How to Hire a Top Mobile App Developer

David Bailey
8 min readSep 2, 2016

In case your business does not have a mobile app yet, you could be missing out on a superior opportunity to generate new revenue streams. Smartphones and tablets are where today’s consumers are spending their time more and more. Whether you need a mobile app that lets customers buy your products or services, or simply access product’s reviews, videos or coupons — you will need to hire an experienced mobile app developer that you can genuinely trust to build it.

Finding an app developer is not that difficult, it is finding just the right one for your business that can be tricky. The team at Opus, working in the field of app development and having helped clients across several industries on their apps, knows that finding a reliable partner is more important than saving a few thousand dollars in building your product. The right partner can add value in more ways than just development, which will help you to maximise revenues for your app business.

Below you will find 15 key steps to remember when searching for a top mobile app developer to aid you choose the right candidate for your project.

#1 Does the company have a portfolio?

Qualified candidates should be eager to provide you with a list of apps they are personally responsible for creating or at least played a major part in developing. Do not be afraid to ask for their portfolio or links to each in Apple’s iOS App Store, Windows Store or Google Play, Google’s Android app store.

A solid developer must also have awesome UI and UX skills. When examining their portfolio, keep an eye out for beautiful looking development projects that have delivered both an excellent user interface and smart user experience. 60% of your application is about how a user interacts with it.

That way you can begin to determine whether or not they have the skills, experience and vision to produce the type of mobile app your business needs.

#2 Can you verify their current and past clients?

Speaking directly with candidates’ clients can be essential to verify the developers did build the apps they claim to have worked on. Search for developers who will readily offer client contact details so that you can obtain real feedback on the developer.

Checking reviews provides another great opportunity to ask how reliable, responsive and results-oriented the candidates are. For example, you might ask whether they delivered a quality development along with a warranty for their work, completed the project on deadline and within budget, or how well they work under pressure.

Note that candidates may offer references who have a favourable opinion of them, but you can search for independently verified reviews on websites like AppFutura or Clutch where the review could be more critical than the company prefers.

#3 Find a company that is interested in your business, not just the development.

A good mobile app development company should be able to not only guide you through the process of development, but also provide creative input based on their experience with similar apps. Good developers know what does and does not work on the app store because they have worked with numerous clients.

In addition examine partners who can add value to the usability aspect of your website or mobile app, which will define how users interact with your product.

#4 Choose someone you can build a lasting business relationship with.

Mobile app development is not a one-time activity. Apps evolve based on constant user feedback. Look for an app development company who will stick with you through the life cycle of the product and not finish with you once the initial development is done.

For instance, your mobile app will require design and feature enhancements as your business evolves. Better to remain with a partner who knows your app, product and business well rather than beginning the process of searching and explaining again.

#5 What kind of smartphones do the developers use?

Determine how passionate and knowledgeable a candidate is about specific mobile platforms, for example if the company can build an app for an iPhone, then they should have staff who use iPhones and regularly play with the apps they are building, the same applies to users of Windows or Android mobile apps.

#6 Check whether they have an updated blog and are active on social media channels.

Similar to a portfolio, a continually updated blog with articles and news about the company’s news, products and expertise demonstrate whether the developers know what services they are trying to sell. For example if a company frequently writes about mobile apps and their impact on businesses then it is a clear signal that they will know how to do the same with your idea for a mobile app.

Social media provides examples of how successful and responsive a company is to potential and existing clients, hence it can be a good idea to check their LinkedIn, Facebook and G+ profiles. Many clients now prefer to search and contact candidates this way so make sure the company you select is actively engaging with the world.

#7 Does the developer know how to monetise your app?

If your primary goal is to generate revenue with your app, the developer should know exactly how to build in features that will allow you to monetise your app. You could opt for a pay-per-download revenue model depending on how many features your app offers.

If you opt for a free app, be sure the company is aware of how to integrate mobile display ads, in-app purchases or paid subscription services.

#8 How will the company communicate with you during the development process?

The quality of your app almost always depends on how clearly and often you communicate your app design and functionality requirements before as well as throughout the development process.

Does your app developer prefer to chat face to face or via telephone, Skype, instant message or email, and if so how often? Or does the company prefer to interact with you using a project management tool? How often will the company provide you with a status update?

Furthermore, the clients at Opus receive a dedicated Project Manager for each project so that client demands are fully understood and implemented, as opposed to explaining your requirements over and over again.

#9 Think of the whole mobile app package, not just coding.

Coding is just one part of building a successful mobile app. For it to be truly successful the app must contain usable and functional design so your app developer should always be thinking about the optimal user experience. Furthermore do not choose a mobile app developer unless you know that the team will perform functions including design, usability and testing.

#10 What kind of special features can the company add?

A lot of apps get downloaded, used a few times and then are either deleted or abandoned by their users. To grab a consumer’s attention your app should be innovative and contain useful features. For example can your candidate add in-app games, social media features and sharing, GPS check-ins or product discount elements to your app?

#11. Who will own the mobile app?

Usually the individual or company paying for a mobile app will own the finished product. Sounds obvious right? Well to be sure you own all the rights to the app you commissioned. You and the app developer should sign a written copyright assignment contract. The document should establish confidentiality and clearly state that you or your business own the app’s design, source code and its content.

#12. How is your app going to be tested?

Generally, the best way to test an app is simply to run it on the smartphone it will be used on. The candidate should be able to provide a thorough explanation of the quality assurance process, including how they conduct testing to determine and remove any glitches. All newly developed apps will have them! If bugs are found, how and how quickly will the candidate remedy and will there be an additional cost?

#13. Will your app be submitted to app stores?

After you have approved and tested the initial version of your app, the final step is for the developer to submit it to an app store for approval to be downloaded or sold there. Submitting an app to an app store is not as simple as merely pressing “submit”. The app stores themselves have quality guidelines and the process is a convoluted multi-step process. A top mobile app developer will know what is required and ensure that all steps to submit your app are successfully met.

#14. Never let price drive your decision.

Never select a mobile app development partner based on a price quote. You need the best product, not one that is cheaply made. Every startup, business or entrepreneur has a budget and that is often limited. But good things do not come cheap and typically the lowest cost option can turn out to be more expensive in the long term. For example if the product does not meet your business requirements and/or a high standard of quality, you will end up hiring a new, probably more expensive developer to either fix the apps’ issues or even worse, create the app from scratch. Not only delaying your app launch but doubling your costs to produce it.

#15. What are the fees and payment terms?

Draft a written agreement specifying that you will pay the developer by the hour or with a flat fee. Most developers either ask for half of the total cost upfront and half after completion, or a deposit at the beginning of a project with the balance due when the app is launched. Again ensure that you discuss possible future terms of adding app enhancements and features.

Basic mobile apps can range between $4,000 and $8,000, but this could be considerably more if you pay for a top quality developer and on an hourly rate. More complicated mobile apps, including the ones that require a sophisticated database or involve gaming, can cost considerably more.

To conclude:

Focus on the requirements you have and there will be a better chance at selecting the right app developer. It is an imperative decision as the success of your vision is often in your developer’s hands, so choose wisely.

David is the Managing Director of Blu Mint Digital; and writes about Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship. This article he wrote was written for Opus Online.

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David Bailey

CEO @Blu_Mint | Content Writer | Feminist | Rockstar Daddy to 3 sons | Recovering chocoholic