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How to Choose the Best App Developer for Your Project

February 21, 2024

Comparing solutions, reviewing portfolios, reputation, company size, expertise and process – this is how to choose the best app developer for your project 

Need to build a new app for your business? That’s fantastic, the market is big and consumers are actively looking for companies that find innovative ways to serve them better.

The only question is: What’s next? How do you find a suitable app developer who will be capable of handling a project of this scope for a business your size?

There are hundreds of app developers and development companies that you could use. The trick is to find the one that is 100% right for how you work and the project you have in mind.

We’re tech consultants and software builders who’ve hired, trained and managed hundreds of developers, so we know this game very well. That’s why we’ve put together this guide of 14 things to look for when deciding on an app developer for your project…

13 Tips to Find & Pick the Best App Developer for Your Project

Use these tips and best-practice checklist as a guide for finding and deciding on the ideal app development partner. As you progress through the list, your potential candidates' shortlist should dwindle down until you’re left with your ideal app development partner options.

1. Compare a Few App Developer Solutions

When starting your search for an app developer, a broad Google search for “app development companies” can provide a plethora of results. Your next step is to filter these results based on the type of app you want to build. Different developers specialise in various app types, including enterprise, consumer, gaming, web, mobile, FinTech, E-commerce, and more. It’s essential to identify your specific niche and focus on developers who have proven expertise in that area.

Using comparison sites like Clutch can be incredibly helpful. Clutch not only lists and compares app development companies but also provides client reviews and ratings. These reviews can give you insight into the developer's reliability, quality of work, and client satisfaction.

Additionally, you can filter by location, budget, and specific services offered, helping you narrow down your options to those that best fit your needs. Have a look at all the future opportunities in mobile app development.

For example: Have a look at our profile on Clutch, and you’ll see it provides a host of helpful info, from portfolio, reviews, industry reputation and more.

2. Look at the App Developer’s Portfolio

A developer’s portfolio is one of the most telling indicators of their capability. Examine the variety of apps they have built, noting the design, functionality, and user experience. While top-tier developers can handle a range of app types, it’s crucial to see if they have experience building the kind of app you need. For instance, if you need a FinTech app, look for developers who have successfully completed similar projects.

Additionally, review the clients they’ve worked with. If you see reputable companies or businesses comparable to yours, it’s a good sign. This indicates the developer understands the unique challenges and requirements of your industry. A portfolio with recognised and respected clients can also reassure you about their credibility and expertise.

For example: If you look at our app development portfolio, you’ll notice we’ve built a broad range of apps in various industries, from retail to FinTech, work management, logistics, investment, events, networking and more; and there’s also a healthy mix between business apps and consumer, as well as B2B and B2C. Importantly, you’ll see a healthy mix of brands, including some of the biggest and most reputable companies in South Africa (where we are based), yet also some exciting new startup ventures – indicating our technical expertise across both corporate and new venture spaces.

3. Analyse the Company’s Expertise, Experience, and Reputation

The expertise and experience of an app developer are critical factors. It’s not just about having technical skills; it’s also about understanding market dynamics and industry-specific challenges. Experienced app developers can provide valuable insights and solutions that go beyond basic app development. They can help you navigate complex issues such as user data security, app scalability, and integration with other systems.

To assess their reputation, look beyond their website and portfolio. Check for industry recognition, awards, and certifications. These accolades can indicate a high level of proficiency and respect within the industry. Additionally, direct communication with the developer can provide a clearer picture of their expertise and approach to problem-solving.

For example: If you look at our portfolio on Clutch, you’ll see a collection of the industry awards we’ve won, including a Top Company award in 2022, one of the Top 1000 on Clutch in 2023, and both Top App Development Company and Best Cross-Platform Developer in 2024.

4. Evaluate their Design Process

The design process is a crucial element of app development that significantly impacts the final product. A well-structured design process includes several stages: wireframing, journey mapping, concept creation, storyboarding, and prototyping. Each stage plays a vital role in shaping the user experience and functionality of the app.

UI/UX design is particularly important as it determines how users interact with your app. An intuitive, aesthetically pleasing design can enhance user satisfaction and retention. Ensure the developer places a strong emphasis on UX design and employs best practices to create a seamless user experience. A developer who invests in comprehensive UX design processes is likely to deliver a superior product.

For example: You can review our entire approach to app design, including the full app design process, our design costs and even how long it takes to design an app.  

5. Check that they Offer the Full Cycle of Development Services

App development is a complex process that extends far beyond writing code. The best developers offer a full cycle of development services, guiding you from the initial idea through to the final deployment and beyond. This includes ideation, prototyping, rapid iteration, minimum viable product (MVP) development, full-scale deployment, and ongoing maintenance and optimisation - see what's needed to unlock future opportunities in mobile app development.

Working with a developer that provides end-to-end services ensures continuity and consistency throughout the development process. It also means they can support you through future updates and improvements, ensuring your app evolves with changing market demands and user needs.

For example: We at Specno don’t just develop apps, we consult and supply throughout the entire venture-building process. From ideation and concept validation to app design, web app development and mobile app development (view the entire app development process, as well as app costs and timelines and what you should know before you start developing an app), and then offer optimisation such as UX/UI audits and redesign, full maintenance and support, software scaling and we even outsource developers or help you build your own development team.

6. Look for a Partner with Vision

An app developer who shares your vision can be a valuable partner in your project. Look for developers who are active within the tech ecosystem, as their involvement often indicates broad industry experience and a passion for innovation. A developer who gets excited about your project is likely to invest more effort and creativity into bringing your vision to life.

When a developer believes in your project, they are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure its success. This enthusiasm can translate into a more dynamic and innovative approach to development, ultimately leading to a better product.

For example: You’ll notice that Specno focuses on more than just the development side, we help businesses navigate digital transformation with digital strategy and strategic digital consultation, because we recognise and respect the role we play in the wider ecosystem. See what we envision as future opportunities in mobile app development.

7. Look for a Consultative Approach

The ideal app developer does more than just execute your instructions; they act as a consultant. An experienced developer brings broader tech expertise and can challenge your assumptions, propose new ideas, and offer insights from other industries. This consultative approach is crucial for building a superior product.

Developers who offer tech consulting services across various stages of venture building can help you refine your project’s scope, identify potential pitfalls, and suggest improvements. This collaborative approach ensures that you leverage their expertise to create a more robust and innovative app.

For example: When we look at your project, we bring the collective expertise of a team of 50+ in various tech disciplines and experience in helping develop 200+ tech ventures in just the last four years.

8. Assess Your Budget

Budget is a significant consideration when choosing an app developer. The cost of app development can vary widely based on several factors, including the developer's location, the complexity of the project, and the development process used. 

Some regions, like South Africa where we are based, offer highly skilled developers at a fraction of the cost compared to North America or Europe. By leveraging different approaches and regional advantages, you can reduce development costs by up to 90% and achieve faster development and iteration times. This allows you to get to market quickly and efficiently without compromising quality.

When assessing your budget, it's important to get detailed quotes from potential developers. Look for transparent pricing models and ensure there are no hidden costs. Compare the value offered for the cost, considering not just the initial development but also long-term support and maintenance.

For example: You can get an accurate idea of our app development costs, as well as app design costs and then learn how to save 60%-80% with low-code development.

9. Look for the Right Team Size

The size and composition of the development team can significantly impact your project. A small team might struggle with complex projects, leading to delays and increased costs. On the other hand, a large team with diverse expertise can handle different aspects of development simultaneously, ensuring a smoother and faster process.

Successful app development requires a multidisciplinary team that includes UX/UI designers, software developers, product managers, scrum masters, and consultants. Each specialist brings a unique skill set essential for different stages of the project. A well-rounded team can manage everything from initial design and development to project management and quality assurance, ensuring your app meets high standards of functionality and performance.

For example: At Specno we’ve built a big team of specialists with entire development, design and product departments, specifically so that we could offer faster builds and iteration at scale.

10. Find Out their Project Management Approach

Project management is a critical aspect of app development. The methodology used can affect the project's timeline, quality, and overall success. Traditional project management approaches may not be suitable for the dynamic and iterative nature of app development. Instead, methodologies like Agile, Lean, and Design Thinking are commonly used.

Agile methodology focuses on iterative development, allowing for frequent reassessment and adaptation. Lean methodology emphasises efficiency and waste reduction, ensuring resources are used optimally. Design Thinking prioritises user-centric design, ensuring the app meets user needs and expectations. Understanding the developer’s project management approach helps to ensure they can handle your project effectively and adapt to changes as needed.

For example: Our entire development process is Agile, start to finish and complete with key roles such as giving you your very own product owner and working in sprints – see what a week on an Agile team looks like.

11. Look for Customisation and Full Support and Maintenance

Successful apps need to evolve and grow over time. As your business scales, your app must be able to adapt to new requirements and market conditions. Look for a developer who offers customisation options and is capable of scaling the app as needed. This ensures your app remains relevant and functional as your needs change.

Long-term support and maintenance are equally important. Regular updates, bug fixes, and new feature additions are essential to keep the app running smoothly and maintain user satisfaction. Ensure the developer provides comprehensive support and maintenance services, including performance monitoring, security updates, and user feedback incorporation.

For example: At Specno, we offer full maintenance and support, software scaling and we even outsource developers or help you build your own development team. We’ll even help you figure out how to growth-hack and boost engagement.

12. Check their References and Client Reviews

Client reviews and references provide valuable insights into a developer’s reliability and quality of work. Look for consistent positive feedback and testimonials from past clients. This information can reveal the developer’s strengths and potential areas of concern.

Contacting references directly can provide a more in-depth understanding of the developer’s capabilities and work ethic. Ask previous clients about their experiences, including how well the developer communicated, met deadlines, handled challenges, and delivered the final product. A developer with a strong track record of satisfied clients is likely to be a reliable partner for your project.

For example: Our reviews are publicly available on Clutch’s Specno reviews page, where you can see exactly what the project’s scope was, as well as what the client’s feedback and the project’s results were.

13. Do a Consultation First

A consultation is the best way to gauge a developer’s suitability for your project. It allows you to discuss your project in detail, ask questions, and understand their approach. Many developers offer free consultations, which provides an opportunity to assess their expertise and compatibility with your needs.

During the consultation, evaluate their communication skills, enthusiasm for your project, and ability to understand your vision. Ask about their development process, team structure, project management approach, and past experiences. Conducting consultations with multiple developers allows you to compare their responses and choose the one that best aligns with your project’s goals and requirements.

By considering these points, you can make an informed decision and choose the best app developer for your project, ensuring a successful and smooth development process.

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