Building a Custom App? Here’s How to Pick the Right Developer


There are several reasons to build a custom mobile app. You’re a business owner who wants to remain competitive in today’s tech-forward, mobile-connected marketplace. Or you’re an entrepreneur who has the next IPO-destined big idea, and you need a mobile app to get it off the ground. Whatever your reasons for creating a custom app, the first question on your mind is probably, “how does one get started?”

Leafing through the top Google results can be daunting. How does a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur cut through all the noise to find the top app development companies for their project?

The short answer: patience, research, meetings and a little faith. Below, let’s unpack that short answer to give you all the tools you need as you start the process.

Review The Development Company’s Track Record

First thing’s first: you need to research your options. The best place to start is with a company’s track record – essentially, their portfolio of projects thus far.

You’re looking for a robust history of successful mobile apps. Somewhere in the ballpark of “500 apps created” should indicate that the company is firmly established, experienced, and has ample votes of confidence from businesses like yours. But quality wins out over quantity, so click through to view their projects and see if they meet your exacting standards.

Comb Through Reviews and Testimonials

Next, vet your options by exploring reviews and testimonials. By all means, read and absorb the reviews the development company posts to their site, but don’t stop there. Read customer-generated reviews on Clutch, Facebook, Google, etc., to get a sense of the company’s approach to client relationships.

Moreover, read the reviews for some of their projects – the apps they’ve created – to see how their built products fare with users.

Hold a Meeting to Determine Fit, Vision, Process and Budget

You’ve landed on a shortlist of development companies, and now it’s time to talk business. Schedule an initial consultation to determine fit, vision, process and budget.

Determining fit is essential; you’re looking for a collaborative partner, after all – not an impersonal company that makes a one-size-fits-all product. In the meeting, consider whether the development company listens to and internalizes your goals and vision. Ask them about their process, which should include strategy, design, development, testing, marketing and maintenance (essentially end-to-end care for your project). And leave the meeting with a rough breakdown of the project budget.

Emphasize Discovery and Scoping

The next meeting you’ll take – the one that cements your relationship with a development company – is “discovery and scoping.” Essentially, this is where the app development company gets a feel for your project. This stage should not be a rush job. It’s vital that the development company works hard to collect, analyze and mobilize information on your project (its intended market, its size, monetization strategy, etc.) so they can build you a project optimized for initial success and future growth.

These are the initial stages in the lifecycle of an app development project. It starts with research, continues through to interpersonal meetings and finishes with a big-picture illustration of the roadmap ahead. Follow these steps carefully, and you’ll be on your way to a formidable mobile app.