Make sure you do some basic groundwork before accepting someone to work on your project. You might have in the back of your mind that you will not pay if they don’t work out, and that may or may not be possible, depending on the website you use and how you setup your project. For example you might have milestones configured to pay only when certain tasks are complete.
Don’t forget to factor in lost time and lost confidence as well.
For example if you hire a resource and it takes two weeks for you to realize they are a dud and not going to work out, that is two weeks of time you have wasted. Worse than that it may have dented your confidence in the process (making you know think all outsourcers are incompetent, or out to rip you off).
Of course that is not the case, but the point is some preliminary work before you take on an outsourcer will help a lot.
Some of the things you can do is.
1. Read their resume thoroughly. Look for obvious inconsistencies – The reasons for this will be discussed shortly.
2. Check their rankings – This is similar to the eBay ratings where the buyer and seller get to rate the other party.
On these contract sites you will be able to rate your experience with a developer/designer and they can rate you.
Make sure you read their previous ratings – They will tell a story, and sometimes a very “interesting” one.
Look for comments on the quality of their work, things like did they finish on time, how was their communication, etc.
If you see some negative comments, it might be telling you it’s time to look for another resource.
If they have no ratings, in almost all circumstances I am going to recommend you do NOT hire them. Why? You have absolutely no idea if they are any good or not. Leave it to someone else to take the risk of someone with no verifiable work history on the contract website.
Do you really want to risk something not working out and wasting your time?
But be sure to dig deep – Sometimes there is genuine reason. Maybe they did get sick, or have to take time off. Be thorough.
3. Interview before starting – Take the time to interview them, you don’t have to speak to them over the phone or Skype if you don’t want, maybe a text chat, maybe send them a message through the messaging system of the website.
You are trying to ascertain whether they are good at getting back to you, and finding out what their communication skills are. It’s important to find somehow who has a good knowledge of English (or your main language) – A lack of communication skills is going to cause you endless frustrations in trying to get your “ideas” across, and mistakes made by a lack of understanding, etc.
4. Recent projects – Ideally if you are reskinning apps you will want to see some history of their recent reskinning project – maybe a link to the app they worked on in the app store, or sample art work.
But make sure they can verify they worked on a project. I’ve had more than a few people try to pull one over me by claiming they worked on a certain app or website but when I asked them to prove their claims they could not.
There should be some way for them to confirm they worked on a project.
It might be as simple as a link to a game for you to independently download and check the credits screen in the game.
Credits Screen for Astro Assault
For example, here is the credits screen for Astro assault one of the games I was the creative director and game designer for.
It’s free download on the Apple app store here.
This is an excellent way to verify your potential resource has the skills they say they have.
Asking questions like this will soon get you to the heart of the matter, re-consider using the resource if they cannot verify their claims of previous experience.
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The next big issue that is going to come up with it quality.
There are usually three major factors with apps development (and with all software development).
Fast, Good, and Cheap.
Ideally you want the app to be developed quickly (fast), be of a very Good quality, and be Cheap. Right?
Well the thing is, As Meatloaf said in his song “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”
Well, you get to pick two of these…
Here “Fast” refers to the time required to deliver the app, “Good” is the quality of the final app, and “Cheap” refers to the total cost of designing and building the app.
Fast, Cheap, or Good – Pick Two
This triangle reflects the fact that the three properties of a project are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimize all three – one will always suffer. In other words you have three options:
Get your app completed quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap.
Get your app completed quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality.
Get your app done with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a long time.
This is especially the case with contract/outsourcing sites. And the thing is, the people who are bidding for your work will usually not mention this.
The biggest issues you are going to face will be price and quality. Unless you are on a pressing deadline, if something takes a little longer, than that is ok right?
Here are a few gotchas.
Be very careful here, many developers will “prefer” to work on an hourly rate, and will happily quote you what seems like a great price but when the deadline is fast approaching and you do not seem to have what you have paid for, there is some reason for a code blowout.
Here is where you are going to start hearing every excuse known to man!
My computer crashed.
The source code was buggy so I had to spend 10 hours fixing the previous coders mess.
Oh you wanted it to work on the latest version of IOS? Sorry that is going to take me extra time to implement.
Oh In-app purchases, I’ve never dealt with them before.
My dog ate my floppy disk (well probably a USB stick in modern times).
Certainly, I am not going to tell you all contractors will do that, absolutely there are honest ones out there, but its very easy to get a little complacent when you are getting paid by the hour. A little extra time here and there, soon ads up.
So you want to go fixed price. You want the programmer to give you one solid quotation that will not vary.
Now the problem here is, in order to give you a really solid fixed price, the programmer is going to have to know exactly what needs to be done in order for them to budget their time.
This is where assumptions can cause problems. You assume their fixed price includes something, which the programmer does not think is included.
So my advice here is to go into as much detail as possible.,
e.g. A project with this as the description is no where near enough detail.
“I need an app reskinned. Please bid on the reskin.”
Here is version two.
I bought the “app mountain” source code from xyz.com website and I require a new theme. All graphics, sound, and music must be replaced. I need licenses for all sound and music, and the graphics must be your original work and not used in any other project. Versions to suit both iPad and iPhone and iPod must be supplied, as well as support for the iPhone 5 and the newly released iPhone 5C devices.
This one is getting better but still not detailed enough. What about the app icon? What about screenshots. Who will choose the app name (you may well need the app name before the graphics are finished if the name show in the game).
What about high definition graphics to suit retina models of iPhones and iPads?
And that’s just for starters. See how assumptions could be made here?
You might assume the app icon is included, and the programmer may assume they are not.
No retina (HD) graphics will reduce the price you pay for the project, but means HD devices like the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 and iPad 3 and above will not look as good as they should (delivering a less than optimal gamer experience which we have already established is going to negatively impact on your monetization).
Click here to read another reskinning apps article