One of the greatest concerns to most marketers wanting to go mobile, is what to consider when choosing a supplier for developing their mobile app or mobile site. Based on our own experience we’ve made a 9 point list that should always be taken into account. These tips cover any mobile service development whether it is apps, mobile websites or a bit of everything.
1. Past portfolio / achievements including relevant experience
Make sure they have relevant experience in your industry and that they can demonstrate the apps that they claim to have developed. If you are the first customer in an industry segment for them, then make sure that they are willing to learn and understand your industry.
2. Availability and timeline
When are they available to start the project and can they deliver according to your timelines? Are the timelines realistic. Remember that development is usually only 50% of the overall project when you take into account graphical design, user journeys, system design, quality assurance, acceptance and appstore uploads or deployment.
3. Customer service and responsiveness
How quick are they to respond to your brief, e-mail and phone calls. A company or individual that is slow to respond to a brief will most likely be even slower to deliver the project and get back to you if something goes wrong. Proactivity is key.
4. User experience expertise (ability to get one-stop solution)
Do they have user experience designers in the team or will they only do exactly what you tell them to do in terms of design and user experience? Do you want to work with people that come up with suggestions to improve the user experience as they go along? Working with user experience specialists can be the make or break for success.
5. Methodology for Quality assurance (Fragmentation kills in Android, and QA plays extremely important role)
Do they have a quality assurance process during development, prior to releasing the service to you and for acceptance? Do they have enough devices available for testing to ensure that it works across e.g. all iOS versions, Android versions and hardware configurations that are being used today. Don’t forget that something that works on an Android 2.3 device by Samsung may not work on a LG Android 2.3 device.
6. Proprietary Technology and Intellectual Property Rights
Who owns the design and source code after the project. Will you get full access to the source code? Is it documented so that you can use it with other developers? Will you have to pay license fees for any part of the technology? Will you depend on proprietary technology by the developer in the future? Many app developers have their own in-house solutions to simplify cross-platform development and maintenance. Make sure that you understand what the future dependencies are.
7. Post launch support
Will the agency be able to support you after launch of the app or mobile website with distribution and promotions, updates, maintaining the app (ensuring that it works for new OS versions) and generally ensure that your mobile service improves over time. Do they offer you an SLA for this?
8. Reference from past customers
Portfolio examples and experience is one thing but to find out that they’ve actually done the work and that they’ve done it well you should speak to a couple of their clients. Make them give you a list of 5 to pick from and contact 2 of them.
9. Cost and cost breakdown
Generally you will get what you pay for when it comes to app and mobile website development if the other 8 criteria above are fulfilled. If you want someone that does all the work for you, delivers quality and great user experience, meets agreed timelines and fulfills your overall objectives then you need to pay the price for a premium agency. If you are willing to take more risk, dedicate your own time to specifications, design, trouble shooting and testing then you can try a lower cost option such as off-shoring or using freelancers. No matter what you chose, make sure that you get a breakdown of the resources involved in the project including project management, UX/Design, System Design, Development, Quality Assurance, Distribution and Operations.