This post is written by Uma Pandit, founder of Bubulu Labs and creator of our recently promoted iYuva for the iPhone. Uma shares some important tactics to keep in mind when outsourcing your app development. This article furthers the discussion we started last month in “Looking for an App Developer” by outlining key topics to consider if you are not doing the programming yourself.
So let’s say you have a great “app” idea, and did your homework on its viability, usefulness and niche in the marketplace. The very first step is to sketch out a rough draft of the app and assess the design (there is a wonderful post here on how to design the user experience of your app). Assuming you are not a software developer yourself, it is a good idea to start looking for a developer early in the app development process so you can overlap discussions with your designer and programmer. For example, if you need some animation or some modifications done to your app based on either technical difficulties or feasibility, you can get that done within the contractual obligations from your designer/illustrator.
There are several good places to find a developer such as elance.com or odesk.com. I like elance.com for its feedback mechanism and its escrow service – so you are not left wondering whether the developer will deliver the app after the money exchange.
Here are a few tips about short listing and finalizing an app developer:
- Steer clear of developers who give canned responses to your job listing (i.e., I’m even irked by developer shops referring to me as “Sir”).
- Look for developers who have created similar applications to the one you are building. By similar, I mean common programming elements like sounds on touch, animation on touch, etc. Be sure to download and play around with the apps they have built before signing them on.
- Prepare a list of “techie” questions for interviewing potential developers, and if possible, invite a friend on the call who is familiar with software development. Chances are, even if that friend doesn’t know iOS programming, he or she will be able to sniff out a questionable programmer pretty quickly. A call is also a good way to get some virtual face time with a developer who might be thousands of miles away.
- Ask about milestones. If the developer claims he has done big assignments for publishers such as Disney, ask if he will be able to devote time to your app. The last thing you want is to be lowest priority when Disney has a new movie (and promotional app) coming out.
- Make sure the delivery of the project will include the entire documented code and builds for working on all of specified devices. For example, if you want a universal app, make sure that is what you get.
- Ask for frequent (weekly or even bi-weekly) builds on your device after the initial framework of the app is programmed – this is also a good time to evaluate your user interface, engage in testing, and report bugs. Keep an excel spreadsheet of some basic tests, and make sure the next build addresses those bugs and doesn’t bring back old bugs (this is called regression testing in geek-speak).
- If this is your first app, or if you’re still fuzzy about how to upload to the iTunes Connect portal, ask the developers to help you out with creating certificates, defining your AppID, creating your provisioning profiles and uploading to iTunes Connect. This can be a rather painful process, so it’s valuable to have them help you out the first time around.
I hope these tips are helpful in making your decision to outsource a little less painful. Looking forward to comments on this post. –Uma