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Are you ready to launch your app or improve the capability of your existing app?
Chances are, you don’t have the necessary skills required to develop your app or the time to sit down and make it work — you probably know nothing or little about writing code but you still want to bring your ideas to life.
Yes, mobile apps have changed the way we do business and engage consumers. If you’re not leveraging mobile tools you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table. Studies have shown that users prefer to access the internet through their mobile devices.
Learning how to code is a great step towards developing an app, but for most people learning to code is not an option. You probably don’t have the time. Time is valuable. You need to focus more energy on growing your business.
So what comes to mind? — Hire an app developer.
This really sounds like a viable way to go — but you wouldn’t want to get screwed by uncultured app developers.
This is one of the big challenges that business people face; not knowing how to find the right developer that understands your project and really knows how to develop functional apps could lure you into taking shortcuts. But don’t give in. Why?
Because the outcome could be devastating.
Caroline Woodhouse, CEO of Where4Events lost over $500,000 to developers while trying to build her Where4Events App. According to her, you shouldn’t trust developers — Be sure you are outsourcing your project to the right developer.
Without much ado, I want to show you how to choose the right developer for your project, things you should know, questions to ask and steps to take to always be at an advantage.
Here are a few things you should have in mind before you even start looking for a developer. Knowing these things will help you take precautionary measures to avoid regrets at the end of day.
It’s important you know upfront the devices you’ll want your app to support. Some developers will claim they develop for any device and operating system don’t take them seriously — they might even persuade you to develop for multiple platforms.
But if you have a clear objective and action plan and have decided on the specific devices, you’ll be keen to stay strong on your choice.
If your target audience is on Android then focus on creating apps for android users. However, if you want to develop for multiple platforms be clear about your decision — this will help you know the right developer that will buy into your idea and run with it.
What about cross-platform apps? Well, if you really need an app that will get 5-Star rating invest in native app development. Interestingly, any app developer that claims they can develop for multiple platforms could be a cross-platform app developer.
They might be good at developing for both android and iOS platforms within a very short time, especially now that cross-platform apps are becoming increasingly popular but make no mistakes, to deliver the best user experience and app performance a native app is a no-brainer — and you need a developer that specializes in one platform.
Southwest Airlines thought cross-platform apps were the best way to go — just develop once and push to several devices but finally they confessed:
“It was horrible across every metric: functionality, performance, UI,”
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said it was their worst mistake.
That been said, it’s important you know and decide beforehand the platform that you really want to develop for. This will save both time, unnecessary iterations, and deliver better functionality to users.
So when you’ve decided to go for a native apps, ensure that you give an android developer your android project and an iOS developer your iOS project.
The only exception to this is if you are outsourcing to a software firm where they have several developers in different capacity.
This is critical. Ensure your developer gets a proper understanding of your project, you can get a good graphics designer to create a mockup for your app with Adobe Photoshop.
And be sure to create a very detailed and clear explanation of your project — in my case, after sending all the details about the App, I’ll ask the would-be developer to explain in clear terms what they understand about my app idea and the way forward. This works like gangbusters.
If they get it right, great, we’ll proceed to the first stage of the project. Otherwise, I’ll point them in the right direction. You should do the same as well.
This is important because, if they understand your project very well it will be easier for them to add more creativity to it, and bring your exact thoughts to reality.
Some developers can be unreliable, some of them can value their freedom so much that they’ll forget the commitment they have with you and your project.
So it’s important you use either a trusted company that’s been in the space for a while (like BuildFire) or platforms like Elance, Odesk, or Freelancer.
This would allow you to start and stop a project whenever you notice a red flag. More importantly, you should also set several milestones and only make payment when a milestone is completed.
Most developers that lack the necessary skill and experience can claim to be experts when they’re not — just to get the job.
Bear in mind that there are developers like this, and one of the ways to sort them out is through their portfolio. Request for apps which they have developed for businesses (if possible your competitors).
You should be able to access and even download some of the apps and test their functionality before taking action to either hire or go look for a seasoned developer.
Whether you request for a portfolio or not, every serious freelance developer or agency will point you to a list of apps they’ve developed previously except for the once where a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) was signed.
So ensure you ask them to show you the apps they’ve done before. If you want to ascertain if that a particular developer is right for you or not, you should download and test a few apps, and also check the reviews on the App Store.
“That way you can begin to gauge whether or not they have the skills, experience and vision to produce the type of mobile app you’re looking for” — Chad Mureta, CEO of App Empire
If they don’t have previously developed apps and have none of their Apps on the playstore, hey, you had better run away — they’re probably not a good fit for the job.
Yes, you can ask your developer to provide you information about their current and previous clients which they claimed to have dealings with.
So, you can ask them some questions about their deliverables and be sure they actually developed the apps they claim to have developed for them.
In some cases you’ll be able to ask to speak to previous clients or see a testimonial – that way you can be sure they delivered great work.
Ensure you ask your developer about the programming language they’re more comfortable with and what they’d recommend for your project.
If a developer claims he develops for Android he should of course have an android phone, and should understand android much better. The same for any device he claims to be comfortable with.
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Developers use Github mainly for version control. However, most of the developers use Github to save up codes they want to share with their team or with clients.
Ask your developer to share a link to their Github repository. You should see several of the apps they’ve developed and the ones they’re working on.
If the response is 1 week, 1 month, or anything more they probably do not have experience with integrating it, or they’re not good enough. Because none of these should take more than 30-45 minutes to fix.
If your would-be developer doesn’t have a developer account then, they might not have published any app to the Play Store before.
It doesn’t mean you’re going to use their developer account, you only need it for making decisions. As much as possible, avoid using your hired developer’s Play Store developer’s account.
Caroline Woodhouse, had to sue her developer before they can remove her app from the Play Store — since she can’t upload her new App if the previous is not removed. At least it cost her some bucks. You can avoid it. Get your own developers account.
Documentations are important. When your app is up and you need another developer to improve the functionalities, the documentation can be of great help. Be sure they provide documentation even for how to use the app.
At this point, I’m sure you already have a budget for your project. It’s important you have a clear and flexible budget for your project before you agree on the pricing terms with your developer. Ensure you set milestones and pay when each milestone has been completed.
The best thing you can do to ensure you’re covered is to have a very well defined set of deliverables when you get to the payment stage.
To avoid regrets after your app has been developed, ensure your developer is actually developing the app themselves — it may turn out that your developer is actually outsourcing this job or parts of it.
If you’re not comfortable with this system, then go look for another developer.
This isn’t a fast rule, but don’t hire a developer that outsources jobs. If you hired a developer because you’re impressed with their portfolio, style, and rate, your project must not suffer in the hands of another third-party developer.
If you have read this article and not just scan it, then you’re more likely to hire an app developer. It’s not a guarantee but if you follow the steps and take precautions your next hire will be a blissful experience. I’m sure.
Remember that anyone with a computer and access to the internet could claim to be an app developer. So again, I’ll advise that you take this steps to protect yourself, your brand, and your product.
Of course, there are great app developers, but there are also several unskilled and unscrupulous ones that are out for your money — so be smart.