Mobile application development has emerged as a potentially lucrative business. High-quality, user-friendly apps, published under your name, can enjoy handsome download figures on Google Play Store and/or iTunes – helping you make pretty decent profits. Finding and hiring a third-party company for developing the apps you require is hardly a tough ask either – thanks to the presence of them virtually everywhere. Not all of these mobile app companies are equally sincere and efficient though, and you need to be wary of such sub-standard agencies. The following tips would prove handy in this regard:
1. Check the company’s track record – On the website of any proper mobile app development company, you will get information on the number of years it has been operating, the number of applications it has already created, and other pertinent details. Avoid selecting a startup company, and go for one with at least five/six years of successful track record. It’s not that a new company cannot be efficient – but a firm with more experience is likely to be handle your app project better. Why take a chance?
2. Ask for a free quote – In case there are no such provisions, start looking for another company. Unfortunately, there are companies that charge relatively high fees – simply to provide price quotes and estimates on customized mobile apps. Steer clear of them, if you do not want to unnecessarily add to the app development costs (which, in any case, won’t be too low!). Make sure that you get the free quotes within a couple of days (at maximum).
3. Check the contact details – It is always a good idea to pay a visit to the office of the app development company which you are planning to hire. However, that might not always be possible (you might have selected a firm from another city/country) – and that’s precisely where the importance of having all the contact details comes into the picture. Apart from the postal address, the company you select should also have its phone and fax number(s), email address(es) and Skype id (if available) present on its website. It would be best if you place a test call and send a test mail – just to check that the provided information is indeed valid.
4. Inquire about the portfolio – It is always more advisable to opt for a firm that has expertise on cross-platform mobile app development – instead of one that specializes on creating apps for a single mobile platform (for instance, iOS). Of course, if you require custom applications for two or more platforms, looking for different companies for the same would be a waste of time. A company that regularly develops iPhone, Blackberry and Android apps can become your long-term business partner too.
5. Check out clients’ testimonials and feedback – You can do it in two ways. First, check the website of the company that has caught your fancy – and go through the client testimonials published on it (practically every mobile company has a ‘Testimonials’ page). If you find video testimonials, listen to them carefully. With spam online marketing not being uncommon, it also makes sense to read the feedback on some of the company’s apps left at the online stores. Remember, a company can always publish fake feedback on its website – the reviews from iTunes and Play Store are probably much more authentic.
6. Avoid falling for companies that ask for hefty upfront payments – Making tall claims does not cost a thing, and there are fraudsters on the lookout to impress clients with extravagant promises, and then, extracting big advance payments from them. Do not select a company that asks for even token amounts BEFORE they have started working on your project. Payments should either follow a stage-wise schedule, or be made after the app has been developed. Clarify all details on this issue at the very outset.
7. Ask about the intellectual rights – Apart from minutely reading the ‘Terms & Conditions’ page of your chosen company’s website, you should ask its representatives about this too. Once the app you require has been created and delivered, you should retain all ownership and intellectual property rights on the same. The mobile app developers you had hired should retain no claims on the application, once the final payment has been made.
8. Ask for a written contract – While doing business with anyone, the trust-factor definitely matters. However, verbal promises and assurances count for nothing in the professional world. Once you zero in on a smartphone app company, ask the officials over there to provide you a copy of the contract for your project. Find out whether the name of the app, the development tools to be used, the cost of the development process, and other general/technical details are mentioned clearly. You do not want to get into a round of confused haggling later on!
9. Stay in constant touch – Even if you do not have much (or any!) knowledge about the technical aspects of mobile app development, you should have an idea about how the company is going about your project. A responsible mobile company would periodically show you wireframes and mockups of your application, get them approved, and then proceed to develop the final prototype. If possible, show the wireframes to a knowledgeable third-party expert – to make sure that the app is indeed being made in the way you want.
10. Make sure that the app has been tested – The more carefully the mobile app testing phase is carried out, the higher becomes its chances of getting approved at the online stores. Stay away from companies that promise to deliver applications within unnaturally short deadlines, and neglect the testing part to live up to their claims. Find out whether the app has been tested on the cloud network as well as in a focus group, before paying for it. Get the app installed in your own smartphone and activate it for a trial run. That would automatically reveal whether there are bugs present or not.
11. After-sales service matters – Just because an app does not crash during the first few times does not necessarily mean that it won’t develop technical snags later on. Make sure that you can contact the app developers immediately, if and when such problems indeed do crop up. If you have chosen a reliable, sophisticated mobile app agency, it will have dedicated social media pages on channels like Facebook and Twitter. You can convey the type of help you require via these platforms too. Calling and/or sending emails for troubleshooting is, of course, the best option.
Do not assign your app development project to any company that would delegate the task to another, obscure third-party firm. Ideally, your chosen team of app developers should be able to help in promoting your app on iTunes and Play Store too. It’s easy to prepare a shortlist of mobile companies that seem reliable – the onus is on you to find which one would be best suited to cater to your requirements.