Tips for finding a mobile application development / web development company that is right for you
In this digital age, taking in to consideration the huge variations in prices from one web development company to the next, web development and application development is a highly convoluted area. There are thousands of budding new development companies joining the market every day and a lot of them are inexperienced or have jumped on the bandwagon to make a quick buck. When developing your website or application, it is quite common for you to never actually meet the person who is developing it. Therefore it is very important that you know what to look out for, can recognize potential ‘red flags’ and how to separate the genuinely professional application and web development companies from those who are unlikely to deliver on your request.
Here are a few tips on how to find out if the mobile application company will :
- Successfully deliver on your website development or application development project.
- Meet your deadlines effectively.
- Ensure that your website or application is error free and working correctly.
- Follow logical project management steps to ensure the website or application is built correctly.
Initial contact with the web/mobile application development company
When dealing with the web development / mobile application company for the first time, here are the main things that should be covered, both from the customer’s standpoint and the developer’s:
- The mobile application / web development company should always offer to contact you either by phone or via email to discuss your plans for the project at no cost to you.
- The web development company should always conduct a preliminary ‘discovery’ meeting, where they will go through the overall plans for the project, application or website functionality, timescales, general website or app design and they should also offer up clear and concise advice and recommendations with the minimum of technical jargon. This should also be at no cost to you.
- When speaking to the mobile application development company, the customer should always find out:
- How long the company has been in business, where the company is based and if the company is registered in the country they are in.
- What work they’ve done in the past (such as websites they have online and applications they have on app stores. If the company has their link at the bottom of the websites or applications they’ve developed, that is a strong sign of their authenticity).
- If they have any references or received any recommendations that they can show you. Ask if there is a previous client you can speak to before making a payment.
- The project payment structure. This will vary from company to company. It is common to make up front payments in the industry – however it should be clearly defined, in the form of a contract, as to what will be done upon each payment. The customer should NEVER pay for the full project up front. The full payment should be split in to manageable payments. If you are in any doubt as to whether the company is above board, do NOT make a payment. Remember that the development company is there to work for you and should be willing to make certain concessions and work hard to get your business.
- What the overall plan of the project is. The website or application development company should be able to give you a clear understanding of what the project will entail. For example, they should specify the technological platform they plan on using for the website or application, they should give clear information as to what the website or application will look like and the different types of functionality available (more on this later).
- Who you will be dealing with on the project. It is very common in the industry, to deal with a project manager, therefore that person should be knowledgeable and capable.
- What the projected timescale is. It is normally safer to ask how long it will take (approximately) in working days.
- Use your gut instinct to determine if the person you are speaking to is honest, forthright and doesn’t evade questions.
- You should always expect a strong customer service ethic and the guarantee of a high quality product.
At the start of the mobile application or website application project
Before paying for your project to start, you should always receive an overview of the project plan, a proposal and terms and conditions in writing. This will give you a strong idea of how your project will be managed.
This will contain an explanation of everything that the customer needs to be done. This is ordinarily what is detailed in the management report.
It should also contain:
- The terms and conditions (how long you have to get coding errors fixed, how many changes you can make to the system before you need to start paying for them etc.)
- An overview of the project plan.
- The amount of working days the project will take to complete (approximately).
- Any discounts that may be offered (and the terms and conditions of those discounts).
- The full price split in to manageable payments.
The project itself
Project management varies a great deal depending on the size of the project, however nearly all information technology projects will require the following phases to be carried out:
Application or website documentation (where necessary)
This normally contains:
- Every page title that will be included in the website or mobile application and a brief description of the page.
- The functionality the website or mobile application will contain. It is very important this is explained in full as there are numerous functions and styles that can be included in the application or website, and they generally affect the price. A few of these are:
- Screen sizing
- An events calendar
- A rotating image banner
- An e-commerce section
- An advertising banner
- A sign in section
- A permissions section
- A contact form
- A donations section
- Social media linking
Upon payment of the first installment, your project gets underway.
There are a few key phases that all website and application development projects will always contain. These are the main steps, in order:
Wireframes are normally an outlined ‘sketch’ of what each page; of the website or application, will look like. This is ordinarily done using certain software – and can also be done using Photoshop. They give the customer the opportunity to move things around on the screen and make changes to screens where necessary, and to get an overall idea of what the screen will look like upon completion.
This is the main area for the customer to discuss and make changes.
Website / Mobile Application Design
This is the design of the screen once all the colours and the company logo has been added. This should be exactly what the site or application should like on the screen or device, when it is officially ‘live’ (on the web or on a mobile device).
Website / Mobile Application Development
This is the website or application coding that ensures the site/application functionality works correctly.
Error testing and fixing
All information technology projects should be thoroughly tested to make sure they work correctly. They should be tested on all the main browsers (Chrome, Safari, Explorer, Firefox) and the functionality should be checked, to ensure that you can, for example, add an event to the events calendar and it saves correctly or log in to the site and add your details or add permissions to a certain document so that only designated users can see it, etc.
The company should offer a period of at least 30 days for the customer to use the site and to fix any coding errors found.
For more information on how ACT Mobile Solutions works, please visit our Mobile Applications page.
Some of these points are common sense, but if you follow this checklist you should be able to determine the best mobile application developer/website developer for your needs:
- Always have a lengthy ‘discovery’/introductory meeting with the developer.
- Never pay for anything until you feel completely comfortable that they are ‘on the level’.
- Ask general questions about the company, including what they have developed in the past (do they have links at the bottom of the site or application?). Do they have references you can speak to/email?
- Determine whether you were getting straight, honest answers.
- What project steps will they take for your project (Report, Wireframes, Design, Development, Error testing etc.)?
- Have they provided you with a contract, a project plan, a proposal and terms and conditions?
- What’s the general timescale for the completion of each phase and the project in its entirety?
- Does the cost seem reasonable for the work that is to be done and the professionalism, size, location of the organization?
*Please note: Information Technology/development costs vary significantly from company to company, the country they are in, overheads and size of company. You will most likely be quoted very low and very high prices, depending on who you talk to. If you look for:
- Customer service and a product guarantee
- Initial work carried out without the expectation of payment
- Knowledgeable staff
in the individuals you speak to, that should be enough to determine the company is legitimate.