How to Hire a Mobile App Developer: Things You Should Know

Marko Strizić
CEO & Co-founder
News

Software development has become a highly preferred career path among young professionals. With over 26.4 million developers in the world, it may seem rather easy to find a mobile app developer for your next project.

However, if you’re a business owner or software consultant, hiring just any software developer for your company or project can cost you. In addition to having the right skill set, your ideal partner should have an interest in your vision as well.

In this article, we’ll share certain vital points on how to hire a mobile app developer. Let’s get to it!

Things to Know Before Hiring App Developers

Before hiring an app developer, it’s imperative to have a clear idea of the type of app you want to develop and the basics of app development. 

One common mistake employers make is to leave all the technical work to the expert. However, understanding more about your app and its functionalities can help choose the best candidate.

What Kind of App Do You Want?

When hiring an app developer, your final choice will most likely come down to how much you’re willing to pay and how long the project will last. These factors are largely dependent on the type of app you want to build.

While modern-day apps are used for different purposes, there are generally three types of mobile apps:

  • Native apps. This type of app is created to work with a specific mobile operating system (OS). In other words, a native iOS app cannot be used on an Android or Windows device.
  • Web apps. Web apps, on the other hand, can be run via the web browser of any device. They are not standalone apps that require installation. They run as responsive websites within your browser.
  • Hybrid apps. Just as their name implies, hybrid apps look and feel like native apps but are actually web apps.

Since they’re built to operate differently, native, web, and hybrid apps use different technologies. 

For example, native apps are usually coded using Java, Kotlin, Python, etc. Web apps, however, are based on HTML5, CSS, etc. Based on your choice, you’ll need to find experts in these technologies.

In the same vein, each kind of app requires a different budget. Though native apps are known for great performance, they tend to gulp a lot of money since you need to build separate products for different platforms. 

The functionalities you want to include also affect the budget and project duration significantly.

What Should You Know About App Making?

Now that you know what kind of apps exist, you may want to catch up on certain items that can impact your choice of platforms.

To ensure the success of your development project, here are some of the key factors to look out for:

  • Development and maintenance costs
  • Target audience
  • User Experience (UX) and performance
  • User Interface (UI) and device features
  • Monetization

As stated earlier, native apps will generally cost you the most in terms of development and maintenance. Although web apps are the cheapest, there’s a significant trade-off in the performance department.

Different app types and operating systems also deliver varying UI and UX. For example, the same app may operate differently on Android and iOS devices. Even on the same OS, the app features available to the user may be limited depending on their device model.

If you’re having a rather difficult time settling for a particular platform, you may want to consider cross-platform development.

Development frameworks such as React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin support cross-platform development and allow you to enjoy the best of all worlds.

In essence, this is a cost-effective solution for developing products that work on Android, iOS, and other major mobile platforms.

Where Can You Find Developers?

Finding the right mobile app developer for your project may be a little tricky at times. However, if you look in the right place, you can easily save yourself a lot of time and resources. 

Two of the most common approaches include hiring a freelance developer or outsourcing to a development agency. Each of these methods has its pros and cons.

Hiring Freelance Developers

If you’re looking to hire a freelance app developer, you may first want to consider recommendations from people within your circle. They could be business partners, employees, or even friends who have executed a similar project in the past.

Ideally, this method guarantees that you’re getting a verified referral and fast-tracks the hiring process. However, this approach is limited to your network. To widen the scope of your search, you may want to consider using the Internet. 

Some of the most popular places to find a developer online include:

  • Freelance platforms. Developers often advertise their services on popular sites such as Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, Fiverr, etc. You can also put up a job advert and have developers bid for them. For a more specific selection of candidates, consider niche freelance platforms like DevTeam.Space and Hired. These platforms vet and admit only expert developers.
  • Developer forums. Communities such as Stack Overflow and Github are also a perfect place to find developers. They similarly have job boards you can post your vacancies on.
  • Social media. This is another brilliant way to find a mobile app developer. You can easily post your vacancy on your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter feed and groups, or simply search by location. Likewise, social media platforms let you promote sponsored ads based on specific criteria.
  • General forums. Apart from the online platforms above, there are other sites you can also find expert developers. You’ll often find passionate potential candidates on forums like Medium, Quora, Hacker Noon, etc.

Once you get the word around about your vacancy, you’ll have to set up an interview or hiring process. We’ll talk more about this in later sections of this article.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Freelancer

Before you decide to hire a freelancer for your development project, it’s very important to consider certain pros and cons. From experience, we’ve noticed that the cons mostly seem to outweigh the pros.

Pros

  • Hiring a freelancer is always cheaper. If you have a small-scale project requiring few features, hiring one man for the job is often the smarter option. You get to pay a freelancer on an hourly or project basis only. This way, you can easily avoid the additional costs of health insurance, paid leaves, etc.
  • You have a higher level of control. Unlike agencies, you can easily dictate how you want your project to be executed when working with freelancers. Since they are a one-man team, they’re often more flexible with their procedure.
  • Freelancing platforms grant you access to a wide range of candidates to choose from.

Cons

  • Even after careful interview and selection, you may not be able to predict the quality of the final product.
  • It is often difficult to secure reliable post-launch support and maintenance with a freelancer.
  • Communication and punctuality can also be a major challenge.
  • A freelancer may not be fully invested in your company and its vision.
  • Sensitive project-specific information shared with a freelancer can be easily compromised.

In general, working with a freelancer is often an unpredictable venture. Things can easily go either way.

Should You Outsource to an Agency?

If you decide that the risk of hiring a freelancer is too high, another option to consider is to outsource to an agency. This is a more robust solution. If you find the right agency, you normally won’t have to bother about hiring multiple experts and other nuances involved in working with a freelancer.

However, selecting a software development agency isn’t a walk in the park either. There are certain factors you need to consider. If you choose to outsource remotely, agencies in North America and Europe have the reputation of being the most reliable in terms of expertise and management. 

As you would expect, top-notch quality always comes at a higher cost. Software development rates in North America, for example, can easily go up to $175/hour for a mid-market class project.

Apart from expertise and cost, you’ll also have to consider communication, payment methods, and even cultural differences. It is very important to communicate your project goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) upfront.

Language barriers can also play a major role when outsourcing internationally. Though most development agencies always pose to have English-speaking staff, this may not always be the case.

Similarly, time zones, the terms and conditions of your contract, and choice of communication platforms are factors you cannot afford to overlook. Even if an agency makes a lot of promises, it’s always necessary to do your own research and discuss the critical aspects of your project upfront.

Where can you find a development agency?

If you are looking for a reliable development agency, again, you should probably start by considering recommendations from your business circles.

In case you want to do some additional research, here are some suitable places to explore:

  • B2B platforms. Specialized platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms are a good starting point for getting a general idea of the mobile app development agencies out there. The sites provide good filter options, so it’s easy to find exactly what you need, wherever you need it.
  • LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great platform for finding and analyzing development firms. There are also a lot of active groups there, such as Mobile App Development Outsourcing.
  • General forums. This is a great way to find development agencies, as well as freelancers.

There are many options out there if you know where to look.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

While freelancers may be ideal for small-scale projects, it may be wiser to outsource on a medium-sized or enterprise-scale project. Here are some of the pros and cons of outsourcing to a development agency.

Pros

  • Agencies have an established structure and chemistry. They comprise teams of developers, engineers, designers, and other experts who have experience executing similar projects from start to finish.
  • Mobile app development agencies possess rich specialized experience. They understand how the mobile space works better and can offer better result-oriented solutions.
  • Top agencies have the structure for attracting the best talents in the industry.
  • They also offer reliable support.
  • Modern agencies are completely transparent in their work, as modern management tools enable them to document every hour and task completed on the project.
  • Agencies gather multiple experts in one place. If you have to scale your project or need additional services, a modern-day agency can easily accommodate you, providing the best fit.

Cons

  • It is often more expensive to outsource to an agency than to hire a freelancer.
  • Time-zone differences and the language barrier can be a major problem with offshore outsourcing.

Overall, whether you opt for a freelancer or agency, you can always find the right mobile app developer for your project if you use the right strategies.

How to Evaluate Development Providers?

The final and arguably most important part of hiring a mobile developer is the interview/evaluation process. Irrespective of the development provider: freelancer or agency, there are important questions that must be answered for you to make the right choice. 

Let’s take a look at them!

What Experience Do They Have?

The quality of the work a developer or agency can deliver depends largely on their experience. This is why you must have a clear picture of their work background. Ultimately, you always have to remember that you’re not looking for just any type of mobile developer. 

The best candidate for your project must have ample experience making the type of app you need.

Ask the developer to share samples of their previous work. Every professional developer or agency should have a portfolio showcasing their best projects. It is very important that you check out their case studies to see if they match your project expectations.

However, a portfolio website is not always enough. You may also want to go the extra mile and get testimonials from their previous clients. 

This will give you a first-hand insight into the type of support, troubleshooting capabilities, and customer experience to expect if you choose to work with the development provider.

How Do They Work?

Likewise, you should have a general idea of the development provider’s work procedure. While different freelancers work differently, this question is especially important when working with development agencies.

First, you should get to understand the essential details of the agency’s structure as it pertains to your project. It is always good to know the number and type of experts that will be working on your project. You should also know the major stages involved in the project beforehand.

Take the opportunity to get a feel of their procedure in general: their process of creating an application, how they test the final product, and the number of revisions they’re willing to make. In the same way, you should also pay very close attention to their views on confidentiality and security.

To get the best returns from your project, the agency must be able to guarantee the confidentiality of the app. Signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the provider can help you achieve this.

How Do You Get Along?

Another important aspect of working with a development provider is your interpersonal relationship. Though your interaction with them will be mostly professional, you need to have a good relationship with your developer.

This factor can have a major impact on the overall quality of the final product.

The majority of app development projects can last several months and often require constant communication between your team and theirs. 

Both teams will therefore need solid collaboration skills to record any significant success. In this case, every member should endeavor to communicate their requests or demands as clearly and politely as possible.

Individual tasks and responsibilities should also be assigned from the initial stages of the project. This will not only facilitate seamless collaboration but also save a lot of time and resources. 

Project management tools should come in very handy here. There are project management solutions such as Mantis Bug Tracker built specially to cater to development projects.

How Long Will It Take?

Different mobile app development projects often require different amounts of time to complete. The duration of your project depends on how complex the app is.

It may be a small app with few functionalities or an enterprise-scale solution with lots of features. Whichever the case, ensure that your development provider gives you an estimated project timeline.

Of course, the estimate may not be completely accurate, but it will give a general idea of what to expect during the project. Typically, it may take about three to nine months to develop a mobile app. 

Here are some of the major stages involved and how long you can expect them to last:

  • Brief creation: One to two weeks
  • Idea research: Four to five weeks
  • Design sprints (involves testing crucial aspects of your app): Six to twelve weeks
  • Prototype development: Six to twelve weeks
  • Deployment to the app store: Two weeks or less
  • Post-launch support and updates: Ongoing

Depending on the developer or agency, the duration of your project can also depend on your budget. 

Certain companies allow you to pay more to get your project done in a shorter period. However, in other cases, the longer your project lasts, the more costs it racks up.

How Much Will It Cost?

There are a number of other factors that determine the cost of a mobile app. You should discuss these factors with the developer before commencing work to gain an idea of how they’ll affect your final quote. 

Some of these factors include:

  • App features. The more functionality you intend to add to your app, the more expensive you can expect the production to be. Some features, however, cost more than others. For example, you may need just about $400 to add push notifications to your app. On the other hand, call features may set you back as much as $12000. 
  • Device platforms. As mentioned earlier, there’s a significant cost impact of creating multiple native apps for multiple device platforms.
  • Location of the development provider.
  • Maintenance costs.

In general, it’s always smart to avoid the developer with the lowest quote. The saying, “you get what you pay for” is probably most applicable to software development. 

Check our article where we decoded WhatsApp to see how much it takes and costs to create such an app, piece by piece.

While it’s important to go for the best value for your money, you should never compromise on quality to save costs. A poorly-developed app will cost you more in the long run.

Design

While functionality is key in app development, UI design is another crucial independent factor you must pay close attention to. If you want to create a unique design for your mobile app, you must also prepare for the additional expenses involved.

Normally, it is possible to hire a different UI/UX designer than the developer. Otherwise, you could hire a developer with the necessary designing skills.

Hiring a developer-designer may prove to be cost-effective most times, but there’s always a possible quality risk. In either case, you still have to pay for the app design separately.

The third case-scenario is working with a development team or agency. Ideally, the agency already has all the required hands and would simply include design as a separate feature on your invoice.

Are They Dedicated to Your Success?

Finally, it is important to be on the lookout for the candidate’s reliability and ability to commit. The process of building a mobile app doesn’t end with its deployment to the app store. You’ll always need assistance with the app in the future.

This is why you must agree with the developer on the post-launch services they’re offering.

Some established agencies already have a ready-made support or maintenance agreement. In this agreement, they should state clearly their update warranty, conditions for suspending or terminating maintenance, and other vital terms and conditions.

Reviews from existing or previous clients are similarly important. If the majority of other clients are not happy with their services, the chances that you’ll be are very slim.

Conclusion

To round things off, the process of hiring a mobile app developer is not a piece of cake. If you want to land the best candidate for your project, there are important factors and strategies you should bear in mind.

Typically, the first thing you need to get out of the way is to decide the kind of app you want to make. Irrespective of its purpose, a mobile app can either be a native, web, or hybrid. Once you’ve chosen the type of app you want to build, you can now start your search for the perfect candidate.

Whether you choose to hire a freelancer or outsource to a development agency, you must always have a clear picture of your development provider’s experience. Among other important factors, ensure to also familiarize yourself with their work procedure, and the estimated project costs and duration.

While there’s never a guarantee of a mobile app’s market success, hiring a great app developer is a sure way to improve your odds. With the help of these tips, you can easily avoid mistakes many business owners make when hiring a mobile app developer.