Mobile internet usage has increased dramatically over the past few years. In only half a decade, the total usage now equals the total amount of desktop Internet usage and statistics predict mobile usage will soon surpass Internet usage. This means, if you're not creating a mobile application you are going to be left behind, and fast. That doesn't mean you need to jump at the first mobile app developer you meet with, but you should be interviewing to find one who understands and your needs and can deliver. These days it seems any 20-year-old can develop a mobile app, but who will be best for your company? You need to find a developer that understands your industry, the company purpose and someone that will be a strategic partner. In any business partnership, there are questions that need to be asked to ensure your partnership will be a success. Here are questions that need to be taken into serious consideration before hiring a mobile app developer:
1. What applications have you created in my industry?
The ability to understand your industry and your target audience is essential in building an effective application that will meet your customers' needs. While you can explain your industry and needs to the developer, if they have previously created successful applications your industry, you will be ahead of the game. It will save you time and help ensure your application will meet the standards of your industry and competitors.
2. How will you measure the success of the app?
Being able to measure the success of your application is imperative to find out how your customers are using your application and if they're finding it helpful. Just like wanting to know the analytics of your website, the same goes for applications; measuring your mobile application will offer valuable insight into your customer's behavior, their interaction with the brand and ultimately how well your application is performing. There are third-party tracking systems that can easily measure your application's metric feed or you can integrate internal systems into the application from the start. Find out which method your developer plans to use in order to make sure you're able to easily measure your application's success.
3. On what platforms will the mobile app be available? What platforms do you have experience designing for?
iPhone, Android, Windows and Blackberry. The possibilities seem endless. Make sure your development company has experience working with the platform that you chose for your application. If you want an iPhone app and they only have worked with Windows, you don't want to also be paying for the time they spend learning how to create the application for your desired platform. If you chose to have your app compatible with multiple platforms make sure you express this with your development company. Also make sure they include this into their cost estimate, so you don't get hit with higher scope creep.
4. Where is your development team located?
You should want to be involved in the creation of you application. You know your industry and what your customers need to be able to weigh in on the process and testing. Just because your mobile application developer is located in a nearby city doesn't always mean that their application engineers are conveniently located as well. Many developers are outsourcing their engineers, which means you might not even be in the same country as the engineers designing your app. This can be a major concern, especially when it comes to being able to easily communicate with the developers while they are designing the project. Asking this simple question can relieve a lot of potential stress.
5. How do you manage updates?
Understanding your developer and being compatible is the key to a successful partnership. Does your developer send updates during the development process? It's important to understand your developer's workflow and process as you manage a project. Use a schedule to determine when different steps should be completed, ensure deadlines are being met and budgets are up to date. Weigh in at appropriate times to test and influence the direction of the app. For instance, we have dedicated project managers who receive IT analytics and updates daily and conduct regular conference calls with our clients as needed, typically twice per week.
While these questions are essential, there are also questions you need to take into consideration based on your industry. Get as much information as you can before taking the leap into a partnership with a mobile application developer. If chosen correctly, a mobile app can help your business make a giant leap forward in reaching a larger audience and being easily accessible.
About Barbara Morris and Laser Image
Barbara Morris is instrumental in the development, delivery and marketing of the Laser Image breadth of mobile business application solutions. Laser Image is widely recognized for offering the insurance industry's highest level of analytical decision-making software and support. As CEO of Laser Image, Morris leads her IT Staff using open source and a Linux strategy; Laser Image, located in Dallas, Tx, is a custom software development and variable printing company focused on lead management and campaign development solutions.