How to Choose the Best Mobile App Development Company

You want to make an app. That’s great! But now what?

If you’re not comfortable building mobile apps on your own, hiring a mobile app development company is the obvious choice. 

But with hundreds, if not thousands, of app development companies to choose from, this can feel like an overwhelming task for anyone going through the process. 

Fortunately, narrowing down the best app development company for your app is much easier when you have a blueprint to follow, which is exactly why we created this guide.

You can use our evaluation criteria below to eliminate options and find an app development company that fits your specific needs. Ready? Let’s dive in!

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11 Tips to Find the Best App Development Companies

Use these tips and best practices as a buying guide for mobile app development companies. As you go through each step, your list of qualified candidates will get shorter and shorter, until you’re left with one or two options that can accommodate app ideas.

1. Compare Mobile App Development Companies

Starting from scratch is arguably the hardest part of this entire process. You might start with a Google search for “best mobile app development companies” or “top app developers”—something along those lines. 

The initial search will yield a lot of hits for web apps, mobile apps, hybrid mobile app development, cross-platform app development, and more. But this isn’t enough information to start hiring mobile app developers just yet. 

You need to start with a clear picture of what type of mobile app you want. 

Are you creating a gaming app? A business app for employee communication? An app for your restaurant? The list goes on and on.

Do you need mobile and web apps built by the same custom software development company? Do you need project management assistance? Do you need Android app development, iOS app development, or both?

As you start to answer these questions, you’ll immediately be able to eliminate options from your list. 

You’ll find that some mobile app development companies specialize in niche-specific builds, such as internal apps for business processes. Some are great for AR/VR and gaming apps. Others offer a wider range of custom app development solutions. 

If you need a starting point to work with, check out our complete guide of the top ten best custom software development companies. You can reference this list as you continue through the steps below and eliminate options as you’re qualifying candidates. 

2. Look at Their App Development Portfolio

Now that you have a shorter list of contenders, go through each one to see what types of apps they’ve built for their clients.

You’ll likely see different options like:

  • Ecommerce apps
  • Gym and fitness apps
  • Educational apps
  • Apps for events
  • Restaurant apps
  • Podcast apps
  • Religious apps
  • Employee communication apps
  • Business workflow apps
  • Gaming apps

The best app development companies should be able to build anything. But it’s definitely in your best interest to find a company that has experience with the type of app you need. 

You won’t want your project to be an experiment for the company. So this is definitely an important consideration. 

3. Evaluate the App Design Process

App design and development go hand-in-hand. 

The best app development companies work with you through each stage of the design process. This includes wireframing, design concepts, storyboards, prototyping, and more. 

You should be looking for a development company that understands the importance of UX (user experience) design and UI (user interface design). 

Even a highly functional app is useless if the design stinks. That’s the first thing your users will notice when they download and open your app. 

So if the app development company you hire falls short with design, your final product will suffer. 

4. Consider the Experience of Mobile App Developers

App development companies come in all different shapes and sizes. 

You might find smaller boutique firms with one or two developers on staff. There are also large agencies that employ dozens of developers. But most fall somewhere in between. 

Ask questions about who will be working on your app. How long have they been building apps? What types of apps have they built?

An app developer with a history in web development doesn’t always translate to success in mobile app development. The longer they’ve been building apps, the better it is for you. 

For example, BuildFire has built more than 10,000+ apps. That’s a long history of experience that comes with knowledge that can’t be replicated by taking a development course online. Working with a company like this ensures that your developers have seen it all, and they won’t be surprised if something unexpected or tricky comes up along the way. 

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5. Find a Software Development Company That Can Bring Your Mobile App Idea to Life

You need to find a mobile app developer that believes in your vision. 

Some mobile application development services just put out what you tell them to. They listen to your instructions and do their best to create features based on what you want.

But features and vision aren’t the same things. 

It’s really important for your mobile app development company to truly understand your idea. Where do you want your app to be in the short term? What will your app look like in five or ten years? How does your app solve problems for your customers?

If they understand the problem that you’re trying to solve, they can use that information to enhance the app and its features. 

Otherwise, your app will just be a series of different functions that don’t make any sense towards your greater goal or mission. 

For example, look at an app like Uber.

Let’s pretend you came up with this concept and brought the idea to a mobile app development company. You tell them that you need an app for users to book car transportation. The output likely wouldn’t be the Uber we know today.

Instead, you’d have to explain your vision. You want an on-demand ridesharing service that’s a quick and convenient way for anyone to book a ride from their phone. The app connects drivers with riders in real time and offers a safe experience for both parties. In five years, you want the app to expand, giving people the option to order food and groceries from those same drivers.

If the mobile app development company doesn’t have a firm understanding of your vision, then you’re likely going to be unhappy with the final result. 

6. Look for a Consultative Approach

Understanding your idea is just one part of the equation. But you need to look beyond the basic mobile app development services and find an app development company that offers consultancy as well. 

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A consultative approach might challenge your ideas. They could make suggestions or improvements to shape the app based on their experience. 

You can even find a mobile app development company that assists with app market research to validate your idea before the build.

Here’s a somewhat extreme example to showcase my point. Let’s pretend you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade and approach an app development company with an idea for a social media platform. But your idea is basically describing exactly what Facebook does.

A good app development company will tell you it’s probably not the best idea to move forward, as there’s no market demand for this idea. 

Instead, you need a way to differentiate yourself—such as an unfiltered social media platform where users don’t have a chance to edit photos before posting or have public comments. This idea describes the Daylyy mobile app, created by BuildFire. 

Your app consultants should also be able to tell you which features to add and which ideas can be eliminated—at least for the initial release. You can always expand and grow your app down the road, and the best app developers understand this. 

7. Assess Your Budget

How much are you willing to spend on app development?

Some agencies might charge upwards of $250,000 and others might charge $25,000 for the exact same app. 

Cheaper isn’t always better. But with that said, paying the highest price doesn’t automatically mean you’re working with a top mobile app development company. 

Instead of looking at the bottom line price, think about the value you’re getting with the service. 

Sure, you could save $50,000 or $100,000 by outsourcing your project to a developer in Eastern Europe. But then you’ll have to deal with time zone changes, language barriers, and other challenges. The final product likely won’t be on par with an app built by a US-based development company. 

But before you hire mobile app developers, you should have a rough idea of your budget. This will give you a chance to automatically qualify or disqualify options based on the total cost. 

We have a complete guide on how much it costs to make an app that can help you with your budget. You can also use our app cost calculator to get a quick estimate based on what you’re looking for. 

If you’re on a really tight budget, an app development company may not be your best option. Instead, you can use a mobile app development platform to create an app on your own without writing code. 

8. Look For Limitless Customization

Custom software development needs to be a priority. Unless, of course, you’re just looking for something basic—like turning your website into an app

What limitations are restrictions you have? Is there anything that the company can’t build?

The best mobile app developers should be honest and transparent about this. 

In some cases, this won’t be a dealbreaker. For example, let’s say you come across a quality app development company that doesn’t create games or virtual reality apps. 

If you’re just building an ecommerce app or an app for your barbershop, those limitations won’t make a difference in your development project. 

So while it’s ok to vet app developers with some scrutiny, you don’t automatically need to disqualify candidates if they can’t do one or two things that are unrelated to your idea. 

9. Find Out if They Offer Post-Launch Maintenance and Support

The interaction with your app developer shouldn’t end once your app is built. If the company is simply going to hand you an app, then disappear into the horizon, you’re going to be stuck with a big problem.

You should only be considering mobile app development services that offer post-launch maintenance and support. Here’s why.

Mobile apps are a never-ending project. 

What happens when Apple comes out with a new iPhone in six months, and your app no longer meets the compatibility requirements of a new device or iOS version? Do you have the ability to make those changes?

What will you do if your users discover a bug in the app? Can you fix this on your own?

Apps also require tons of backend infrastructure components to operate smoothly. They need push notification servers, web servers, databases, and security patching—the list is never-ending. 

Unless you have the capacity and internal resources to handle this stuff on your own, it’s much easier to just lean on your app development company.

When you’re ready to expand, add new features, and scale your app in the future, they’ll just be a phone call away and can implement those changes with ease. 

10. Read Customer Reviews and Consider the Company’s Reputation

App development services are like anything else. If you’re going to read online reviews before you buy a $20 razor or a backpack, then you should definitely be reading reviews before you spend tens of thousands of dollars on app development.

Take your time to see what real clients are saying about the company you’re considering. 

Don’t let one or two bad reviews throw you off. There will always be some unhappy customers out there, and if you’re a business owner, this is something you’re already familiar with.

Instead, look for consistency. Are the majority of customers happy?

If you’re looking through reviews and you see dozens of people complaining about the same shortcomings in the service, then it’s obviously going to be a red flag. This is a situation where you should proceed with caution and maybe eliminate that option from your list. 

11. Request a Consultation to Get a Feel for How it Works

Once you have a shortlist of two or three companies that fit what you’re looking for, it’s time to move forward and reach out for more information. 

Don’t rush through the buying process. 

Hopping on a call to talk about your idea and see what types of services can be provided for you will make your decision much easier. You should have a pretty good gut feeling by the end of the call if the app development company is a good fit for your project.

If you don’t know what to ask them, you can use this guide as a reference. 

You can schedule your free consultation with BuildFire here. Our team will provide you with a detailed roadmap of how we’ll bring your idea to life. You’ll also get a price estimate that shows how BuildFire can save you thousands of dollars compared to other agencies on the market. 

Final Thoughts

Comparing the top mobile app development companies can be tough if you don’t know what to look for. My hope is that this guide helped steer you in the right direction, so you can narrow down quality options based on your specific needs. 

Depending on your project, some of these tips will hold more weight than others. But they’re all important to consider as you’re shopping around and exploring your options. 

If you’re ready to move forward, check out BuildFire Plus—our all-inclusive app development service. From strategy sessions through design, development, and post-launch support, we’ve got you covered. 

BuildFire is more than just an app development company. We’re a partner in your success. 

Ian Blair

Ian is the CEO and Co-Founder of BuildFire. He's a visionary leader and tech-driven strategist running a team and platform that powers 10,000+ mobile apps. Ian has been building mobile apps for 10+ years. He's also an expert digital marketer responsible for millions of organic site visits and hundreds of thousands of leads.