Buying local. This is the catch cry you hear when you’re heading to the supermarket, but does it really apply when you want to build a mobile or web app? The answer – Yes. While there are plenty of talented app developers in cities and countries outside your own, here are the things to think about before you sign on the dotted line.
Better collaboration and communication equals a better app.
Designing and developing a quality mobile or web app requires a close collaboration between the specialists in your business and the app development company. One of the most important steps in an app development process is confirming and understanding the apps’ users, the problem the app is trying to solve and the business goals.
The best and easiest way to achieve this is getting strategy, design and product specialists from an app development company in a room side-by-side with stakeholders from your business, or with your users. Something you can’t achieve with an offshore team.
The next best thing is using tools to facilitate these discussions remotely, like Zoom, a video and audio conferencing software which also enables screen sharing. So why then does it matter if your app developers are overseas? Time zones and potential language barriers are two reasons. From a user research perspective, having an understanding of the local culture and context of use of the app will also make it easier for local app designers to produce an intuitive app user experience.
Another option which can be tempting to businesses is to get the app designs done locally and then outsource the coding. However, it is invaluable when designers and engineers can collaborate from the outset and that this collaboration and communication continues through the project.
Why? Designs done in isolation can lead to technical and functional issues down the track. For example, some designs could require hours of development time. If developers are consulted during the design process, alternative ways to achieve the same goal could be identified leveraging available technologies. Changing designs during development is a very costly exercise. Particularly if you need to approach another agency to rework the designs.
You know where you stand with a local app development agency (and they know you)
While getting your app built offshore may seem cost effective, particularly if you are looking to save money initially, in the longer term it can end up costing your more.
The most obvious area where this can occur is the quality of the code. There are also other considerations to explore if you are considering an offshore supplier – code security, ways to get your money back if the app doesn’t function as intended, which IP and consumer laws will the app developers be bound by.
With a local app development company, you are also more likely to get a better feel for which developers from the agency are working on your project and their experience and expertise. A myth is that the more resources that can be assigned to a project, the faster you can build the app. This is not the case. Most app projects are not big enough to warrant more than 2-3 developers working on them at any one time before you start treading on each other’s toes and potentially impacting cost, time and quality.
The more developers that are involved, the more risk there is to the quality of the code. While this may not be evident when you launch your app, it will become evident in the longer term when you go to change developer for version two. It is not unusual for local app developers to have to re-write code before they will be happy to take on a previously outsourced app.
Another consideration is that local app developers understand the local market – your market. It means they’ve likely tackled some of the same problems you’re looking to solve in previous projects. It also means they can hit the ground running faster and have a better understanding of the space you’re entering.
There are always trade-offs in delivering any project. So when it comes to building your app, consider whether you prioritise time, cost or quality. What will the impact of outsourcing be and most importantly, will it impact your brand.
Guy Cooper is Managing Director of Wave Digital, an Australian app development company founded in 2000. He is a business owner and tech entrepreneur who works with founders, executives and fellow business owners to bring their app idea to life. @wavedigitalaus.