You need an app development team. Period. You look, you search, you interview… but each mobile app company sounds vaguely similar to all the others. And when you ask them about their skill sets, you get a download of engineering talk – technologies, languages, and platforms that only make them sound more similar. It’s exhausting and incredibly time-consuming to try and navigate through options when you’re ultimately unsure what the essential app development team skills that set them apart are.
What skills make the difference for an app development team?
Engineering skills laced with business skills.
After all, if they don’t understand your vision, they’re never going to build it the way you want it anyway.
Essential App Development Team Skills You Need from the Engineers
Here are six essential app development team skills the software engineers should bring to the party:
1. Modern Coding Languages
Your app development team doesn’t need to employ all of these, of course. But they should be skilled in at least one or more of them– and able to explain clearly why they made that choice.
2. Cloud Infrastructure
Since cloud infrastructure is such an important part of mobile development, the team should be skilled in using technologies like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Microsoft Azure, for instance, is a platform for deploying and managing applications and services. It utilizes a global network of Microsoft data centers to house its infrastructure.
Platforms like these are where most of the apps you create will live, so your app development team should be skilled in interacting with them, as well as able to suggest the right one for your needs.
3. Cross-Platform Capabilities
Whether you want to start your app on Android, iOS, or Windows, any successful app will eventually want to be ported into the other two. Coding native apps for one platform has the disadvantage of making the transfer to other platforms much more challenging. In some cases, it might even require a completely different team of engineers.
That’s why it’s important that your app development team champions a cross-platform tool. At Ascendle, we chose Xamarin as the best option for doing this. Xamarin is based on C# code and provides a reliable tool to translate apps cleanly into Android, iOS, and Windows – or all three simultaneously.
4. Data Expertise
Data drives apps; data defines customers; data is both what you’ll collect and how you’ll recognize your end results. You need that data. Lots of it. This means you’ll need skilled data engineers to create the most efficient databases and repositories possible. A well-designed database will lead to a smoother, better-performing app.
Your app development team may also encounter data in many different forms from a wide variety of sources. Understanding these sources and being able to interact seamlessly with them is an important skill for mobile development.
5. Integration with Cloud-Hosted Systems
You don’t always know what you’ll find in the cloud. Technologies like AWS have grown so large and versatile, they’ve enabled all sorts of platforms, languages, systems, and data. You might want to push data into these systems, or draw data out – or both. This means you’ll need mobile developers who are well-versed in push notifications and prepared for whatever they find.
Making sure your apps are secure can be a real headache for a CEO. You need your customers’ privacy secured, your systems protected from compromise, and all the logs, checks, and balances in place.
At Ascendle, we use tools like OAuth to allow user logins via social media accounts. This avoids revealing passwords and has the advantage of familiarity for end-users. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to security.
There will always be some risk. Minimizing that risk is what’s important. And that means working with mobile development teams with a thorough grasp of security protocols and the latest best practices and tools because you can never be too safe online.
Essential App Development Team Skills You Need Beyond the Engineers
Now that we’ve covered the skills that your engineers should have, here are eight business and general skills your app development team should have:
1. Product Management
The product manager for a mobile app developer is a major liaison between the project team and the client. They dig into the business needs behind the app and get to know the client’s vision. They make sure the app development team shares that vision, too.
2. Agile Methodologies and Scrum Management
If you want to be successful in mobile applications, you have to adopt agile development practices. It’s the best fit for the fast-paced mobile industry, where technologies come and go as quickly as a single “old-school” product lifecycle. Agile methodologies consist of a series of rapid design, build and release events.
Scrum Management is the best way to manage these projects. Perfect for highly cross-functional mobile development teams, Scrum enables greater cohesion between developers and clients, with aggressive communication schedules and frequent reviews. At Ascendle, scrum experience is one of the essential app development team skills we seek in prospective employees.
3. User Interface and User Experience
Referred to as UI/UX, these skills are incredibly important for the end user’s satisfaction. They’re also frequently overlooked by mobile app development companies, who tend to focus more on enabling actions than encouraging them. Even if you have the perfect app idea, you might not know the best way to present it to your customers.
A team with skilled UI/UX professionals can bridge that gap. And that’s why, more and more, UI/UX is often at the top of the essential app development team skills you’re looking for.
Design simply refers to the overall look and feel of the app. Your customers don’t want ugly apps and icons on their high-tech smartphones. They want your app to look appealing in addition to providing a smooth experience and value. Your mobile app development team should possess design skills that intrigue and inspire customers to use their apps.
Have you ever opened an app that looked great, but the wording made you cringe? If the text on your app sounds like it was written by an early-stage AI bot, you need to pay more attention to the writing. And even if it doesn’t, you want your words to support your message – and sometimes persuade users to take action. This is where a trained copywriter may come into play.
Don’t build the perfect mobile app and send the wrong message with bad writing. Make sure your app development includes professional-quality writing, too.
6. Business Analysis
This skill involves taking the client’s vision and requirements and mapping them into development needs and specs for the project team. It’s often performed by the project or product managers but is really a separate skill in its own right. A mobile development team with more business analysis training and experience will be better able to translate your vision into bottom-line results.
Scrum management requires vigorous corroboration between you and the mobile development team. The same goes for the interactions within their cross-functional groups. You want your app developers to be on the same page as you. And every member of their team must be on the same page, too.
This requires the skill of communication – clear communication – both in speech and writing. It seems like such a simple thing, but in the high-tech world, it can be very hard to come by.
8. QA and Performance Testing
In the world of agile deployments, QA skills are crucial to the ongoing viability of your app. Your mobile development team should have strict QA testing methodologies in place. Being “agile” can lull some companies into focusing on speed rather than quality. But QA testing is not a corner you want to cut, so make sure your prospective app development team possesses this essential skill.
When Thinking About Essential App Development Team Skills, Does Team Size Matter?
If you’re not practicing agile methodologies, no, it doesn’t matter if the team is small or large. Small teams will rely on versatile members with multiple skills, while large teams may contain more specialists. Be careful they don’t specialize too much, however, or communication become an issue.
If you are practicing agile methodologies, yes, size typically does matter. Agile methodologies may work best with smaller, more versatile teams, but, of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.
How Many of These Essential App Development Skills Does Your Team Have?
Does the team you’re considering meet the criteria? We hope so! If not, consider Ascendle. We’re proud of our highly-skilled, highly versatile teams. And we believe that good business sense drives results, not technology.
Ready to see our skills in action? Let’s talk!
Editor’s Note: This post was updated on April 17, 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.