How to Make a Professional Mobile App – Dos and Don’ts

How do I build a mobile app?

A lot of people have a great idea for a mobile app, but don’t know where to start.  How much does an app cost to make?  How do I find a good developer?  How do you make an app from start to finish?  Many people, including my friend Mike, wished they had someone who had already done an app to give them some pointers, after all, it takes more than just a little time and money.  Learning from experience, this article will give you valuable insights that could save you a lot of time and  money in the long run.

About Poket Nomad

Poket Nomad is a tour and adventure booking app.  It will be the app to use when you go on a trip to find and book fun things to do in your area.  Mike, the founder, had an idea and realized that a lot was required to make it a reality.  In order to make it happen, he needed mobile apps design for both iOS and Android, he needed a functioning website/web app, partners, a distribution network, and ways to market the app.  But where to start?

Decide What You Need

Before you find a developer, you should know what platforms you want your app to be on (iOS, Android, Windows, are the main platforms), what features it will have, and if you have graphic design that will also save some time and money. More importantly, you need to have a monetization plan. If you don’t know the best way to make money with your app, don’t waste money building one.

Learn about the app industry and what users want so you have all the features layed out at the beginning, as they cost more if you decide to add features later on in development. With this in mind, you can search for an agency that has the skillset you need.

Finding a Development Team

Local Developers

You can start by trying Google, and you will find a several agencies that will do your app, but as Mike found out, for the typical entrepreneur, it will be out of your budget range. Now it may make sense for you to go with a larger design firm if you are a large, well established company, but in Mike’s case, it would be too expensive.

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There are many freelancers who advertise that they can do apps, but cost and quality is a tradeoff just like anything else. You pay for quality, service, and expertise. Freelancers, while many may be good, don’t typically have the resources needed to do larger, more sophisticated apps, like Poket Nomad.

If your app has many features, databases, social media integration, payment portals, etc. you should find a firm that knows what they are doing, and will still be around if something goes wrong. But how do you know if a development team is trustworthy and will be able to deliver?

Offshore developers

Another option is offshore developers.  These can be hit and miss, but may be able to do the app within your budget, if you’re lucky enough to find a trustworthy agency.  Things to look for are their reviews, their past work, and more reviews.

How they communicate with clients is probably the most important thing when looking for an offshore developer.  If you can understand broken English, or know a second language, then offshore developers might be a good choice for you.  Otherwise, it is going to be difficult to communicate and get exactly what you want in the end.

Mike tried an offshore developer that appeared to have good reviews, and was one of the best prices. After 4 months of design, and a bunch of money, the agency wasn’t delivering on time, and wasn’t always good with communication. Eventually Mike had to look for another developer.

When he found one, they told him that all the code wasn’t up to par with iOS and Android standards and would have to be done all over again. Realizing they knew what they were doing and actually cared about the quality of the product was a good indicator that they are a good team and would get it done the right way.

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From Development to Publishing

Publishing an app, especially in the iOS app store, requires foresight and a knowledge of all the standards during development. You cannot design the app however you want, some graphics will not be acceptable, some features are supposed to be done a certain way. Along the way, the developer should be keeping you updated with everything, releasing prototype versions of the app for you to see, and take feedback for any tweaks you might want.

Mike’s developers offered suggestions and even critical design advice that sometimes changed the whole look of one part of the app, because they have experience and know a lot about user experience (UX/UI).

Developers will typically charge you along the way, and won’t make you pay in full until the app is done and published. Also, make you know the developer’s policy about maintenance and bug fixes as there will be bugs after publishing. After publishing, you need to market the app, or you won’t get any downloads!

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