How To Hire An App Developer

Finding an independent app developer or app development company can be tough, especially if you’ve never done it before. Worst of all, picking the wrong team can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

In this post, we’ve set out to make the app developer selection process easy. We boiled down the process into 6 steps that, if followed, will ensure you find the right partner. During this post, we won’t be talking about bringing in app developers as a full-time employees, but instead, hiring an app development shop or independent contractor for a project.

At the end of this post, we provide an Interview Checklist of key questions to ask developers during a meeting and a list of discussion questions for afterwards.

Step 1: Find an App Developer or Company

Most importantly, you’re looking for a development team that can build apps for iOS and Android, and has experience deploying apps to app stores. It’s easy to get confused, but website developers and graphic designers are not the specialized professionals you need to build an app. Fortunately, if they aren’t able to build your app, they will often be helpful for connecting you with app developers.

Knowing this, start your search –

  1. Ask contacts in your network for recommended app developers
  2. Google App Developers + [YOUR CITY HERE]

Step 2: Weed Out The Unqualified

Once you’ve identified a potential app developer team, it’s important to know if they’ll provide the quality your project needs.

  1. Take a look at the candidate’s portfolio. How do the apps look? Are there clear design flaws? Is this the kind of quality you’d be proud to have for your app?
  2. From there, find one of the apps from their portfolio on one of the app stores. Download it, and take their app for a spin. Do you notice any bugs right away? Does the app crash? How complex is this app compared to other apps you use?

Step 3: Contact Your Candidate

Give your favorite candidates a call or submit an email through their contact form. Provide as much information as possible about your project and company. This will help candidates do a little research on your company, your potential app’s competition, and provide valuable feedback in your first meeting.

Step 4: Interview Candidates

Once you’ve heard back from your candidate, it’s important to set aside at least a half hour of time for a meeting. Even the smallest apps are a significant financial investment, so it’s best not to rush this first meeting.

Again, provide as much detail about your project as possible. If you don’t have your idea fleshed out, or are looking for recommendations for features, no worries. A great developer team will be able to brainstorm with you and provide a solid mobile strategy. If your project is mostly undefined, you may need another meeting to choose a mobile concept and strategy for your app.

During your first meeting, make sure to ask these questions:

  1. How long have you / your team been building apps?
  2. Does your team build for iOS, Android, or both?
  3. Does your team build natively, or use a cross-platform solution like Titanium or PhoneGap?
  4. Are the developers who will be working on the day-to-day aspects of this project based locally?
  5. Tell me about a mobile app you’ve built.
  6. Will you be creating the designs (visual look, user flow) for this project?
  7. If our app needs a database, will you be able to build it?
  8. What does your process look like? Will we have weekly, bi-weekly checkins? How do you show us you’re hitting milestones?
  9. Given our timeline, do you have the bandwidth to tackle our project?

After the meeting, ask yourself a few questions.

  1. How responsive was this developer? Did they get back to you right away after you reached out to them, or did you play phone/email tag?
  2. During your meeting, how engaged was the developer? Did they seem like they wanted to work on your project?
  3. Did the developer ask detailed, relevant questions about your project?
  4. Was the developer able to answer your questions in a way that was comprehensive and easy to understand?
  5. Most importantly, do you feel that this is a giving or taking developer? Do you feel that they take pride in their work and want your project to succeed?

From here, request that your choice developers provide proposals for your work.

Step 5: Gather and Review Proposals

Depending on the size of your project, proposals from an app developer can be as simple as an email, or as complex as a 10 page document. At the least, all proposals should contain a detailed explanation of the work your developer will perform, a timeline for completion, and total cost.

When reviewing proposals from your final candidate(s), make sure to look at package value, versus price only. Ask yourself –

  1. How will the final product compare between candidates? For example, is one candidate building you a mobile website, and another, a high-performance native app?
  2. Is one developer able to provide the app faster than the others?
  3. If one developer’s price is much less than the other candidates, ask yourself – “Why?” To produce a price that is drastically lower than your other candidate’s prices, a developer team must sacrifice quality and/or timeliness.
  4. Does a candidate’s price contain design, development, and the building of any database systems, or does it leave out one of these key items?

Finally, pick up the phone and call a former client from your candidate’s portfolio. This 5-minute conversation will be critical if you’re having difficulty deciding between two closely matched developers.

Step 6: Kickoff the Project!

Once you’ve chosen an app development team, they’ll provide a contract that includes the information found in their proposal, plus additional legal disclaimers like payment terms, technology rights, and conditions for ending the contract. Review this document, and if the terms are right, start your project! Note – Vektor Digital does not provide legal advice. Please review any contracts with your lawyer.

Congrats! You’ve hired an app developer or development shop! The upfront time and effort you put into the selection process is a smart investment. Now you can relax, trust your hired gun(s) to act in your best interest, and have fun watching your idea come to life!



Have you hired an app developer or development shop for a contract project before and have additional advice? Please post in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to add your recommendations.

Interview Checklist

Download our Interview Checklist of key questions to ask developers during a meeting, and a list of discussion questions for afterwards.

Click Here To Download Your Free Interview Checklist

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