You’ve heard over and over again that mobile is changing the world, and mobile app developers are more valuable than ever.

You’ve seen the mobile app stats:

  • 80% of internet users own a smartphone
  • 26% of consumers start mobile research with a branded app
  • Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites

All of this means that building a mobile app could be one of the most important technology investments your company makes this year—so you can’t afford to hire an iOS development or Android development agency who isn’t going to help you succeed.

As seasoned mobile app developers and designers ourselves, we know firsthand that hiring someone to build an iPhone or Android app isn’t an easy task. You need a partner who knows how to build an app, has a proven process they can follow, and can clearly communicate the actual cost to build an app upfront. So we put our heads together to come up with a list of questions that every brand should ask potential mobile app developers before signing a contract.

Of course, you may have your own laundry list of queries for prospective mobile app developers, but to hire the right one for your brand and project, be sure to ask these eight questions:

Where can I find examples of your work?

The best indicator of what you’ll see in the future is what you’ve seen in the past. Before you hire a mobile app developer, make sure that you take a close look at their past work. Ask for case studies that show off their work or live apps you can use yourself to get a feel for the quality.

Most mobile app developers will have an online portfolio or a document that showcases their past work. Don’t be afraid to ask for their past clients’ contact information, which will give you the chance to find out whether they maintained a good relationship.

Do you partner with an app designer or would you need us to handle that?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your mobile app developer is going to design your app. The actual look and feel of your mobile app is an entirely different element of the app creation process. You need to have a clear understanding of who will be delivering the visuals for the app.

If the developer says they’ll do the design, ask for examples of their design work to ensure that they can execute. If the developer has a partner or design team, you will want to see examples of their designs as well. And if the developer says they don’t handle the design, that is perfectly OK—it just means that you’re going to have to recruit a product designer or an app agency to help with the project.

What are the steps you usually take prior to building an app?

A lot of brands make the mistake of diving into building a mobile app without taking the time to plan. It’s easy to say, “We have a great idea for an app—go build it!” But the initial idea often has gaps that might only be seen by investing some time up front in planning and analysis.

The best app developers will explain to you that they start their process with insights about the users and the market as a whole. At MindSea, we start with what we call the Mobile App Blueprint, which helps us better understand the client’s goals for the app and create the optimal experience for their audience. We spend time researching the customers while also diving deep into the wireframing and design process to ensure that we’re on track to create an app that meets the audience’s needs.

Not every mobile app developer will have an in-depth process, but they should at least think in a process-driven manner. You don’t want to work with a developer who isn’t going to offer guidance on the deliverable; you want to work with someone who will take charge of the project and help you navigate unfamiliar waters.

How much time will you (or your team) be allocating to this project?

If you’re hiring a freelance mobile app developer, it’s likely that you’re not their only client. Thus, you want to make sure that they actually have the time to bring your mobile app to life and will not be missing deadlines because they have too much on their plate.

Will you manage the process for uploading to the various app stores?

Not only do you need a good developer to build your app—it’s also important to engage a developer who will help you launch it. This doesn’t mean they have to help you create the marketing materials announcing your launch, but they should take care of getting your app approved by Google Play or the Apple App Store and eventually listed as an app to download. You don’t want a developer who delivers the app files and leaves you to your own best guess for launch. You want an end-to-end service provider.

How do you manage quality control and testing?

Bugs are a part of technology. It’s very important to hire someone who will work with you to find and squash as many bugs as possible before the app goes live. Quality control is the act of testing a mobile app and fixing any issues before the app reaches the market. The best app developers will tell you that they go through a rigorous QA process using both manual and automated testing.

Do you offer long-term app maintenance and support?

When you launch an app, the job isn’t done. Technology changes, features are requested, glitches come to the surface and software updates happen. You want to talk with your mobile app developer about both the process and the pricing for ongoing maintenance of your mobile app to ensure that you’re not put in a hard position two or three weeks after launch.  

What is your pricing structure for mobile apps?

Building a mobile app is kind of like building a house: The cost depends on the type of app you’re building and the features you’re looking to include. The complexity of those features will play a role in the price too.

This is a conversation you want to have early. Avoiding it is a one-way ticket to sticker shock. We’ve talked about pricing expectations for mobile apps in the past and are firm believers that you need to spend time upfront understanding the project before you can accurately scope it. That’s why we always ask our clients to go through the Mobile App Blueprint process first so that we can get a better grasp of the project requirements and their complexity.

Wrapping Things Up

These questions are yours to steal, revise and use as you see fit in your search for a mobile app developer. Trust us—doing your research pays off, literally.

For many brands, the decision comes down to hiring a developer in-house or outsourcing the work.

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