Avoid being a Mobile App Horror Story

In Education // By

Recently I met a new client who had already hired a app developer for his project. The problem was, after thousands of dollars and months of delays, he has nothing to show for it. And this could very easily happen to you!

I am running into more and more clients everyday that have had bad experiences for a range of different reasons. Some have dealt with larger companies here in the city and ended up with a useless app, other have hire ‘coders’ and ended up way over budget with lengthy delays.

The big question is, How do you choose an app development company?

#1 – Portfolio

Never hire a app developer without a portfolio! This might seem like common sense, but most people end up hiring the first company they reach out to and buy based on personality! 75% of the time, they don’t even bother to do a bit of research to see previous apps they have built.

Three simple ways to understand their portfolio:

  • Does their website have a portfolio of apps? If they do not have any apps to show you, then this is not a good sign from the start! Every developer is proud of their apps no matter the quality. Lots of time and energy is put into every app (no matter how small), which makes it a success story when it gets published!
  • Are the names of the apps clear, and can you find them on the app store? Some developers just show a picture of apps they have copied from other websites. I have seen a few local companies trying to break into the market by using a bait and switch technique, pretending to have apps they have built when really they are just images they have copied.
  • Take 5 minutes and install 2-3 of their apps! Just by installing 2-3 of their previous apps, you can get a good feeling for their quality of work. Also you can quickly see how their finished products come out. Is this final product something you want, and something your company would be proud to publish?

#2 – Experience

Many app developers I have run across this past year do NOT have the experience in the industry, which sadly will lead you astray. The problem is that you will be the one paying for the lesson; in time and money. Very recently I ran across a local charity that was building a API for donations, the problem is that it was developed with 19 year old principals which are rarely used today in the app industry. I am sure in 12 months time when they will realize this, they will regret the advice they were told before the project.

Two quick ways to see if they are experienced enough:

  • How long have you been in the IT industry? If they have been working totally different industries and only recently got into IT, they might be lacking the hands on experience you need. While it’s important that they have many years in the industry, its also just as important to make sure they are up to date with all the new technology changes.
  • How many languages and platforms have you worked with? Over the past 20 years I have worked with over 50 different languages, because almost every platform has its own languages. While transition from one to another is not difficult, having that experience sure helps ensure things are designed correctly from the start.

#3 – Developers

Does the company have developers here in town, or are they all overseas and outsourced? Just from asking this question, you can quickly understand the company better. If they are a new firm, and all their developers are outsourced, then they might not have the experience or knowledge needed for your project. While this can put hurdles into your project, at the end of they day you are most likely overpaying for something you could get cheaper for the same quality.

Two easy questions to ask:

  • Am I able to meet with your developers? I personally feel that meeting with your developers is a key part of your project. They are going to be the ones creating your app, so why not open lines of communication just to enable better transparency.
  • Are your developers outsourced? While this is not always bad, it will add additional delays and problems to your project. One very common issue is time delay when you have problems. Imagine having your app live, and then some problem brings it to a screaming halt, and now you have to wait 12-24 hours before they can get ahold of the developer to fix the problem.

#4 – Templates

MOST companies I see around town are just reselling template apps. While these may work for smaller companies, they are a far cry from a custom apps! Any development company that is selling templates and has no custom apps to show you, may not be the best company to develop your custom app.

Two things to look out for:

  • All their apps are the same! Companies that have no development experience, will only be dealing with template apps. Almost all their apps with be the same looking, or have very similar layouts.
  • Source Code! Ask if you will own the source code when your app is done. Almost every template app does NOT have source code, only the finish product. The problem with this, is not you are tied into that developer for life. And if you want changes in your app, only they can do it. Once you move to a different developer, then all of that is a waste and you must start from scratch.

While there are many great companies out there, over the past 12 months I have seen a large influx of startup getting into this industry. I hope you are now able to distinguish the difference and have a better insight of what to look out for when you talk to a app developer. Hopefully I can educate more people, and avoid more of these horror stories I am hearing more often.