So you have decided that you want to build a mobile or web app. You probably already have a big idea of its purpose and you know how you want to monetize it. But you have no IT team (or it is not enough) and no technical skills to do it yourself.
The question you are asking yourself is now:
How to hire a software development company to build an app for me?
If you are a non-technical kind of guy this might be your first serious obstacle on the way to launch your mobile product. And this is barely beginning!
It’s ok. Just grab a cup of coffee, read on and I will explain to you step-by-step what you can do about that. At Whalla Labs, we’ve had this situation with many of our clients and we know what kind of problems they had when they hired us.
Those are probably the same kind of problems that you have, so you can be sure that we know what we are talking about and – what is even more important – as a mobile development company we know what you don’t know.
And we are happy to share this knowledge with you right now.
You may also want to know how to decide between iOS vs Android development and how to pick the one for your app.
The answer to this question could be either:
This might be true, but in most cases it is not. The answer to the question why is it so hard to find a good mobile development company for you app is simple:
You don’t know where to look for and you don’t know what questions to ask once you find a software house you think is good for your business.
Since mobile app development is still a growing market, the awareness of how to build it or how to outsource it is very low yet. And without the right questions, you can’t know if the company you are about to hire is good or bad for your project.
Let’s break it down and see what are the right questions to ask once hiring a software house company and what to aim for building a mobile app this way.
First things first – knowing what you want to do is always the best way to find others to do it for you. If you don’t know your goal how can you expect others to reach it?
When you build mobile or web application you should ask yourself these 3 questions:
Your mobile app is going to be your business tool. You build it on purpose and since you will pay (a lot) for it, it is you who should have the big picture of key features and target audience of the app.
Software house can provide you with some knowledge about the market and trends if they have an experienced team to do so, but they shouldn’t make a call for you.
When you decide on to which groups of customers you are going to market your app, then check out which devices do they use. Do they prefer smartphones or tablets? Do they use iOS, Android or maybe Windows Phone?
Knowing that you can ask the mobile development company if they have a team dedicated to this (or those) platform. Mobile and web development require different kinds of tools and frameworks, depending on the platform you choose.
Make sure that the team that you are going to work with know all about their topic and if their skills are up to date.
For example hiring someone claiming that running your apps’ backend on Parse is still ok (knowing that Facebook is about to shut it down) is definitely not a good idea and we suggest looking for someone else.
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. And the “Minimum” is a keyword here.
It is sort of the prototype of your mobile app that you can use to start getting first users and see which features to change, which one to remove or what else you can add.
Another reason to build MVP is that you can quickly see if it is going to work or not. Start small and then upgrade the features you find valuable for the user experience.
Ask the software development company how fast can they deliver an MVP that will actually work.
As you are the one who knows best how the final app should look like, you are the essential part of the building process – even if you are a non-technical kind of guy.
No matter how you are going to communicate – you just need to do this. It will give you more control over the process and you will see if the app is being developed as planned.
Ask the team how and how often they will contact you. If they say “never” – go somewhere else.
Every time we develop mobile or web apps we divide the process into smaller parts, which we call sprints. This way we keep an eye on the process and are able to make changes when needed – not when it’s too late or when it requires rebuilding more complicated structures.
It is natural that you want to see the progress too, so don’t wait for the developers to show you the final product.
Ask software house to receive the results in smaller packages but more frequently, so you can track the application development process.
Another good thing about that is you are likely to learn something about how to develop an app in the process, as several of our clients did.
You always get what you pay for. At Whalla Labs, we are honest with our clients about that. If you want to make your mobile app fast and cheap, there is no way it will be of quality. Everyone who tells you different is probably a rat.
The harsh reality is that you are going to pay a lot for a mobile app written with good quality code by an experienced developer. But if you are ok with that, then you can expect great results.
Ask what is the development team’s hourly rate and how you can track it.
A software development company that values transparency with its clients records every minute of developers’ and designers’ work. This way you know exactly how much and what for do you pay.
If you are not familiar with the terms above, time & material gives you flexibility and ability to control every item of the process, but you need to manage it tight to keep the budget spendings reasonable.
Using fixed prices you will be charged for unpredictable changes and problems. The bigger the project is the bigger overhead you get, the more you pay.
Time & material is good for both sides when you don’t know the exact specification of your product. Use fixed prices if you do.
Hiring a software development company, make sure that after all, you will have full rights to the source code.
In most cases the developers will use the open source libraries. If not, make sure that the cost of buying one will be included in the project’s budget and that after all you will own it.
If the developer uses a custom library that he developed himself, you can’t own it. In this case, you should get royalty free license to use it.
Ask the company about the ownership of the source code to make sure you will own it after the project is done.
The rule of thumb is to have the possibility to fully decide about the source code, even if you would like to move to another software house.
This simply depends on how big is your project. Hiring freelance developer is good if you have a smaller app without complex functionalities. This will be also much more chipper than hiring the whole team.
However deciding to hire freelance developer requires hiring a freelance designer as well if you don’t have skills or time to manage it yourself. And remember that those twos have to work together for the best results. Hiring two separate freelancers and asking them to cooperate in fields they might not understand each other may be a tricky task.
Hiring a mobile app development company will cost you more money, but you will have to communicate with one team which worked together on similar projects, has experience and – which is also important – has a qualified project manager who will make sure everything is right on schedule.
Deciding which software house to choose, ask how many developers do they have and how many of them will work on your project. This way you will make sure that they have enough people to assign to develop your app.
If you have a smaller project think the other way – you don’t need a big software development company that will charge you a lot more for their reputation. Aim for smaller, but experienced team.
Seriously, you can ask for that. You don’t want some random guys with book knowledge but none of the experience. Reviewing developers’ CVs will show you exactly how long they work on mobile app development and how much real-life experience do they have.
At Whalla Labs, we make sure that every developer working with us has his own CV matched with our company’s template, to make it easier for our clients to skim through them.
Ask for mobile developer’s CVs to make sure if they are experienced enough for your project.
Every company can have a different online tracking tool, but the general rule is – they should have it.
More advanced one allows reporting bugs and features, but also to keep in one place all your agreements and invoices. This can also be the tool where you are able to check exactly how many hours developer or graphic designer has spent on a certain task – and therefore, how much you will pay for that.
Ask the mobile developers which online tracking tool do they use and what you can track with it.
Using the online tracking tool will save you a ton of time and give even more control over the project.
Mobile apps development is not an easy task, but it doesn’t have to be an arduous one. With the right team of developers and graphic designers, you can get better results than you might have expected.
The key is knowing what you want and what you can expect from the ones you will work with – or who will work for you.
The truth is that you will always miss something – have someone who won’t.
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Or maybe you are looking for a software house with experience in developing mobile products? Then contact us right away to see if we can work together on the next amazing project.