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Three things to ask your… Mobile app developer

by Leanne Yong on January 28, 2015
Tech

This is the final article in our January tech series, “Things to ask your…” . Check out the other articles in the series, Three things to ask your… Software developer, Four things to ask your… Website developer and Four things to ask your… Social media manager!

You may be in the position where you’ve found that simply having a website isn’t enough. Perhaps it’s not responsive, and can’t be viewed nicely on all screen sizes (and would cost a lot to create from scratch!). Perhaps your business requires a lot of interaction with clients and customers that would be better handled by a specific app which streamlines the process and makes it quick and simple for them to go through the process, and provides a higher chance of making that sale. Or maybe you simply have a stunning idea which you know would do incredibly well as an app.

Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to create an app. You have all the functionality documented and ready to go. Now you need to hire someone to actually build the app for you. Here are three things you should be asking potential candidates!

What is your background in design?

An app lives or dies by its design and user experience

An app lives or dies by its design and user experience. Unless you have someone on your end who’s highly experienced in design and UX, the bulk of this responsibility will fall on the app developer. App design isn’t simply about making things look good – when you have the limited real estate of a phone screen, the design also needs to cater for how easily a user can move from one step to the next, and how buttons and other interactive elements are designed and placed to cater to big, clumsy fingers.

A good app developer will have an innate understanding of these design considerations, and more besides. Colour and contrast for a device used in both a dark bedroom and in bright sunlight. Simplicity that masks complex processes underneath. There are many things a good app designer must keep in mind while designing a mobile app, so ensure that your developer is well-grounded in design and user experience.

What is your understanding of my business?

This is closely related to the question above. In order to ensure the design is best suited for your needs and customer interactions, the app developer should have at least a basic understanding of what you do. That’s not to say they need to be able to rattle out your processes in detail, but they should at least understand the purpose of your business, and the purpose of your app within your business.

For example, while two businesses may both want an eCommerce app, a specialty store that stocks a very small variety of premium goods will need a completely different design and user experience to a general store that has thousands of different products. A good app developer will be able to explain the differences in design choices between the two, and why.

How easy (or hard) will it be to port my app to other platforms?

Much as Apple or Google would like us to believe that developing exclusively for iOS or Android is all you need, that will never be the case. The mobile market is fragmented across different operating systems (OS), including the much-overlooked Windows Phone OS. Although you may only be developing on one platform right now due to budget (and time) constraints, it’s possible that you’ll want to make your app available on other platforms in the future.

It’s important to ensure that your app can be ported to other platforms without needing to rebuild everything from scratch. But keep in mind that even if an app can be deployed to multiple platforms, the differences in operating systems can also lead to performance differences across platforms. How well is the code optimised for each OS? Or if you do decide to go down two separate paths for your app, how will you ensure both are kept updated, and the features are the same across all OSes?

These are questions worth asking your app developer, and a good one will help you with that long-term plan – and build a relationship where they can help you carry it out!
Featured image: IntelFreePress

Do you have any other questions we should be asking our app developers? Share them in the comments!

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Leanne Yong
Leanne Yong is the Leaders in Heels Managing Editor, and a Games Master for an escape room (Next Level Escape). She loves stories and puzzles, and has written four novels.
 
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