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December 2012

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How to Choose a Mobile App Developer: Questions to ask and mistakes to avoid

By Nathan Kurach

Close to 1,000 apps are added to the iPhone and Android markets every day. With almost 3-quarters of a million apps in each market how can you be sure your business is not left in the dust?

When looking into creating an app for your business, the team you choose to work with is a critical decision. As you start down the road of mobile app development and begin searching for a developer, you must ask yourself - and your business - a couple basic questions. What's the driving force behind building an app? What additional value will an app provide your customers or clients? Or, what benefit could an app provide to your business internally?

There are numerous services and companies that offer to create an app based on your existing website. While this may be a good option in certain situations many apps built this way provide nothing new to the users and are deleted, or used once and then completely forgotten about.

Enter the mobile application developer. Perhaps a better term is 'Mobile Application Engineer', that's what a good app requires, skillful contrivance to understand your business and provide a new, modern experience to your users.

So, what qualities should you look for in a mobile application company? We recommend five: strategy, team, native development, updates and market neutral.

Strategy: While a solid strategy seems the most obvious qualification, the mobile app industry is still so new that many professionals looking to procure an app are unsure what the strategy should look like. When you are looking at an app company, the key is to think about the app globally. What is the user's intent and why will they use the app? The best partnership will be with a company who looks at your business as a whole and takes the time upfront to develop the interface, utility, and marketing of the app.

A Collaborative Team: Yes, another seemingly obvious quality. However, a strong, connected team is exceptionally critical when it comes to mobile apps. All team members working on the app must communicate regularly. App users can be a hasty bunch, and if there is even a minor glitch with the program, they'll drop it like a hot stone. Get to know the development team, their relationships with each other and how they will work as a team to ensure your app runs flawlessly.

Native Development: Without getting too technical, “native development” is a way of saying that the team uses market-specific code. For example, an app going into the iTunes and Android markets will have to be coded with iOS and Java respectively. Some mobile app companies utilize third party tools that 'generate' native code. While that's not entirely a bad thing, (it is a great solution in some cases), it is important to analyze each situation first. One size does not fit all and understanding the intricacies of native development is key to any successful project.

Updates: Updates are inevitable and vital to the effectiveness and longevity of your app. Making sure you choose a developer who will be around and available to update your app in the future is possibly the easiest and most pain free way to ensure your investment is not wasted. Often, companies will choose a developer without doing the proper research, end up with an app they don't entirely love, and want to update or modify it. This is where trouble and headaches can thrive. There is nothing more frustrating and cost consuming than sending a glitchy app to a new developer. The process of backtracking to find problems, fixing problems, making updates or adding features can be greatly complicated between developers. The result, more often than not, is a completely new investment to redevelop the application and correct issues.

Be Market Neutral: The mobile application universe changes faster than a chameleon changes color. Whether it's the platform with the largest market share, or it's a new device, or even a new technology (Windows), an ideal mobile app company must be passionate about all mobile markets and not show favoritism toward any individual platform. If you target only one, or a subset of platforms, you are excluding a large amount of users.

So as you move forward and if (when) you decide a mobile app is right for your company, make sure you know what the ultimate goal for your customer is and that your mobile app company shares that goal and can help you define it. There is no doubt that putting in the effort and research up front to find an app company that matches your needs will produce a more effective app and a better bottom line.

About AgentSolid:

AgentSolid is a Denver-based, comprehensive mobile app experience company. They provide intelligent strategy, design and development for a wide range of clients from startups to large corporations. With over fifty years combined experience AgentSolid works to develop custom apps specific to each client's needs.

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