Rescue Projects: The reality behind bad app builds
As the person in charge of new business development here at Gospelware I have to send out an apology in this piece.
We have experienced a recent spike in number of rescue projects that have landed on our doorstep. Clients have came to us with half an app, broken apps, and apps that haven’t met the time scale, promise, or budget because their supplier simply failed to take the time to ask some basic questions before they started coding.
So, the apology goes out to those clients, on behalf of our industry, in an attempt to win back your confidence in the power of a really good app.
Choosing the right company for your app build
If you’re in the market for an app here is what you need to look for in an agency:
- Are they asking ‘why?’ a lot?
- Have they said ‘no’ to anything you have suggested?
- Was their first question ‘who is your end user?’.
If not, you have to ask yourself who they are building this app for. Because (no offence) it shouldn’t primarily be you. You do of course need to be getting what you need from the app you’re paying so much money for. But if you haven’t focussed primarily on your end user, their experience, their expectations and their needs then they aren’t going to use it and you have wasted your money.
This is where your agency should come in. They are experts in what they do just as you are experts in your field. We can’t hope to achieve your level of expertise in the time it takes to build an app, but we should be having a darn good try!
Around 40% of a project with us happens before a single line of code is written. Our engineers are usually involved from the second or third conversation (where my job usually turns into that of a language translator!)
Our clients span a wide variety of sectors and their challenges, naturally, are widely different. Some clients come to us with a fully fledged and well spec’d plan, some with just a crazy idea.
Some have a big pot of cash and know how much they want to spend, some need help finding the funding and have no clue how much an app costs (think in the region of £20,000 - £250,000, it depends on what you want! And please bear in mind that it has taken a LOT of engineers a LOT of years to build Facebook, social networks are not cheap).
But, because we build for each of these clients individually; everything we build is equally unique - so how could we possibly hope to create an effective solution if we don’t ask questions?
Understanding your vision
By understanding as much as possible about your end user and how your app can help them, by asking ‘why?’, we can put ourselves in their shoes and start to understand and predict their user behaviour. If we understand them we can build an experience that works for them, preempts them, delights them. So to us this is the single most important part of the process.
Our Yoda-level designers and developers can build pretty much anything, but, having worked in ‘online’ for 12 years now, what astounds me every day is their determination to understand and build around two key elements - what the client needs and what the end user experiences. They make my job easy (but don’t tell them that, they’ll be insufferable).
You can’t put a price on ‘appiness
The final and main reason that rescue projects end up on our doorstep, is money. Cliched I know, but you really do get what you pay for. So here is some advice - get 3 quotes, take the top one and ask that agency to write down exactly what features/functionality they’re quoting you for. This gives you two things:
Peace of mind that they have understood your challenge and come up with an appropriate solution
A feature/function list that you can take (though it’s courteous to ask them first) to the other two companies and request that they quote you for the exact same list
When you shell out this kind of money you need to trust your delivery partners. Be aware that if you add a feature half way through the build, there will be a cost attached to it, but there should never be hidden fees. Know that mobile technology changes incredibly fast and updates come out regularly, your agency should have one eye on the future at all times, pre-empting any major changes and how they may affect your investment.
Building a good client/company relationship
One of our clients recently gave us the quote below and we’re so proud of it that I wanted to take this chance to share it. It sums us up far more succinctly than I. But my main reason for sharing it is to highlight the relationship you will build with a good agency, who build you a good solution.
“Top team producing award-winning work. Cannot fault the talent, vision and sheer hard work these guys produce. The project felt like a true collaboration - and you don't get that with many companies. What's more, they're the kind of people you're happy to grab a beer with outside of work.”
It is an unfortunate truth that we will continue to see rescue projects land on our board room table. If you’ve read this far, hopefully yours won’t be one of them….
Jenni Byers Gospelware Business Development Manager
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