Over the years, I have had way too many conversations with persecutive clients who as for a price of an app or spend all their time trying to explain what their app does so they can get a price on the first call. 

This is complete insanity! Stop Doing that!

What is important for you, the prospective client of a reputable development firm, is to learn if that firm can actually do app development work.

First let’s cover the price issue. Yes people want to know what it will cost to build an app and they need to get an idea of the cost. So, do some googling. Really, it’s that simple. It is easy to find documented ballpark app development cost estimates from reputable development shops on the internet. Therefore, don't call an app developer to "get a price", that is such a waste of time. 

Another waste of time is  explaining the functionality of your app, is also not relevant for an initial call with an app developer. In fact, I mostly don’t pay attention to what you are saying. Not because I don’t care, I do care most deeply, but at the appropriate time. The time to describe your app’s functionality is well after you have decided to use an app development firm, signed a contract and you have your first check in hand. Really!!!

What is important for you, the prospective client of a reputable development firm, is to learn if that firm can actually do app development work. To figure that out you, you will need to interview the firm. The time you spend up-front learning about the firm, its management team, its development team, its processes; its philosophies of software development, app design, system design; what the firm knows about the current state of the mobile marketplace; what trends are hot and more importantly what the firm thinks about the future, is vastly more important than price or what your app should do. Oh, and you should also be very keen on having the firm walk you through some of their creations.

A firm should have a portfolio of their accomplishments. You should be very interested in learning, what the firm learned while building their portfolio. Understand? I’m not talking about having them demo the apps. I’m talking about asking them to present their apps to you. Discuss the good and the bad, what worked and what didn’t. Have them show you a few key parts of the app, but in the context of a success of failure of their design or implementation. Every firm with people, and especially successful firms, have failed. If they are trying to extend the boundaries of what is possible, and you want that for our app, then they will have failures. What you need to learn is how did they respond to their failure? And how did the recover to turn a failure into success. Have them discuss with you when they made turning point decisions about an app. Have them tell you what was the problem they were trying overcome, and why did they make a certain decision.

Also, don’t get faked out by a numbers game. Firms that do hundreds of apps, can easily do hundreds of crap apps, that took twice as long to build as they should have. All those firms do is pile on a bunch more crappy engineers to do still more crappy work, which simply delays the project even more. You see, the don’t even know what the Mythical Man Month means. Yes I said what it means. It's a book, but it holds deep meaning about the philosophies of software development. 

When you have done all of the above, and found a firm you can trust, the you can work with them to do the discovery work necessary to actually know what the system needs to do for what price.