How to choose your best developers
You’ve got a mobile app project, and now you’re looking for a team to help make it happen. If your project is building your consumer app from scratch, then this search becomes that much more important. From hiring your own to selecting from a plethora of software and UX houses - your options are endless.
What’s the ideal choice? Well, that depends on how adventurous you are and how critical the success of your app is to you.
But let’s imagine that rolling the dice is not your thing, and you really want to take only one shot and get it right. What’s the safest pick, then?
Only a team that has seen a mobile product through its entire life cycle, including 100s of iterations and multiple code rewrites into newer technologies, will know all the risks and opportunities that come with the process.
You want an app team that has been neck-deep in each of the stages of building and scaling consumer apps. Only a team that has seen a mobile product through its entire life cycle, including 100s of iterations and multiple code rewrites into newer technologies, will know all the risks and opportunities that come with the process.
Otherwise, creating your app will not be a journey into the unknown, chock-full of surprises, and not of the pleasant or cheap variety.
Let’s touch on all these stages and their elements and lay out the case for a surefire choice for your app team.
You have an idea, and you need to make it into an app. Sounds simple. Isn’t. That is, if you want your app to perform in the “wild” and actually deliver business wise. So, you don’t want just the ideas of your app team. You want your app team to know how to scour the earth and come back with anything relevant (competitor analysis, different markets, UX solutions, etc.). You’ve got to know what’s out there before you finalize your vision.
When we were designing Waterful, the key challenge was to create the kind of engagement and retention that will support creating and sustaining a healthy hydration habit.
First, we did thorough research and analysis of our category in various markets for the best practices, UX solutions, features, and other benchmarks. But then, we also went outside to other app categories to incorporate things other apps did particularly well. For example, we studied Duolingo for its retention ideas - something our category struggled with.
The result, user rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars and getting featured by Apple in 137 countries.
Collecting the pieces is the easy part. Putting them together isn’t that tough, either. The trick is doing it in such a way that makes the app later delight its users while checking off all business goals. You need your team to be able to separate fads from legit trends and make a series of smart choices. Like, for example, knowing to use battle tested frameworks because they will get you more easily noticed by Apple and industry opinion makers.
You need your team to be able to separate fads from legit trends and make a series of smart choices.
You want your MVP out there ASAP, so you’ll need to stick to the bare minimum. But your team needs to accurately identify the essential features to, for example, speed up product monetization. An ideal team should have a holistic view of the app life cycle to make the right choices. And be able to go beyond design and dev work to include things like ASO (if needed), ad campaign considerations, and app analytics that are relevant in your context and perform well.
Ideally, you also want your design team to be buddy-buddy with your devs.
Your team better be on top of current UX/UI solutions in your category and not just blindly regurgitate Material Design standards from years ago. That’s if you’re into engagement and retention. Ideally, you also want your design team to be buddy-buddy with your devs. If designers can freely access devs’ knowledge, they can make informed decisions and design UX that will be coded faster and more cheaply and will be easier to test and maintain.
You could try to hire and run your own experts, but you’ll quickly realize two things. One, it’s way harder than it sounds and should come with a daily prescription of headache medicine. Two, you may need someone narrowly specialized (Cloud Architect, Specialty DevOps Admin, AdOps Specialist, etc.) but for a very short period (a few days or a week) - if you somehow manage to find them, you will definitely overpay.
So, your external team should be made up of all kinds of experts (app, web, and backend). Under one roof, they will perform better, produce consistent front-ends, and help each other solve problems. For example, some problems can be fixed in 1 of 2 places - in the app or the backend. In the app will take a minimum of 2-3 days with the App Store review wait time. But if you have your backend “in the next room,” you can get it done in hours.
Under one roof, they will perform better, produce consistent front-ends, and help each other solve problems.
When time-to-market is crucial, you want your developers to come to the party bearing gifts. Like, for example, ready components and APIs that can shave months off your MVP. You may not find this often, but when you do, there’s no better endorsement of your team's skills. For some types of apps (e.g., e-commerce), Ad Ops services – programmatic and direct ad campaigns to increase revenue - are also a nice addition.
If your app uses lists of items, SKUs, or photos that need to be shared in real-time between multiple devices and platforms, like, for example in:
Then we can shorten your dev time by 2-3 months with our shopping cart API.
Only a handful of developers in the world offer this solution.
You’ll need product, user engagement, and customer acquisition data or other monetization stats to track performance and make business decisions.
One thing about analytics, you first have to plan it before coding it into the app. Otherwise, you will wake up a month after your launch with no data, but a panic attack instead, when you realize you have to rework your code. You’ll need product, user engagement, and customer acquisition data or other monetization stats to track performance and make business decisions. Without these numbers, you might as well start some tea-leaf reading classes to guide you.
Listonic Generates 1M+ Organic Downloads A Year From Keyword Searches.
Yes, this isn’t rockets into space, but the prep and sync are just about as crucial for your app’s launch not to blow up in your face. Your team’d better have a bunch of these to their name because some things just can’t be learned from a manual. For example, are you ready for the gauntlet of legal questions from both stores that take hours and need some legal background? Also, do you need a CMP? And that’s just a small part of a smooth launch.
...how big of a deal it is for the same people who built your app to later be the same ones to be on-call when something goes wrong?
And then every app needs to have a strong ASO game… WRONG. For some apps, ASO means little to nothing, while for others, you need a full-time team for the app’s lifetime. If you’re not a household name and rely on traffic from keyword searches, you want bona fide experts to steer that valuable traffic to you and away from your competition. Remember, these clients bring the highest LTV.
Now, what if something goes wrong in your app? Top app developers will offer various levels of SLAs to fit your needs, including the highest, round-the-clock support. Do I need to emphasize how big of a deal it is for the same people who built your app to later be the same ones to be on-call when something goes wrong? Also, your highest-level providers may offer the option of taking care of your tech support.
Some of our apps are business-critical and cannot afford any downtime. That’s why we offer the highest level of support (SLA Level 3), with our team always standing by.
Although the quality of our code base makes it easier, we really don’t have low traffic hours, while our peak hours last much longer because of our global reach. Our support team has been keeping our apps running smoothly for over a decade now and is well-equipped to handle the most demanding apps.
Though, this is not an exhaustive list, it covers many key elements of making and growing consumer apps and how they later interact to make or break your project. Obviously, in a perfect world, you would have one dev team that somehow amassed all this experience and skills under one roof, giving you the highest odds of your project’s success.
But a perfect world doesn’t exi…