Deciding who should build your app isn’t an easy process. Do you hire a freelance app developer? Do your work with a development company? Do you hire someone in house? Or do you throw caution to the wind and give the whole thing a go yourself? Whichever one you go for, you’d hope that – once you’ve made the decision – you won’t have to worry about it anymore.
Unfortunately, that’s where you’re wrong. Particularly if you’ve decided to outsource the project and are working either with an app development company or a freelance developer.
App building is timely and expensive, and if you aren’t an app development wizard it can be hard to tell whether you might be being ripped off. Luckily, that’s why we’re here. Read on for our list of things to check for to see whether you can trust your app developer, and signs to look out for to see if they might be ripping you off.
Check their website/portfolio.
In the age of Yelp, Google+ and Twitterbots, your online presence means a lot. Before you start working with a developer, check out their online profiles. Do they have a portfolio on their website? Do they look professional? Has anybody ever left reviews on their Facebook or Google+ pages? If their online presence is almost non-existent, it might be cause for suspicion. If any reviews are less than favourable, it’s worth asking the developer directly so that you can hear their side of the story.
Check their references.
This is particularly true of freelancers, or if you’re hiring a newbie to work in-house. A good freelancer will be able to provide references, so make the most of them. Contact the references and ask for a genuine opinion on what they’re like to work with, and what the work that they produced was like.
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Ask about deadlines.
Firstly, ask them what their workload is like. On that basis, draw up a clear schedule with realistic deadlines and milestones that they can broadly work to. However, don’t be put off if they come to challenge you on these deadlines, because this will most likely happen. The journey of developing an app isn’t just one straight road, so it’s natural for them to shift things around in order to complete the work in time; thoroughly and properly. Also, don’t be afraid of a developer who pushes back. In fact, if they’re not, get suspicious! A developer should never say yes too quickly.
Plan your payment.
Is your app developer asking you to pay the full amount up front? Yes? Then run for the hills. Paying for everything upfront will leave you with nothing to bash them with if they forget a feature or there are outstanding bugs. These things happen, it’s development after all, but it’s nice to be able to have a rod with which to encourage your developer to complete these things. Agree payment on milestones, so that if it doesn’t work out you can end the relationship with minimal damage.
Consider an NDA.
Your app might not be sexy, glamorous or ground-breaking, but your app developer should still be willing to sign an NDA. If they refuse to, don’t work with them. Simple.
Ask for progress updates.
Your app developer should involve you in the process as much as you want to be involved in the process. After all, it’s your app. You’ve paid for it, so you should be able to see it at any stage that you want to, even if you aren’t making any changes and just want to see what it looks like. If they won’t let you, it’s a little bit suspicious.
Are they sending you a bunch of pie charts or reports that you have no clue about? Are they even bothering to explain what they mean, or are you just getting more confused? If they’re sending you meaningless, bewildering data to try and trick you into thinking you’re impressed, don’t be fooled. Let them know what data is meaningful to you and tell them to present reports for what you want. If they don’t, you know they’re not to be trusted.
Ultimately, you’ll need to trust your instincts. The right app developer, or app development company, will want you to trust them. They’ll prove themselves as a trustworthy working partner, and it should just feel right. If it doesn’t, and the alarm bells are ringing, trust your gut. App building is a fiddly and expensive business, so it isn’t worth taking risks.
If you're starting to feel like they're not quite the right fit for you, it might be a good idea to switch whilst you're ahead. Our guide below can help you with your escape!