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5 Questions to Ask App Development Companies

June 11, 2015

You’re ready to create an app for your brand, and to get the best possible results you’ve decided to hire a team of software engineering consultants. The question is: which experts should you choose?

App development is a booming business. Over the past four years, mobile use has grown five times, and apps are predicted to hit over $70 billion in revenue by 2017. The number of app developers is growing as well, with registered iOS developers alone just shy of 10 million.

It's important to ask your app development company the right questions.

Before committing to a project that may run into the tens or hundreds of thousands, it’s essential to conduct a thorough interview to find a consulting team that’s the right fit for your needs. Here are a few of the most important questions you should be asking.

1. What is your agency’s backstory?

Inquiring about the company’s history and asking for testimonials from past clients can give you insight into how much relevant experience the firm has, and whether they’ve successfully pulled off similar projects in the past.

Another big point to clarify is exactly who will be doing the work. In-house design and usability teams are always a big plus, because you’ll be working with a cohesive team of experienced experts instead of individual freelancers who may have never worked together before.

2. What are your services?

The next step is to find out if the firm has the technical capabilities required to create an app with the feature set you are seeking. For instance, if you want an app that can send promotional offers to a user when they are within a certain radius of your store, you’ll need a firm that’s familiar with incorporating Bluetooth Low-Energy technology into their apps.

Which platforms do they develop apps for? Do they develop native apps, apps using a cross-platform mobile framework, HTML5 apps, or HTML5 apps in native wrappers? How do they handle capabilities that are available on one platform but not another? Getting to know the tools and frameworks they use will help you understand their skills and limitations.

3. What is your process — and why?

Ask them to describe each phase of the development process, from planning and discovery all the way to testing and deployment. Do they use rapid prototyping during the design process? How often do their engineers, product managers, and designers actually get their hands on the app throughout the development process?

Ask for a typical case study to show you how they’ve approached app design in the past. Case studies are a great tool for ensuring that your working styles are compatible.

4. How will we work together?

Asking about communication processes is another way to ensure compatibility.

How often and by what means will they keep in touch? How is communication handled if any issues come up between meetings?

It’s important to get to know each other and clearly define work and communications processes so you can get your working chemistry right off the bat and successfully integrate their processes into your workflow.

5. What happens after the app is released?

One crucial but often forgotten part of the app development process is maintenance and updates.

In order to improve and update the app, analytics need to be collected. How can users submit crash reports and feedback, and how often their feedback be reviewed? How often will updates be released?

It’s tempting to choose an app development company based on questions about budget, but before budget talks, be sure to ask the right questions to find out whether the firm is a good fit for your company’s needs, brand, and work style.

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