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Product Development

Mobile App Development Questionnaire

Amit Ashwini
October 5, 2017

Whether you're researching mobile development companies for the first time or you're looking to develop your next version iOS and Android apps, you should prepare to answer questions about your mobile app project.

During the request for proposal (RFP) process, share information openly with all vendors to ensure each vendor is using the same information to estimate your project. Just as you want to learn more about the technical capabilities, design expertise and industry experience of the development companies you contact, your vendors want to learn more about your company, product requirements and business model.

While we don't ask or require you to answer all these questions, prepare to answer as many questions in this app development questionnaire as you can to receive accurate cost and timeline estimates for your app. If you're feeling overwhelmed, we're happy to walk you through the most important questions and help you answer them.

About You and Your Company

How do you like to work? Tell us about you and your company and we'll share our processes and best practices. When you share your goals, we deliver an app that exceeds your expectations.

How many mobile app projects have you managed? Help us understand your personal experience overseeing mobile software projects. Is this your first mobile project or have you successfully launched a dozen mobile apps?

How often does your company build custom software? Are we going to teach your team about software development processes or does your team contract out several custom software development projects annually?

Has your company built a mobile app before? Does your company have experience building end-to-end mobile apps? Do your stakeholders understand mobile apps present a different set of usability and development challenges?

How does your app make money or reduce costs? How will your mobile app either generate new revenue streams or create operational efficiencies that reduce costs? Does your business model include advertising, in-app purchases or subscription pricing? How does your app make employees more productive?

Why is your company building this app now? What is your motivation for building this app now? What's the strategic importance? Did a competitor just release an app? Have you been thinking about this for some time?

Does your app have a target launch date? Do you need to release this app for a conference or trade show deadline? What else influences the timeline? If you're releasing an iOS app, does Apple need to approve it by the same target release date?

What's your budget for this project? Can you give us a budget range to ensure we're good partners for each other? How tight is your budget? Are you willing to break your project into phases if we can't deliver your entire scope for your budget?

How much money has your startup raised? Is your company a self-funded, seed funded or VC backed startup? Will this app help you raise your next round of financing?

How do you measure success? Can you share the qualitative and quantitative criteria you'll use to measure success? Do you have revenue or new user targets?

Design Driven Development

We utilize a design-driven development process to give our development team a clear understanding of your requirements, keeping your project within budget and on schedule. Because good mobile UI/UX design requires mobile design expertise, you should look for individuals or agencies with extensive mobile design experience.

If you want to design your app,

  • Did you hire a mobile designer? Does the designer you hired come from a web design background or do they focus on mobile design? Did you hire a mobile design agency? Did your designer follow Apple's iOS Human Interface Guidelines and Android's Material Design Guidelines?
  • Did your designer create every screen? Did your designer mockup every app screen including user onboarding, error messages and empty states? Are all screens for all users flows designed or are some screens missing?
  • Can you share your design assets? Did your designer give you visual design assets in vector format? Can you share all the design files your designer delivered to you? Can you share a flow chart?

If you want us to design your app,

  • What apps do you like? Can you list links to apps you like and describe what do you like about them? Do you like the colors, fonts, layouts, animations or something else?
  • What is your brand style guide? Do you have a style guide or branding guidelines we need to follow? Are there any specific fonts or colors you'd like us to use? Can you share your logo file in vector format?
  • How should tablet layouts be optimized? Will your tablet app utilize a layout that maximizes screen real estate and differs from your phone layout or should we stretch your mobile app screens to fit tablets?
  • Do you want both portrait and landscape views? Will portrait and landscape views increase your app's usability or can we recommend a single view to reduce costs?

Top Questions To Answer Before You Build Your Mobile App

Target Mobile Platforms & Form Factors

We recommend you build native iOS and Android apps because native mobile apps provide a superior user experience. If budgetary constraints prohibit you from building native apps, we can explore building hybrid, HTML5 or code generated apps.

What mobile platforms are you supporting? Are you targeting iOS (iPhone and iPad) and/or Android platforms? Would you like to launch on one platform to start and then expand to other platforms?

Do you want a native app? Do you want the performance and usability advantages of a native mobile app or would you prefer to build a hybrid, HTML5 or code generated app instead?

What form factors are you supporting? Do you need both mobile and tablet apps? Can we deliver your tablet app a few weeks after your mobile app is released?

Product Features & Functionality

While we've built mobile products from as little as one page of product requirements, we recommend you share as much information as you can about the market or business problem your app solves.

What's the purpose of your app? What problem does your app solve? Is your app an extension of an existing web application or is your app a new product? How does your app provide value?

What are your app's core features? If you've written them, can you share your app's user stories, functional specifications or feature requirements? We can work with as little as a page of written requirements, but you'll ensure we don't make the wrong assumptions when you share more about your app and what it does.

Who are your competitors? Can you the list apps that compete with your app? How is your app similar? How is your app different? What features from your competitors do you like?

Are you enhancing an existing app? Why are you enhancing your app? What don't you like about your app? Do you need to add new features? Are you looking for us to completely redesign and redevelop your app?

Are you building a new app? Is your app in an existing market? Are you improving an existing type of software? Are you building something new and innovative?

Who are your target customers? Are you targeting a specific customer profile or persona? Is your target audience a specific age, gender or ethnicity? If you're building a business app, is it for white or blue-collar workers? What existing market or industry does your app serve?

What languages should your app support? Do we need to support languages other than English? If so, what languages do we need to support? Can we use translation management software like Gengo or Smartling?

How do your customers pay for your app? Do you use a freemium business model with in-app purchases? Do you want to integrate with a third-party payment service like Paypal or Stripe? Will customers pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription fee?

Does your app have different user roles? How many different user roles do your app need to support? Can you provide an overview of each role and list the features each role can access?

Does your app use mobile sensors? Do some features require the camera, microphone, GPS (location-based services), compass or accelerometer? What does your app do with sensor data?

Does your app need to work offline? Are you targeting field sales and service workers who don't always have reliable internet access? Is your target demographic in a country like India that has spotty internet? Do you want to store data on your customer's device and then automatically sync that data to your cloud database when internet connectivity is available?

How many users should your app support? Do you need to support hundreds, thousands or millions of concurrent users? Do you have any other performance metrics that your app must meet?

Does your app connect to an Internet of Things (IoT) device? Does your app use Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) or some other communication protocol to talk to IoT devices? If your app uses another protocol, what is it?

Are all your features technically feasible? Will some of your features require research and development (R&D)? Does your app require virtualization, compression or video technologies? Does your Android app require system-level changes?

How secure does your app need to be? Do we need to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data in transit? Do we need to encrypt all data stored on your customer's device and within your cloud database? Are there any security protocols or checklists we need to follow?

Consumer vs. Enterprise Mobility Apps

Consumer-focused apps such as Uber and SnapChat often have fewer security and compliance requirements when compared to enterprise mobility applications. An enterprise app can often take much longer to build because of these extra requirements.

If you're building a consumer app,

  • Do you plan to grow virally? What game and social mechanics are you using to promote viral growth? Will your app have some referral mechanism? If so, how should your app track referrals?
  • Does your app need deep linking? Should we implement a deep linking platform like Branch Metrics or Quixey? Will people share content on social networks that deep links into your app?
  • Where are your target users? Are you targeting users in a country that doesn't have great internet access? Do we need to test on specific Android devices that are more popular in the country you're targeting?

If you're building an enterprise mobility app,

  • How do you plan to distribute your app? Will you distribute your app using an enterprise app store like Mobile Iron or Apperian? Can anyone download your app from the Apple App Store or Google Play?
  • What are your compliance requirements? Does your app need to follow HIPAA or PCI compliance guidelines? What other compliance requirements must your app follow?
  • Do you need a single sign-on integration? Do you use a single sign-on vendor like Okta or OneLogin? Do we need to integrate with Active Directory or OAuth?
  • Are ethical hackers auditing your app? Will an ethical hacking team test your app for security vulnerabilities? Should we prepare for several rounds of iteration on the security features we build into your app?

Backend Technologies, Integrations & Hosting

We recommend using modern open technologies like Ruby on Rails (RoR) to build your app's backend because they're better suited for the agile development process our team follows. If you have a legacy code base, we can work with that too.

Who's building the application program interface (API)? Do you want us to build the APIs that connect your app to your cloud database or will your team build the APIs? If your developers create or provide APIs, will they be REST APIs that produce JSON responses?

Does your app integrate with an existing database? Do you have an existing Oracle, SAP, MySQL, SQL Server, Sybase, Salesforce, MongoDB, Cassandra or other databases that need to be integrated with your app? Will you provide APIs to query your database or do we need to build them?

What other integrations do you need? Will your app integrate with SDKs or APIs for authentication (Facebook or Twitter), customer service (Zendesk or Intercom), analytics (Google Analytics or GoodData), advertising (Facebook or Google), A/B testing (Mixpanel or Optimizely), or some other business user tool? Will your backend fetch data from third-party weather, financial, travel or eCommerce APIs? Do you need to scrape data from other websites?

What's your preferred programming language? Can our backend engineering team utilize modern programming languages such as RoR, Python, Golang (Go), Node.js or Scala? Do your existing applications use another language? Does your IT department have a process for approving new languages?

What are your hosting requirements? Can we use a cloud service provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure? Do you host backend applications on-premise?

Administrative Features

We assume you need basic administrative features when we build your first version product. When we build back office and enterprise apps, we spend a lot more time perfecting the admin UI.

What admin features do you need? Can we hook up your backend application to an off-the-shelf administrative tool? Do you need more advanced features for filtering and generating reports, charts and graphs? Do you need tools to approve or suspend users?

How should content be managed? Do you need a content management system (CMS) for all the content within your app? Can we give you basic tools to moderate user-generated content? Do you need to manage email templates sent to your users?

Do you need a data warehouse? Will you be getting insights about your customers from different databases? Do you need a data warehouse that keeps all your customer data in one place so reports can be generated easily from multiple data sources?

We hope you found this questionnaire helpful and we're happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Amit Ashwini