The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.
1. Show Off Some Success
What accomplishment are you most proud of? Ask a developer how they overcame a tought problem and made it into a big win. What projects are they proud to show off to the world, and why?
2. Apps or Mobile Site?
Personally, I think developing apps for multiple platforms is a nightmare. Not only is it costly the first time around, but can also cost thousands down the road for updates and maintenance. I prefer to ask a mobile developer if they are able to develop a mobile version of the site through a dynamic theme that changes based on the screen width of the device. It is a much cleaner solution.
3. Location, Location, Location
Being heavily involved in the mobile app market as a consultant, I often find myself coming across new developers. My basic question to ask is, “Where are your engineers?” Just because their office is located in the nearby city doesn’t mean their app/mobile developer is conveniently located as well. This is a major concern, especially when it comes to communication and understanding of a project.
4. Don’t Get Outdated
How will we be able to update the app? A great app today is obsolete six months from now. If you’re working with a mobile developer who may not be around six months out, you need to have a clear picture of what it will take to update your app. Will you have source files? Support? Anything at all to work with? Find out now, rather than having to build a whole new app down the road.
5. Ask for Others’ Opinions
Ask for references, preferably at least two or three of past clients whom they built mobile apps for. Get phone numbers, not emails. Ask those references questions like “Did the developer, when you worked with him/her, set clear expectations and then fulfill or exceed those expectations?” Listen closely for any hesitation and dig into that to see if there’s a bad (or good) story behind it.
6. Let Past Clients Preach
Ask the developer for past clients that you can call and discuss prior work with. Speaking to these people is the best way to really get a sense of the quality of work the developer provides.
7. Guarantee the Real Deal
If your mobile developer does not guarantee that your app will get approved for iTunes sales, then move on to the next developer. Just as a good mechanic guarantees the repairs on your car, a good developer will guarantee to get your app into the largest mobile marketplace.
8. From Fan to Contractor
What do they love about your brand and customers? It’s very easy to get caught up in the details with any developer. One thing that is often lost is the developer’s understanding of your customers, their needs and their desires. The more the mobile web developer knows about your business, the better their work product will be (and the faster they will be able to iterate!).
9. Design Is King
With mobile apps, each pixel is critical. There’s less real estate on the screen, and users will be pressing buttons with their fingers or thumbs — not a mouse. Ask prospective developers about their mobile design experience, and ask to see prior apps that they’ve designed. Designing a great mobile app is often harder than coding one.
10. Triple Interrogation
There are three basic questions you should ask: Can you develop for both the iPhone and Android? What type of analytics are possible in the app? Will sensitive user data be handled securely?
11. Don’t Let Yourself Be Fooled
Ask them where their developers are located. There’s a trend for outsourced development to put a person on the ground near you to act as business development and present a team as “local.” This may not be the case! Also, ask their position on mobile web versus native, and look for a thoughtful answer.