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Five things all founders have to do before hiring an app developer – StartupSmart

It frustrates me when I see promising startups with brilliant ideas get taken for a ride by their app developers.

I think we’ve all had the feeling of being out of our depth when talking to sales people in certain industries.

The fact is, most young entrepreneurs don’t have the technical know-how to be able to accurately weigh up which developer is right for them and their project needs.

If you’re shopping for app developers at the moment and aren’t sure which to settle on, this article is for you.

Here are the five things you need to do before your hire an app developer.

1. Actually look at the apps they’ve built

I know, pretty obvious, but I don’t want you to just look at their portfolio on their website and take the testimonials at face value.

Get on the app store and download them to see how they perform. Have a look at their reviews and ratings. Do they crash a lot? Are users engaged and getting value out of the app? If you’re finding a pattern of negative reviews, I’d be questioning how good they actually are at developing apps.

2. Ask anyone in the industry for their input

Everyone knows everyone in this industry. If you have a contact who works even remotely in the startup space, just send them an email and ask for their thoughts on who you’re tossing up between.

People talk and if your potential developer has a reputation for going overtime or over budget on projects you’ll be able to find out pretty quickly.

3. Ask them what services are included in their quote

Not all app developers offer the same services.

Some are just technical partners, while others offer services and packages for things like market research, user testing, ASO, analytics, marketing and so on.

They are almost like startup accelerators, and this will be reflected in the cost you are quoted.

Of course you want as much value as possible from your app developer but keep in mind two things:

  1. Get your priorities right. Above all else, your developer should be really, really good at technical software development – this is where the bulk of the hours you are paying for go.
  2. Remain at the grassroots. You may lose touch with your business if someone else is taking care of everything for you.

You need to know your business inside out and back to front, for the rest of its lifetime. This will be important when raising investment funds, too.

4. Ask them if they use agile or waterfall methodology.

The two most common development methodologies are agile and waterfall, with many developers employing a combination of both.

Waterfall methodology is a sequential design process. This means that as each stage of development is completed, the developers move on to the next step. There is no going back and redoing steps, not without scratching the entire project and starting again. This method provides the minimum chance of your project going overtime and over budget but it isn’t as flexible as agile.

Agile methodology follows an incremental approach, where you work in short ‘sprints’. The project is frequently and regularly tested, and priorities may be reevaluated. This is much more dynamic than waterfall, but there is a greater risk of your project dragging on for longer than expected, and blowing out your budget past what you were originally quoted.

Each method has its own pros and cons, and one might suit you better than another depending on your project needs. If you have a tight budget and just want your app out as fast as possible, waterfall may be the best option.

If money and time isn’t as much of an issue and you need your first version to be as perfect as possible, agile may be the way to go.

Ask your potential app developer which they use and if they use a combination, ask for details on their processes to make your decision.

5. Do some digging online

It’s also worthwhile to do a Google search: “Company name”+ reviews.

This might not turn up any results, but often you’ll be able to find old client and employee reviews that are more objective than anything you’ll find on an app developer’s website.

One final thing I think shouldn’t be overlooked when you hire an app developer, is their fit with your personality.

You’ll be spending a lot of time with this team over the coming months, so make sure that you’re comfortable with the people and their culture.

You’ll be able to rest easy if you know that they actually care about your vision for this business and not just making another dollar.

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