How do I pick the right company? You could apply this question to most things you want to outsource. Being a software development company, we’ve asked ourselves this question when choosing designers, accountants, lawyers and many other service providers. So, how do you select an iPhone app development company to build your app? I know this question can be overwhelming and frustrating. Nowadays it seems like everyone offers the same thing which makes your decision even more difficult. In this blog post, I will point out the things you should think about when analyzing each iPhone app development company. (We’ll ignore cost because it’s pretty straightforward and a cost vs value debate can be very subjective).
1 — Experience
Most people would jump straight to how many years a company has been around, but I think it is more important to also look at what kind of experience they have. You should look at the scope/requirements of your app (e.g. functionality, audience, reach) and see what experience the company has developing similar apps. The company may not have experience building the exact same functionality, but you can look for commonality between your app and their portfolio. If you are unsure, ask the company how they can leverage their experience towards building your app!
It is also important how well the company can learn new concepts and adapt to changes on the fly. The reality is that during the design, development and testing of the app things will change and you need to know they can handle it.
Lastly, look at the projects in their portfolio and examine the user interface. Is it easy to use? Does it look friendly? Does it look good? The user interface is very important and can easily be the downfall of your app, so having a company that can create good user interfaces is essential.
A word on Innovation
Innovation can help skyrocket your app to new heights. Look at how the company has pushed the envelope and innovated in their past projects. Do they have a tendency to produce exciting new ways to do something or are they always thinking inside the box. Software gives you the chance to think outside the box and create wonderful tools and experiences. Is your development company taking full advantage of the entire range of possibilities?
2 — Relationship
It’s not all about cost or experience. Chemistry is just as important. If you can’t work together and understand each other then your project will likely fail. Like any other collaboration, you need to be able to get along and work together. How easy is to communicate with them, does their personality match yours, do you feel you would be able to spend a lot of time together, and would you feel comfortable giving or taking criticism from them?
I believe the best software is built when a collaborative approach is taken. The collaborative process begins from the very first conversation and dictates the entire process. App development companies should analyze your idea for crucial insights into feature functionality, technical feasibility and long-term strategies. They should work with you to bring as much of your vision as possible into the app development process.
A little note about someone copying your idea
It’s a very common conver that other people may copy your idea. However, ideas are rarely unique and chances are the app development company you are in discussions with has heard a version of your idea in the past. Not only that, an idea requires passion, industry expertise, investment and follow through to bear any fruit, so it usually isn’t valuable to a company on it’s own. It is important to realize an idea is not enough to be a successful business. Lastly, sharing your idea may improve your app through thoughtful discussion and feedback.
3 — Support and Changes
It is important to see what kind of support the development company will provide. One of the main things most people don’t realize is that iPhone apps need to be well maintained once the app is published. Bugs need to be addressed, design needs to be updated to follow the latest trends, and updates need to rolled out to maintain compatibility with other services such as social media or new hardware specifications. For example, the iOS 7 update made a lot of current apps look outdated, which reflects poorly on those apps and companies. Post-development support therefore becomes crucial to your application’s success in the App Store. Be thorough on the company’s post-development policies and do not enter an agreement unless you are sure they provide the kind of support you are looking for.
The Importance of Analytics
Analytics can give you powerful insights on how your app is doing, and how your users are interacting with your app. They provide critical clues on how to evolve and improve your app. Can your development company set that up for you? Do they know how to properly establish behavioural markers? You need data that you can understand to make important decisions such as which features to improve or add.
4 — Reputation
A company’s reputation is a great way to get know a company. By browsing through their testimonials and talking to previous clients you can learn more about a company operates, and gauge their customer satisfaction. Nowadays social media is also a great way to get to know a company. How do they interact with the public? What kind of tone and messages are they sharing? Do they match your vision? Another way to further differentiate companies is by their associations. Do they belong to reputable associations? A company’s reputation can be a great way to learn what working with a company may be like.
What is a successful app?
Another way is to look at their past apps and see what level of success they have attained. It is important to keep in mind that success is defined by the goal you are trying to achieve which may differ for each app (e.g. downloads, in-app purchases, or monthly subscribers). Reviews can be helpful, but keep in mind that bad reviews may not necessarily be the developer’s responsibility (for example, a client may choose to forgo support and leave their app’s issues unresolved). Although the developer is not 100% responsible for the popularity of an app it can also be an indicative of a good development company.
That’s the criteria we would use if we had to outsource our iphone app development: Experience, Relationship, Support and Reputation. What criteria do you use? Let us know in the comments below!