Mobile App Companies – The Good And The Bad

By | November 17, 2014

Not all mobile app development companies rank equally well on the quality and reliability fronts. We here present some parameters on the basis of which you can judge whether a company is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ one.

Connect your laptop to the internet, visit Google, and look for ‘mobile app development company’. Within a fraction of a second, you will be rewarded with the names of hundreds of app agencies. Go through the websites of a few – and you will find one common feature: each of them claims to be the best in the business. So, how can you decide whether a company is indeed good, or is over-inflating its capabilities. Here are a few telltale signs:

 

  1. Availability of free app quotes – The service charges for getting an app developed by a company are not insignificant, but that does not mean you have to ‘buy’ app quotes as well. A good, customer-oriented app company would provide free, detailed app quotation statements – while a shady one would have either a charge on that, or have some hidden cost clauses (say, a fee on every future upgrade). Avoid the latter variety.
  2. Updated knowledge pool – There are iPhone app development companies that have started working with Swift programming language, and there are the ones which are still providing those old, static Objective-C coding solutions. With Android 5.0 Lollipop having released as well, a decent mobile app agency simply must invest time and money on training sessions – so that their developers have updated knowledge. The techniques that worked great even a year back might be outdated now.
  3. Flexible budget options – A good mobile software company is focused on delivering client-satisfaction, while a bad one is after as much money as possible – it’s as simple as that. Find out from the representatives of the companies you have shortlisted (you can also check their websites for this) whether multiple budget slabs are available (along with the nature of app creation services associated with each slab). If there are no such options, move on. You are not bound to pay whatever a company demands.
  4. Entire payments in advance – No reliable mobile app developer would ask for the entire service charge to be paid upfront. Instead, there would be a pre-specified, spaced out payment schedule – with the biggest installment being due AFTER the app has been completed and handed over. Unfortunately, there is no dearth of companies that demand full/almost full advance payments, and then keep their clients hanging midway through projects.
  5. Cross-platform capabilities – Maybe they are not ‘bad’ per se, but hiring a specialized iOS or Android-only company would not be advisable. Nearly every popular app has customized versions for different platforms (including versions for Blackberry and Windows Mobile). In this age of red-hot mobile revolution, if a company does not offer cross-platform mobile app development – you can rest assured that its portfolio is limited. Go for companies that have large portfolios of iPhone, Android and Blackberry applications.
  6. Your idea vs their idea – The degree to which a mobile app company lets you participate in the development process is another important indicator. A responsible agency will ask for preliminary app descriptions and ideas from you, and would use them as the launchpad for their brainstorming/concept development activities. A shady app developer, on the other hand, would try to plonk its own app ideas on you. There won’t be much (if any) chances of giving inputs.
  7. Size of app development teams – This is not to say that small app development companies are necessarily inferior to the large, multinational ones. However, if you entrust a firm with, say, 5 developers with your project – there is every chance that inordinate and unforeseen (at least, that’s what they will say!) delays will crop up. Presence of a relatively large app development team would ensure that whenever any developer calls in sick, there would be others to take over the job, and the project deadline is not unduly extended.
  8. Is the company projecting mobile app development as a ‘black box’? – If yes, you have, sadly, fallen in the clutches of a totally unreliable app development agency. The reason is simple: even if you are not a techie, a good developer would always share app wireframes and mockups with you, organize meetings and feedback sessions at regular intervals, and keep you in touch right through the stages of development. A good app company asks for recommendations and mid-project approvals, a bad one keeps things mysterious.
  9. Agreeing to sign non-disclosure agreements – Violating intellectual property rights is a mischief that most shady app companies engage in. They are all for passing your app ideas as your own – and as such, will be reluctant to sign any form of non-disclosure and/or non-competing agreements. In the business world, verbal promises count for very little. If you feel that there are chances of disputes over intellectual property rights cropping up in future – save yourself the trouble, and look for another, more transparent agency.
  10. Testimonials and app reviews – It is only natural for an iPhone/Android app development company to boast of the glowing reviews its products have received from clients. There’s a teeny-weeny problem regarding this though – many companies resort to publishing fake testimonials on their websites. The willingness (or the lack of it!) of a company to share the contact details of its previous clients with you is an indicator of its authenticity. Also, check the reviews its applications have received at the Apple and Android app stores. At least those cannot be fake!
  11. Milestones or no milestones? – If a company is indeed as ‘busy’ as it claims to be, its in-house mobile app developers have to be masters at task management. That, in turn, means that the developers adopt a milestone-based approach while creating any new app (i.e., the entire project is divided into smaller, systematic phases). The agencies that do not bother with this approach tend to get things botched up pretty soon. Lack of task-synchronization is a precursor to confusions.
  12. Dependence on third-party companies – Does the app company you have selected accept projects and then delegate them to other smaller agencies? If yes, stay well away from it. A good smartphone app development agency would take full responsibility of each of its projects. If you are paying money to a company for making an app, you should make sure that the agency is indeed ‘earning’ the money – instead of simply acting as a middleman.
  13. Emphasis on app testing – App companies that have slack day-to-day operational policies often find themselves in a race against time to complete projects. In such cases, the phase that gets neglected the most is mobile app testing. Find out from the company officials how they plan to test your application, once it has been developed. If they do not appear to be quite sure, that’s a sureshot sign that they intend to neglect the testing procedures as well. The result? You will end up with a buggy app!
  14. Who takes care of the creatives? – If it’s the developers themselves, it won’t be worth it to get into a contract with that company. Programming expertise and proficiency in mobile app designing are two entirely different things – and you cannot expect the same person/team perform both tasks equally well (in particular, a developer can never be a great graphic designer). Good companies invariably have separate teams for app development and UI/UX designing.

If a company claims itself to be ‘multinational’, inquire as to where its overseas offices are located. Leading mobile app companies make it a point to ensure availability to clients on a 24×7 basis. In short, be wary of anything that a company might be bluffing about. A good company never has to resort to false pretences – its apps and service support speak for themselves!

  • http://www.mobilepundits.com/ Krishnayan Swami

    There’s definitely a
    lot that can be done there, but it’s a different story if/when mobile app development companies are
    explicitly taking advantage of that. While I agree companies need to be held
    accountable the parents need to be held accountable first. The issue stems from
    the parents using a tablet/phone to babysit their children and letting them use
    it unsupervised.