Must-Ask Questions for a Development Agency Before Hiring Them

When hiring an application development agency, there are things that you should know and fully understand prior to hiring anyone. If it’s your first time working with a developer or an Android or iOS development firm, then here is a list of questions that you must ask before getting started:

Will I own the code?

It is absolutely critical to know if you will have ownership of the code and all of the assets before working with a mobile app design company. Any good developer, or trustful company will ensure that you will own all of the code, and all of the assets used to design, or develop the application.

What tools do you use?

The person you hire for the custom software development services should be using quality tools throughout the entire process. For example, all of the code should be in a code repository, such as GitHub or BitBucket. If your agency or developer isn’t using a code repo, or if you don’t have access to it, this should be a red flag. Other industry tools, like a project management system, and JIRA are important to the development process. You should be fully aware of what tools will be used for your project before getting started.

Here at Codal, we give our clients access to all of the systems and tools we use, to obtain full transparency with our customers.

What level of involvement do you need from me?

As a Chicago web application development company, we want our clients to be be as involved as they can be. We are truly open to as much collaboration on projects as our clients would like.

Typically, the more collaboration that exists between us and the client, the smoother the process goes. Client feedback is important to us, we want to build software that our clients will fall in love with.

How and how frequently will we communicate?

The mobile app development company in Chicago that I work for, gives clients at least 1 weekly update on their project. However, in most cases, clients and project managers will be in communication much more than once a week.

Where are your developer’s located?

There are talented developers all over the world. While it does not necessarily matter their location, it is important that you know where they are, so that you can have a mutual understanding of what is being worked on, and when. For example, if your website crashes during the middle of the day, you need to understand who is available to fix it at certain times.

In my opinion, the best model for this is to hire a company that has both onshore and offshore teams. This way, someone is always available to help you, and your potential “offshore” fear can be overcome. This is the way development is done at Codal, we have app developers in Chicago, as well as a team in Ahmedabad, India, and Lincoln, UK.

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Must-Ask Questions for a Development Agency Before Hiring Them

Important Metrics of Measuring Mobile App Success

In Part 1 of Important Metrics of Measuring Mobile App Success, some of the metrics that were discussed were as follows:

  • Number of users
  • In-App Engagement
  • Session Length

In this article, we will discuss the monthly (or daily) active users, network errors and app crashes, and abandonment rate.

MAU + DAU

Looking at the daily (or monthly) active users on your app is definitely a metric that you want to track. This will tell you who your true user base is, and how many people are truly engaged and consistently using the mobile application.

You or your mobile app development agency should be looking at this quite frequently and recognizing any possible trends (are your DAU’s shrinking, growing, staying the same?) This will also help you determine your target audience, and who you are marketing and advertising to.

App Crashes + Network Errors

I’m sure that you have experienced a mobile app crash at one point or another. The average rate for app crashed is 1-2% but of course can vary depending on the type of mobile app and how much it is used. Obviously, the less crashes the better. If your crash rate is above 1-2%, you will definitely want to work with an application development agency to get the issues resolved, as you most likely will lose users, in turn, lose revenue.

On the other hand, a network error is typically from the service provider, but can still lead to mobile app crashes.

Abandonment Rate

Your mobile app’s abandonment rate is ultimately the ratio between the transactions voided compared to transactions initiated.
If many of your transactions continue to annul through your app, chances are that either your user experience is not up to par, or that the app performance wasn’t up to the expectations of the user. Any UX design company should be able to take a look at the app, and conduct a UX audit to give user’s a more positive experience while using the mobile app.

As a UX design company in Chicago, Codal takes mobile app success seriously. Codal strives to not only be your UX design agency, or just your go-to Chicago app developers, but we strive to be your partner for everything digital. We don’t just want to build your app, but we want to see your business succeed.

Important Metrics of Measuring Mobile App Success

Beyond the Basics: Custom Icon Design

Icons are a small, but powerful feature to any website that can give users a lasting impression of a brand. While custom icons should blend and match with the rest of your branding and website design, they should stand out enough to get the user’s attention. Any company that offers user experience design services will probably recommend using custom iconography.

Although there are many websites that offer free icons to download, such as Flat Icon, Free Pik, and Icons8, using custom icons is a solid way to ramp up your brand. If you let your UX design company design custom icons for you, they will be available to use on the following:

– Website and Mobile App
-Blog Posts
-Print Material
-Company Swag
-Tradeshow Backdrops + Material
-Product Packaging
-Social Media Visuals

The list of places that you can use icons for can go on and on. If your business has a mobile application and a website, than pass the new custom assets along to your mobile app development agency and have them implement them into your design.

Be Original

People simply appreciate originality. All of the icons in the libraries of the above websites I mentioned, probably have the same ongoing list of icons, that tons of UX companies are using. You wouldn’t want to be the company that blends in with the rest of them, would you? I didn’t think so.

Be Clear and Usable

By using custom icons on your web pages and apps, chances are that the icons will be much more clear on what the message is trying to convey. For example, Codal is a mobile application development agency, offering iOS development services in the Swift language, instead of just using an iPhone to show off that we are iOS app developers, Codal could create a custom icon, incorporating Codal branding, along with elements that would show that that that we specialize in Swift.

How to Get Started?

Start planning and select a style

The first step to creating custom icons is to start thinking about the style, look and feel you want to go for. There are so many different routes of styles you could go, and you would want to make sure it aligns with the rest of your brand (fun versus corporate).

Gather resources

Once you have a plan and a style in mind, start looking for resources that specialize in custom icon design. As a user experience design agency in Chicago, we would love to sit down and have a consultation with you about your UX and brand experience.

Beyond the Basics: Custom Icon Design

Follow These Steps Before Launching Your App

You’ve spent a lot of time and money on a mobile application development agency to build out your app, and now you’re ready to launch your app into the market! However, before you launch your mobile app, you have to prepare for launch that time and money could go all to waste.

Whether you are launching a brand new mobile app, or just launching a new design, or even a new feature, here are a few steps that we would recommend taking prior to launching.

Understand your target market

You didn’t utilize iOS development services for nothing! Knowing your target audience is a must; or chances are that your application may not be successful. Knowing what your target market wants, what their pain points are, and what is important to them is a solid foundation for the rest of your launch plan.

You need to understand their behaviors and their attitudes towards similar apps, or even similar features that are in different, competing applications. Typically, this is also some of the research that a UX design company will conduct.

Some questions that you should be asking yourself are as follows: who did you build your app for? What solution are you providing? What is the value that you’re providing?

Knowing the answers to these questions will position your app in a way that will deliver the correct messages to the correct group of people.

Set goals for your launch

Here at Codal (Chicago mobile app development), we always recommend defining what your success criteria is before creating a marketing plan. Without this criteria, you may not know if you app is succeeding or not.

Also, every team may have a different idea of what “success” means to them. Your goals do not have to be complicated, keeping it simple also works great. Some metrics you can use are:

  • Number of app downloads
  • Number of reviews
  • Average ratings
  • Amount of in-app purchases

Prepare a marketing plan

There are a lot of things that can go into your marketing plan. Below are just a few.

Content Promotion

Start creating content around your new design, new features, or your entire new app! Create a content calendar with dates of when you will release and promote certain content. With a consistent content calendar and consistent promotion of the content, your app should be in good shape when you launch.

Press Releases + PR

Start contacting PR companies, reporters, or influencers to start your journey with PR. This will get your app attention, and ultimately help you reach your goal. It is best to create a press kit so that it is easy for reporters and journalists to write about your app. Most mobile app design companies should be able to recommend you a good PR firm.

Landing Page + Website

If your app doesn’t already have a website or landing page, it definitely needs one (WordPress is always a good option for a simple marketing website.) If you already have one, than work with your WP design and development company to update your website to reflect the changes you’re making on the mobile application.

What’s next?

Now it’s time to launch your release of your mobile application! Pay attention to your metrics that your team decided to track. All mobile app’s should be updated quite frequently in order to keep your users engaged and interested.

Follow These Steps Before Launching Your App

3 Ways IoT (The Internet of Things) Can Be Utilized on College Campuses

The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated devices that are connected to the internet. This can include your dishwasher, television, or lights. This technology can also be used across a large array of industries; it can almost be applied to anything, including the medical field, eCommerce, and even music festivals and concerts.

IoT is popping up everywhere. As a Chicago mobile app development agency, it is our duty to stay on top of trends, and understand the use cases for such technology.

By the end of 2017, it is predicted that there will be $284.4 billion in spending for IoT in one year alone. That is a lot of money, and simply shows how upcoming this technology is. In this article, we’ll explore how it is being used in college campuses.

Management of Facilities

IoT solutions can assist in the management of college campus facilities, especially in commonplaces, like a residence hall.

For example, IoT could allow students to be aware if a washing machine is available or whether they are all taken. Students could be notified via SMS or email when a machine is open. In resident halls, students can also utilize IoT for locking and unlocking their doors. In a large building with hundreds of students, safety is always a concern, which brings me to the next point.

Safety

The Internet of Things can play a huge role when it comes to campus safety. On college campuses, the security and safety of students is absolutely paramount. With a mix of new technology such as IoT, RFID’s, cameras and connected devices, surveilling an entire building is easier than ever. Instant alerts and notifications would be the result of these technologies, making safety a large priority.

If a college campus partnered with a mobile app design company, they would have a secure solution that would ensure the safety of all students.

Sustainability

With IoT, there are many more options in terms of energy conservation and ecosystem regulation. If you walk around a college campus today, most schools are encouraging students to live a “green lifestyle.” While this can work, implementing an IoT solution will only boost this even more.

In the long run, implementing an IoT solution to monitor environmental conservations can ultimately save the school money, and in time build their budgets for more learning opportunities for students.

Now What?

While the safety of students, energy conservation, and management of facilities are all priorities, you may not know where to start. How do you begin implementing such a technology?

There are digital agencies all across the country that offer these kinds of services. When you implement IoT, you’ll likely need to utilize the services from a UX design company, as well as an app development agency.

Codal is a UX design and development agency based out of Chicago, implementing IoT solutions for an array of industries across the country.

3 Ways IoT (The Internet of Things) Can Be Utilized on College Campuses

Minimalism in Mobile App Design: Part 1

As a mobile app development company, we always have to stay on top of industry trends, and consider what users and consumers actually want while they are using their mobile applications on their smartphone.

In a recent survey that we conducted (part of our ux services), we found that users want minimalism. They want a simple, easy-to-use interface that doesn’t include anything besides what it needs to. Of course the design always needs to be usable, but being consistent and clear is sometimes just as important.

Below are a few simple ways that you can design your mobile application taking a minimalistic approach.

Typography

I great rule of thumb when designing a mobile application, is to stick with one font. Using different fonts can make the application’s interface look confusing and sloppy. Just from a quick glance at the two screens below, it is obvious that the screen to the right looks cleaner and more usable.

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Instead of playing around with the different fonts, play with the weight of the font. This can add more detail to the design, while not completely ruining it. The size of the font can also be changed to make certain text appear more important (or less) than other content.

Apple and Google both do this on their platforms, which also means it is a proven method that works, and all mobile app design companies should follow.

Whitespace

Many people assume that too much whitespace is a bad thing; it get’s criticized quite often. However, what people don’t understand is that whitespace is actually a powerful tool that can control what a user looks at on a website or app.

It can bring focus to a certain element on a screen, and can even organize a screen into different sections or elements. If you need to empasize something on a screen, you can use whitespace to do so.

Using whitespace also means you can take a minimal approach to the design on your app; and it is not a bad strategy.

Conclusion

When seeking out UI design services, you should keep some of these factors in mind while going through the UX design agency’s portfolio.

The fonts should stay consistent throughout the entire interface of an application, while you should utilize more white space than you may think. In part 2 of this article, we will explore different factors of minimalism in mobile app design.

Minimalism in Mobile App Design: Part 1

Introducing Innovation Days to Your Project

The mobile app development agency that I work for, Codal, recently introduced a new project exercise called iDays (or Innovation Days).

An Innovation Day is an extremely collaboaration ideation session that takes place in the discovery phase of a project. However, it is different than just any brainstorming session mostly because of who is involved. Typically, we will involve our ux ui research team, chicago app developers, visual designers, and even the clients.

The ideas that come from these Innovation Days are diverse in a sense, the approaches that a developer, versus the end user or the designer may take could all be different. However, it’s good to receive perspectives of all parties in order to come up with the best, most usable ideas.

How do you run an iDay?

Once the team that is participating has been assembles, it’s time to collect your materials. You’ll need post it’s (as a UX design company, we go through tons of post it’s per week), questions, prompts, and a timer.

The prompts are usually kept general and open ended. An example prompt could be “what do you think about the menu?”

On the other hand, some prompts can be much more detailed. When an iDay is conducted after a research phase, questions will be much more specific. For example, in a dating app project at Codal, research found that user’s may sometimes feel unsafe while using any type of dating app. A great prompt after this research could be “how can we make the user feel safe while using the app?”

Once a prompt is posed, everyone has “X” amount of seconds to write down as many ideas as they can on post it notes. Once the timer is up, each iDay participant goes around and discusses their ideas. Typically these ideas spark a meaningful conversation about their ideas and solutions.

The leader of the iDay then takes the post it note and places it in a category on the whiteboard. Once everyone has shared their ideas,another prompt is given, and the cycle starts again.

Once an iDay is completed, the room is completely filled with sticky notes.

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It is then the UX designers job to break down the data that was received from the iDay. Both qualitative and quantitative data are usually collected.

Introducing iDays into our Software Development Lifecycle has allowed Codal to come up with very scalable and innovative solutions.

Introducing Innovation Days to Your Project