Armed with an idea, you're raring to create a mark in the app space. The excitement is understandable, and so are the challenges in that journey towards building a successful mobile app startup.
You could get bogged down at every step, but then since you set yourself on the path to 'appreneurship', you know it's not an easy journey with over 2 million apps already out there on the app store.
Even before you start the journey though, selecting the right partner to help you develop the mobile app can set you off on the right foot. But, as it is, most make the worst mistakes while hiring a mobile app developer and end up burning their fingers.
I don't want you to go through the same. Having worked with a number of mobile app startups and mentoring even more over the last four years, I've found a few common mistakes most of them made that burnt their fingers.
Avoid these and set yourself up for app success.
#1 - Looking for developers in your vicinity
If you live in Dallas, Texas, you don't want to look for developers within your city or the state. What you want is a developer that understands your needs and can help you build a successful app.
What I'm trying to say is to have your priorities clearly laid out. You want to build a fantastic app. Period. You should then do whatever it takes to build it. The moment you narrow down your search for whatever reason or factors, you're limiting the possibilities of what you can achieve.
Some of the largest and the biggest brands outsource their product development all the way to a different country altogether (even Apple!).
#2 - Developers start coding from the get go
The biggest failure in app development happens when developers start coding the moment they receive a brief from their clients.
Apps are a complicated piece of software. The simpler the app is to use, the more complicated it is to code. No software development project can start without every stakeholder (designer, usability, QA, developer) having granular-level clarity on what they have to deliver. And this is achieved only through the process of creating a functional specifications document.
For example, take a look at this sample functional specifications document by Arkenea LLC that details just the signup screen of a mobile app over six to seven pages. This level of detailing will avoid a lot of heartburns later with respect to not delivering as per expectations, not knowing how a feature works and coding happens based on assumptions, etc.
If the developers you're evaluating indicate they will start coding right away, run as far away from them as possible.
#3 - Business understanding or the lack of
Will you partner with anyone on your project that doesn't understand your overall business goals, the industry you're catering to and the customers you are serving? No, right?
Then why would you hire a developer that doesn't spend time asking you questions about your business objectives, customers you're catering to, insights about the industry, etc, and showcasing their understanding through a meaningful dialogue about how to build a better app collaboratively?
Apps are used by humans. Unless the developer spends time understanding who they're building the app for, how will they best serve the needs of that specific customer - the approach for creating an app for a young female audience would be very different from creating an app for a professional male in their mid-thirties.
#4 - Pricing
A lot of first-time founders look for cheap $12/hour kind of outsourced developers to get their first app developed. Now, if you're going to throw peanuts, you'll only attract monkeys.
The reason is in this age where technology is driving most industries forward, the role of the engineer is becoming that much more crucial. Every company must hire the best resources to develop good technology. This has caused a tremendous shortage of quality engineers.
Wouldn't one assume then if an engineer is an excellent resource, he or she would already be employed with a good salary package (startups in Silicon Valley pay up to $6,000/month to interns!) or they probably are working on their own projects?
Look for teams that have produced quality apps and if any of those apps have been successful - as success comes from design, not from chance.
#5 - User experience or user interface design skills
While we all want to build a beautiful looking app, it's got to be highly functional at the same time. Don't hire a developer purely based on their development skill sets.
Bad user experience design (UX) can lead to many problems. If you were a left-handed person, you would know what I'm talking about. User experience design in apps is no different. Do you know how many of your users are left-handed or right-handed? Do you know how many are males versus females? Do you know what the age group of your typical customer is, or should be?
Your mobile app development team should be able to create a user experience based on their research of your target customer.
Even if you did make the mistake of hiring the wrong developer, it's better to cut your losses and move on than staying invested in the same mistake for longer period of time. The more you stay with the problem, the more money and time you lose. Put the bad apples past you and move forward looking for the right fit.