Picking a mobile development partner is one of the most important decisions in the life-cycle of your application. The right partner will help you realize your idea’s potential. But the process of choosing a mobile development agency can be cumbersome and downright daunting. How can you effectively look for a vendor and how to use the most common channels to evaluate an app development house? Let’s dig in.
Before we delve deeper into the gist of the matter, let’s list some of the general advice you should keep in mind when looking for a mobile app development partner.
The choice for a mobile development partner will largely depend on what you need exactly to breathe life into your application. That said, you might be in one of these five scenarios:
Full-cycle development includes work on all stages of app creation. From strategy to design and development to post-release support, full-cycle development is best done by experienced mobile app dev agencies that can provide expert insight and advice on the whole process of app creation.
Maybe you have an underperforming app that delivers poor experiences to your customers. Or maybe the working version of your app, e.g., an MVP, needs improvement or complete design overhaul to deliver value to your customers. In that case, hire an agency that has documented examples of past work where their focus was strictly on UI/UX design. Also, make sure they have experienced UX/UI designers aboard.
Note: UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) are two separate things. Always look for companies that provide both. UX designers are a real thing and their work greatly impacts the success of your application.
With designs and wireframes at the ready, you’ll need solid development work to launch your app. Here, you can look for agencies that do development work solely (e.g., offshoring partners).
That said, consider hiring an experienced agency that delivers more than just development services. The problem with development-only providers is that they might not have the business skills necessary to translate your vision into a product that sells.
Mobile app development companies with full-cycle services can help you release a product that resonates with your target audiences. For example, by evaluating your idea, an end-to-end mobile app development agency can tell you which features are key to release a product that doesn’t flop on the market.
Also, communication and project engagement play a huge part in building an app. Keep that in mind when talking about potential cooperation with overseas companies.
When you know where you’re at with the specifics of your app—meaning you have a strategy and documentation—look for a mobile app development house with professional UI/UX and development services.
Try not to hire separate providers for design and development. Collaboration and communication between the two ensure that the most optimum implementation paths are taken. For example, that you don’t pay for designs that aren’t feasible to be developed.
What about needing the expertise of someone to develop a specific function or part of your mobile app? For example, including VR/AR features in your application will require a partner that has extensive knowledge in the field to deliver seamless experiences.
You can consider staff augmentation to supply your app development team with external expertise. Mobile development agencies specializing in staff augmentation have experience blending with existing team members to provide valuable knowledge and insight.
It’s no news that today's market of mobile app development agencies is saturated. There are thousands of potential mobile development contractors that could—or couldn’t—turn your idea into a full-fledged app that will give your business a boost.
Thus, it might seem tricky to go through such a densely populated landscape and emerge with a shortlist of potential partners. To the rescue in this case come ranking websites that aggregate and rank mobile development companies.
The most popular ranking websites are:
Let’s see what to look at when navigating these ranking websites.
Clutch is a business directory specializing in B2B reviews for various industries. Clutch is by far the most popular ranking website with reliable agency reviews.
What to watch out for:
When you are redirected to a Clutch listing, you automatically see a “Sponsored” list—meaning the companies paid for high visibility. Don’t let that put you off, however, since these companies are still vetted by Clutch. Besides, if they can afford sponsorship, they do their job well and diligently.
Still, try to sort the list by organic verification of services—i.e., by “Clutch Rank.”
Why is Clutch Rank important? Well, Clutch Rank is assigned based on client reviews (number and quality), experience, the scope of services, and industry expertise (certificates, awards, etc.). In other words, it’s an objective measure of a company’s services.
Another thing to keep in mind is to check the service focus of a mobile app development agency you’re browsing.
Service focus will help you determine whether the company’s services are oriented mainly at what you need. This is especially useful if you have an idea for an app that is unconventional and requires extensive industry experience as well as design, development, and strategy skills to be successfully launched into the market.
Clutch also gives you information on minimum project size, average hourly rate, number of employees, and location. On top of that, you get the agency’s description as well as detailed information that can help you verify a company’s credibility.
AppFutura ranks service providers based on a mix of verified client reviews, active expertise-sharing, reliability, and project performance.
Client reviews are confirmed via interviews. Companies listed on AppFutura are certified by the website’s staff and have the infrastructure and experience to deliver their advertised services.
What to watch out for:
Just like Clutch, AppFutura sorts companies with “Featured” agencies populating the top.
Whether you sort the agencies by “Popularity” or “Ranking,” the list somehow always begins with “Featured” companies. Again, something to keep in mind when looking for an app development agency.
Business of Apps goes beyond being only a ranking website and is a leading publisher of news, insights, and analyses in the world of business apps.
Companies interested in the app industry app can look up valuable statistics, with detailed revenue and usage from many major players out there. Business of Apps also releases a regular podcast where industry experts share their insight on the current matters affecting the global mobile app market.
The company runs a fair share of industry-focused events, where participants from all over the world can attend conferences full of detailed knowledge on mobile apps.
What to watch out for:
Business of Apps’ list of top app development companies also starts with “Featured” companies.
The Manifest (a sister website of Clutch) is another listing directory. The Manifest, however, focuses more on delivering analyses and insight on current matters revolving around business. The site also publishes practical how-to guides on marketing, business, productivity.
What to watch out for:
The top app developer list on The Manifest is sorted by sponsored companies, meaning the top is populated by the companies that paid for visibility. There’s no option to change the sorting, so keep that in mind when browsing.
Tip: Scroll down the list to see companies sorted by organic ranking.
Visual Objects (another sister website of Clutch) is focused on featuring the design portfolios of listed companies. Visual Objects, just like The Manifest, aggregates companies listed on Clutch.
What to watch out for:
It’s not clear how Visual Objects sorts the listed companies, but the ranking is similar to Clutch’s list when sorted by “Clutch Rank.”
Reviews, especially those verified ones available on Facebook or reputable ranking websites, are a great source of information on a potential contractor. Reviews will let you in on any possible issues (untimely delivery, dishonest charging practices, difficult communication, etc.).
You can also reach out directly to the company owners who have worked with a contractor you’re interested in to get first-hand information on matters specifically important for your project. That’s particularly helpful when the company has hired the agency for a similar project to yours.
Reading a client review of a mobile development house is one way of gauging the quality of their services. Another important thing is to browse through reviews left directly on app markets by users.
User reviews can shed valuable light on bugs and usability. Do a thorough read of app market reviews to pick out recurring issues or ascertain that your future contractor provides quality services.
Tip: Don’t get too discouraged by negative reviews. Users are more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than a good one. Cross-check the reviews with the number of active users to get a more accurate picture.
Always take your time when looking for a mobile app development agency. Compare the information from ranking sites with the info on other websites to get a more detailed and objective view of a company. Reach out directly to see if there’s chemistry between you, your idea, and the vendor you’re considering—that chemistry is likely to shape your cooperation.