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developers at work, as a concept of tips to hire a mobile app developer
SF AppWorks Jul 23, 2019 4:40:00 AM 12 min read

How to Hire a Mobile App Developer | SF AppWorks

If you are looking to create a mobile app, you are either creating it as an extension of your current business, your existing company, or you are launching it as a new startup company. Creating the mobile app that you envision is possible if you hire the right developer. Hiring the right mobile app developer is the most essential component of building your mobile app. Opting for the wrong person can cost you time and money, and will leave you with a low-quality performance app that you may not be so happy with. 


At SF AppWorks, we are here to help you make more informed decisions for choosing a mobile app developer and help ensure that you are hiring the mobile app developer that your prospective app truly deserves. Spending the appropriate time choosing a mobile app developer can go a long way and for the sake of your app, is more important than saving a few hundred or thousands of dollars.


You don’t just want to hire someone who knows how to code, you ultimately want someone who understands your vision and who can be a notable addition to your team. This will not only help you create an amazing app, but it will also help you maximize revenues for your app business. The ideal fit would be someone who is not only familiar with development, but who can also help you with design, help you market your app, and help you raise funds from investors.


Related: How to Write a Request For Proposal




Why Should You Hire a Mobile App Developer?


It is true that not all companies will necessarily hire a mobile app developer to create a prospective app. Some company employees learn how to code in order to develop their app on their own. This is something that can be tremendously difficult and time-consuming. Not only will it take you a lot longer to create your app, but you will naturally lack the expertise that professionals have in noticing and handling certain details. You may save some money, but your final product may suffer as a result. For this reason, hiring the right mobile app developer is extremely important.


Work_time as a concept of how to hire a mobile developer


Should You Hire an Agency, Freelancer, or an Employee?


A question that many ask during their search for the right mobile app developer is whether they should hire an agency, a freelancer, or an employee to develop their app. Who you hire is really up to you and what you believe is the best fit for your company. There are pros and cons to each of these three options; however, there are certain factors that you will want to take into consideration prior to making your decision. Keep in mind that each kind of developer has a different skill set.

Which Kind of Developer?


  • Agency - Because their team is larger, they can match you with a developer who has the appropriate skills for your project. Developers in an agency will have great technical skills because they underwent rigorous tests to secure their position here.
  • Freelancer - Typically less expensive, freelancers are usually more affordable, and if you’ve done your research, they may have the specific skills to build an app for you.
  • Employee - You know their skill set best, and this differs from company to company. What they do know is your bottom line - an important element to creating a useful app.

Related: Things to Avoid to Ensure Successful App Development


What is your budget?


Although this is the least important aspect when it comes to mobile app development, it is something that you will naturally want to consider for deciding whether to hire an agency, a freelancer, or an employee. Here are the main components that impact project budget.

Project Timeline

When thinking about your budget and how much you will invest in developing your mobile app, you must take the potential length of your project into deep consideration.


Is this a long-term project which will require continuing maintenance? Or is this a one-time project which will probably end within the year? If this is a project that will need future maintenance, then a freelancer is perhaps not your best bet for helping your company save on costs. Why? Because a freelancer is probably juggling multiple clients at once and a low-cost client will most likely be on the very bottom of their priority list.

App Developer Rates

Employees can be less expensive on an hourly basis compared to a freelancer, but there are other factors that you must consider. These factors include the time it takes to onboard and train new employees and the long term cost commitment you must make to a full-time employment. Also keep in mind that a full-time employee may only have one skill set, whereas with an agency you can scale up or down and tap into various levels of expertise in an on-demand relationship.


If you seek flexibility between your short-term and long-term mobile app changes, then a development agency is your best option. For example, when you start creating your app, you may need more developers and designers for longer hours. For future maintenance, however, you might only need one single developer for a few hours per week. A development agency will be able to manage your costs and ensure that the work gets done the way that it should.


Always make sure that you spend the appropriate time interviewing and reviewing your developers prior to hiring anyone. We will talk more about what to really look-out for when hiring a developer later in our article.

In_sync as a concept of hiring a mobile developer 


What Kind of App Are You Trying to Build?


For the most part, you are either creating an app as an extension to your currently existing business, or you are launching it as a new startup company. If your prospective mobile app is an extension of your current business, you will want to make sure that it fits in with your brand’s identity. If you are launching a startup company, on the other hand, you will want to make sure that your app is a reflection of the brand image that you desire to offer the world, as your mobile app will be the first impression and association that potential customers are going to have with your business. It is critical that you make the best impression that reflects your brand.

What Kind of App Are You Developing?

So what kind of mobile app are you trying to build exactly? Is your mobile app going to be geared towards lifestyle, gaming, business, entertainment, utilities, health and fitness, travel, education, food, productivity, music, photography and video, medicine, social networking, finance, sports, or shopping? There are numerous types of apps that you can build; but before you start developing anything, you must really have a firm idea of what exactly it is that you are looking to build. If you lack a clear vision, your developer will have a hard idea understanding what it is that you want him or her to develop. Your developer should also have expertise in the niche that your app is related to.

App Complexity 

After you decide exactly the type of app that you are planning to develop, ask yourself about the complexity of the app. Are you developing a complex app or a simple app? The complexity of your app will dictate how long it will take for your app to be complete, and how much it will cost you. Try to find someone who does not only know how to code, but who will also be able to help you design your app. An ideal mobile app developer is going to be familiar with prototypes, custom animations, wireframing and icons.


If your app is going to need complex functions, you will need to hire someone who is more experienced than the average developer, and who will be able to complete all of the tasks that you are aiming for. This means that it will also cost you more to develop your app. This means that you may have to raise money from outside investors. It is best that your mobile developer has experience with product management and marketing, as well as with raising money, in order to help you find the appropriate investors for your app. It is likely that your developer may have connections to investors that he or she has worked with before, which you can use to your advantage.

Skills to Look For


  • Front-end - This refers to the user side of an app. UI developers might have knowledge in HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc.
  • Back-end - This refers to the server side of the application and includes database to browser communication. A developer should have knowledge of API, Python, Apache, etc.
  • Database - A developer should have knowledge in the database you plan to use to create the app, whether it’s SQL, Oracle, etc.
  • Infrastructure - This includes UX capabilities, caching, mobile technologies, and more.



Tips for Hiring a Mobile App Developer


1. Ask for references or case studies

“The Sager Group started working with SF AppWorks five years ago. Today we’ve published more than 25 books; I couldn’t have done it without them. From building websites and directing social media campaigns, to designing book interiors, creating fine cover art, and providing a full complement of programming, SFAppWorks has been there every step of the way.”

– Mike Sager; Founder of The Sager Group; Award-winning journalist and bestselling author


Asking for client references or case studies is important for giving you a clearer picture of past projects that your developer has worked with. Look for a developer who is ready to hand you his or her client information. There is nothing more valuable than hearing what past clients have to say about a potential developer. You could also choose to contact some of their past clients directly and ask them whether they had a positive or negative experience working with that specific developer.


If you are planning to work with a development agency, you can check out case studies that are posted on their websites to help you gauge a better idea of their work. At SF AppWorks, we have posted some of our best work, so that potential clients can assess on their own. This can also help you decide whether or not you feel that the specific development agency will be able to accomplish exactly what it is that you are looking for.

2. Assess their portfolio

Taking a look at and assessing your developer’s portfolio is important for deciding whether or not you want to work with that specific developer. You should aim to hire a developer who seems to have experience building mobile apps that are similar to the mobile app that you are planning to launch. The only way that you can decide this for yourself is by looking at specific apps that a developer has built. You could even download some of the apps on your phone and interact with them yourself. Check out some user reviews. How are they performing? Do they seem successful?

“If you really want to create a high-quality mobile app, it is important that your developer has high U/UX skills; however, remember that coding is one thing, and aesthetic and design is another. User interaction is extremely important for the success of a mobile app. When assessing your developer’s portfolio, you will want to keep an eye out for visually appealing apps with strong user interfaces. With years of experience in designing interfaces, we can work with you to think through the user experience and come up with an intuitive design that truly expresses your brand.

3. Ask for a timeline

A timeline can help set realistic expectations and can also facilitate clearer communication between you and your developer. Remember, you cannot expect a high-quality app to get built overnight. Developing a successful app takes time and effort. At the same time, it should not take three years to launch the first version of your app. It is important to ask your developer to provide you with an outline for each phase of the development process. Make sure that the timeline also offers some flexibility, so that again, you can have realistic expectations. It is best to have a reasonable timeframe that both you and your developer agree on, so as to avoid any potential misunderstandings.

4. Interview different developers

You should definitely interview different developers before deciding on the one that you want to hire. Make sure they’re someone who seems easy to work with, and shows enthusiasm for your brand. A good development agency should not simply guide you through the mobile app’s development process. A good development agency should be able to offer you creative input based on their experience with creating similar mobile apps.

5. Don’t only focus on price

The absolute worst thing that you can do for your mobile app is to pick a developer based on a price quote. Building a mobile app is an extensive and highly tricky process. You want a high-quality product that your company will be able to benefit and get profits from. You ultimately get what you pay for and settling for a cheap product can turn out more costly for your company in the long-run. In the world of app development, it’s just not worth it.

6. Can the person work in a team?

One of the most important things that you will want to ask yourself is whether your developer can work in a team. You want to choose someone who you feel you can build a relationship with and who will be a valuable asset to your developing team as a whole. Because building an app takes time, your developer should be someone who you can easily work and cooperate with.


Being able to establish a strong professional relationship is important for ensuring a smooth app development process. Communication is key, so make sure that your developer understands exactly what it is that you want to avoid any misunderstandings. You should generally be able to tell whether or not your developer is easy to work with from your first few interactions with him or her.

7. Look for alternatives

If you are hesitant about hiring a mobile app developer, you can look for some alternative options. You could choose to learn how to code, or if you already know how to code, you could also choose to train your employees and develop your very own development team. If you are unsure about which the right path for you to take is, please don’t hesitate to reach out; advice is free.

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