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13 May 2014

How choose the right App Development Agency or Company

San Francisco has no shortage of talented software engineers and custom mobile app development agencies to choose from, but how do you make the choice?

If you do a search a mobile design or development company to help you build your idea into a viable product, there is not a lack of agencies in the technology space to choose from.   There are thousands of companies ranging small one developers to large 300 person operations who all would love to have your business.  If you look at image above it gives back 4,950,000 search results yikes!

So as the customer looking for the right software agency to hire and possibly partner with, this process can be a little scary and confusing to say the least.  Let’s be realistic you are not going shopping for a new pair of running shoes, deciding (the first time of) what mobile app development agency will be the correct fit to partner with and help bring your idea or vision into a useful mobile product can actually be a defining make or scenario for overall success of your app product.

Be smart and ask the right questions   

First off in the first phone call or contact you are going to have to go over the fundamentals or basics like the project’s timeline, scope of development work and of course the cost, but its not that easy finding the right strategic partner goes way more in depth than that.   Here is a blueprint of more intelligent questions most asked by our success clients,  that I would ask,  if I was looking an app company to code something for me.  First question you should ask is.

What is the goal or desired outcome of my mobile app product?  

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This particular question sounds like something that the design company should be asking you (which of course they should), but the perfect dev agency partner  will understand your product on all levels, like the user or business world problems you are trying to solve, and the objections, fears, and wants of your target users.  Only then can they design and build a product with you that will become popular and that people will actually find fun or useful to use.

How would you improve or change the vision of my product?    

You are looking to hire or partner with highly skilled software engineers right?  Do you want a “Yes Sir” robotic agency that is just going only listen and take orders without giving any ideas or suggestions, or is it better to hire one that is going to earn their worth with using their expertise and technology development experience to help you shape and make your vision come life in a better way?

Well hopefully you choose the second one,  which they should be able able to give you logical suggestions or feedback on how if it was their product they might do things slightly different in some way. Even if don’t agree with their perspective, you get idea to their problem solving and software development process, (which this something that Google asks job applicants about problem solving skills) which will give you a great deal of insight into the brilliance (or lack there of) of the engineers you are going to pay thousands of dollars to bring your baby to life.

Who specifically on your team is going to be working on my product?     

Many talented agencies of have very smart leaders running the operation, they will be able to tell you all it.   Now when it comes down to the actual who is going to be writing code to build your app? Is it going to be an in house developer who has computer science degree maybe even a PHD, have they solved complex projects before, similar to one you looking to get built? Does this design team have any understanding of how to build interaction flows that will engage its users?  Or is a outsourced low quality developer from across the world, that is working for 10 dollars an hour reporting to the agency that won your business?

There are plenty of quality agencies that can use a mixture of both business models ( and if your budget is your number 1 priority then you might end be speaking to the ones that outsource everything), but it is very important to know and find out who going to be touching your product, what can you expect from the relationship with your development agency, in regards to communication and success rates etc.

Case Studies: What kind of results have your past clients achieved?   

Every development agency will list their client portfolio’s which is good but does not always tell the end result of the story.  This development company may have coded and built some nice looking mobile apps, but that is not real goal of enterprise mobility, right?  But the real goal of established company or up and coming start-up is to built an app that will eventually have lots of users, revenue, and then maybe funding.. these are the measurable and tangible goals not something that just looks beautiful.

Agencies that know how to help you achieve these goals, and have helped other customers of theirs do so, will be very happy to share their success stories with you.   This is going be a better judge on the return on investment you hope to receive by choosing them as a strategic partner, rather than some design award they may have won. Today a technology product is nothing without scalability.  Nowadays it’s important to design an interface that will make a product relevant and intuitive for people to use that will also demonstrate fairly quickly its value as a brand.

Very Important tip-know what to listen for  

If you are going to be spending anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 it is in your very best interests to interview several agencies and have as many conversations as possible until you feel comfortable.  Since this going to be a large investment knowing the right questions to ask is crucial and also knowing how to decipher what each company is telling about the process.  You should not just analyze the answers they give to your questions but in everything they say. Who is it most about in the talks you or them? In your talks, is the dev company mostly just talking about themselves?  If this the case proceed with caution.

The right mobile development partner will focus on you what you are trying to accomplish, and even if they mention things about themselves it will in the context of how the can solve your potential problems and make your app more successful.   As an example, which of these two statements will give you a better understanding as to what you could expect if choose to go with them?

“We worked with Sugarbowl ski Resort and Leapfrog, Check it out isn’t it wonderful”  or is this more useful  “ we may run into similar challenges regarding computer vision optimization features like virtual touch and screen capture like we did with the gaming company Kungfu Skeeter, we suggest using C++ for portability and building it through an IOS framework with an API”

A confident agency will be ready and even suggest you contact some of their happiest clients before you even have to ask for references.   Go on an even deeper level, after you tell about your app project and depending if you need an app that is going use embedded device development as an example, the perfect agency will custom tailor the references they give to you with other companies that they built products with similar challenges and product features.   So that you can be confident that they actually can design and code what they say they can.

Get more than one opinion before deciding  

The advice we are giving in this blog should be able to get you to point of knowing which firm is going to be the right fit. The reason we telling so much is be we are transparent confident software and technology consulting agency.   Don’t just get one opinion.   Talk to another developer.   Even if think you feel comfortable with the current mobile app development firm, you do not have completely trust everything they say.  Chances are you can find people on Linkedin, or talk people in your circles who know people that have titles like “Chief Product officer”  or “Senior Product Manager” as an example.  You may be able to hire them to evaluate a few proposals’ for you on a consulting basis (especially if you pay them).  A few hundred hours for an hour or two of their time could potentially save you tens of thousands dollars by helping you pick  the most qualified design agency to build and bring your product to market.   You don’t want to half to switch developers halfway through the project.   

Now You Are Ready to Get Started   

If you have done your investigations and research, asked the important questions and taken the proper steps to evaluate the development agency proposals you have gotten, you should be an educated position to make a wise decision on which company will be the perfect fit to turn your idea and vision into a product that will be useful and eventually win.

Contact us to get started or to discuss your next mobile app idea.