How to Select an Agency for Your App Development?
Looking for app developers may be a tough task. When choosing someone to work with, you have to be sure that this team is really worth it! However, tough doesn’t mean impossible. So today I’m going to share with you a few tips to select a mobile app company. Let’s get it started!
There Isn’t Anything Difficult... Or Is There?
With thousands of app development companies all over the world - from super modern Silicon Valley to little freelance teams somewhere in the jungle - selecting the one may not seem as a big challenge. Just choose whatever company you like. Pretty easy. Or…
“How may I know that I don’t overpay?” “Does this team understand the project scope?” “Do they have the right expertise to implement it?” “How do I know that this team is what I was looking for?”
Nothing difficult, right?
If your answer is “yes”, well, don’t waste your time and start looking for app developers right now. However, don’t put this article too far away. When you’ll have to deal with the first issues & questions (and both will occur anyway), you’ll find many helpful tips & answers in the text below.
But if your answer is “no” (or if you came back after an unsuccessful “yes”), get ready. I’m going to take you behind-the-scenes of the app development world and teach how to separate the sheep from the goats.
❗ The Most Important Thing to Know Before You Select an App Development Agency
When looking for app developers, many think that they’re actually looking for “just-do-what-I-say” guys. No, no and, once more, no. First and foremost, you should understand that you’re looking for a partner.
It may sound like an idle talk, but actually this is the most important thing to consider. An approach that you’re going to choose will define your expectations, willingness to cooperate and the model of communication between you & the team in general. That’s what I’m talking about:
- It’s easier to build the communication process when you have a development team and not just a “development tool”.
- You’ll get tips & ideas on how to improve your product.
- Finally, you will get a tailor-made app of the best quality by combining your own original project idea with the development experience & expertise of your chosen team.
Yet, any entrepreneur knows: a good partner is hard to come by. But with the next few hints the task to find a company for app development won’t seem so impossible. Read on and see for yourself!
🤔 Where & How to Find a Good App Developer?
The one who’s searching is the one who’s finding. It’s not a philosophical description of a photo from some fitness-model on Instagram, as you might think. It only means that you should be ready for a fastidious searching process, the success of which depends on you.
Of course, life is unpredictable. Sometimes it may happen that the first team you find will be the perfect match for you. However, more often you will have to spend some time in order to find this “match” on your own. How? Let’s figure it out!
We’ve already shared with our readers a few ideas on how to find a company for app development in the article about outsourcing. Let’s quickly remind those tips:
- Use Google to find companies’ blogs and websites.
- Publish a call for developers in social media.
- Check out company listings like Clutch.
- Ask your friends for recommendations.
- Check freelance sites, like UpWork, but be ready to get tons of low-quality proposals.
Which approach is better? It’s hard to tell. Each has pros and cons, so the best strategy for you is to combine them. Moreover, it’s also possible to update this list with one more tip.
A Deeper Look: Rummage Around Professional Communities
You can also find your dream team while surfing through special communities of developers.
On GitHub developers share their code samples based on open-source solutions they’ve made. For example, here’s a pretty switcher component which we developed for one of our clients’ projects. A quick inspection will help you to understand how skillful the team is or reveal some already built solutions that are relevant to your app project. However, GitHub is a website from developers to developers, so you should be a tech guy (or have one as a companion) to do such a research.
Another example of a professional community is Dribbble. This site is the place where designers (predominantly web & mobile) from all over the world share their masterpieces. However, keep in mind that most of the users there are freelance designers or design agencies, that can draw a beautiful concept of the app but not build it. Therefore, finding a full-stack app development agency on Dribble may be a challenging task.
So, I hope that now you are armed to the teeth with 6 different approaches to finding appropriate candidates. But how to select the one and only? Choosing among several candidates (especially when they all seem suitable) isn’t as easy as you may think. However, don’t panic. I’m here to guide through this process so read on!
How to Select an Agency for App Development: Top Tips
🔎 Do Some Homework: Check the Portfolio
You may be surprised, but a deep look into the portfolio can tell you more than you expect. After a quick check you will already have the first impression of the agency and understand whether they are worth more of your attention or not.
First and foremost, examine the public portfolio. Usually, companies put there the most successful (from development & business perspectives) examples of their work. However, you should be interested in finding case studies that are relevant to your own project. This will be a good sign for you as it means that the company has expertise in the field of your interest.
If it turns out, that you can’t find an appropriate case study, feel free to request more works via email or examine any others from the public portfolio.
Except for a cursory glance at the portfolio, take some time to review several case studies. What can a well-written case study tell you?
- What the main challenge was and how the team managed to overcome it.
- How deeply they have understood the main goal of the product.
- What tech tools the agency has used during the development (this may include programming languages, APIs, SDKs).
- How long it took to deliver the app.
- What app’s features are the most noteworthy.
- How successful the app was from the business perspective (number of downloads or daily/monthly active users, attracted investments and so on). Yet, this information may be missing if the case study was written shortly after the release. However, you can simply google it or check in the relevant app stores.
Finally, check the application yourself. No doubt, that all agencies - from top mobile app development companies to small local teams - will try to show their best when writing a case study. However, it won’t take anything to download some of their apps (especially if they are free) and examine it from the user perspective.
Have a look at UI/UX, performance, interactions between features. Afterwards, it will be easier for you to imagine how your app will look like when created by this exact team. Moreover, the smooth performance and the bugless flow can show you how much developers care about the end user and aim at creating a product for him. And this is exactly what you need, right?
If you’re pretty satisfied with what you saw, contact the team and ask the most important questions. Which ones? That’s what you’re about to find out!
❓ Questions, questions, questions
A long-lasting partnership can be only achieved as a result of good communication. However, the point here is that you actually don’t look for a bad or good agency. You’re are looking for the one that is suitable for you. And you can find it out after asking the following questions.
One Pro’ Tip Before We Start
Pay attention to the accents in communication.
Firstly, if all your conversations end with “... that’s why you should choose us”, “we’re super cool because…” and hundreds of other “we”, this agency isn’t the best choice for you. Of course, every company will try to show their best sides to impress you. Yet, if developers care more about their appearance rather than your project, consider this as a first warning bell.
Moreover, despite you will mostly ask questions about them, their answers should be mostly about you. Imagine, that you’ve asked them about their experience and compare these answers:
- “We’ve cooperated with Domino’s Pizza, TripAdvisor & Taco Bell to create perfect mobile apps. The result beat all of our expectations! Check, it’s really worth your attention”.
- “Managing big data and implementing user-friendly and nice-looking navigation system looks like one of the biggest challenges for your app. We have already solved such tasks using Google’s SDKs when working on the Dummy app”.
See the difference? With the same scope of information, the answer № 2 is more specific and valuable exactly for your case. Moreover, it shows that the team also paid some attention to features of your project and not only to the self-presentation.
To sum up: your partner-team needs not only to code well. They need to be able to listen and hear what you are saying, instead of constantly repeating what rock-stars they are.
So, let’s come back to our top questions!
What is the aim of my app? What value does it provide to users?
These questions may sound foolish since they relate more to you and not to the developers. And, of course, it would be strange to ask them before you pitch your app idea/project. But it can be extremely helpful after you share your own vision.
Actually, the answer will help you to understand whether the team gets your idea as well as the challenges of your target audience correctly. Needless to say how extremely important it is. Otherwise, the final product just won’t meet your expectations (in a bad sense).
How can I improve my idea?
People prefer to work with professionals who are passionate about what they are doing. Try to find such guys! They are often full of ideas that can perfect your project and make it even better.
The example from the practice of Stormotion: while working on “Text a Letter” we implemented an interactive 3D tool for choosing envelopes instead of the standard listing feature. Subsequently, it greatly increased user engagement.
Moreover, this question can also reveal how experienced this app development agency is. Maybe, a technology or a feature that you wanted to implement in your app is out-of-date and they can offer you more latter-day solutions. Or the way of monetization that you’ve chosen isn’t the best in this case, so you should consider another one. Such tips will indicate that the company really cares about the quality of the product and your success.
Another example from the practice of Stormotion: when the Berlin startup “Civocracy” contacted us for the first time, they planned to build their app-prototype using PhoneGap. Instead, we offered to use React Native and managed to deliver significantly better and native User Experience.
Have your apps achieved any business success?
Your ultimate goal is not just to build an app, right? The whole development won’t make much sense if your app doesn’t earn money for your company, or help you to raise funding or whatever your business aim is. Although it requires two to tango and is more about marketing rather than development, inspiring success stories of company’s customers should matter to you.
At Stormotion, our team always cares about the achievements of our clients. For example, the financial startup “Oval Money” managed to raise €1.2m in funding demonstrating the MVP created by our team.
Yet, it would be wrong to perceive the business success of the previous projects and the professionalism of the team as the same. Sometimes startups may fail due to other reasons (for example, poor marketing, lack of funding, founders’ crisis etc.) and the development team will have nothing to do with this.
Who will work on my app?
Usually, the maintenance of communication between developers and the client is the task of the project manager. However, you have the full right to know who specifically is going to work on your product and even talk to these people.
At this stage, you shouldn’t be wondering how to find a good app developer. Your aim is to find out whether they have solved similar challenges or had experience with implementing the same features and know how to solve your tasks. If the answer is yes, count it as one more reason to select this agency for app development!
Yet, it’s totally normal that developers don’t have experience in building every feature that exists in the mobile world (but it doesn’t mean that they can’t 🙂) simply because there wasn’t a chance to work on it yet. Therefore, don’t consider this as the decisive factor.
So, if you’ve figured out everything you were interested in, don’t forget to discuss one more ticklish topic - development costs.
💶 Pay Attention To Costs (But Don’t Overestimate Its Importance)
All of my previous tips to select a mobile app company related mainly to agencies, their experience and expertise. This one is more about you.
It’s sad for me to see how many people make the same fatal mistake and put money-related questions in the center of everything. Of course, a limited budget is a usual thing for startups that can’t be ignored. By the way, that’s why our Stormotion team often shares with clients tips on how they can optimize app development expenses.
So, the key idea here is to keep the balance. Don’t overpay when it’s unnecessary as well as don’t be too penny-wise when it comes to the quality. How to select an agency for app development from this perspective?
First of all, don’t overpay “for country”. While agencies from the USA or Western Europe charge $120-180 (or even more) per hour, mobile development companies like ours, that are located in Eastern Europe, can do work of the same quality for about $35-$50 per hour.
Thus, the whole development will be 3 times cheaper, without any single loss in quality. So why would you overpay only for the “brand” of the country?
On the other hand, too low hourly rates ($10-20) may indicate that the team doesn’t have a proper experience and may be not the best choice as well. In this case you may save your money (as it may seem) but will get a product of a low quality, which needs to be rebuild. So don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish 🙂
So, I hope now you feel like a real pro’ who knows for sure how to select an agency for app development in a wise and proper way. Let’s quickly sum up what we’ve learned today:
Any questions left? Shoot us a message We’re happy to share our experience with you. 🙂