According to a recent survey, there are close to 2.4 million mobile app developers (indie developers and professionals from companies combined) worldwide. This whopping figure is often a double-edged sword for people looking to make an app – since all developers are not (understandably) equally good, in terms of professional skill, experience, and even business sincerity. You will know that you have managed to come across a proficient app developer when:
- (S)he knows all about programming – For instance, an iPhone app development expert should have working knowledge of all the popular programming languages – before (s)he starts working with Objective-C and Swift 2.1 (his/her niche). If you get stuck with a bad programmer, your app might not see the light of day…ever!
- (S)he has ample RELEVANT experience – The keyword is ‘relevant’ over here. A person might have a decade of experience of making software for the Android platform – but delegating your iOS app project to him/her would be a folly. Look around for developers who have sufficient experience in handling app development projects similar to your own.
- (S)he is prompt in response – When you shortlist a few app companies and request for free app quotes from them – the last thing you want is having to wait for weeks before they get back to you. A company or a freelance app developer who responds to initial client queries within 24-48 hours (max.) is always preferable.
- (S)he has in-depth market knowledge – You spend days and weeks to nurture your app idea – the idea that you think is the most unique in the world. An experienced mobile app entrepreneur might, however, be able to point out that similar apps already exist at the stores. A developer worth his/her salt will always know whether a market gap exists where a particular app idea can fit in. Such a professional would never jump at making ‘me-too’ app projects – which are likely to be overlooked.
- (S)he stays updated with the latest mobile technology – iOS 9 is out, watchOS 2 is out, tvOS is out, Android 6.0 Marshmallow is out. New versions of the integrated development environments (IDEs) of both Apple and Google Android have been made available to developers as well. Stay well away from app-makers who do not have proper knowledge of the latest development tools, techniques and resources. If the knowledge-pool of a developer is static, the stuff (s)he churns out would be static as well.
- (S)he is not vague about anything – If the representatives of a mobile app company says that they will complete your project ‘very quickly’, or ‘as soon as possible’, run a mile from it. What you want is a specific deadline within which your project will be complete (this is particularly important as app development cycles are getting shorter). The same goes for the app development costs. Read the fine print, and if anything seems ambiguous, ask questions.
- (S)he has, and can prove, professional track record – Any random indie developer can say that (s)he has developed ‘X’ number of iOS or Android applications. However, only a genuine professional or app development company will actually be able to prove these claims. Never shy away from asking references of the previous clients of a developer company. If the latter is indeed good, it would be only too happy to provide you with such details.
- (S)he thinks from the user’s’ perspective – A great coder need not necessarily be a good mobile app developer. Newbies, in particular, have a tendency to try to showcase their coding expertise – and often end up making apps that are overly complicated and unusable. Always hire a developer who appreciates the fact that – if an app is not user-friendly, it is practically worthless. The ability of thinking from the perspective of target users is an important quality. Think of it this way – if a mobile app for kids cannot be operated by children on their own, of what use is it?
- (S)he is creative and systematic – Before you delegate your app project to a developer, inquire about how his/her team would be proceeding with the task. An expert app-maker will invariably show you a flowchart of how the development process would proceed – and how (s)he plans to meet the pre-specified deadline. In addition, find out what creative inputs the developer can add to your idea. Coding for apps is sheer drudgery for many people – you certainly do not want to end up hiring one of them!
- (S)he is receptive to feedback and suggestions – Even if you do not have the first idea about wireframing and creating app mockups, the process of making mobile applications should not be a veritable ‘black box’ to you. A bit of research will help you find many app companies, who regularly seek ideas, feedback and suggestions from their clients. Hiring such a company would be the best bet – if you want to transform your idea into an app in the way you want.
- (S)he does not demand hefty advance payments – Mobile app development is a specialized field of expertise, and a good developer would always know his/her worth. That, however, does not give the license to any company or freelance app developer to charge the entire fee (or a large chunk of it, anyway) in advance. There should be a proper payment schedule – with pre-determined percentages of the overall charge to be paid at different stages of the development process. Avoid making full payments before your app is complete.
- (S)he knows how to communicate – The relationship between an app developer and a client is one of mutual trust and understanding. That can easily break down if the former is unable – or is not willing to – communicate with you at regular intervals, providing updates and status reports on your project. From the first couple of email/telephonic interactions, you will get an idea regarding the communication skills of a mobile app professional. If things don’t seem suitable, look for another company.
- (S)he respects the intellectual property rights of the app owner – An Android or iPhone app developer is a hired professional working on your idea – nothing more, nothing less. At all points, you retain the ownership and all other intellectual property rights related to your app idea. Many app companies agree to sign non-competing documents at the time of providing app quotes. That’s a sign that there won’t be any intellectual property-related hassles in future.
- (S)he does not try to double up as the designer – There are two alternative scenarios here. First, if you have hired a freelance developer, (s)he should be collaborating with a professional graphic designer – while creating the interface and layout of your app. On the other hand, if you wish to do business with an app agency, make sure that it has separate personnel in charge of UI/UX designing, motion graphics and animation. Coding and designing are two entirely different, specialized fields – and different individuals/teams should be handling the two tasks.
- (S)he does not charge extra for app upgrades – For an app to enjoy sustained success (read: high download figures), it needs to have new versions coming out at regular intervals, with new features, bug fixes, additional platform support, etc. A developer is not supposed to charge you any extra amount of money for creating and releasing such upgrades. Get things clarified regarding this at the very outset.
A good mobile app developer would also be very particular about testing applications (on simulators and devices), before submitting them at stores. If you wish to create a mobile game, look for specialized game development experts – instead of general app developers. Making a mobile app becomes a lot simpler, safer and assured – when you have a good developer working for you.
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