“There’s probably an app for that” – an expression that is used millions of times a day. But what if it turns out there isn’t an “app for that,” and now you want to build one? All of a sudden you are dreaming of making a bundle of bucks – after all, app downloads are approaching a Don’t Call Anyone Yet App development has become a big business, so you won’t have any problem finding people willing to charge ahead with your idea. But at this point, it is just an idea without details. No one can give you a pricing quote without the details, so sit back and answer the following questions. Let’s suppose you are a “foodie” and you want to develop a comprehensive app for other foodies who love to cook. And let’s suppose you have done the research and there is no app that provides all that yours will. Ultimately you want it to do a bunch of things – provide substitutes for ingredients (e.g. how to make buttermilk when you don’t have any), metric conversions, etc. Have you developed your idea with a list of features you want it to have? No one can give you a quote without this. Do you want to develop an MVP (minimum viable product) to test in the market or do you want the “whole enchilada” up front? Your budget may somewhat determine this. If you are going with and MVP, what initial features do you want? Maybe you want that foodie app to begin with just ingredients substitutions. That seems to a big problem you can solve for others. Do you want an iPhone or Android app or both? Are there additional products you want other than just the app? A promotional website? An administrative panel? Marketing materials? Will you need continued services as features are added or updated? If you are a total newbie, do you want the developer to complete the process of submission and approval? What kind of a budget do you have? This is probably the toughest question to answer, especially if you are new to this industry. Hourly rates may vary from as low as $35 to $150/hour, depending upon geographical regions, and the total development can range from $5,000 for a simple app like ingredient substitutions to as much as $250,000 for a new social media app. Do the research and see where your app falls in general price ranges. At least you will have a general idea before you get quotes. Think about escrow. What, you say? Escrow is for home taxes and insurance payments being held by your mortgage company, right? Well, there are critical considerations for escrowing your app source code while it is developed too. After all development projects can last between 6 to 12+ months, and if anything goes wrong with the developer (e.g. they disappear or go bankrupt), you want to stay protected. You can use a software escrow vendor like EscrowTech to store your project while it’s being developed and release the code one the payment is transferred securely. Out into the World of App Developers This may be easy or difficult. But getting the right app developer will determine success or failure. If you have used and are happy with a team, then you are all set. If, however, you are starting from scratch, you don’t want to spin your wheels figuring out where to even start to look. Begin with Clutch.co. This is probably the best directory of global app developers there is. You will find really objective information, interviews with clients of various development teams, costs, reputation – sort of an Angie’s list of app developers. You’ll be able to narrow your search to those developers who have focused on apps similar to yours and who fall within your budget parameters. Now you are ready to make contact and ask the critical questions: Shoot off an inquiry email – see how quickly you get a response. Good development teams will respond pretty quickly. What experience does the developer have with apps similar to your idea? Will they be willing to get on Skype and discuss? This will give you a good idea of their communication skills, especially if they are located in a foreign locale. What kind of an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) do they have and can you see it right now? Will they be willing to put you in contact with a former client or two? Their site testimonials may be fine, but maybe not. Can they give you a quick summary of how they go about developing apps for their clients? What are the stages of development? What does their typical agreement/contract look like? Good developers have a general framework of one that will be tweaked for your circumstances. Are they solid in their understanding of the most current guidelines of app stores? What testing do they perform to ensure that there are no bugs? And if bugs appear after market, what are their guarantees? Listen and Learn During your discussion with potential developers, look for these signs of professionalism and behavior: Quick Response. Be sure to take in differences in time zones. If you are in the U.S. and send an inquiry to a development team in the Ukraine, for example, understand that they are anywhere from 7 – 9 hours ahead of your time. If you send an inquiry at 5:00 pm, it is way after office hours there. Do they ask you for important detail before stating that they can do it? Developers that answer “yes” without asking important questions of you might be a bit “sketchy.” Good developers are willing to talk about previous projects but will keep an NDA in place during those discussions. They will only put you in contact with clients who are willing to be identified. The team is willing to give you a video tour of their facilities, so that you can see developers and chat with them. They provide all legal documents up front and are willing to shoot them over to you immediately. This means that they have been developed and are standard. Their quote and deposit amount does not exceed 20-30%. They give you a breakdown of a timeline that includes all of the development stages and how long each will take. They are not promising a completed app in two weeks, for example. Avoid Common Mistakes Watch time zones – If you are using a developer in a different part of the world, you must absolutely account for this in communication. Be sure to have a timeline for development that both of you agree upon. Really good developers will even build a “penalty” into their contracts if milestones are not met on time. Don’t forget about the testing – it must occur on all devices. And if you have geo-location features, they absolutely must work. Your developer should engage in simulated and real testing with actual users. All of this may seem like a lot of work on your end, when you think that a developer should assume all of the work. Not so! You have to maintain an active role in every stage of this “game,” or you will have wasted your time and money. You may not know much about the technical aspects of app development, but you do know what you want that app to do. Stay on top throughout all stages. Image: App Development Concept. App Development Drawn on Dark Wall. App Development in Multicolor. App Development Concept. Modern Illustration in Doodle Design of App Development.