You’ve decided to get create a mobile app or game, whether it’s to help your company improve its business or because you’ve had a bright idea for a utility app or a great game mechanic. You’ve set a budget, decided on your platform, and now you want to choose a mobile app developer.
The mobile app development market is very, very large and it includes all types of studios, from highly talented two-person operations to sprawling enterprises. Whether it’s a small Android app developer or a corporation that’s released hundreds of app for iOS, the core competencies and skills are the same. We’ve written this guide of things you should do and ask to find out which studio is the right fit for you and your smartphone app dreams. The guide has three sections:
- Factors to consider and what to look for in a developer
- Questions for an app developer
- Recommended app developers
Factors to Consider
1. Review portfolios
This is a standard procedure, and most companies will make proudly show their app development portfolio on their websites. Keep in mind that while app building is a skill unto itself, development for particular sectors (for example healthcare or games) can be very specific. Check to see if the developer specialises in your industry.
Part of App Developer Konstant Infosolution‘s app portfolio
Digging a little deeper, you can always contact the companies the studio has developed apps for and find out what their experience was like. If a development studio is trusted time and again by operators in a certain industry, then they must be doing something right. Which leads on to:
3. Check our directory and our guides
We’ve taken great care in curating the directory of developers on Appindex, so take your time browsing through it and use the search functions on the left if you want studios with particular skillsets or in specific countries.
We also have a series of “best of” posts for developers in specific countries, cities and platforms. If you’re thinking of going local in the UK, for example, have a look at our “Best App Devs UK 2015” guide, or if you definitely want your app to be Android-native, check out our Best Android Developers research. You’ll find a link to all our guides at the bottom of this page.
4. Check their app’s reviews on the stores.
It may not be obvious at first, but you can always read user reviews for published apps on their app stores to see what people think of the studio’s work. Just remember the negativity bias: people have more incentive to write a review when they dislike something than when they like it. One hundred bad reviews isn’t so bad if the app has tens of thousands of active users.
Questions for an App Developer
1. What platforms do you develop for natively? Do you develop cross-platform apps?
You want to make things clear right from the start: for which devices can your chosen studio develop an application for? Do they specialise in iOS, Android or crossplatform (apps that work on both and other platforms by using “generic” coding as opposed to platform-specific coding). How will the apps be converted from one platform to another? If the app is linked to a website, will the website be optimised for mobile phones? Keep in mind as wide an audience as reasonable for potential users of your app, both in terms of demographics and in devices used to access it.
2. Do you cover every stage in the development cycle?
Some studios only offer user-experience or user-interface design. Others do the development and coding, but post-launch maintenance is considered to be an additional cost. If your app requires a back-end (servers and software), not all studio developers include that in their services. It vastly depends on the kind of app you are designing, but make sure the studio you go with covers all the steps of the app development cycle, or can point you to companies whose services integrate well with the ones they offer.
Add studio hedgehoglab‘s range of services
3. How can my app make money?
This should be part of your business plan as well as the conversation with your chosen development studio. Will your app make money via advertising? If so, it needs to be optimised for that purpose. If your app is a storefront, or just driving traffic to your website where the money is made, how will it engage users to come back after their first visit or first transaction? This is the kind of conversation that you need to hold with your app developer and make sure you are absolutely on the same page. It will also be one of the first questions a serious app developer will ask you.
4. How do you communicate during the development process?
A key part of the development process is keeping the client in the loop about how the process is going. The best studios make this really transparent, with constant (sometimes even daily) updates. Ensure your chosen app developer communicates as often and in ways which you are comfortable with.
5. What kind of testing will you do?
This is sort-of the opposite of the question above: it’s the nitty-gritty, the necessary whittling process which turns a good idea into a streamlined app. There are many types, from stress to AB-testing, and while not all of them will be relevant to all apps, some will be necessary for yours. Ask your developer what testing methods they use, what they’re for and how they help your app improve.
6. Is submission to app stores included?
Submitting an app to the store isn’t too hard, if you know what you’re doing. Only subscribed developers can submit an app to the Apple’s iTunes app store, and the Cupertino company has strict guidelines on what can and cannot be published. Android is more liberal in its guidelines, but it also requires a registration and a fee. Some developer studios do this, others do not: make sure you find out first, and whether the submission fee is part of the price you’re paying.
7. What’s the latest tech you’re using?
Beacons, GPS, deep linking, Wifi-Bluetooth integration: the great thing about the app development world is there’s always something new being developed or a groundbreaking idea being explored. If you want your app to be cutting edge and really set the standard for those that follow, ask your developer what ideas or technology they’re playing with right now. The development process includes a lot of experimentation, and an exchange of ideas with your devs could lead to the next big thing or a memorable app.
App dev Debut Infotech‘s range of platforms
8. Do you provide post-deployment support?
The development and publishing process is one thing, but supporting and running the app once it’s gone live is a different proposition – from updates to patches to scaling if you get more users than you initially estimated, if your app might well need someone to look after it and improve it as time goes by. Once again, some apps won’t need this, but most do, and not all studios offer that kind of support – make sure you understand whether your app will need it, and if your chosen studio delivers it.
Recommended App Developers
- Ready4S – A wide portfolio covering iOS, Android and Windows and with key clients like Roche and Coca-Cola are guarantee enough for this studio’s quality. They also offer a free 30 minute consultation.
- hedgehog lab – an end-to-end app developer and tech consultancy, they have offices in the UK, the US and India. They’ve delivered over 50 projects and worked with Channel 4 and the Financial Times, among others.
- Konstant Infosolutions – Award-winning studio with offices in the UK, US and Asia. They cover both native and hybrid app development, and we’ve featured them as among the best app devs in India and New York.
- Debut Infotech – This team of 60+ devs and engineers do app development and much more, from the internet of things to web-apps and SAAS products. Also boast 100% approval rate for app submission to stores.
- Chelsea Apps Factory – Based in the UK, this company supplements its app development with strategic services and mobility solutions for businesses.
- Skylark Infotech – With head offices in Singapore, Skylark develop both native apps for all major platforms and hybrid ones using HTML5 and PhoneGap. Work with all sizes of business, from SMEs to corporations.
- Fan Studio – Specialising in iOS app and game development, this UK-based company was founded in 2008 and its apps currently count more than 23 million downloads.
- Hidden Brains Infotech – Covering all services from concept to app development and deployment, and ranging from cloud solutions to CMS, Hidden Brains Infotech have delivered 850+ mobile apps.
- Zco Corporation – Has worked for SMEs and multi-national corporations in its 25 years experience, and offer a free quotation on its app development services.
- Reliant Tekk – Five years old and already partnered with Microfost, Drupal and Amazon to name a few, they design and develop apps for all major platforms and to serve a number of different functions.
- xCube Labs – Honeywell, Sharp and Nokia are just a few of the high-profile clients that xCube Labs has worked with. Over 700+ apps developed and 20+ awards won in the last three years.
- Prismetric – Develops both native apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone as well as games using the Unity Engine. Has also dabbled in wearables with the Apple Watch.
- ChromeInfo Technologies – Aims to provide mobility solutions and app development to all levels of business with strong design and quality assurance.
- Apptraction – Full-cycle app development, with back-end services and marketing & promotion strategies offered too. Key clients include Disney and Thomson Reuters.
- Apptology – 400+ apps delivered on all platforms make up Apptology’s portfolio, and they offer back-end services as well as full ownership of your app’s source code.
- QuyTechnology – Develops apps for iOS, Android, iPad and HTML5. They also offer mobile consulting and have worked in the USA, Europe and India.
- Y Media Labs – Featured by Apple and having worked with big companies like Paypal, eBay and Facebook, Y Media Labs has a seven-year experience in the app development world. Based in the San Francisco Bay area.
Make sure to browse through our App Development Guides section, where you’ll find research on the best app developers for specific countries and platforms.
App development should be taken as seriously as the development of any other product, with rigorous testing and selection process. Too often a business will consider an app just a fancy add-on, without realising that a well designed app could make a huge difference in their earnings, while a poorly designed could even drive customers away. We hope this guide helps you start on the development process with a trusted partner, and let us know if you feel we’ve missed any key stages out.