Development IT Consulting Startup

How to Hire App Developers – A Complete Guide

How can you find a developer who won’t screw up your project? Maxim Moneta, the co-founder of Startupers, expanded on all the risks you may be exposed to when hiring mobile app developers.

Last Monday, I had a talk with Maxim, a potential client with an already familiar story.

I wondered, “How much have you already invested in this product?”

He looked at me disappointedly. “Almost 100 thousand dollars.”

“I had a look at the developers’ work and, unfortunately, I have bad news for you.” I replied and thought I could remind a doctor who is about to report bad test results. 

“The app is made from poor-quality code. The structure is all messed up and it looks like a lot of different people have been working on it in the last few months. ”

Long pause. I already knew what he was going to ask next.

“Can you help us to solve this problem?” – he asked.

And this is what I do every day. Every month I have lots of similar conversations with founders from all over the world.

When a person comes up with an excellent idea for a product, he/she starts mulling over the options. The cost of building a development team is rather high, so they go and find a cheaper solution. It might be a group of freelancers or a design agency that also does some programming.

Several months later, they can hardly show at least something. This is terrible. Businesspeople spend their honestly earned money (theirs or others’) trying to create a viable product. They trust a team that cannot deliver what they expect to see in the end.

I understand their desire to cut costs. Even if you have enough money, we all love bargains and finding a cheap freelancer often seems to be a more appealing option compared to hiring a more expensive development team.

The only way to avoid such a conversation and stay sane is to work with a qualified team. Thanks to people like Max, I gained valuable experience and want to tell you about:

  • the value of professional application development;
  • the outsourcers’ work and their results;
  • how to make sure you hire the right team to implement your product idea. 

How to Hire an App Developer? Step 1 - The Cheapest Alternative


Disappearing developers

The first thing that springs to your mind when you decide to build a product is what is the cost of an app developer on the market and how much money I’ll pay in the end. The answer is it varies a lot. 

Freelancers, online contracts, foreign sweatshops, and other on-demand developers represent one side of a coin. They often charge extremely low rates and promise to release your product in the shortest time frame.

I’m not saying that hiring freelancers is bad, but weird outsourcers defame the whole principle of the outsourcing model. Numerous times I’ve witnessed how freelancers just disappear without having their work done. You cannot contact a person either by any means – either by a chat, email or phone. This is a major issue if you have strict deadlines, the launch date is already set and you have made a good investment in your project. 

You might think that I make a mountain out of molehill but such situations repeat all the time. It might happen that a member of your remote team has business or school affairs, but such delays threaten your business. 

Doubtful development firms

A completely different problem appears with development firms that charge extremely low rates somewhere in between $10-15. As a rule, these are companies, which utilize cheap labor to create something that has little to do with quality programming. How can you develop software for $10 an hour? The answer is obvious: you must be a trainee or a junior developer.

They hire recent college graduates and pay them $250-550 a month. These unskilled developers do lots of projects at the same time and often combine code from different applications to create something that can be really called “software.”

All the vital components such as scalability, security and productivity are neglected. You will get a bad product that matches its cost.

These young developers often suffer as well. Business owners can keep their passports, delay their payment or pay just a share of their salaries. It’s definitely not a model to follow. 

Finding a Mobile App Developer: Step 2 - Full Cycle Outsourcing


Hybrid companies

One of such development firms has recently closed in Chicago. No one wants to see a startup go red but I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of the way they did business. This was a typical hybrid company as they looked like a full-time professional company, but they did business with freelancers and low-quality software agencies. This model is getting more popular in the tech community, where “expert” firms and consultants only pretend to have development teams.

The hybrid model has the same problems as the ones you experience when hiring a freelancer: you might face the risk that a programmer might disappear, get a poor quality product, missed deadlines, unreliabiliable staff, and lots of other issues. It’s good to have your own project manager. But if this person is just an intermediary between you and a foreign company, this situation is no better than the one in which you would hire this company yourself.

Working with a design agency that has no or little experience in programming is not a path to success as well.


The budget is cut: what are your risks?


I can confidently say that none of the top 200 apps were built by a small development company, design agency, or an overseas firm. Today’s market sets high standards these players cannot meet. It isn’t good or bad – it’s just the fact.

It is disappointing to hear that people invest $20 000-40 000 in the application and get a terrible product. It might be even worse – intermediary firms with a representative office in the US or Europe charge $60 000-80 000 for the project and provide their clients with a poor-quality product.

Before we discuss what factors to focus on while choosing a development firm, let’s take a look at what’s at stake if you opt for the low-cost alternative:

  1. The product has a horrible design. It looks cheap and unfamiliar to the user. Users cannot navigate the interface, which means they reject downloading the app or spending their money on it.
  2. Contractors missed all the deadlines. They couldn’t finalize anything on time. Opportunities closed, profits dwindled.
  3. The low price you were hoping for increases due to constant change requests. If you don’t have a clear scope of work and detailed assignment, each change or a new function (also the elements that should have been initially included) is flagged as a change request. Some companies even build their business models based on the assumption that they will increase the cost of the contract by 200% for the so-called “add-ons.”
  4. The application cannot be scaled. New users come and overload the system. The best growth scenario turns into an obstacle when the product faces growing traffic.
  5. Poor quality. No testing has been done. Performance and security have not been verified as well. User data isn’t secure, and your source code may be publicly available at any time.
  6. If you hire another developer, he/she won’t be able to use the code. Even if you go to a reliable company, they will have to start from the very beginning.

Hiring an Outsourcing Team: Step 3 - Full Cycle Professional Development


Best talents for good money

Knowledgeable, skilled engineers are motivated to meet challenges and solve problems. Finding a developer who can solve your business issue is difficult. They are demanded on the market, which means they are valuable. Guess whether they can agree to work for $10 an hour? Of course, they don’t.

Professional companies pay good salaries for these people, and with hundreds of projects in their pipeline, they can afford to find, hire and retain the best employees in the industry.

Qualified developers and product designers create scalable systems. They challenge standards. They create memorable interfaces. Why are Google and Facebook investing so much money in talent retention? That is because they know the value of such employees and their skills for business. 

Business consulting is already a benchmark

A digital product is not limited to an application. This is a business that requires substantial support. The dubious firm will build an app even if the assignment is meaningless. Professionals will test assumptions, highlight vulnerabilities, and spot problems even before they appear. This is how they get things done.

Many people get frustrated when they realize that app stores won’t accept their lopsided game or broken billing services that will lose thousands of dollars in potential transactions. A full-service firm will work on all the details required to support and secure your business.

Design that takes into account cultural peculiarities

There is a great advantage to working with foreign designers – and this is not about being cosmopolitan.

Design is a mixture of science and art, and there are many differences in how people use products in their daily lives. If you build a product for people from western regions, it makes sense to work with designers who are culturally aware of their interaction peculiarities. 

If you build an app for a different market, you need employees who have experience creating products for different audiences or an international strategy that suits your potential clients.

High standards and legal issues 

Applications have strict code standards that concern design, functionality, security, etc. A professional software company will apply all the required steps and go through the necessary procedures to ensure you get a high-quality product that meets your expectations. Their reputation highly depends on these standards.

Legally speaking, if you have a disagreement with a professional firm, you will have a contract with certain standards and expected outcomes written in it. Want to solve a problem with an overseas company? I wish you a lot of luck, but your disagreement is unlikely to be resolved. Business should always be based on guarantees rather than promises. So, my advice is to think about it before you face any disagreement.

ITPM group is proficient in a variety of industries, projects and technologies. So, if you are looking for professional mobile developers, we are here to assemble a team of top-notch software engineers for you and provide them with decent job conditions.


Customer's biases: what to look for and what to ask?


inding a developer is difficult, but let’s imagine you coped with this challenging task. But before signing a contract and paying for the services, there are a few factors you should consider to get the best value for money.

Speak to a project manager

A good idea is to have a talk with a person who will represent your company for the rest of the project. Good questions to ask:

  • Who will deal with development? Do these people focus on long-term cooperation, or they might change depending on tasks or project requirements?
  • Where is the team based?
  • Do they have a manager? How is reporting handled? 
  • Do you have relevant experience of working with such projects?
  • Do these employees work full-time on a project? Do they have other projects as well?
  • How many meetings will we have? How do you approach communication in a team and with a client? 

Don’t talk about the code only

Ask about testing, code reviews, security protocols, and intellectual property rights. Entrepreneurs and founders can deal with development teams confidently even if they lack profound technical skills and knowledge. 

Look for additional costs

A good advice is to ask how change requests are covered. What does a “change request” imply? What are the rates for themt? What’s included? How are disagreements handled?

Development changes rapidly. This industry often confuses people without tech knowledge. Don’t let this fact shield you from questions and research. Low prices mean cheap products. A professional firm can clarify why they charge high costs and explain what a “change request” means.

Today anyone can establish an app development studio. Always look for more details. Be careful. Make sure you get quality work at every stage. This is the best way to respect the idea you want to share with the world.

Yevhen Rybak


Yevhen Rybak