How to choose an app developer

Finding an app developer isn’t difficult – but finding the right one to build an app for your specific business or your specific idea can be more challenging.

Why? Because app developers come in many flavours, with varying levels of experience and expertise, as well as vast differences in their understanding of all other aspects of app development, such as customer research and marketing.

Choosing the right developer can make the difference between your app being a hit with your customers and it being something they’ll never use and, of course, choosing the wrong one can affect your reputation and, ultimately, your bottom line.

So, it’s crucial to take your time and perform a little research before putting your business and its reputation into someone else’s hands. After all, this due diligence could save you a lot more than just money.

Here are nine questions to ask yourself – or your potential app developer – before signing on the dotted line.

How to choose an app developer in Melbourne

What experience do you have developing apps?

It may sound obvious but does your prospective app developer have any real experience developing native apps? Anyone who has completed even the most basic online app development course can dub themselves a mobile developer, but be sure to ask them to show you what apps they’ve built.

If a developer’s repertoire comprises mostly template rebuilds or smaller apps on a platform other than the one you wish to build on, they may not have the experience necessary to properly pull off your job.

That’s why you need to look for an app developer who has experience building mobile solutions for trustworthy brands, a developer or team of developers who have credibility because they’ve developed complex apps before.

Have you worked in my industry/category?

While you wouldn’t necessarily discount a mobile app developer who hadn’t built an app similar to the one brewing in your mind or within your industry, it’s always wise to ask this question.

If they have worked in your industry or category, it means they’ve likely tackled some of the same problems that you’ll be trying to solve or that they’ve worked with others in that industry and, therefore, have proven ability in that sector.

It also mean they can hit the ground running faster than someone who hasn’t worked in the industry and that they have a better understand of the space you’re entering better than a developer who has never worked in it before.

What about their experience with your platform/s of choice?

Though there are a number of third-party app development platforms that allow developers to write code once then deploy it to other platforms, writing code native to the iOS and Android ecosystems is always the preferable option if cost permits.

Writing code-native to the iOS and Android platforms allows developers to design a seamless user experience and properly leverage the device’s operating system and the device hardware, something which is difficult, if not impossible, if you use a cross-platform development tool.

An app developer that specialises only in iOS apps may not have the grasp of the Android platform your app will require, though this won’t matter if you’re only developing an app for, say, Apple devices, of course.  

Who’s on their team?

There will be projects that can be ably completed by a single developer, but if you’re creating a bigger app or, perhaps, looking to digitise your business practices or aggregate confidential data, you’re going to want more than one experienced person working on your app and this question is where most of the field of potential developers will fall away… very quickly.

Ask your developer who is on their team – if, indeed, they have one – and look them up online or on LinkedIn – or, better yet, ask to see their resumes.

Where have their team members worked? What positions have they held? What qualifications or experience do they have? How long have they been in the industry? What apps have they built?

While we would never discount computer science students and newly minted graduates (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg), it’s not terribly likely that the duo of computer science graduates offering to build your app at a bargain basement price (because they’re actually working out of their basement ) will be bound by the same legal, intellectual property or security considerations that a dedicated app building company or full-time app developer that is registered as a business would, so be wary.

Where can I download your app?

If you can’t find any of your prospective app developer’s work in one of the mobile markets, ask them for copies of apps they’ve built in the past – and they should hand over those details with pride and enthusiasm.

If they don’t, watch out!

Yes, some of their work may be confidential, but it’s unlikely that everything they’ve ever built was confidential. If that is the case, however, get them to walk you through the apps in person so they can show you what they’ve developed and you can get a feel for their products and quality of work.

If you do get hold of apps from their portfolio, play with them. Don’t just download them and peruse the first few screens, use them! Try to break them. Think about what you like and don’t like about their work and think about how this style would translate into your app, if they were chosen to build it.

How do their apps look?

Consider how the products they’ve developed look visually. How are they represented, not just in their apps, but on their websites and walk-throughs? How do they present their work? Do you like the look of it? How would you feel if your app looked like the apps in their portfolio?

The quality of their app and the quality of its overall look and feel are crucial. Modern customers are very savvy and work with products like Facebook and Google’s products every day, so they’re used to high-quality, easy-to-use software and they know intuitively when something is off visually. This is particularly try when it comes to users of each platform who are used to different usage patterns, and if you want to impress your audience then it is advisable to design for each platform separately.

Does your app developer have an in-house designer or does the programmer create the designs themselves? Think about all these things because if the interface is ugly or unusable, your customers won’t give you a second chance, they’ll just delete your app or leave a potentially damaging review!

iphone app developer melbourne

Where is the team located?

This is another really important question. There are plenty of skilled and talented app developers located in cities and countries outside your own but what is important is will you have access to them, even remotely?

Outsourcing your app development may seem cost effective in the short term, but in the long term, it can be problematic. For example, will there be language barriers? What about security of your code? Whose IP and consumer laws will your programmers be bound by and, should anything go wrong, is your code safe or will you get your money back?

What about timezones? Will you have access to the programmers or do you have to go through myriad Account Managers scattered across the globe or those whose mother tongue isn’t the same as yours?  Something always gets lost in translation, and different time zones can lead to lengthy delays.

Designing and developing a successful app requires a close collaboration between experts in your business and the app development agency. Your app agency side of this collaboration includes product, design, creative and technical experts. The ability to have those experts in a room side-by-side with stakeholders from your business is invaluable and something you can’t achieve with an offshore team.

Building an app always includes a trade-off between time, cost and quality – you can only ever choose two, so the question to ask yourself is which of the three is likely to be impacted if you choose an offshore team, and are you happy with the impact of that decision on your brand?

Will they provide references?

Will your prospective app developer provide you with references from previous customers? If not, you need to ask yourself why they wouldn’t do so. Do they have something to hide about the way they work or how they handled previous projects?

Random testimonials on the developer’s website are one thing (and they’re only any good if there’s a verifiable name and company attached to them anyway), but being put in touch with a customer you can talk to offers a whole other level of assurance for your future investment.

Ask references about the developer’s previous work and their interactions with them. Were there any issues? Did they make deadlines? Did costs blow out? How would they rate their experience with the developer overall?

Better yet, ask them if they’d ever choose to work with the developer again. The answer to that question will tell you everything you need to know, but always keep in mind that there are two sides to every story.

How much will it cost?

Of all these questions, this is the one every single potential client will ask at some stage, but even though price will always matter, the fact is you’ll always be able to find someone who can build your app (or says they can do it) within your budget.

Frankly, you’ll probably even be able to find someone who will do it for less, but cost shouldn’t be your only driver when it comes to building an app for your business.

In order to cut costs your potential app developer will also, likely, have to cut corners, whether that’s the size and experience of the development team or the time they can spend writing your code, securing your app or designing it.

Never, ever be driven solely by price because when it comes to building an app, you really do get what you do – or don’t – pay for.

Interested in building an app for your business? You can contact us here.


Mobile app security: five ways to prevent your app being hacked

While business owners across the Windows world weep over the recent crippling WannaCry ransomware attacks, mobile apps remain relatively untouched – for now. But it’s only a matter of time before hackers set their sights on infiltrating the 150+ billion apps sitting on smartphones across the globe.

However, with a little planning and forethought, there are several steps you can take to ensure your apps and the infrastructure supporting them aren’t brought down quite so easily by malicious code.

“There’s no such thing as an unhackable piece of software but what you can do is build apps that are as difficult to penetrate as possible,” says Guy Cooper, Managing Director of award-winning mobile app developer Wave Digital.

“The first and most simple solution to boosting your app security, of course, is to hire a reputable mobile app developer who understands – and has experience in – mobile security.

“You see, apps are no longer standalone pieces of software,’’ adds Guy. “They are supported by a range of other technologies and that is where more of the security concerns around app vulnerabilities are and your app developer must understand this – and have experience in securing mobile software.”

These developers will build apps that comply with the latest best practice mobile app security guidelines as published by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). However, even if you’ve had your app built by someone who, perhaps, doesn’t have experience in the field of mobile security, there are other steps you can take to shore up your app’s security.

Mobile app security: how to prevent your app being hacked

Perform an app security audit

If you’re not sure about how safe and secure your mobile app is, perform a security audit before it’s too late. Your app developer should be able to do this for you, but if not, there are several third-party services that can perform an app security audit of your Android, Windows or iOs apps, as well as any web-based software.

Security audits will assess how vulnerable your app and importantly the back-end infrastructure and databases that support your app are to an attack, as well as the testing of your app’s data transmission, storage and authentication procedures.

Stay up to date

Those most affected by the recent WannaCry hacks hadn’t updated their Windows operating systems with the various security patches and updates the developer, Microsoft, regularly offers. “This same principle applies to all software, including apps,’’ adds Cooper who says that 99 per cent of his clientele now take up the option of a security maintenance package.

By ensuring all the code running your app’s infrastructure is always up to date, your software won’t be as susceptible to many known vulnerabilities, which is exactly what hackers target.

“You need to have a maintenance agreement in place with your app developer,’’ adds Cooper. “That way, they’ll continually monitor the information on the software being used for updates and they’ll pro-actively update the various technologies used in your software as new vulnerabilities surface and new patches are released.”

Secure the data

Mobile app security extends to any data connected with it.

“Check that all data is being transmitted via SSL, just as a secure website or ecommerce site would do,” says Cooper, “and ensure that all sensitive data stored, be it on the cloud or on your own servers, is encrypted.”

Similarly, just as you would regularly change the password on your email, ensure that your business has procedures in place for changing passwords and access to the backend servers that store your app’s data and implementing two-factor authentication where appropriate.

If you’ve got an app which stores data on a user’s phone, it is useful to consider how often they are forced to change their password and how often the app forces the user to login again.

Backup the data

WannaCry works by locking users out of their own systems and the only way to regain access is to pay hackers $300 USD (hence the term ransomware). Check that your app developer has put in place appropriate data recovery and backup procedures – and, most importantly, that they’re regularly tested.

That way, if anything disastrous happens, like being hit by ransomware, you need only restore your last backup, which will always be a better option than losing everything. Just be sure that these backups are made regularly to minimise any data loss.


VicTraffic infrastructure scaling

VicTraffic traffic

Just as we’ve seen during the bushfires in 2014 and other years, and when incidents occur affecting the Melbourne road network like when a truck nearly fell off the Bolte Bridge in 2013, VicTraffic is experiencing extremely high spikes in visitor traffic volumes due to widespread flooding across much of Victoria.

VicTraffic

 

But also at this time, due to the flooding having such a far-reaching impact across almost the whole state of Victoria, VicTraffic is currently displaying more incidents (road closures, traffic alerts, detours, roads re-opened, road works, tow allocations) than ever before, to the best of our collective knowledge.

VicTraffic server loadThankfully, the clever AWS infrastructure behind VicTraffic is scaling as it is intended to, allowing the site to stay up and available to all users in times of very heavy load such as this.


ANMF Diary App knocks Medicare off #1 spot in iOS App Store

ANMF app in iOS app storeThe Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation’s (Victorian Branch) ANMF Diary App has been seeing strong download numbers, currently sitting at #3 in the Medical category for free apps in Apple’s iOS App Store.

ANMF iOS App Store downloads Dec 24 2015During launch, when the app was first released to members, it knocked Medicare’s Express Plus Medicare app off the #1 spot, which is no easy feat!

*Download stats courtesy App Annie

Launch Strategy

The ANMF are working through a solid launch strategy and have shared introductory literature with members as well as a step-by-step video to prepare users for an easy on-boarding process. This has all resulted in good user acquisition metrics so far.

ANMF Shift planner instructions

ATO Expenses tax receipt management app sees 63% year on year increase

Wave Digital’s very own tax receipt management app, ATO Expenses, has seen a substantial jump in it’s user base, with a 63% increase in downloads over the past 12 month period, when compared to the previous 12 months. ATO Expenses chart

The app was developed by the Wave team during one of our Wave Labs innovation events, and subsequently iterated upon to enhance the functionality of the app. With these enhancements, but little marketing and publicity, the app’s usage has  organically increased by quite a large percentage year-on-year.

ATO Expenses app
ATO expenses 7750 usersTotal downloads are now up to 7,750 units, a number Wave are keen to see grow over the coming 12 months.

ATO Expenses helps keep track of all of your shopping receipts, and streamlines your tax return processing at the end of the financial year. With Christmas shopping in full swing right now, make sure you don’t lose track of your receipts come June 2016 by downloading ATO Expenses now.

 

Download on the App Store


And that’s a wrap for 2015

…not quite yet. With only a few days to go for this year, we’re right in the middle of post-launch mode with a number of projects in their final sprints.

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As 2015 wraps up, the team at Wave Digital would like to share with you some of our recent work and wish you all a Merry Christmas. Stay tuned throughout 2016 as we share tech and industry insights with you.

Wave’s offices will be closed from midday Wednesday December 23rd, and reopen on Monday January 4th.

We wish all of you a Merry Christmas. As always clients can contact us with support queries at support@wavedigital.com.au.

All the best for a successful 2016 from the team at Wave Digital.


ANMF appLaunch

December has been a busy month for the Wave team with multiple projects reaching a crescendo.

Hot off the press. Check out the app store for the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation’s new Diary App just released today!  It’s the best shift-planner out there, and also a great tool for the nurses & midwives on the wards.


Map CoffeeMap Coffee are a long-standing Wave client and we have been working closely in-tandem with them throughout the last half of the year to deliver their innovative Map Coffee Club and most recently a complete redesign of their website.

This site went live earlier this week.


DealMaxDealMax‘s new site was launched late this year also, and features some innovative UX and cutting edge JS for a very streamlined form submission process.

Head over and check out their offering and get yourself some personalised quotes directly from lenders.


Growth

2015 saw Wave Digital bringing in new staff to all areas of the business.

Back in January, our Digital Project Manager, Nick Craig, joined us and has since then set about improving project delivery and internal systems. Nick’s strong project management experience and delivery methodologies such as Agile and TOGAF have been a boon to the business.

May saw Wave recruit an Account Director, David Scott, to ensure Wave’s exceptional client service and the Wave Way of listening and educating is delivered to clients. Wave Digital and Sitepoint Group stalwart, Ciaran Ryan relocated his young family back to Ireland during June also.


Hiring again

Wave are expanding again, recruiting a Digital Designer to add to our stable. Head on over to Seek, and share it with anyone you may know, or send them our way.

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RealTime Health Win at iAwards

Congratulations to RealTime Health with their GoShare app developed by Wave Digital, winning a Merit Award at the Victorian iAwards ceremony on Tuesday night.

It’s great news for Dr Tina Campbell and her team, with a fantastic achievement in the competitive health category. We wish them all the best of luck for the national finals!
iAwards Logo

Parks Discovery: Native iOS and Android Universal apps launched

parks_discovery_androidThe Parks Discovery app from Parks Victoria has just been released. The app is available on both iOS and Android, and in both mobile and tablet format.

Parks Victoria approached Wave Digital a few months back with a problem to solve. Their former magazine was in need of digitisation so Wave Digital made our recommendations and the concept for the Parks Discovery app was borne.

The app consists of two broad sections, one called Parks Magazine which contains interesting articles on Victoria’s parks, and a Parks Directory.

Wave worked with Parks Victoria to populate both sections of the apps separately. We broke the magazine section requirements into a CSV template that could be completed by the client, then associated all necessary images with the correct article. The directory component proved more challenging. We solved the challenge by building a custom map interface which had an overlay of all of the parks’ locations.

Continue reading…


RACT’s Driver Training App wins at 2014 App Design Awards

Wave Digital worked with RACT to develop an app that would take the pain out of completing the Learner Driver logbook. Targeting all learner drivers in Tasmania, the app allows users to use their iPhones to log their hours, answer practice questions, and record supervisor signatures for each drive.

ract_iphone5s ract-2_iphone5-2The ultimate aim of the app is produce better, safer drivers in Tasmania. Users are presented with pie charts that show what conditions they have or haven’t driven in, encouraging them to experience the widest possible range of driving conditions  during their learning stages.

The app is another example of a client working with Wave Digital to digitise a paper-based process with the overall aim of providing a better user experience.

The app uses innovative GPS tracking to allow users to autolog the distances they’ve travelled, plus it prepopulates the app with details like driver name, rego etc. Continue reading…


ATO Expenses – V2

ato-expenses-icon

Just in time for tax time, Wave Digital has launched the new and improved ATO Expenses app.

Since it was launched last year, the app has received some great feedback, and featured in the ‘Hot’ category in iTunes for over 3 months.

We’re not sure if Apple’s algorithm needs some tweaking – ‘Hot’ and ‘Tax’ are usually mutually exclusive words.

Features that were requested by users throughout the year include

  • Ability to export image files. This has been complete and each user will be able to view their previous claims emailed through a zip file.
  • Issues exporting summaries – this has been addressed and fixed.
  • Ability to categorize expenses using your own category names and descriptions. The app has been created to comply with the ATO’s expense categories to simplify processes for eTax users. However, V2 of the app also allows users to name their own categories, and even allocate codes to them if necessary
  • Next financial year. And the one after. Done – the app has been updated until June 2016.

As always, we’re keen to hear your feedback, suggestions, and feature requests.

Please continue to use our contact form to share your thoughts on the app.