Run This Checklist before Hiring an App Development Agency
So you’re lying wide awake in bed. It’s 2 in the morning, and you just can’t seem to fall asleep. Your mind’s wandering: “Did I leave the fridge door open?” or “What a stellar performance that was by Federer in the Men’s Open”.
Before you know it, you start to get other ideas, interesting ones; ideas about how “awesome” or how perfect your next app is going to be. Well, try not to lose too much sleep over it as you’ll need to hire a developer to custom design your app.
As you start looking for an app development company, you must do a little research beforehand. Here is a checklist to get your compass pointing in the right direction.
1. Clearly Define Your App Idea
Effectively getting your app idea across starts with an elevator pitch: a 30-second briefing or summary of your app’s capabilities and why the idea is worthy enough to make millions. Keep it short and don’t overcomplicate things; it should be simple enough for even a non-technologically savvy person to understand.
Depending on the amount of features you want implemented in the app, the development cycle could get considerably lengthy for the developer. That shouldn’t, however, deter you from making your app a feature-rich (within reasonable limits) extravaganza. Consider questions like:
- Will location-based notifications be required?
- Will my app be paired up with a Bluetooth-compatible product?
- Do I want users to be able to stream video to Apple TV?
Make a detailed list of all features and functionalities you want implemented in the app.
It’s a no-brainer that your app should be able to interface with online services of different kinds. Maybe you should have a Twitter client in your app. Perhaps your users would like to share their day to day happenings with Facebook friends. Or how about the ability to sync files with Dropbox? Why not integrate that into your own technical support?
Jot down important points so as to which services must absolutely be a part of your app.
One more thing to consider is your budget. Should some functionality be done away with to stay within the budget constraints? Have you thought about settling for an equity share with your developer? Give careful thought to the kind of investment you want to put down for your idea.
2. Work on Your RFP (Request For Proposal)
The general idea here is to ensure that the app development agency completely comes to terms with your business needs. They should express enough interest to put real thought into their proposal. They should also be able to comply with your timeline and budget, as well as help you understand their unique approach.
You can determine all this by taking the following into consideration while asking your developer some key questions:
a. Project concept and recommendations: How can you really make this app stand out? Are there any key concerns and if you could change a few aspects, what would they be?
b. Work examples: Could you provide examples of previous work which corresponds with each underlying component of our project? In case you have no past examples of proposed functionalities, please demonstrate how the task will be accomplished using your approach.
c. Project approach: Please provide a summary of your approach to the project. In your experience, what major variables or risks will lead to success or failure, as per our goals? What will drive consumer adoption? How will some of the associated risks be managed from our end and yours?
d. Take into account analytics, measurement as well as constant app improvements and management: mobile projects today have little to do with launching an app and tossing an update or two to your users every few months. You must think along the lines of making constant improvements while conducting exhaustive analysis. Rather than looking at it as an ‘upfront project’ followed by a maintenance period, see it as a year round engagement with your mobile development agency – throughout the course of your relationship, the desired goal should be to constantly make refinements and improvements.
e. What kind of budget should we have in mind for the ongoing data review and implementation of refinements where needed?
f. Please provide two unique examples of similar projects where the ongoing engagement process revolved around performance and analytics improvement.
You really don’t have the time or money to waste on an app that fails to meet business needs. A properly drafted RFP is a highly valuable tool – it gives you confidence in knowing that your chosen mobile development agency fully complies with your expectations and vision, while delivering a cost-effective and ideal solution.
3. A Word on Legal Matters
Seeing your handiwork come to life in front of your eyes can be very exciting indeed.
However, in the excitement of bringing your idea to life, let’s not forget a few legal matters that also form part of the picture.
Every app development stage demands certain legal issues to be covered. For example:
A. When you’re brainstorming a great app idea, you need to check if there are other apps that already haven’t beaten you to the punch. You need to decide whether you’re going down the paid or free advertising route. What OS it’s going to be on, finding investors etc. For all of this, you’ll need a Confidentiality Agreement when you get in touch with prospective investors, partners and app developers.
B. Next, you etch out the details of your app: sketching an app mock up, describing functionality and writing down the specification document. For this aspect, you’ll need Evidence of Copyright. This is going to be used to brief your app developer and forms part of the App Developer Contract, as well as your Copyright, which serves as evidence of your idea.
C. You get busy looking for potential app developers, shortlist a few, and finally narrow it down to the one that fits your needs. You refine beta App code. Here, you require an App Developer Contract which comes into play when hiring the app developer. Do not settle for their contract; always provide your own. You define and agree on deliverables, timeline and costs. Include a confidentiality clause and finally, ensure that the contract states you are the owner of the source code.
D. You plan your app marketing – brainstorming app titles, finding a designer for the app logo, planning marketing tasks and budgets etc. At this stage, you need Intellectual Property Rights protection. Trademark your app name and logo with the designated authority or body in your state/city. If your app functionality is unique in some way, get patent protection as well.
F. You are now ready to promote your app and all legal issues are covered. Good luck moving forward!
4. Why Explaining Your App Flow/Wireframes is Important
Once you get your basic app idea across, you need to be more specific so the developer can visualize what you’re app’s data or screen flow is going to look like. Start by sketching a smartphone on a piece of paper. Sketch out key elements to show how the app’s going to go from screen to screen when users are interacting with it.
You don’t need masterful graphic designing skills for this. A few boxes and/or stick figures would do just fine. So have a few screens drawn out and show your developer how to connect the dots. For instance, explain when a user interacts with a specific button on Screen A, this is what he/she sees on screen B. Also provide an estimate so as to how many screens you want displayed in your app.
Just to give you a generic example, let’s say you’re working on an order form. Here’s how your app/screen flow or wireframes will look:
- Screen A: Order Form having 10 text fields along with a “submit” prompt that takes the user to the next screen.
- Screen B: Confirmation screen displays order info; has two buttons –“back” to let users revert to Screen A and “confirm order” to allow users to proceed to the following screen.
- Screen C: A check mark or message confirming all order details, along with a button that takes users back to the first screen.
5. Don’t Forget a Non-Disclosure Agreement
You have a million-dollar idea for an app and it’s completely natural to have concerns about letting somebody else in on it. So, it goes without saying that you must protect your idea and keep it yours when hiring an app development company.
This is where a Non-Disclosure Agreement, commonly known as an NDA, comes in. This document ties the developer into an agreement where he/she is obliged to keep all app-related information secret. Most reputable and seasoned developers already have an NDA ready at hand and will likely appreciate your concern about the idea ending up in the wrong hands or getting out without your consent.
Some app development companies might be hesitant on signing an NDA, unless all information about your idea is given beforehand. Perhaps, this could be likely due to trust issues on the developer’s part – maybe you don’t have the funding to realize your idea or simply aren’t all that serious about the project (it’s known to happen), in which case they would understandably be reluctant to spend time and energy on a dead-end discussion.
Start with giving your developer a “30,000 foot view” of the app idea – provide just enough information to kick start a preliminary project discussion without giving away too many details. However, if they say more details are needed to materialize the project, you’ll need to convince them that you do in fact, have the capital and the drive to come through.
If your prospective developer still refuses to sign the NDA, and you absolutely must have it signed (we recommend you do), it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
Just to quickly reiterate:
- Disclose the bare minimum info needed to get a project undertaking quote.
- Any written materials provided must have a copyright symbol on each page; also consider registering your copyright.
- Hire a reputable developer with an established track record.
That’s pretty much it. You’re covered. It’s time to get down to the serious work.
Get in touch with our mobile development team to discuss your app idea. We look forward to making your mobile dream a reality!