Ready to hire a mobile app developer? Here's what to expect

App development can help bring your business to the next level. While apps remain a crucial component for tech companies and e-commerce stores, other niche businesses that provide useful services can expand their reach by creating an app. 

Industries that are not tech-based may not be as familiar with the process of mobile app development or hiring a developer. It’s important to begin the process correctly by hiring a developer who can communicate with you easily and translate your business concepts into reality.

At SF AppWorks, we provide full-service app development, from consultation to optimization. So, where does one start? What does it cost to hire an app developer, and what does the interview process look like? We’ll cover these basic questions and more in our guide.

Related: 10 Powerful Benefits of Programming Outsourcing in 2020

What is the Cost to Hire an App Developer?

When it comes to creating and launching a new app for your company, the first step is determining the budget.

Small businesses may consider developing the app on their own, but this may prove more costly and problematic than bringing in an experienced professional. Experienced developers can more accurately estimate the effort it takes to develop a complex application, and thus better advise on how to direct resources and effort.

If you need to hire an Android app developer or an iOS app developer, first consider your budget. The cost of your app will depend on its complexity and feature set. A low budget app with minimal features can certainly perform well, but low quality code will be buggy and unstable, and difficult to improve down the road. If an app is poorly created, you might face technical problems later that are more expensive to fix.

Figuring out the cost to hire an app developer or developer team isn’t a simple process, but contacting your developer for a quote can give you a better sense of the budget.

The Discovery Phase

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the function of the app? 
  • What is the level of complexity? Is it going to be a large project for an online shopping experience or a simple app for something like coupons or discount codes?
  • Is the User Experience going to be highly detailed or minimal?
  • What is a realistic budget for your company, and in turn, the realistic budget for the app developer?

It’s vital to have a sense of your company’s needs for each of these elements when you meet with a prospective developer or firm. This will help you determine whether or not their capabilities can satisfy your needs for the app. During the initial meeting with a prospective developer, you will provide them with a direction for your app and determine a budget. After that, there will be a “discovery phase.”

Most developers will request a discovery phase before moving on to formal engagement and beginning app development. At SF AppWorks, this is the Consultation phase. After you tell us your business goals and what you want out of your app, we’ll advise you on which tech platforms to consider and how to consider complexity and roadmap through the design phase.

Mobile Developer Skills to Look For

One challenge that companies face when looking for a mobile developer is finding one with the necessary and appropriate skill set, especially since the person hiring the developer may not have a technical background.

When interviewing a firm, keep an eye out for the following key application developer skills:

  • Extensive experience with JavaScript
  • Object-oriented programming 
  • Ability to create evaluate and understand quality User Interface design.
    This includes the ability to:
    - Understand style and brand guidelines and ensure consistency across screens
    - Create fast-loading and responsive interfaces
    - Convert functionality requirements into intuitive user experiences
  • Cross-platform app development experience
  • Knowledge and understanding of cybersecurity, privacy, and compliancy
  • Current and relevant language programming skills
    - Well-versed in HTML5, CSS, Java, C#, programming interfaces for Android, iOS, and Windows
  • Backend computing knowledge
  • Agile development and lean methodology experience
  • Business analysis
  • Knowledge of distributed processing, design patterns, and object design
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Creative skills
  • Ability to problem-solve quickly and efficiently
  • Ability to work on a team (ideal for businesses who are looking into hiring a full dev team)

In addition to these basic mobile app development requirements, it is also wise to consider your own niche app.

For example, let’s say an e-commerce company is interested in branching out from the browser experience and wishes to make an app that customers can use to shop their store via mobile.

The ideal app developer for the job would have experience in e-commerce apps or at least demonstrated knowledge of the processes required to make a user-focused app with adequate security for e-commerce.

Interested in finding out more about our team at SF AppWorks? Meet us here.

Interviewing Your App Developer

When you’re hiring an app developer, freelancers will submit portfolios and come in for an interview. Development firms like SF AppWorks, which have a team of developers with varying skills and experience, can also be interviewed. Members at the firm will find the best team members to match your needs.

Questions for Hiring an App Developer or Firm

The interviewing process may seem a bit daunting, especially if the interviewer or business owner hosting the interview does not fully understand the technical side of mobile app development. Luckily, these app developer interview questions are a great basic outline to follow.

1. Name some mobile apps you have developed.

Answer to look for: The candidate will list their successes in app development. Pay close attention to the types of apps they have created. If you plan on hiring a developer for a very complex project, follow closely to see if the candidate lists any highly specific or complex apps. Try to deduce whether or not they can take on the task of a large project.? Look for relevance to your own app in their answer.

2. Which development platform would you recommend for our specific application?

Answer to look for: This is a pretty clear question with a pretty clear answer: it depends. If the developer recommends one specific platform over another, make sure to ask them why? Platforms, like people, have strengths and weaknesses. You’ll want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms you are considering to see if they line up with your own needs.

3. Can you tell me about your app development methodology?

Answer to look for: Again, the answer here is simple. Look for agile development. Also look for a project management process similar to Scrum, or Kanban. If Agile fails to come up in their answers, that could be a red flag noting poor experience in relevant and modern app development best practices. 

Follow-up with their answer by asking why they do or do not use Agile development methods, as well as what their usual release schedule would look like. Also, ask how they manage their projects and what platforms or tools they use.

4. During the process, how would you ideally communicate with me (the manager or business owner) throughout the project?

Answer to look for: You’re looking for an answer that has a team-focused approach here. Regular meetings with your app development team should be a big recommendation from the candidate, as well as a status review meeting semi-regularly for notably larger app development projects. Just as well, you’ll want to ask them what to expect when those meetings occur. 

Would the developer show you demos for each update? Can they provide insight and communicate their needs in layman terms? By asking these questions, you’ll find out whether they’re willing to work as a team and communicate with employees regardless of their technical apptitude. 

5. Tell me about a negative experience you had in creating a client’s app.

Answer to look for: You’re looking for clear problems they have experienced and exactly how they solved those problems. Problem-solving skills are key for an app developer, since no app development project will be entirely without hiccups. This question can also be used to evaluate their teamwork and communication abilities. Do they blame the client for the issue? Are they taking responsibility for the issue, and more so, are they going out of their way to discuss how they learned from the experience?

Get started on your business’s next app with SF AppWorks.

In addition to the above interview questions, there are some other things to consider during the actual interview.

Technical Screening Tips

Anybody can say that they can code, but can they really code? Technical screening is key when interviewing a prospective app developer.

Look into different free available iOS and Android coding tests to filter out applicants that don’t have actionable skills. These tests will provide more insight into what a candidate can actually do without requiring you as the hiring party to learn everything about app development to verify. 

One way to spend less time on technical screening is to use a development firm. While it’s hard to know if freelancers really have the experience they say they do, firms provide you with a detailed portfolio and have already done the developer vetting process for you.

Reviewing Portfolios

Photo by fauxels on Pexels

A portfolio is a very useful tool for determining whether or not a particular developer is an ideal fit for your specific application and company. It isn’t the end all be all, but it can provide some insight into the candidate’s involvement when it comes to app development. Similarly, an interactive portfolio will allow you to actually use some of the applications the candidate has developed and evaluate the quality of their work.

However, a great developer is much more than a decent portfolio. In addition to proving that they can properly code (via the tests we mentioned above) the ideal candidate will need to have great communication skills and a high level of adaptability-- and these traits can’t be shown in a portfolio.

Still, always request a portfolio to review for a more thorough view of the candidate’s skill set. If the apps they’ve included are not user-friendly and lack aesthetic appeal, these might be red flags. If the candidate does not have a huge portfolio, you can surmise that they have limited experience and thus might be more prone to making mistakes or underestimating complexity.

Hiring Android vs. iOS App Developers

Ideally, it’s always good to hire a developer with knowledge and experience in both app platforms. Even if you’re only looking into developing an iOS app to start, you may want to branch out into making an Android app as well. A developer with experience in both native app platforms could be worth the investment in the long-run. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find an expert in two different platforms. This is one of the key advantages of working with an agency - you can work with an expert iOS developer and, when you are ready to build for Android, you can swap out one expert for another. 

Choosing a Developer Team

If you plan on embarking on a particularly complex or robust mobile app development project, one single developer may not be able to take on the entire job efficiently and in a timely manner. In such a case, it may be time to look into hiring a full developer team.

Some developer firms will make it easier to hire a whole team at once, as they manage a number of developers at any one time. However, if you want to take a more hands-on approach to hiring your employees, you may want to consider hiring each individual team member using the guide above.

When hiring a team, it’s crucial to have the right members. For small or medium-sized businesses, the ideal team size should be around 5-7 people. Look into hiring the following members:

  • One or two front-end developers
  • One or two back-end developers
  • A UI/UX designer
  • A QA specialist
  • A project manager

Photo from Pexels

The hiring process for an app developer can be a bit complex initially, but once your team is formed or your single developer is hired, you can reap the benefits of your investment by launching an app or website that can help scale your business.

To summarize:

  • Make sure you have an adequate budget that covers the discovery phase, the development phase, and maintenance.
  • Look for a thorough skill set in each candidate.
  • Utilize technical screening tips.
  • Review portfolios, but try not to see them as the end game when it comes to hiring a great developer. More focus should be put on the interview and technical testing.
  • Look into hiring developers with both Android and iOS development skills, or engage an agency that allows you to swap out expertise as needed.
  • If you need a team for a large app project, stick to a crew of around five to seven people.

Do you plan on hiring a developer team in the near future? Find out about how we take on each stage of the app development process at SF AppWorks right here.

Related: How Long Does it Take to Create a Mobile App The Truth

Get our free App Studio Checklist