How to choose the right development partner for your project

8 min read

By application, I am referring here to web-based applications, such as a CRM, website, or dashboard, and mobile applications, both iOS and Android.

In our app-driven era, every business needs a stellar digital presence to stay competitive. But not all apps are created equal – building a high-impact app that becomes a core asset requires finding the perfect development partner.

This makes choosing the right application development company one of the most critical technology decisions an organization can make.

Let us explore how to pick the ideal development partner to bring your digital visions to life and maximize value.


Rising App-etite: Web and Mobile

First, why does demand for custom web and mobile app development continue to skyrocket?

Beyond just consumer mobile apps generating over $700 billion in revenue, enterprise spending on internal web apps like intranets, dashboards, and custom CRM platforms also hits billions annually.

According to a survey by Clutch, the median cost of developing a web app in 2020 was $75,000, with some projects costing up to $500,000 or more. However, this does not mean that you cannot get an application done for less than $75k.

You can even get an app done for as low as $10,000, depending on what you want, how much you want, and who you hire to build it.

According to Precedence, the global enterprise application market size was estimated at USD 241 billion in 2022 and is predicted to hit around USD 480.75 billion by 2032, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.2% during the forecast period 2023 to 2032.

A core driver is that apps have become the primary digital touchpoint between companies and their stakeholders – from customers to employees.

According to a report by App Annie, a mobile data and analytics firm, global consumers are now spending an average of 4.2 hours per day using apps on their smartphones, an increase of 30% from just two years prior. 

Source- Exploding Topics

The report also states that apps account for 90% of internet time on smartphones and 77% of internet time on all devices. For businesses, in-house web apps boost employee productivity by 40% or more by optimizing workflows. Apps delight customers through gamification and personalization.

But apps aren’t just shiny toys – they must tightly align with business objectives and audience needs to deliver ROI.

This makes your development partner’s skills and strategic approach paramount, whether you’re an entrepreneur with an app idea or an enterprise enhancing internal systems.

If you are an early-stage startup or a person who has an awesome idea for a startup, a seasoned dev team can turn your vision into an MVP.

Established brands like Nike create apps to gamify customer experiences and humanize their brand. Intra-company platforms help managers track KPIs in real-time at a glance.

I strongly suggest that you get your design and prototype right and tested before spending your money on development, which can be an expensive process.

You can use the sample below to calculate the ROI of your design process before making an investment.

Source: Palette69/Calculating the ROI & ROE of Design

No matter the use case, choosing the right partner ensures your app becomes a core business asset driving growth.


The Dev Date Mindset

Think of selecting an app developer like going on an important first date. You want someone you vibe with, trust, and can build a long-term relationship with.

Apps evolve iteratively post-launch, so changing partners’ mid-stream can derail your entire digital roadmap.

Take Company X, a startup building an on-demand delivery app. They rushed the developer choice, focusing only on cost. After launch, they realized the barebones product didn’t meet customer expectations. Pivoting to a new shop delayed their timeline by 6+ months.

In contrast, Company Y thoroughly vetted developers based on vision fit, technical competence, communication habits, and scalability. This alignment resulted in a superior v1 that exceeded user traction forecasts. They’ve now partnered for 3+ years to evolve the app.

Approach your search as you would a leadership hire. Consider the table below showing the potential risks of misalignment:

This developer could be your collaborator for years – so vet thoroughly across culture, expertise, communication, and vision fit. Think of it like a marriage – alignment means longevity.

The information shared is based on experience, which he has observed from the customer’s point of view, but there cannot be any thumb rule – it is all about finding the right partner and aligning your vision with your timeline.

The true judges are the users for whom you are building!


Must-Have Qualities

When reviewing potential partners, keep these vital criteria in mind:

Experience and Portfolio – Review projects they’ve launched successfully, especially in your industry. Examine case studies to understand their typical process. Strong past performance indicates the ability to deliver.

Technical Expertise – Look for mastery of mobile, web, and back-end development in frameworks that are best suited to your needs.

Agile Approach – Seek out developers committed to agile, iterative methods focused on continuous testing and improvement. This can vary based on your requirements.

Communication Skills – Confirm they’re responsive, transparent communicators who discuss issues proactively. Ensure they’re fluent in your business terminology.

Pricing Models – Compare hourly, dedicated team, fixed cost, and ongoing retainer structures. Align pricing with your budget needs and how actively you’ll manage the dev team.

Scalability – Determine if they can flexibly ramp team size and skills to match evolving needs post-launch. They can do this easily if they are established for more than 5 years. 

Culture Fit – Gauge if your values, personalities and work styles mesh. You’ll collaborate extensively, so a shared mindset and trust are crucial.

Look for obsession and hunger – This might be a difficult attribute to find, considering most teams are commercially competing with each other. If you can get that, it is a winning combination.

Ask probing questions about each area above. Just like an important first date, look for green rather than red flags. If your app intuition says this partner’s “the one”, dig deeper into specifics.


Envisioning Beyond Code

While developers code your app to life, great partnerships provide end-to-end product design as well. Finding a team offering strategy, UX, and visual design avoids lopsided execution down the line.

Upfront, dig into user personas, workflows, and pain points through collaborative workshops. Wireframe priority features and outline a phased rollout focusing on core jobs to be done first.

Use prototypes to visualize interactions and test with real users pre-build. Ensure the information architecture and UI align with goals before writing a single line of code.

During development, align on frameworks and components to enable consistency and reuse across features. Over-communicate through issue trackers, design reviews, and daily syncs.

In essence, articulate not just what you want built, but how you want users to feel and engage at each touchpoint. Keeping the experience vision centre stage leads to unified digital products that hit the mark.

If you want to explore the difference between a Product designer, a UX Designer and a UI Designer here is a blog you need to read – A Comprehensive Guide to UI, UX, and Product Design

Having a tech co-founder or an in-house expert can be very beneficial for your start-up. They can help you make informed decisions about your product development and strategy, as well as attract investors who value technical expertise.

Moreover, they can help you assess the developers you hire or outsource, based on criteria such as code quality, scalability, maintainability, and security.


Going Steady with Your App Partner

Once your app is live, the real bonding begins through ongoing nurturing. Regular app updates and features keep users engaged as needs evolve. Think of it like dating – consistency and effort build strong relationships!

While certainly an investment, sticking with your aligned partner for app stewardship pays dividends. Some view the launch as the finish line, but it’s really the beginning of maximizing value.

Like any milestone, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your digital presence thrives through purposeful enhancement fuelled by a shared roadmap and vision.
For example, Spotify – Post-launch, Spotify kept users engaged by releasing innovations like personalized Discover Weekly playlists, remote listening via Spotify Connect, and yearly listening recaps.
They also teamed up with Facebook for social sharing, Uber for in-ride music, and Starbucks for in-store music ID. Plus, new offerings like Spotify Lite, Kids, and HiFi extended their tunes to more listeners.
By continually refining and expanding offerings aligned to emerging user needs, Spotify has hit all the right notes in cementing its position in music streaming. Like any meaningful relationship, investing in thoughtful growth unlocks lasting value.

The key is choosing a flexible partner who can scale efforts and expertise as required over time. With the right fit, your app will keep maturing – and the happiness will compound!



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