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  • Writer's pictureLeo J Barnett

How to Choose the Right Mobile App Developer


How to Choose an app developer

For your project to be a success you need the right mobile app developer by your side to bring it to life exactly the way you want and need. They need to feel like your team, your partners and somewhat friends to have the best experience. Your vision, is their vision, and a great development team will only enrich that vision alongside you. Bad app developers will slow you down, suck the energy out of you and cost you more money than you'd planned. Take the time to make the right choice! Here we cover: 1. Know what you want - Make an App Brief 2. Where can I find mobile app developers? 3. First things to check 4. Communication 5. Time & Costs Estimates 6. Green & Red Flags 7. Development Agency vs in-house 8. Conclusion #1 Know what you want - Make a Brief You've had the epiphany or pinpointed the exact problem you're looking to solve and know the solution. A beautiful app! Or perhaps you're changing app developers? Be ready to present this validated vision to developers with a brief and make it super easy to understand. If it's not validated yet and you're still thinking what's best, we're here to help. We love this ideation phase and helping you navigate the best routes forward. An early basic brief should include: 1. A One Page Overview A brief sentence or two on each: - What is it? - Who is it for? - How will it work? - Why? - Anything similar existing apps? - Link to them - Features within existing apps? - Screenshot and add them - Forecasted Budget: This will help the developer assess the best strategy for you. - Key Goals: E.g. Build MVP to raise further investment, full working version to make revenue, Full solution to fix in-house problem. - Designs: At this point you may have tailored app designs ready to share! This is extremely helpful for developers to make best estimate and understand your vision. This may be in the form of hero screens (3 key screens) or full wireframes. We can help with all of this at leojbarnett.co 2. List of Key Requirements Keep it simple! A list in excel is perfect. Try and divide this up by Essentials and Nice to have. Essentials are what your first version must have to be valuable to users. "Nice to haves" are future thinking concepts that can wait until the essentials are built and live. Essential examples: - User logins via Apple & Android - Profile pages - Browse classes - Book a class - Control payments - Favourites area etc etc Nice to have examples: - Video calling trainers - Custom Social matchmaking algorithm - Dark mode (trust us, this isn't essential in V1!) etc etc List out as much as you can. A great development team will help you assess this and add or remove anything that's necessary. With your one pager and requirements list ready, it's time to start find your app developers. 3. Create a Pitch Deck The final perfect piece would be a pitch deck to go alongside all of this. A development team can get the clearest vision on product and business model. leojbarnett.co is an expert pitch deck creator and been behind many successful raises through decks that have raised hundreds of thousand. #2 Where can I find Mobile App Developers? 1. Search Google, Clutch, Linkedin "App design and development", "App developers near me", "App development services" etc 2. Create posts on startup job sites AVOID sites like Upwork and Fiverr. These are often full of cheap, low quality developers that will make your thousand promises and never deliver. Have heard many stories! Workinstartups.com is a great site and would also advise Linkedin posting. 3. Attend tech meetup events Meetup.com and Eventbrite.co.uk have many tech events listed that you can attend for free in the tech scene to get mingling with developers. They can however be very time consuming and inconsistent with who's there. 4. Personal Recommendations Can't really beat this option! Know someone who's got an app already? Speak to them! If they vouch for someone this is always the best option as long as they have the experience you need. #3 What to Check First! 1. Testimonials from real clients and people? No stock image faces or generic words of praise, check the names and companies used through Linkedin. No testimonials? Move on! Unless they have projects super similar to yours. Good Testimonials? Amazing. The more the better. They may also have a Clutch profile. This is a great place to check real in-depth reviews from happy clients. SPEAK to these clients and people! They will be a true guiding light in how the developers truly operate by what they have to say. 2. Check their work is actually live There are many many app development agencies out there that have beautiful fancy websites as mentioned and a range of projects with apps popping out all over the place but when you try and view them....SHOCK... they don't exist or they're not live. Start trying to tap through to the projects and search them in the Appstore. Are they there? If not, they may never have been developed or were abandoned. Be cautious here. 3. Found live projects? Check the Quality! Yes there may be apps live but do they work? This is the only true way to test app developer quality first hand. Download and get it your hands. Does it feel like a flawlessly functioning app or is it a mess? Can you get past the login screen? Is it slow? Has it crashed on you? 4. Check the AppStore Reviews. What are people saying? A red flag is no ratings or even worse, ratings lower than 3 stars. It should feel like something you love using and want to create a similar experience to. Read the comments of reviews to see what users really think. Be cautious of fake reviews too. These should be easy to spot. 5. Check for Similar work! Ideally you want a developer with experience in an area similar to yours. They will be able to utilise their experience in your niche to make the best decisions and replicate functions to suit your project. Have they built platforms? Booking systems? Mapping features? Video tech? The more experience that have building similar features to what you need the better.
6. How big is the team? Do they have a team big enough for your project? Can you speak with the people that will be doing the work? You'll want them to have a mix of designers and senior to mid level developers working together to craft the vision. Hopefully with lots of experience working directly with each other too. #4 How's Communication? OK so you've narrowed things down. Time to get in touch! Shoot an email with your brief or a say you'd love to have a call to discuss. How responsive are they? Are they just asking what your budget is? Have they asked if you've validated the app and business? Will they always be a quick message or call away? It's important they can always be at your side. They should care about business objectives not just technical. They have to be aligned with mission and be your biggest cheerleader. Great developers will be behind the mission not just the build. Fluency in English shouldn't be overlooked. The is incredibly important in tech as small miscommunication can lead to time consuming problems that east up budget in the long run. Alongside this your development team should be energetic about the project and mission and be fun to work with. You'll be spending a lot of time with them. Enjoying the rare journey of building an app should be a time to cherish. Great developers that work with many entrepreneurs have a real unique insight into the journeys of founders. From that experience there is some solid business wisdom and they will happily share it to ensure you're always on the right track. At leojbarnett.co we've worked with an eclectic range if clients and will always give our thoughts and consultation alongside development. We often introduce founders to each other as well as out wider network in everything else. We always want the best for you and want to win alongside you. #5 Time & Cost Estimates Typically they should want to know you've got a crystal clear vision of the app, validated and fully designed before jumping into development. Rough estimates can always be given but it's wise to get some initial designs and key requirements list ready to make these as accurate as possible. Only trust a developer that makes you fully aware of this. Be cautious of developers that name a random figure without much in-depth research on your project. A great developer will help you asses priorities for the project depending on your goal. You should be presented cost & times in a super easily digestible format with a full break down on features and specific areas. #6 Green & Red Flags to look out for: Green Flags: - They care if you've validated your idea or not. - Talk specifically about problems you're solving and how they've worked on similar projects. - Present and sign contract / work agreement stating your ownership of code. - Set up a work environment (Github) owned and managed by you so you always have full access to the code. - 5 Star reviews, ratings across multiple apps. - Active on Linkedin. Proud and vocal about work. Red Flags: - Can't provide references. - Can't introduce to developers. - Send estimates too quickly. - Say yes to everything. Devils advocates are great in tech!- Do't ask about business requirements. - Cheap or undercutting on price - You get what you pay for! #7 Development Agency vs in-house Developers Why work with a development agency over finding co-founders or in house developers? - Vast experience in technical abilities as well as unique business insights. - Bigger teams with more fire power makes it efficient to scale. - Consistent support and open communication channels. - Low risk of vanishing. Putting all your eggs in one basket can be risky. There's various points of contacts at an agency to answer questions and give support when you need. - 65% of high-potential startups fail due to conflict among co-founders. If you're considering an in-house developer I'd strongly suggest bringing an agency on board to the project to act as a "B team" incase you were to lose your developer. They'll be able to push things forward when you need it an assist in a handover as you find a new in house CTO. #8 Conclusion This is a big decision and not one to rush if you can avoid it. We'd love to work with you at leojbarnett.co. We have vast experience and all the green flags you could expect.
As well as making world class apps loved by users, we can actually innovate. Our Apps have been featured worldwide by Apple and get used every day by very happy users. We love truly thinking to make whatever it is you're making something truly special. We have the Design and App development talent to do that. Come make an app and enjoy the journey with end to end consultation and support. Whatever stage you're at in your journey Get in touch and we'll guide you however we can! Leo ******** More Essential Reading for App Founders:

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