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App Developers: What info do you need to develop a proposal?

MJIngenuitiesMJIngenuities Posts: 2New Users
edited May 2011 in Help Wanted

I would like to create an app and I am seeking a developer. I work in construction contracting and one of the hardest parts of my job is putting together a solicitation that clearly indicates to the bidders what the client is looking for. When this step is done right, the job is easy. When it's done wrong, a lot of time and money is wasted trying to reconcile differences in interpretation.

In an effort to make the development of my app easier I'd like some input from app developers. I've got a few questions below and I'd appreciate any input. The goal for me is to make sure that when I solicit bids for development that I've the information that allows a developer to put together a good concept and an accurate price. I think this would be helpful to others as well.

1. What information does a developer need to accurately estimate the level of effort required to create an app?

2. What should I include so a developer can accurately estimate the cost of developing the app?

3. Is there a preferred format for putting a solicitation together?

4. When I communicate my concept, what sort of information should I include so a developer understands what I'm looking for?

5. When a developer meets a potential client, what are the 3 most important questions a developer asks?

I appreciate any input you can provide. I did a quick scan of the forum and didn't find any outlines for this kind of information, but I apologize if this is a re-post.

Post edited by MJIngenuities on


  • sneakysneaky Posts: 354Registered Users @ @
    edited May 2011
    Hi Tim,

    This is a very good question. I'll try to answer each point as asked from my own point of view.

    1) The technologies involved, the features & the bling. Compare this to building a house, when you're about to put down the floor in the kitchen the client says he expects a mosaic unicorn on the floor - this is in-app purchase.

    2) Draw down the application on paper - each and every button. A one-liner attached to each button telling exactly what you expect to happen when the button is pressed. A short summary explaining what's happening on each view.

    3) The more informed proposal the better. The more you understand about how the app will actually work the better. If you can transfer that to paper then there really isn't any preferred format as such.

    4) Set clear & reasonable expectations. If you want bells & whistles let your dev know about this. He will need to spend a significant amount of time coming up with clever solutions. Understand where you data will be coming from. Your app will obviously process data in one form or another - where is this going to come from, do we need to save it, how secure must it be?

    5) Don't have an actual set here. I try to figure out if the client has reasonable expectations, if he has thought his request through and if he is going to be very difficult to please. There are plenty of people out there that expect to own your soul for $5/h.

    Most coders really love what they do, myself included. If I'm going to have a horrible time working with you, I'll walk away. If you are reasonable and you can explain your basic idea button by button there shouldn't be much problem, we'll sort you out.
  • stealthv8stealthv8 Posts: 20Registered Users @
    edited May 2011
    For me to do a rough quote "RFQ" for a customer's App needs a storyboard is preferred but an outline or flow chart are a great start. I agree I want to know every deliverable you expect in the app. what do you want the buttons to do, Does the app need to talk to the outside world via internet, bluetooth, ethernet, dock connector.

    Some examples would be if you have a database running somewhere that stores all the quotes and retrieves data. As a developer I would need to know the type of database and how I can connect to it Via your app.

    Other questions I get all the time is based on the art work all the way down to what a button is suppose to look like. Do you have a preferred graphic artist to work with in the app or do you need that supplied as well. Depending on the App the graphic work(including the button design) can be billed separately or all inclusive in a package with my company.

    These are just a few things to look for. Hope it helps.
    Newest App Released "RB Planner"
  • MJIngenuitiesMJIngenuities Posts: 2New Users
    edited May 2011
    Thanks for your input. When I put together my solicitation, I will send it to both of you so you have a chance to bid on it, unless you indicate that you're not interested.

    You've both raised a point that I've been trying to figure out how to solve the last few days as well. It seem like there are essentially 3 distinct skill sets required to create an app: a graphic designer, an iOS coder, and somebody to build a database on the back end for information storage.

    I know that I need each of these 3 items, but I'm not sure how this is usually handled in development. Are these typically all handled under one roof? Do I need to develop the artwork and the database prior to approaching the app developer?

  • BrianSlickBrianSlick Treadmill Desk Ninja Posts: 10,692Tutorial Authors, Registered Users @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @
    edited May 2011
    It will depend on what you are looking for, and the services offered. There are a ton of 1-man contractors out there, and it's not too likely that you will find someone who is a decent iOS coder AND capable of doing the server-side stuff AND produces good graphics. They might be out there, but my guess is you'll top out at 2 of 3, and 1 of the 2 will be considerably better than the other. Or else you will pay through the no$$$e for it. If you find a 2- or 3- (or more) man operation, then you'll probably get better results all around, but likely with higher prices.

    IMO, if you are developing the server-side stuff solely for this app (or even if there are broader uses, but it doesn't currently exist), then I as the app developer would absolutely want to be in communication with the person designing the server. Would want to establish some harmony regarding which parameters need to be sent, what the return should contain, etc. Having the server communications developed for me without my input doesn't do too much good if it contains more than I need, or less than I need.

    Now if the server already exists and has a 10-year-old infrastructure, well, then we have to figure out how to work with/around that. That's a different story.

    I'll echo the others regarding storyboarding. Too many people think that all it takes is "I want an RSS reader" and that I should be able to estimate that accurately. Ain't happening, and I'm going with a big number if push comes to shove. Oh, you want to sync it with Google? Oh, you want to cache stuff for offline reading? Oh, you want to be able to send the article via email? I need to know this stuff. And so do you. The more you are able to define and diagram, the more you will understand what all is necessary, and the more accurate an estimate will be. Anything that is currently "I don't really know how, but I want to be able to ....", well, you might as well add some dollars to the anticipated estimate.

    So, either be prepared to spend the time up front planning out exactly what you want, or be prepared for higher expenses as the blanks get filled in on-the-fly.

    3. Doesn't matter too much. Those that give me such information tend to do so with PDFs.

    5. I don't know about questions, as they will largely be specific to the project. But I will make sure that payment details are understood and agreed upon pretty early. Legal stuff, like NDAs, too.

    Oh, one thing that will be helpful is figuring out how code will be delivered or shared. Emailing code back and forth is annoying. I tend to steer clients towards Beanstalk, although their freebie account is now more limited than it used to be. But any source control management system is better than no source control management.

    Quality testing is something to be decided upon as well. My clients tend to always be on tight budgets, so I will typically defer to them for testing. I'll do enough to make sure that the feature I just implemented does what I think it should do, but I'll push it back to them for a serious beating. It's a budget thing; I'll be happy to beat on it as much as you want, but that is billable time. Most of my clients prefer to test on their own time and dime.
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  • dany_devdany_dev Posts: 4,696Tutorial Authors, Registered Users @ @ @ @ @
    edited May 2011
    it will not reply to all your questions, however is a nice read for you, you will understand many things: Tons of Changes | Cocoanetics
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