our award-winning work has included 200+ apps since the dawn of the iPhone. Our core values: integrity, respect, commitment, inclusivity, and empathy. Our guarantee: finish line, every time, for every project. About Great Place to Work® Certification™ Great Place to Work® Certification™ is the most definitive “employer-of-choice” recognition that companies aspire to achieve. It is the only recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience—specifically, how consistently they experience a high-trust workplace. Great Place to Work Certification is recognized worldwide by employees and employers alike and is the global benchmark for identifying and recognizing outstanding employee experience. Every year, more than 10,000 companies across 60 countries apply to get Great Place to Work-Certified. About Great Place to Work® Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Since 1992, they have surveyed more than 100 million employees worldwide and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace: trust. Their employee survey platform empowers leaders with the feedback, real-time reporting, and insights they need to make data-driven people decisions. Everything they do is driven by the mission to build a better world by helping every organization become a great place to work For All™. Learn more at greatplacetowork.com and on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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