Wondering about the factors you need to consider, while judging the merits and suitability of a mobile app agency? Follow this checklist, and make this apparently tricky task quick, systematic, and very easy!
At first, you might feel that this topic does not merit a detailed discussion. After all, mobile app development companies are present in dozens in practically every Australian city – and each of them promises the ‘best service’ – so it’s all about randomly choosing any one of them, right? The truth is, not all app developers possess the same expertise, are equally sincere, and/or adhere to similar quality standards. If you are on the lookout for a good mobile app agency, the following checklist of factors would come in handy:
- Check feedback from other users – Don’t be bowled over by the high and mighty adjectives that mobile app companies have to say about their services, on their business websites. Instead, do some research on the web, and check out the ratings, reviews and user-comments (at Google Play Store and Apple iTunes) – for the so-called ‘top’ companies. That will give you an unbiased, more transparent picture.
- Check the validity of website testimonials – If an app company has a decent website, you can rest assured that there would be loads of client testimonials, praising its apps to the skies. Please note that nearly 80% of such testimonials are fake – written by in-house marketing personnel. Make it a point to ask for the contact details (phone numbers and/or email ids), so that you can do some cross-checking yourself. Don’t let bogus testimonials fool you!
- Find out the truth behind ‘free app quote’ claims – Nearly all Android and iPhone app companies have the provision of sending free app quotes to prospective clients. Many of them, however, charge additional amounts, each time your app is upgraded. Avoid doing business with any company, which pursues such shady methods to make buyers spend more. There should never be any payments required when new versions of apps are released.
- If prices are well below average, be suspicious! – There’s a difference between the best app developer and the cheapest service provider, and unfortunately, most people end up searching for the latter. Let alone different countries – there are significant discrepancies in the prices charged by app development firms within Sydney. It would be a folly to run after the company that provides the lowest quote. Chances are high that their quality of service would be on the lower side too.
- Global presence – Most of the app developers you come across will claim that they have strong international presence. Since getting a foreign phone number (and showing it off to clients) is hardly difficult nowadays, you should take such claims with a pinch of salt. Place queries about exactly where a company has registered overseas offices, and ask for a few valid contacts. A genuine multinational company will always have better knowhow and exposure than a geographically limited one.
- Relevant experience of developers – Consider this: You wish to make an iPhone app, and a developer with 10 years of experience is assigned on your project. The only catch is, that person had been working on Java apps for all those years, and has hardly any ‘relevant experience’ in working on the iOS platform. Hire a developer who is experienced enough on your preferred mobile platform. Expertise in an entirely different field is not going to benefit you in any way.
- Does the firm outsource its projects? – You outsource your app project to a company – and the latter promptly outsources it to another little-known, third-party firm. Not at all a nice scenario, but one that might well happen – if you do not inquire about it at the very outset. Before you hire app developers, make sure that they would be in charge of your project throughout. Companies that outsource projects invariably end up delivering unsatisfactory, half-baked services.
- Chances of delays – There can be technical glitches, the app developer working on your project may take a sick-leave – but such issues should never hamper the continuity of a mobile app development process. Ask the representatives from your shortlisted companies about the back-up plans they have (if any) to counter such issues. It’s the responsibility of the company to complete a job within the stipulated deadline – if anyone falls sick or leaves, you should not be the one to suffer. Due to this consideration, it would probably be a better idea to avoid the really small (4-person, 6-person, and the like) firms.
- Will projects be treated as products? – Most mobile application development companies treat their apps as ‘products’. They would give quotes, get the order, rush through the stages of development, deliver the app (which, in all probability, not be anything like what you had originally conceived!), collect the final payments, and be done with it. Stay well away from agencies such as these. Creating an iPhone on Android app should be a participative process – and the company should regularly share wireframes, mockups and app prototypes with you. That way, if you have any complaints, or wish for a change, that can be incorporated real-time.
- Provision of non-disclosure agreements – If a company is not ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) at the very outset, it won’t be a good idea to get into further business negotiations with it. The agreement ensures that, once the app is completed and handed over, you get the sole custody on all intellectual property rights (IRP) of the same. In case you are planning to work with a freelance mobile app developer, the issue of IRP settlement becomes even more important.
- Presence of an in-house app designing team – There are plenty of mobile app companies across Australia – which do not have a separate graphics and UI/UX designing team. The programmers double up as designers, and unsurprisingly, they make a right hash of it. This only proves the old adage that – even if a designer can learn to code, a coder can never develop the creative skills of a professional, experienced designer. An app has to look good and be user-friendly to create a favorable first impression. Only specialist graphic designers can ensure that.
- What does a ‘completed app’ mean to the company? – Are you familiar with the famous ‘Ninety: Ninety’ rule of software programming? It states that 90% of the app development task is generally completed within the first 90% of the pre-specified time-span, with the remaining 10% taking another 90% of the time. You need to ensure that the company you have zeroed in upon do not similarly slacken off, as the project nears its completion date. If it does, you might very well end up (and made to pay for!) with an ‘incomplete’ app.
- Chances of success – It’s almost impossible to foretell how well (or otherwise!) your mobile app will be received by general users. That, however, does not mean that a company cannot do its bit for proper mobile app marketing. Inquire about the average app-approval percentage of the company at the stores, and find out if any of its applications have been specially showcased/featured. A good mobile software company might also have multiple award-winning apps. If the overall performance of an agency is good, you can also expect decent value-for-money from them.
- Researches, brainstorming, employee training – The domain of web and mobile software/app development is in a state of constant flux. New coding methods, programming techniques (Apple’s Swift is what everyone is interested in learning now), fresh app concepts, and open-source libraries are regularly being released – and app developers (no matter what their qualifications and seniority levels might be) have to stay updated with such changes. This, in turn, makes regular app development training sessions vital. Do ask about whether dedicated training and research surveys are held/organized by the company of your choice. If yes, you can rest assured about getting an app that is at par with the latest quality parameters.
- Payment structure – Keep safe distance from companies that do not have a set payment structure. Avoid app agencies that ask for hefty (at times, the entire amount!) upfront payments. Choose a company that accepts payment in multiple installments (with a token advance payment, and the biggest payment chunk to be made AFTER the app has been developed). Do not make the final payment till you have thoroughly examined, and are satisfied with, the app created by the firm.
- Availability of app testing team – One of the principal reasons for the failure of mobile apps is the presence of malware and bugs in them. This generally happens because most companies are either too lazy, or do not have the manpower, to conduct mobile app testing in the recommended manner. Remember, if you market a buggy app, it will be your reputation and goodwill on the line. Do not delegate your project to a company that does not have a testing department.
Ideally, you should shortlist 3-4 mobile app companies after a thorough online research – and get in touch with their representatives. That would enable you to take an informed decision as to which agency is most likely to provide the best possible service for you. Make your choice from those companies which regularly share their app projects on social media channels like Behance and Pinterest (in addition to, of course, Twitter and Facebook). For free apps, the company should also help in framing smart and effective monetization strategies. Follow this checklist – and you will find that zeroing in on a suitable mobile app development partner is easy enough!