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Hiring an App Developer: Tips to Avoid Making a Mistake

When you think of increasing the quality of your product or adding some new features to it, you can’t pass by the idea of creating a mobile app. This thought is attractive yet a bit scary; dozens of questions arise in your mind. How do I hire someone to develop an app? Should I hire a freelancer or an app development company? Breathe in deeply and check the tips we’ve prepared for you.

From the article, you’re going to get answers to these questions:

  • Where to look for the right app developer?
  • Is it preferable to work with an outsourcing agency and why?
  • How to hire app developers?
  • Which mistakes could be made during the process and how to avoid them?
  • How to check if you’ve picked the right candidate?

Who can you hire to develop an app?

Who can you hire to develop an app? An in-house developer or team, a local team of app developers, a freelancer, an app development agency

When you’re still contemplating the idea of hiring an app developer, there are already some options that come to your mind. Let’s start with the most obvious one:

An in-house developer or team

This option is the most expensive one. To start with, it’s important to remember that one app developer is in the majority of cases not enough. There are normally four to six specialists in the team including a project manager, an iOS app developer, an Android app developer, a backend developer, and a UX/UI designer. 

Don’t forget that it’s not only salary that you’ll have to pay these employees (speaking of the USA, an average app developer earns more than $70,000 a year). Your expenses on the team will include insurance, payments to the Retirement fund, the annual paid leave, extra required benefits, and supplementary payments. All in all, this will make your future mobile app unnecessarily expensive.

A local team of app developers

Another idea is to look for a local company specializing in the sphere and hire it to complete your project. This variant is not so cost-intensive as the first one but will still require quite a lot of your money. In the US, one app developer will cost you about $100 to $150 per hour. If you multiply the sum by the number of specialists (4 to 6) you’re going to need, the cost of a rather small mobile app is going to be higher than $100,000.

A freelancer

Numerous freelance websites can connect you to an app developer, including Toptal, Upwork, Guru, Fiverr, UpStack, etc. The biggest (and probably the only) benefits of such portals are that they’re free for the employer and the freelancers’ hourly rates are pretty low.

That’s ok to work with freelances when you need one simple task to be done quickly. If the process looks even a bit more complicated, the idea of hiring a freelancer to develop your app stops looking so attractive and the number of interaction and communication challenges and issues outweighs your wish to save money. 

First, setting a complex goal to a freelance app developer you may face some communication problems. Second, you’ll have to monitor the process all the time spending your precious hours and sometimes even your nerve cells. Your potential employee may create a false portfolio or, even worse, be a ghost developer offering their services at the cheapest prices. In the end, you can lose both your time and your money. 

Of course, in many cases the cooperation with a freelance app developer can be very productive, and you part on good terms expressing a wish to work together again if needed. We would recommend this option if you’re not afraid of risks, have a rather low budget (less than $10,000), are ready to spend a lot of time actively participating in the app creation, and have a really simple product in mind. 

App development agencies

Reasons to employ an outsource development company

If you haven’t thought of the option before it’s high time you did! There are many reasons why resorting to a professional team of app developers is a good idea, so let’s start with the most evident ones:

  • You can control every single thing (if you want to). You set your goals, prepare a technical inquiry for the team of specialists, and check the result. Have any questions or doubts? You can express them anytime you want to and be sure they’ll be answered and dispelled. 
  • The service team supports and maintains the app after the release.
  • You get the best possible balance between price and quality.
  • You can always review the projects fulfilled by the company before and address the companies they’re previously worked with.
  • Such companies usually have significant (5 to 10 or more years) experience and a team of in-house app developers and managers. They have been working together for a long time and know how to create an app that will satisfy the needs of your customer.

One of the good examples of outsourcing mobile app development agencies is Surf. Founded in Russia more than 10 years ago, we now use our extensive experience in the app development sphere to create apps for our new (and old) clients. On our website, you can find the projects recently completed by the Surf team (apps for KFC and mobile banking among them) and contact a project manager for details.

Why is it preferable to work with an outsourcing agency?

Today, the question “How to hire offshore software developers?” is not as thorny as it used to be several decades ago. Once you start thinking about the idea, it seems more and more attractive. Why? Let’s analyze it here.

Why is it preferable to work with an outsourcing agency?

You can trust the agency you’ll choose

We’ve decided to put this point first because we believe it’s not time, money, or the human factor that matters most when you pick a person or a company for developing your app. You can always discuss with a manager how long it will take to develop an app, how much it will cost, or which specialists will participate in the process. 

However, you can only discuss it with a person you trust who works in a company you trust. The experience of such big software development companies as Surf as well as the reputation of the brand will never allow the company to let their customers down.

You’ll get your needs satisfied 

You won’t have to worry about the quality and usability of the app created for you by an outsourcing agency. The managers, app developers, backend developers, designers, and other specialists work as a whole to build the product you need. Your task is only to set the task and assess the final result.

 You won’t need extra expenses

You need an app for your business or startup, and you pay for an app only. You don’t have to care about the costs connected to the hiring process, the salaries of the team, insurance, retirement funds, etc. In this way, you not only save your money but also save a lot of your time and avoid unnecessary frustration or worries. The specialists of Surf will estimate the creation of your app, and you won’t have to bear any extra expenses.

You will save a lot of time

While developing something as essential for a business as a mobile app, it’s not only the cost and the quality of it that matter but the time spent on it, too. Dealing with an in-house or a freelancer app developer you may face an unpleasant yet frequent situation when deadlines are postponed or missed. 

If you work with an experienced outsourcing app development agency, such cases are extremely rare. You know from the very beginning of your cooperation when you’ll get the final result and can always discuss the deadlines if you decide to add or change something in the designed app.

 You will get the post-launch support

Last but not the least, this point is as important as the first one (the one about trust). Once the app you’ve ordered is ready you’re happy and satisfied with the result. However, if something goes wrong in a week, a month, or a year you’ll have to waste your time looking for somebody to fix it. The same will happen if you want to change or add some new features to the app or release its renewed version. 

If you cooperate with an app development company, you always get the needed support and know who to resort to if you’re willing to introduce any changes. For example, the specialists of Surf will strategically analyze your needs and inform you about the possible future adjustments for your app.

What do you start with?

When we think of something new, the first question is “What should I do first?” Don’t worry – just follow the plan we’ve prepared.

Define the requirements of your project

Any project, especially such a significant task as creating a mobile app, starts with setting goals. Do you need an app at all? Why do you need it? What issues will it solve? Will it save your money/attract more customers/make your project more user-friendly? Do you need a composite application or something very simple to start from? Before even addressing app development companies, ask yourself all these questions and be ready to honestly answer them.

Define your budget

It would be a lie to say that developing a mobile app is a cheap thing. We suggest you take your budget very seriously. Normally, the development of a simple mobile app starts with about $10,000. Consequently, the more complicated it is and the more options it has, the higher it costs. If you need a very simple app and don’t want to pay more than $5,000, you’d better work with a freelancer.

How do you choose the right company?

How do you choose the right company?

So, you’ve analyzed your goal and budget and are willing to hire an app development company.  How to make sure the team you’re going to hire is the very team and the very specialists you need? How to check their credibility, their skills, their management process, their abilities to meet the deadlines as well as dozens of other details? Here’s a list of the major (and minor) requirements you can specify to your potential contractor to check the quality of their work:

Check out their online presence 

Check the number of employees of the company and the way it’s represented in social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Look for information about the company on third-party websites. If you need to build an app for a project in a certain sphere (like creating a mobile bank, a foodtech app, etc.) check if the company has previously worked in this area.

Evaluate their  case studies 

Usually, experienced companies are proud of their successes and cooperation with famous brands. They willingly and openly provide this information on their website and social media and will enthusiastically use their tried-and-tested case studies to create an app that will satisfy your requirements. Make sure the company is known in the market for 5+ years and their past and present clients can say a couple of good words about the cooperation with the team if requested.

Learn more about their team

It’s not machines and technologies you’re going to work with, it’s people. When you think of how to hire remote developers, there are some important things you’d better ask the manager about, e.g. How many app developers are there in your team? Where can I see the examples of their work? What experience do they have? What is the level of English in the company in general and among the app developers in particular?

Find out how they work 

It would also be great to learn a bit more about the process of cooperation with the customer. Fluency in English is important because no matter where the company is from, its reps should be ready to freely and fruitfully discuss all the items of the process. If the company practices remote work to make the processes and the final expenses lower for themselves as well as for their clients (this is how Surf works, actually), check what tools they employ for communication (Skype, Google Meet, Slack, Zoom, etc.)

Other important things you need to keep in mind before picking the company are the cultural aspects and timing differences. Are there a lot of contexts you need to take into account while working with the company (typical of Eastern and South American cultures)? Are the managers you will work with too open or too reserved for you to establish effective communication? Are they too direct or, vice versa, is it too hard for you to understand their lengthy commentaries?

One more important thing is time zones. Would it be convenient for you to work with a team that is operating in a very different time zone? How does the team cope with the time differences and does it do it with ease?

Discover their technology expertise

Ask your manager which frameworks are applied in the company (Kanban, Agile, Scrum), which guidelines they use (for iOS and Android apps), how quickly they react to problems and solve issues, and what type of post-launch support they provide.

Clarify their rates and payment terms

Discuss all the payment process details beforehand. How will you be billed for the services? Is the past-launch support included in the price? Do you pay for the actual hours spent on the development of your app (the best variant) or does the company use another billing method? Make sure all these questions are answered openly before signing a contract and the NDA agreement (don’t forget about this point).

App developer skills to look for

What’s your education? Which experience in the sphere have you got? Can you show me a few examples of the projects you’ve completed? Have you got any awards? Is it ok for you to work under pressure? Do you successfully meet the deadlines?

While discussing all these job-related factors, pay attention to the app developer’s personal characteristics. Are they open? Reliable? Is it easy to discuss unpleasant matters like work pressure with them?

We’ve prepared a concise table for you to make sure you’re looking for the right hard and soft skills and qualifications in your potential app developers:

App developer skills to look for

Don’t make these mistakes during hiring

Don't make these mistakes during hiring

Even if you take the matter seriously, there are still some crucial points you’d better pay special attention to. Some minor things can be ignored or overlooked, but there are some that you should never forget about if you want your future app to be successful, consistent, easy to work with, and, of course, completed on time. Which mistakes could cost you a bundle?

Choosing the cheapest option

The cheapest variant is never about the best (or at least a fairly good) quality. The app developers with significant experience and advanced skills value their time and their work and won’t work for peanuts. If you see a very cheap price, the best decision you can make is to leave the page.

Choosing the most expensive option

This point supports the first one: don’t think that choosing the most expensive option for building your mobile app guarantees getting an app of the best quality. If you decide to hire the local team, the price will be high because the payment rate in the USA is very high compared with those established in other countries. If you hire an outsourcing app development company from European countries, e.g. Surf, you will get a high-quality app for a reasonable price just because the payment rate in these countries is lower.

Picking a team without relevant experience

It’s always better to hire a company which app developers have previously worked on applications published in App Store or Google Play. If the company can’t provide you with such examples, or you find out that the apps built by the team have failed to work properly, it’s a clear sign for you to stay away from it.

Poor project planning 

Before the actual coding, app developers should make sure they see the full picture. Completing a market analysis and understanding the final concept is crucial for the desired result. If they don’t do it, a lot of money and working hours will be wasted.

 Unclear budget and timeframes

Once you have discussed the details of your project, ask your manager to estimate the time needed to complete it and, of course, the total price of the work. A professional team like Surf will add these specifications to the contract for you to be sure what you’ll get, when you’ll get it, and how much it will cost. However, remember the previous points – a good app can’t cost next to nothing or be fulfilled in a month. In most cases, the creation of an app requires quite a lot of time and money.

Forgetting about the post-launch period

They often say that releasing an app is the first step only. Now, you will need the support and maintenance of it. Make sure you can get this support from your app development partner.

Hiring an App Developer: Summary

Now, when you already know how to your best app developer company, let’s sum up the main points for you to keep in mind during the process:

Before picking an app developer, set the goal, the requirements, and the budget of your project.

  • Thoroughly explore the company you’ve chosen: its team, culture, the ways of communication, the skills and experience of its app developers, etc.
  • Check some previous customers of the company and get feedback from them if possible.
  • Talk not only to the manager of the company but to the app developers who’re going to work on your project, too.
  • Don’t forget about the post-launch period and discuss it with the team.
  • Discuss and set the budget and the deadlines of your project.
  • Make sure you’re choosing a reliable agency that will be interested in long-term cooperation.

Surf is sure to meet all the requirements enumerated in the article. Want to check it for yourself? Learn more about hiring us for building a mobile app for you now:

Check details and prices