Choosing the right web development partner for your business often isn’t easy.
There are many factors you need to consider, not all of them obvious. Here’s a quick walkthrough of the process, with the following steps: preparing to begin a cooperation with a web development company, doing a background check on your future partner, and making sure their expertise is the right fit for your project.
Preparations you need to make when choosing a web development company
First of all, it’s important to know your budget.
It’s not at all easy to establish what resources you are willing to pour into a project.
Are you going to keep the budget flexible to deal with changing requirements, shifts on the market, or new and better ideas? Or do you want a quick execution of a rigid plan? Is development going to follow a defined timeline?
The decision you make at this point may help you achieve on-time delivery and avoid roadblocks preventing you from developing new features.
Knowing your market is just as important.
A good web development team will bring in a lot of valuable know-how and help you build an amazing product, but you also need to have some market expertise to know what your users want, how and under what circumstances they’ll be using your app, what their habits and preferences are, what monetisation or subscription options will work for them, and much more.
You need to know what you want to build, more or less, but not necessarily how to do it.
A good web development company should be your partner and advisor. They should be able to understand your business goals and know how to achieve them on your market.
If you work with people who complete the tasks you give them without offering suggestions or advice, you’ll miss out on the vast business knowledge many development teams acquire over years of working on various commercial projects.
Focus on taking advantage of what they know, and don’t hire people who don’t want to share their experience.
One way your partner may be able to help you is by advising you on how to begin a successful project.
In many cases, it’s a good idea to focus on building a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) first. As the name suggests, an MVP is the smallest version of your app that can be tested on real users.
It’ll let you launch your product much more quickly, gain traction, and receive feedback from actual users. It’s an excellent way to validate your idea and limit costs (users will let you know, for example, which features are unnecessary, so that you don’t waste time building them).
You’ll be able to observe your product on the market, see what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly. A good development partner can help you make all the decisions needed to build a well-defined MVP.
For bigger projects, make sure your partner offers workshops, like scoping sessions or product design sprints.
A scoping session is a meeting for people involved in the project on your and your development partner’s side. It’s a time for you to go through all the aspects of project planning together and build a custom roadmap for an outstanding app that fits your vision.
Our experience shows that scoping sessions have a major positive impact on the final outcome of the products we create.
A product design sprint promotes a practical approach to solving business problems through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. It’s a workshop and a methodology first introduced by Google Ventures.
Each day is another phase of problem-solving and allows us to understand the project’s business needs and vision better. We’ve used PDS successfully in finding the right solutions for apps, building new features, and achieving business goals.
Throughout your preparations, think about the business goals you want to achieve with each aspect of your software development project. Goal-oriented design tends to give better results than focusing on what exactly you want to build.
It may lead to new ways of reaching your goals, and it should help you stay more in touch with what your users want.
A good web development company will be able to assist you in maintaining the right focus, and will use the knowledge they gained working with other companies to advise you.
Though their experience with your market is likely to be somewhat smaller than yours, they probably have a much broader view of what solutions and strategies work for companies building digital products.
Running a background check on your future team
Make sure you know who you’ll be working with. It’s usually easy to learn a lot through direct communication with the company, straight from the source.
1. Look at the company’s clients, paying attention to references and recommendations
Check out the case studies they’ve published and ask them about the ones that look interesting.
Find out what their client retention rate is, and make sure your future partner can provide you with the full scope of services needed for your projects (design, development, testing, consulting, project management, etc.).
It’s always easier to work with one company, rather than several separate providers.
2. Find out whether you’ll get a dedicated team for the project.
You should have access to a person dedicated to communicating with you, for instance, a Project Manager.
Good companies will also provide you with a person responsible for flawless cooperation and communication, such as a Customer Success Representative.
Make sure that you have the cooperation process established: who will be responsible for updates, creating content, testing the app, etc. Neglecting this step can lead to miscommunication and disappointment.
3. Make sure the company is able to be a partner that understands your business goals and is ready to provide consultations
We recommend a web development company that will be able to provide domain knowledge and experience related to the non-technical and the technical side of development in equal measure.
Their work allows them to observe technology-specific trends (e.g. serverless, AI, blockchain, cloud computing, PWA) and more general ones such as best stack selection, security measures but also best design and user experience trends to bring out all the potential from the business.
4. Check is whether your partner will choose the best hosting for your app
Does the company offer support after the project is done? Can you meet the team and talk to them about your project and your needs?
These are all good practices and you should expect them from a good technological partner.
5. Technical expertise and deep knowledge of the development process are a must
Make sure your team will be able to integrate your project with third-party providers. Take a look at their development process and see whether it fits how your company operates.
Check your partner’s company history, paying attention to how long they’ve been on the market, and whether they are growing, reducing or stagnating.
Are they responsive whenever you initiate communication?
Pay attention to their social media and blog.
Focusing on the results you want
1. Make sure the technologies and processes your development company works with are a good fit for your project
Is the quote comprehensive and detailed enough to make you feel that you can build your product together? It’s good to make sure your partner’s quote is flexible and gives you a range of estimations for the project, keeping possible changes in mind.
Fixed-price agreements may seem safer, but it’s often an illusion. In reality, a fixed quote might mean no room for changes to the requirements, or that there will be a lot of buffer in preparation for changes, which will make you overpay.
2. Take a hard look at the various elements of the quote
Does it state how much each element will cost? Is the quote broken down into development, design, support, and testing?
A lump sum suggests that not much research into the development process for your app has been done. This may result in underestimating project costs and friction between you and the development team later.
3. Talk to the team about the technologies that have been selected for your project
Are they adequate for your business problems? Are they modern, popular solutions, or something old or niche? Will the stack your partner picked be easy to support and expand several years from now?
You don’t necessarily need to know the answers to these questions, but if that’s the case, make sure your partner answers them for you. And remember that a company with only one stack will probably advise using the technologies they have expertise in, which might not be best for your project.
Listen to the arguments behind the choices being made and use your judgement or a second opinion to determine whether they’re good ones.
The software development market is changing rapidly, with new solutions and challenges seemingly appearing every day.
A good development company will put every effort into staying on top of these changes, investing in their team’s education and even creating entirely new jobs. Make sure your partner isn’t lagging behind their competition in this respect.
Choosing the company
Choosing the right web development company for your project isn’t an exact science.
With the information included in this article, you should be able to verify your potential partner and decide whether or not they will push your business towards success. Remember that your company’s growth is very much dependent on the people you decide to work with.
Do you want to talk about your idea? We’re here to help you.