Meeting An App Developer
You’re meeting an app developer. It might be quite sudden or perhaps you’ve been planning for some time.
Either way you want to get the most out of it you can.
So read on.
Different times call for different measures. Our focus here is to outline the key milestones you’ll experience from first meeting to deciding on the app developer that’s right for you. We recommend reading it all to get the full picture but feel free to jump to the section that’s most relevant to you and come back later if you’re tight for time.
As always, we’ve included some tips on the side like this for extra insight.
Progression is the goal
Let’s get practical. Know who you’re meeting – the agency and if possible the specific person(s).
What previous work have they done?
Are they specialists or generalists?
Do I know anyone who may have knowledge/experience of them?
Ideally you have confirmed these before you arrange a meeting but if not, it’s essential you have gathered some intel before the meeting itself.
It’s also worth remembering to treat any meeting like a pitch. You want to impress the app developer and they want to impress you. Being prepared, confident and establishing good rapport can make all the difference. It helps get everyone in the right frame of mind to give their very best input and ensure you walk away with the best insight you possibly can.
Beyond this when meeting an app developer, it’s about knowing what you are there for and setting expectations accordingly. There are general stages to consider when getting an app. The following questions will help you get an idea of where you are so you can make the most of your time with a developer.
Stage 1: App Idea Feasibility
Do you know if your idea for an app is technically possible? If you are looking to bring a familiar idea to a new market, or combine existing ideas into something new this is usually a given. If however what you are thinking of has never been done and may pose an innovative challenge, this changes your focus for the meeting. Meeting an app developer should in this case be about understanding why it has not been done before? What are the technical challenges? Do they have any ideas about how it may be done?
If you are looking to do something that’s a technical challenge, there may well be support out there to help you. If you’re in Scotland, we recommend asking your Business Gateway and/or Scottish Enterprise advisor for guidance.
Stage 2: Prototype
Once you know your idea is possible and have an idea of how it may be done, it’s time to get real. Real as in you want to think of how you can mock up the app so you can get feedback and ‘buy in’ from the stakeholders that will make the app successful.
This doesn’t have to be all singing, all dancing – but it should become more and more realistic until you are satisfied the app is worth building. It can start by yourself with some scribbles on a bit of paper and go as far as ending up with a click-through mock-up that’s hard to distinguish from the real thing.
Questions for developers at this stage are driven by the feedback you are receiving. Do you need them to develop a prototype to continue to get feedback? If so, what feedback do you want as a result of the prototype? Being clear on this will help steer and tailor the prototype go gain the feedback you need and potentially save money doing it.
This helps establish the goals of the prototype and put any potential costs into context. It is also worth checking the developer’s thoughts on what you have. Do they see any potential app store compliance issues? Any improvements that could be made to usability, navigation or more efficient functioning of the app?
Prototyping: We recommend starting by drawing out your vision page by page (if you’re bad at drawing, make a collage based on other apps). Once a little further on, Adobe XD can be great as well – providing you are comfortable with the software.
Stage 3: Development
Once you’re here, it’s time to look at bringing your app to life. It’s about selecting a team you trust to do that. A number of factors come into play so we’re going to break it down. As such, we have a full article dedicated to preparing your project for success coming next week. For now, let’s focus on what you want to get out of that first meeting.
First and foremost, what do they know about your idea? Have they been involved with the idea before this point? If not, it’s a good time to do your elevator pitch. This gets everyone up to speed and excited about the idea. Using your elevator pitch also ensures you don’t divulge any proprietary or confidential information (more on this subject later).
Once everyone’s up to speed with the idea it’s time to fill in any remaining gaps or questions you have with regards to them. Was there anything on their website that caught your eye? Anything not on their website you would like to know? this initial part is fairly easy and smooth running. The aim is just to spot any red flags that you would consider deal-breakers or potential risk factors.
Now that you are both up to speed and have the information you need, the remainder of this meeting should be about you gaining their thoughts and insights. Based on what they have heard, how would they go about the planning and implementation of the development process? What are the key challenges in their opinion? What do they see as the biggest potential risks? Do they have thoughts on the potential costs and timelines? How would they advise is the best way to approach the build to get you the end product you want?
It’s likely that you will also receive questions as the developer will be wanting to fill in any blanks that could impact their answers. This is good as you can take note of their questions as it will give you an insight into their thinking and what may effect your project. It’s also understandable that either (or both) of you may have to follow up via email after the meeting as you may well need time to confirm answers and/or thoughts.
Having achieved these points, you will be walking away with a gut feeling as well as solid rationale on any potential involvement of the app developers as well as a better picture of the development of your app.
Before you forget
It has to be said. Consider an Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) should be the first thing on your mind. Discussing your idea and resulting implications for your app may mean disclosing information and/or materials you consider to be sensitive. Better safe than sorry so we recommend using an NDA and having it signed before the meeting. Meeting an app developer should be about discussing aspects relevant to development – if not having an NDA in place impacts this, you’re not making the most of your time or theirs. Having an NDA in place let’s you speak more freely and also allows the agency to know the full story so you can get the best advice possible. If you withhold information, it may later impact the advice and/or costs associated with your app. That’s not in anyone’s best interests.
Coming prepared also means nailing the basics. Taking notes can be a distraction. You want to stay present in the conversation and establish a good flow. As a result, many app developers will already look to record meetings, but if they don’t make sure to ask and ensure it’s fine that you do. It helps you get as much out of the time as possible.
Similarly, from you own perspective try to be as clear with yourself as possible regarding what you do and don’t know. Remember that you are there to further your progress. So it’s good to take note of what is currently stopping you from progressing. If it’s something they may be able to help with, make sure to bring it up in the meeting.
If you don’t already have an NDA, there is support out there that can help you get one. The app developer should have one of their own you can check. Either way, our recommendation is still to get a lawyer to look over it.
Our aim is to share experience in the hope it saves you time, hassle and money. We’re keen to hear your ideas for future posts so please get in touch. Thank you!
At Ngage, we’ve had the pleasure of developing apps for amazing organisations and entrepreneurs from around the world. From prototypes for aspiring start-ups seeking user validation to an enterprise app being gathering input for international projects spanning continents. So what have we learnt so far? More importantly, how can we use it to help you?