Recently we posted Considering Building a Mobile App?, which outlined four options to ponder before moving forward on building an app for your business. As a follow up to that post we wanted to break down the process even further so that your app has the best chance at success! In this post, we are taking you all the way back to questions a developer or agency may ask when you first inquire about app development.

Let’s Get Started!

For all parties involved, it is imperative to be transparent throughout the entire app development process, but it is absolutely critical when evaluating developers or agencies to start the project with. This helps set expectations for budgets, time frames, and goals right from the start. Below, we’ve created a list of 5 initial questions that either your developer will ask or you can bring up that will help guide the app development process.

1. Will this be a mobile app, web app, or both?

Knowing what capabilities and features you want your app to have can help determine if a full-blown mobile app is necessary or if a web-based app will be sufficient. A web-based app is generally less expensive because you simply give people the URL, whereas a mobile app requires testing on multiple devices, publishing it to the iOS and Android app stores, and dealing with compatibility issues.

In particular, on Android, there are so many devices that have various hardware/software features that developers have to make design considerations to allow support for the maximum number of devices without impacting the quality of the product. On the other end of the spectrum, a web-based app is just simply designing to browser specifications and making the app responsive so it renders properly on the mobile web browser.

2. If you go the mobile app direction, would a responsive (web-based) app that renders nicely on mobile work instead?

A web-based responsive app is quite a bit cheaper than a dedicated phone app that a user would download. This can be an optimal app solution that can save $$$!! Based on the functionality, capabilities, and goals for your app, your developer will be able to tell you if this is a possible alternative to a dedicated phone app.

As far as downsides, users will need to type the URL into their mobile browser instead of having a dedicated icon on their device’s home screen.  Also, extended features of the phone, like accessing the phone book or utilizing the camera, becomes more difficult if not impossible with a web-based app.  Still, if you don’t need specific device features, this is a great option.

3. Do you have any budget guidance you’d like to provide us with?

When it comes to building apps, the sky’s the limit! By giving developers and agencies a ballpark estimate of your budget they are able to to set expectations for features and capabilities based on that budget. They will also be able to offer alternative solutions for ideas that may not fit within your budget.

4. What is your timeline like for this app?

Do you have a set launch date? Upcoming event? Or any other time expectation? Knowing this is incredibly important! Depending on the size and features of the app, development can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to six months. By communicating a rough timeline, a developer will be able to tell you if the development process can be completed by the proposed date.

5. Do you have any existing assets, like wireframes, mockups, and/or code?

Have you already started your app? Great! Providing your developer with existing wireframes, mockups, and/or code can help cut down on development costs and give the developer a visual representation of the app vision.  Even if they’re just crude drawings on a whiteboard or paper, that’s still helpful to convey your vision.

Conclusion

Communication, communication, communication is the best recipe for success when building an app. Being transparent from the very start ensures that your app is delivered on time and within budget! Answering the questions above will have you well prepared for your next project discussion with a developer or agency.

If you’re up for learning more about the app development process, check out: Considering Building a Mobile App?

Dustin DeVries

Dustin DeVries

Living and breathing software strategy and architecture, Dustin has been building software for over 20 years. He really enjoys working with clients to determine the right technology, whether it’s a web application framework like Django or NodeJS, or a simple CMS solution like WordPress. He received his BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University. During his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, running, and hanging out with his family.