Over the years, we have had several clients that have come to us asking to either fix or complete an app from another developer. One client had spent over $50 k with another developer and had nothing to show for it. For all of you that are looking to hire a mobile app developer, this post will go over several factors you should consider when evaluating a developer.
Mobile App Developer Factor #1 The Source Code / Ownership:
An easy way to weed out a developer is to find out what their policy is on the ownership of the source code and intellectual property upon completion of the project. If they won’t release and / or make a claim, keep moving. I discuss the source code issue more in this post.
Mobile App Developer Factor #2 Technical Capabilities:
Is the developer you’re looking at technically capable of completing your project? In your evaluation, realize that it takes a team. So for example, the a complex app development project will have:
- iOS Developer
- Android Developer
- Backend Developer
- U/X Designer
- Project Architect
- Project Manager
Image Source: Goforthapps
Be cognizant that it’s very hard for one person to do everything and you may need to hire multiple developers with different disciplines or go with a development team that has all the capabilities you’re looking for. For better communication, the ideal situation is where all the developers are under one roof so that problems can be solved quickly.
Mobile App Developer Factor #3: Portfolio
Ask to look at the developer’s portfolio. Download their apps. Evaluate their body of work. What you see is probably a good indication of what kind of app the developer can create for you.
Mobile App Developer Factor #4: References
Ask for a list of references from your developer and take the time to contact them. Some good questions to ask them:
- Did they have a good process?
- Were they responsive? How was the communication?
- Were they helpful with other issues like setting up an iOS account?
- How was the quality of the work?
- How well did they resolve problems?
Image Source: JCount
Another great place to check their reference is to see if they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau. For example, Apptology’s BBB rating is summarized here. If they are a BBB member, this also gives you a venue to handle disputes. If the developer wants to keep an A rating with the BBB, they are forced to address your dispute.
Mobile App Developer Factor #5: What If You Got Hit By A Bus?
Ask your developer what happens if their main developer got hit by a bus. I know it’s a strange question but it’s important. I had a client that was developing an app and the developer they were working with just disappeared. He didn’t answer any emails and phone calls for a couple of weeks and they were forced to find another developer because they were hitting a deadline. It turned out that their developer had a DUI and was in jail for a few weeks. So, if you ask the “Bus” question, hopefully the developer will have some sort of backup plan for you.
Mobile App Developer Factor #6: Development Process
My undergraduate degree was in Industrial Engineering so I am a stickler about process. That said, when evaluating a developer; ask them about their development process. Some questions to ask:
- How and when do you provide feedback?
- How are scope changes handled?
- Is there a project manager that you work with?
- Are there regular project meetings?
- How is communication handled?
- What types of project management tools are used?
- How is quality assurance (QA handled)?
In evaluating their development process, see where you fit in. Where do you fit in the design and approval process? What you don’t want is to work with a development team that goes away for 3 months and comes back with crap.
Image Source: Appectual
Mobile App Developer Factor #7: Maintenance Plan / Upgrades
All the major platforms upgrade their software roughly once a quarter. Unfortunately, these upgrades may actually break your app. When I first developed my app, Apple just released iOS 4 and our app was developed on an older SDK. To our horror we found that half the sound files on our app didn’t work and we had to spend the weekend troubleshooting the problems generated by the upgrade.
So, when choosing a developer, ask them how they handle maintenance. Also, your app should always be evolving. Make sure you also ask them how they handle upgrades.
Mobile App Developer Factor 8: Warranty
Ask your developer if they will warranty their work in writing. So, after the project is delivered and submitted to the various App Store, ask what happens if a bug is discovered? To be fair, the warranty can only be applied to the specific version of the SDK that the app was developed on. As discussed in the previous section, the developer really can’t be responsible for issues caused by an upgrade to the Operating System.
Image Source: searlesgraphics
Mobile App Developer Factor #9: Pricing
I saved this for last. I’m not going to go with the cliché that you get what you pay for. I think you can find a quality developer that is still cost effective (shameless plug: like us). I had a client that revealed that the bids for her project ranged from $7 K to $50 K. I personally would throw out the high bid. I’ve heard some vendors just throw out large quotes to weed out their prospects. If there is a bid that is dramatically low, my gut is that they didn’t understand the scope. However, before throwing them out, talk to them first as they may have a template or process that gives them some sort of advantage.
Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought in evaluating developers for your project. If you want to evaluate how much your app will cost to develop as a whole, check out this informative blog now!
By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.