What Makes a Good App Design and Development Partner?

October 4, 2017

In our last article, “Choosing the right digital partner”, we touched on the different paths to launching a website or mobile application. In this article, we will go in more depth on what makes the agency you choose a good “partner”.

One of the main reasons that businesses choose to hire a creative agency like Crafted is because of the challenges they face when trying to assemble their own internal team for development.

No doubt, the prospect of developing an app in-house can be exciting. Your project is the only one the team is working on and you can make modifications when business requirements change or evolve without changing the scope of your project or contract every time. You also “save” the costs you would have otherwise spent on outsourcing to an app development company. (Note: The cost of hiring a quality developer is significant. Talented developers are often paid above industry standards as a retention strategy.)

On the flipside, it can be difficult to hire & qualify programmers as well as manage and maintain a custom app over the long run. Even after the initial build is complete, that expensive developer still needs to be paid top dollar to stay on board. Otherwise they will likely move on to another project or company and you will be stuck with their code and no one to manage it.

But what if you could get those top end designers and developers while also getting the long-term support your development project requires?

That’s where we come in.

Crafted is an NYC App Development partner that provides support and upgrades to ensure the continuing development and compatibility of your app, as well as its versatility on newer platforms. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the complexity and time expenditure associated with app maintenance and evolution.

Whether you choose to work with Crafted or another app design and development group, the following tips will come in handy when choosing a partner for development and design.

Create a crystal clear requirements document

Your desire to develop an app likely sprung from certain marketplace insights or personal experiences. Define and deliberate on what your app must do and how exactly it will affect users and the marketplace. Document the technical specifications, features, budgets and timelines. Put together a list of similar apps or other programs that you aspire to model yours after.

The best app design and development partners provide assistance in the planning stages and will help guide you through the steps it takes to get your project live. This is the most complex and important process that sets the roadmap for the design and implementation of the application. The ideas and opinions of skilled app designers will enable you to fine-tune your requirements and expectations more judiciously.

Perhaps your app doesn’t need to do everything you think it needs to at first and it makes sense to split it into two phases… maybe not! This is where a good partner will help you make good decisions based on your requirements, goals and budget.

A good application design partner will always help you put together all the pieces of the puzzle, helping you determine how your mobile app will fit into your business strategy, and advising you on the best solutions that meet your needs. Consult the agency on project feasibility and requirements to inform your own understanding more thoroughly. At the end of this effort, you should have a requirements document that will guide the development, stages and cost of the project.

Put potential partners through the test

It is imperative to vet app development companies properly. Invest some time in due diligence to ensure your project’s success and know as much as you can about the team who is working on your project before starting.

1. What kind of partnership are you aiming for?

Do you want the company’s engagement to end soon after the implementation/integration of the app? If that’s the case, then you’re pretty much on your own if you encounter problems after the app has gone live. It’s the same for app maintenance, costing you time and money in keeping the application updated and troubleshooting issues as and when they arise.

It’s in your best interest to seek out a mobile app design company interested in forging a partnership with you as opposed to helping you manage the project scope and just doing what needs to be done to deliver the product. Crafted, for instance, handles clients’ ongoing app needs, and supports the app’s development into the future. We collaborate with you to chalk out a long-term strategy for your app, enabling you to squeeze maximum business value from it.

2. Create a project-specific Request for Proposal (RFP)

No two iOS or Android app design and development projects are the same. The RFP you create should reflect the nuances of the app development program you want implemented. State the specifics with clarity to give developers the full idea about requirements and expectations. You can always discuss the matter in further consultations, but you need something to start with, and that should accurately reflect the project on-hand.

Also state the role and responsibilities your potential partner will need to assume. This will depend on the extent of your resources, how much time you can spend on the project and the communication model most feasible for your business.

3. Evaluate reputation and service quality

Even as you get responses from app design and development companies, you can conduct your own research to get a sense of their service and customer reviews. Their website is a good place to begin; here you can find customer testimonials, learn if they have received any industry rewards or glowing media mentions, and check out management profiles. Some businesses may be partial to developers with relevant market experience. While familiarity with your market and customer segments is a plus point, it should not be the deciding factor.

4. Gauge them on design and tech capabilities

What kind of design and technology prowess can the company boast of? Do all of their projects look the same or are they all unique? This is a critical consideration that will directly affect the success of your project. Some aspects you want to review include:

  • The approach taken by the IA and UX teams to make the app user-friendly
  • What kind of device and platform experience they bring to the table in terms of Android and iOS app design and development?
  • Will they seamlessly integrate the app into your CMS and other business systems?
  • Do they have a quality assurance team to run tests before taking the product live?

Crafted has dedicated user experience, design and development teams who attack clients’ specifications with precision and skill to deliver a value-focused product. Our optimization and marketing team also brainstorms on strategies to improve the ROI of your app over time, or help you monetize it in today’s crowded, competitive marketplace.

5. Dig a bit deeper

When you hire an app design and development agency to help develop your application, you must enter into a written agreement that assigns the ownership of the app to you. In the absence of a written agreement, the developer will own the app or the portion of the app that they developed. The contract must also state and protect your intellectual property rights, as well as bind the app designers to confidentiality obligations, as appropriate. Talk to potential partners about the kind of legal contracts they enter into with clients.

You also want to quiz them on the ‘big O’ to confirm if they keep development in-house or outsource some of it to subcontractors. If they are indeed outsourcing some tasks, concerns about quality and confidentiality will naturally arise. To be on the safer side, avoid partnering with app design and development companies that lack the expertise to handle all the work in-house. (We never outsource!)

6. Visit the company in-person

As you will be collaborating with the company beyond the implementation of the app, you will need to consider how well their work culture complements your own. Complementary collaborative cultures can go a long way in ensuring smooth two-way communication and proactive responses to queries and concerns.

A good way to assess the company on such softer aspects is to visit them in-person and speak with the app designers who will be handling your project. Do they seem enthusiastic and present their views openly? How do they engage you? What kind of email and phone support can they guarantee? How do they update clients on milestones? See how well they perform on these parameters to determine whether or not they are a good fit for your company.

7. Test them out

It doesn’t hurt to put potential partners to the test, especially if you’ve shortlisted 3-4 companies with dynamic and savvy professionals. You can kick-off with a small pilot project, and depending on performance, choose to go with the most impressive of the lot. Of course, this is better suited for companies with a bigger budget and ability to take the time to go through this exercise, as you will inevitably only choose one partner.

8.Cost

While it’s perfectly fine to reject a prohibitively expensive quote that you cannot afford – especially if it’s not justifiable – cost should be the least of your priorities. Top-notch quality will pay for itself into the future, so focus on leveraging the skill and expertise of your app design and development partner to make the best application possible.

A reliable app design and development partner can serve as your one-stop resource for future projects. Our unique approach to establishing partnerships instead of traditional client to agency relationships is what separates us from other app design companies in NYC.

If you’re looking at a multi-faceted company like Crafted, you can have technology and digital marketing needs fulfilled under one roof. Crafted is one of the top ten interactive agencies in NYC, and has been featured in multiple media outlets. Our senior management has previously worked on award-winning projects for top brands across diverse industries.

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