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How to Hire an App Development Company That Gets It Right

The fact is that most mobile app startups fail. Figures are different, but all the surveys tell us that the road to success is not easy and that it’s important to have a partner you can rely on. In many cases, it’s a development company. Yet, entrepreneurs are often hesitant about contacting an app development company for fear of the latter not being able to get the idea. Maybe it’s an unsatisfactory prior experience, or maybe the app’s concept seems too tricky. 

In this article, we are going to tell you what to look out for if you want to find and hire an app development company that understands you. Say you’ve already made a shortlist. What should you check?

Their Portfolio

First, before moving to more subtle considerations, let’s look at the most obvious one.

Looking through portfolios is a simple and effective way to increase the chances to find an app development company that would understand your meaning. And no wonder — if you see that they have already created something similar to your (future) product, you can be sure that they will at least know what you’re talking about and what factors to pay close attention to. What’s more is that, in this case, they are bound to have valuable experience — no need to spend a ton of time on business research. Plus, they already know what works and what doesn’t, having studies in detail the previous projects. 

Skimming through a company’s portfolio and case studies lets you understand their approaches and practices, skillsets, and capabilities before even contacting them. Read through the stories, and compare the apps and websites they made with their working versions to see how they’ve been holding up.

You can consider an IT vendor to be an experienced one after at least 5 years of continuous work on the market. You can also ask them to provide you with more examples of their work for each year of their professional activity to see whether they’re able to grow professionally.

Their Reviews

There are more and more ways and platforms to advertise with new ones emerging every few years. Still, consumers around the world trust word-of-mouth the most. So, another trustworthy source of information on a given app development company’s work is testimonials. These can be either on their own website or on third-party platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms that exist to help clients and vendors find each other and guarantee credibility of reviews on their resources.  

They usually organize reviews in the form of interviews asking clients about their businesses, client/company communication, results, and impressions from their cooperation. So, there’s an opportunity to know more about how the stages of project development usually go, whether the deadlines are met, how long the design takes to be approved, whether the vendor keeps all their promises, and more.

How Reliable They Are

This characteristic may be hard to determine, but there are “metrics” that can give you some ideas on the matter. Years of experience and awards can act as guide points. What’s more, these and similar characteristics are usually present on companies’ websites.

What about “big guys?” While checking the company’s portfolio, be sure to see if there they drop some names that look familiar to you. Or, in case it’s a specialized field if the partners mentioned, there are big even if you don’t know them. For example, many of our clients come from the world of art with CGMA and Proko among them. Both of these companies offer art courses albeit from different perspectives and for people with different needs. Still, both of them are very well known to any person who’s interested in taking online art courses.

The ability to cater to the needs of popular companies, and do it successfully for years on, tells a lot about the company’s potential to generate a consistent value for business and stay true to long-term commitments.

How They Choose Technologies and Trends

As a rule, software development companies have some specialization when it comes to technologies. Although, in the case of mobile app development, it might not be so distinct seeing that both iOS app development and Android app development usually involve a limited number of widely used languages, frameworks, and other tools.

Either way, pay attention to the way a company chooses what tech stack to use for your project and whether they follow recent trends or prefer to stick with the proven approaches. In truth, neither of those two are absolutely true. The true value of a professional is the ability to discern between the old and the new steering somewhere in middle.

The world of design and technology changes fast, some of its aspects more rapidly than others. Such as while the back-end technologies are susceptible to trends, they also are much more stable than the front-end that has little revolutions happen about every half-year with new frameworks and libraries appearing to steal the show. For example, our web development department is in constant learning of new libs and things. React Spring? We’ve got our tutorial for that, same as Framer Motion. At the moment, we are looking into the GreenSock JavaScript animation library; anything to stay up and running. This is because not being able to stay abreast with the changes means that the company will start to lag behind others and won’t be able to produce a relevant product.

At the same time, it’s not wise to follow the trends blindly just for the sake of them. You might end up sticking to hype approaches and tools that fall flat in the long run.

What About Flexibility?

This one is both about technical aspects of a company’s development process and their general ability to listen to you and make changes along the way. 

For example, the majority of today’s app development companies adhere to the Agile methodology. Knowledge of agile development techniques is a must for any software company to be able to adapt to clients’ plans and strategies and easily scale as their businesses grow. Even so, no two companies are alike even if they “profess” the same approach.

Take such a thing as the project’s specifications. Every project needs them in some form. There are companies that stick to very detailed specs that take months to write (usually it’s the case of big enterprise companies). Then, there are others that understand this term much more broadly and hate spending time on details preferring to do everything on the go (it’s often the case of startups). Both approaches are valid depending on the task.

At Shakuro, we have some documentation requirements that are mandatory but we don’t do ultra-detailed descriptions because they often end up redundant, are difficult to maintain, and are not useful. On the other hand, lightweight strategies that promote only using clickable prototypes have their drawbacks usually associated with the presence of hidden logic.

We do both and something in the middle. Specifically, we strive to come to a combination of a clickable prototype (in fact, our prototypes are usually so detailed that it’s enough to slightly adjust them to turn into finished designs) and basic documentation. “Basic” means that we write down fundamental points so that developers understand what they are doing, why it is necessary, and what non-obvious details are present.

So far, the results have been steady and encouraging.

All-Around Performance

This point refers to the design, testing, project management, and any other aspect of the app development besides the actual coding. There are several ways you can gauge it.

Check out their website (even if you are after the app). The company’s website is its window to the world. A software developer must have it modern, convenient, and able to showcase the capabilities.

There are quite a number of lists and ratings that evaluate studios according to different criteria. 

Good firms send their works to various competitions. For example, in the case of design, it’s Awwwards, FWA, CSS Design Awards. 

See If They Are Willing to Communicate

Right from the start, the first call with a sales manager of an app development firm, and especially later on when you start to connect with other team members, you should get a pretty straightforward idea of whether they are willing to understand your pain and goals to really help you. It doesn’t mean that they will do everything as you tell them to; the point is not whether they do everything by the list. The true goal matters. And, the means may change along the way.

Answering these questions may help you determine how dedicated an app development company is:

  • How willing are they to understand every little detail of your business?
  • How many questions do they ask?
  • Does it feel like they have a sincere desire to know your business and understand its values and goals?
  • Do they look passionate about what they do?
  • How do they describe the models of yours and their involvement? For example, many app development firms let customers speak directly with designers and developers if the process requires it and it benefits both sides.

These will show how much creative input a company’s representatives are ready to put into your app idea and the level of their critical thinking. The vendor’s desire to clarify with you all the nuances ensures the comfort of your further cooperation.

See If They Have a System

Ask your chosen company if they have a methodology that they use as a tool that helps them get into their clients’ minds. For instance, when starting to work on a new project, we strive to crystallize its idea and understand what needs to be done. Needless to say, it pays a lot in the end.

For that, we have a set of tools and guides for creative producers and project managers — people responsible for taking the clients’ thoughts, ideas, and aspirations and shaping them into a workable concept for designers, developers, and other team members.

Such materials never have finished forms, nor should they. As the market, economy, businesses, and the whole world around us are changing, so our company changes when it absorbs new attitudes and approaches on the quest to become a stronger and more reliable partner.

Are You on the Same Wavelength?  

Lastly, assess the likelihood of you simply and sincerely getting along well.

Read their blog, check out their social media, and speak to them. Their positioning and business outlook should match yours. In this case, as in an ordinary friendship between two persons, you need to like and fit each other. Otherwise, at some point, you will definitely go your separate ways.

Good interpersonal relationships between business partners directly affect the success of both parties. So, when an app development company and its staff genuinely care about a customer’s success, it is a game-changer. If a vendor is not really enthusiastic about your project and your business in the early stages of the collaboration, this should be a wake-up call for you.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” 

-Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker

Wrapping up 

As a house cannot stand (for long) on a foundation that’s shaky, so a project will fall apart if all the people involved don’t have a common ground. Thanks for reading!

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