With custom apps becoming increasingly popular, your business may wonder if it would be worth the investment to have one developed.
You know you need to research the subject, but where do you begin? After all, you’re just beginning your research, trying to find out everything you can about custom mobile apps and the companies that develop them.
Based on our experience, we’ve come up with a list of nine essential questions that will help you kickstart your initial research. They are broken down into three groups:
- Questions you need to ask your team
- Questions about your developer preferences
- Questions you’re sure to ask developers
Exploring these questions with your team will help you decide if a custom mobile app makes sense. You’ll then be in a good position for the next stage: reaching out to specific developers.
Questions you need to ask your team
Start by discussing these questions with your team.
1. What problem do you want to solve?
Valuable apps solve business problems. Ask yourself:
- What areas in your business could be streamlined with the help of a mobile app?
- Could mobile technology be used to provide a better customer experience?
The answers to these two questions will help you with the next question.
2. How will the app help the people who use it?
If the app is for business productivity, how will it simplify user work flows and make your teams more efficient and productive?
If the app is customer facing, how will it help customers communicate with you, make purchases or get the information they seek?
Answers to these questions start to reveal the true potential value of your app.
3. Will employees use their own device, or one provided by the company? (for an internal company app)
Many businesses have employees load their app to their own smartphones. Some will have iPhones and others will use Android phones. That means the app will need to be developed for both platforms.
The alternative is to provide users with a smartphone or tablet dedicated for use with your app. Obviously, the expense here is in the purchase of the devices rather than in having the app developed for two platforms.
There is no right or wrong answer here, just something to consider.
Questions about your developer preferences
Think ahead about some of the preferences you might have for your developer.
4. Does the developer’s location matter?
If being able to meet with your app development company in person is a priority, then choosing a local developer should be a priority.
Perhaps in-person meetings aren’t important to you, but hiring local is.
If hiring local isn’t a priority, you can expand your search to the rest of the country and the world.
5. How hands on will you want to be in the process?
Some companies like to be involved with their app development every step of the way, conferring with developers on a daily basis. Others would just as soon leave the developers to their work and be available when the developer has something to show them. Many companies fall somewhere in the middle.
Developers have their own preferences for how involved they would like the customer to be. Fortunately, there are developers out there for every customer preference. You just need to know what your preference is.
6. Are you looking for an order taker or a contributor?
Most businesses considering having a custom app developed are experts at what they do, and know what they don’t know. They appreciate the input of experienced app developers.
But you might be happy with a developer that gathers your requirements and builds an app to your specifications without giving much feedback, if any.
A quick test for determining whether a developer is an order taker or a contributor is to ask them, “How would you change our vision of the app?” If you don’t get much of an answer in return, then you shouldn’t expect much of a contribution from them throughout the process.
Questions you’re sure to ask developers
Pretty much every company that has talked to us about developing an app for them has asked these questions.
7. Is it possible?
You have an idea for an app. You want to know if it’s possible to build it.
Of course it is. Technology has evolved to the point where if you can imagine something, it can probably be developed.
The more critical question is, “Is it worth it?” An experienced developer will help you through this process.
8. How much will it cost?
You want to know how much your custom mobile app will cost. But, the developer will need to know a lot more before they can give you an estimate.
If you have a budget in mind you can frame your cost question something like this, “With a budget in the range of $X to $Y, can you develop a custom app that will allow us to do A, B and C?”
This doesn’t commit you to spending all of your budget, it puts parameters around your “how much will it cost” question.
9. How long will it take to develop the app?
You need to get your app to market and your stakeholders don’t want to wait any longer than they have to. Developers have their own processes, production schedules and availability, so there is no one answer.
When you ask the question, keep in mind that the developer won’t be able to give you a firm answer until the discovery process is complete. This article explores how long it takes to develop a custom app.
It’s not uncommon for businesses considering custom app development to fall into paralysis by analysis. These nine questions should help you through your first research stage and prepare you for weightier stages ahead.
Need help getting started with your custom app research? Contact Big Fish for a no-obligation consultation.