Part 2/2, How to PICK your development partner & NOT go crazy

by Kate Swanberg
Blog Post

Before getting several bids or quotes try to find the most important ways to evaluate and move forward with a development partner. Time is another factor to consider when reviewing contracts or bids (“How to SEARCH for a Dev Partner…”).

1) Evaluate their website and credentials.

Our Director of Client Strategy, suggests “You know, clients come in with an idea and I feel like most of the time the agency that has the balls to question everything, generally has the chops to execute. “Why are you wanting to build an iOS app?” for example.” If the agency asks you these types of questions, it’s a pretty good determination they are going to nurture your app until it’s full grown. Your app is your baby make sure it’s taken care of.

Face it, you care more about what work the agencies have done. Therefore you go to your handful of agency websites to see portfolios and examples. Of course, when you’re comparing the sites side by side, there are a few things you NEED to check.

  • Do they have a location page that indicates reliable location and communication schedule?

  • Do you know exactly what they do, or can do for you (think the features in Step 1)? For example, do they only do web or mobile, or only design or development? Finding one that does it all is way more convenient depending on your needs.

  • Is there a contact phone number? Hint: If they don’t have one they could be outsourcing somewhere else and aren’t who they say they are.

  • Do they specialize in what you need?

  • Are you able to see testimonials of past clients (video or written testaments)?

  • Do they show you the portfolio of their clients? Do you enjoy using the apps for their clients?

Ultimately, this checklist determines the trust and communication in the agency. Far too often does this happen on an agency website where you find out they are not who they say they are? You want an agency that is upfront and honest on their website and isn’t afraid to show it all. If one of the two agencies passes this checklist you are bound to have a great development partner.

2) Test the UX of apps they’ve done. What is the agency’s emphasis on design?

The emphasis on design is super powerful. Your technology is useless if it cannot reach your end customers in a way that is meaningful and compelling to them. The way the user uses your future product ultimately is what matters most. Ripul Kumar puts it gently, “If you think beautiful looking interfaces with fancy buttons is good UX, you are in for a rude shock: User eXperience (UX) is really about being useful, usable, and meaningful to users while UI and Visual Design ensures that the product finally ‘looks’ good.” Crappy design means crappy users or no users at all. When you’re looking at a development agency’s portfolio, you can’t just see if it looks nice. You need to test out the application. Are there bugs, time lags, or design where the functionality is broken? That’s huge! Make sure the apps work and look clean.

3) Do they teach you how to drive?

Many development agencies claim to train you in product management, coding, marketing, or other specialties during the development of your project. If you’ve you never done this before, ask yourself, do you want to choose an agency that teaches you the ropes? Or do you just want someone to plain code it for you? Training could take too much time and you just want your app finished. Don’t be fooled by the extra “training” add-ons agencies offer. Pick an agency that builds projects and gives you the necessary keys for you to be able to take on the road. An agency that uses the best standards and modern platforms take the fear out of getting alien code language and not knowing what to do with it.

4) What is the cost?

This is something to definitely keep in mind when trying to pick between two agencies. Let’s be real, you get what you pay for. If you choose a bargain firm the wheels might fall off or they might not. If you go luxury you are either A) buying a brand name and/or B) buying extras you probably do not need. It gives a great Car-App analogy that compares your App cost with the type of car you are buying. For example,

“I just want an app and I want it to work” = 1994 Honda Civic = $1-5K.

“I want something that works well on one platform” = 2007 BMW 335i = $20-25K.

“I want this to be the best […]” = Lamborghini Aventador = $400K+

5) Do you need product support?

Many agencies and developers can’t support every project or product management. If you are in your early-stages or doing something innovative, then its important that someone at the development partner can help you with brainstorming features, realistic expectations, and creative ideas. Even great internal product managers appreciate some love and support every now and again and finding a firm with the right balance of creative vision and execution is the most important factor for picking the right partner.

6) Get a second opinion:

Finally, the last step. Before you get too hasty on choosing the right development partner, you need to get a second opinion. Chances are you have networked around a bit and know someone of someone who has used a development agency. Find out who they used, ask questions like how the communication was and the problems that arose. Tell them about some of the agencies you researched and ask if they sound good. If you know any developers or designers, even BETTER. You should ask them about the agency you are contemplating. Ask them if that is a place that they would want to work for. Getting a second opinion is absolutely necessary to confirm your product development partner.

Are you still looking for help? Have a product or question idea? Ping us, write us or tweet us.

by Kate Swanberg
Blog Post