app developer questions

15 Questions To Ask Before Getting An App Developed For Your Business

Are you getting an app developed for a business?

You need to find a suitable app developer. You need to get 3 quotes. And in order to achieve that you need to understand your app requirements.

This is a common issue between customers and app development companies – an uncertainty from the customers end about what they really need.

Here are 15 quick questions to ask yourself about your new app idea to clarify your requirements to yourself AND your app developer:

1. What type of app do you want to build?

Though there is a significant amount of app categories in the Marketplace, there are really only types of apps. They are:

  • Utilities
  • Entertainment
  • Games
  • News
  • Productivity
  • Social Networking
  • Lifestyle

All these ‘app types’ have different coding, marketing and design requirements.

Telling your app developer what type of app you’re creating will better help them understand your requirements.

2. What type of interface do you want your app to have?

There are 3 categories of interface design:

  • Stock standard – The standard iOS library set looks very generic but can be cost effective as it reduces design requirements.
  • Out-of-the-box – A fully customised design/experience not seen anywhere else. Unfamiliar but strangely easy to use.
  • Brand match – You have an existing brand identity that you would like to use.

Of course there are variations of mixes between each category. Nominating one will help your app development team get a clear picture of what you’re after.

See also: 6 Hot Tips For Designing A Magnificent User Experience

3. Will your app need a login system?

A login system is normally needed when the user has shared or created information that is sensitive to them. That information could be anything from profile information, pictures or a friends list, to something as simple as a set of notes.

App users also needs the ability to control the information they share from their account.

4. Will your users have their own profiles?

A profile is normally (but doesn’t have to be) associated with a login system.

You would give your users a profile if they are to be interacting with other users. The information shared can be limited to a profile picture (or not) and a name/username.

5. Will your app need share features?

Sharing-features like ‘Facebook share’ gives users the ability to share their experience on your application with their network.

Though the sharing functionality is available from Facebook (and Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, etc.) free of charge it still takes hours of work to properly implement these functions into the app.

6. Will your users add photos or videos?

Though these features are very popular they are also costly to develop. Why? Because the app developers need to run tests to find a suitable mode of data-transfer and compression. Transferring data between mobile devices places load on the server which translates into direct monetary cost to you.

Server fees are billed monthly and most startups can’t afford $600 fees on a monthly basis. Cost minimisation is an absolute must.

7. Will your app need push notifications?

If yes, what kind of notifications? There are two types of push notifications:

  • Rich HTML notifications – these are sexy, graphically designed notifications that appear inside the app.
  • Scheduled/Triggered notifications – you can set up push notifications using triggers or a time schedule to send notification automatically and test your response from real users.
  • Hard-coded push notifications – These notifications are sent through the iTunes server to verify actions such as ‘share location’, etc.

See also: 10 Most Popular Push Notification Services

8. Will your app use in-app payments?

There are two types of in-app payment systems:

  • Native In-App Purchases provided by the marketplace (Apple or Google respectively)
  • 3rd party payment gateway

There are certain rules you need to consider for each type of payment gateway, particularly when developing for iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad). For instance, you cannot sell virtual goods (in-app credit, unlocked functionality, etc.) through a 3rd party payment gateway. Your app development company will be able to advise you on what solution will work best.

See also: 10 Most Popular Mobile Payment Gateways

9. Will your app need to sync data across devices?

If your application is syncing data across devices (file-transfer, etc.) then there are a few rules around how this could work.

You need to communicate at least the basic idea of how this will take place for your app developer to understand.

They will be able to advise on the best possible software architecture to reduce server-load.

10. Will your users rate or review things?

As an app developer I know that this feature isn’t as simple as it may seem.

This feature alone is easy enough to program but as soon as you tie it in with in-app purchases, multiple devices, a throng of complex business rules and algorithms this can quickly become a complicated task.

Communicate this early on.

11. Will your app need to be integrated with a website?

What information in your application needs to be streamed/synced to a website?

12. Will you need an admin portal?

Admin portal is a loose term. I like to ask the question: “What do you need to control the content of your app?”

There are some pretty intense horror-stories of apps that have been removed from the App Store because the app owner couldn’t control the content being shared in their apps. There is no shortage of scum-bags out there in the world.

13. Will you need a custom icon for your app?

If so, what styles do you like?

See also: How To Design A Memorable App Icon

14. At what stage is your project at?

Where are you right now? Have you got a design brief? Have you got app designs? Have you reached the programming stage yet? Or are you just looking for an app marketing company?

15. What is your budget and estimated starting date?

Any app developer you speak to ultimately needs to know the answer to this question.

There is a stigma that if you keep the budget a secret then you have some sort of negotiation power over your app developer.

This might be true when talking to shady app development companies… but a credible app developer needs to know what your budget is to advise you on what they can and cannot do within that budget.

See also: How Much Does Business App Development Cost? We Break It Down

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Logan Merrick is the co-founder and Director of Buzinga, as well as one of Australia's most recognised entrepreneurs, keynote speakers, investors and mentors. His writing on startups, technology and mobile marketing has been featured in The Australian, Business Insider, Startup Smart, Smart Company, and more.
  • Eva

    With hundreds of thousands of mobile apps available in the various app stores, you might think that your app idea has already been done before. But take heart! If your mobile app is in the idea stage, just ask yourself these questions and you might just find it’s still worth pursuing:

    Has this app been done before? You’ll have to spend some time looking through the app stores, but unless you find an app that’s exactly like yours, you’re still in the running. Remember, Instagram is an app that unites photo editing and social networking – both of which had been done to death – and it just sold for a billion dollars.

    • Logan Merrick

      Hi Eva,

      Thanks for the tip. I would agree that if there is something in the marketplace doing EXACTLY what you’re doing then you need to rethink your strategy. Unless of course the app that you’re competing with is a poor performer.

      Thanks again and please feel free to stop in any time.

  • alina thomas

    Before your company develops a mobile application, ensure
    that you ask yourself each of the questions which are mentioned above. This
    will surely keep you from developing a mobile app unnecessarily, or developing
    the wrong type of app.

    iphone app developer sydney

    • Logan Merrick

      Thanks Alina, glad you enjoyed it.