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Choosing the Right Dev Shop: The Do’s & Don’ts

Developers are aliens, and websites cost more than a house. When creating the perfect application, misconceptions and lack of clarity make statements like the one above feel true. I am one of the software engineers here at Codelation. Over the years, I have worked on mobile apps, WordPress, and Ruby on Rails sites as a full-stack developer. As people working in and around tech development, the companies we interact with affect how much money we will spend and if we will get gray hairs as a side effect. 

Working with a vast array of clients has given me a ton of perspective on how stressful a venture like building a custom application can be. But it does not have to be! Keep reading to learn about crucial differences between dev shops across the region. The rest of the post will talk about a company’s people, its process, and, most importantly, its costs. This will only answer some of your questions, but you will be off to a great start!





The stereotype is that most programmers would rather be by themselves and never talk to people than work with others in an office. After meeting some of them myself, I know there are people to whom this stereotype holds. That doesn’t make working with them any easier, though. If the people you find yourself working with can’t explain what they are doing, it will be a long road of Googling obscure terminology and stressing about what a “pull request” is.

When the people you work with act more like humans and less like robots, it is much easier to work with them, and you might find yourself liking them. A bonus to working with people is that you can trust they will walk you through any issues that arise (and they will) during the programming phase of your project.

Check out some key people for a successful project in our project roles article.


Everyone has their way of doing things. If I asked you to build me a house, you could think of a dozen different ways to start: draw the entire blueprint, make the framework, get my input, etc. Dev shops have just as many options when creating your application. The difference can be between knowing what is going on and being put into a black box until they say the scope is complete, the timeline until you have a working product, and even your ability to change what you are creating.

When you are selecting someone to work with, make sure you ask questions like:

What is the process from start to finish for building an application? 

How often will I get updates on what work is complete?

Can we work on defining the details as work progresses? 

What is the plan for maintaining my application once it is in production? 

Will I get help when I need to learn how to use different features in the app?

Asking pointed questions like these will help you decide if you are the right fit for them as a client and if they will be willing to work with you as your needs change. 


Creating a mobile app or a custom web application is expensive, and an excellent dev shop will cost money. It is still wise to shop around, but be careful if you get a quote way under that of the competition. We have had more than a few clients come to us after a horror story of outsourcing their development to a country on the other side of the world. Cheaper development doesn’t necessarily mean your application functions as you imagine or works for years to come.

It is almost like using all of the cheapest materials to build a house and then complaining when you find a leak in your roof. The difference between a good dev shop and a bad one is that the good one will tell you why their costs exist and try to make it understandable. Understanding that your app will cost money but that it shouldn’t be completely unexplained is crucial to finding the right place to build your application.

For more on what you can expect to invest in an application, check out our recent post in this topic for additional explanations.  


The main things that can make or break your experience in building any application are your dev shop’s people and culture and the process they use to develop the product. Lastly, the cost of getting your product stood up and into production. You might find yourself as an angry human or a happy dandelion between these three things. Do you have a product you’re trying to get launched? 

Check us out! We are not perfect, but we strive to be one of the great dev shops I describe above 😊 

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