Launching a mobile app means you arrive where your users expect you to be. Average users spend 90% of their smartphone time on an app.
Your app must stand out from millions of others.
How? You start with a big idea. Then you find mobile developers and designers who can bring your big idea to life and boost your business to the next level. All at an affordable price.
This guide gives focus to your strategy and a roadmap to get there. Follow the six-step path below on how to look for mobile developers. Find those who know how to meet your needs while staying within your allocated budget.
1 How to Find an App Developer: A Six-Step Plan
Looking for mobile app developers opens myriad options for you. Each option contains subtle nuances that make it the best choice in a specific situation. But beware! To those unaware of what they need, they all look the same.
How do you narrow down your search?
Follow this these six steps:
Step 1. Identify your needs
When looking for mobile app developers, the following points take top priority:
Priorities and limits. The basic list includes:
- desired launch time
- required quality and project complexity
- time difference
- support and optimization needs
Background and expertise. If you have no development-related experience, look for app developers who launch apps for business-savvy clients. They help you with requirements and project management, business analysis, and more.
Vision and requirements. To find the best fit, write down:
- basic feature list
- anticipated number of future users
- desired platforms (iOS, Android) and devices (smartphones, tablets, smart watches, smart TVs)
- specific industry regulations
- expansion plans
Available time. Think of how much time you can allocate to team management. Do you have little time for team coordination and workflow management? You need a dedicated team led by a project manager.
Available design and source code. Both decrease timeline and costs. But use only when quality is high. Otherwise, start anew.
Long-term plans. If you want a prototype, you can save costs by hiring a less-experienced team. When you are working on an MVP, an experienced team saves you development and maintenance costs. You pay a higher hourly rate but win in quality.
Step 2. Plan your search
Formulate your expectations from the future team. Think of your ideal app developer partner. For it, go through a developer’s or company’s portfolio. Read client testimonials and reviews (see below).
Make two lists. What criteria are non-negotiable for you? What are you willing to compromise? For instance, offshore outsourcing companies provide lower hourly rates but might answer slowly outside their working hours.
Think about who and how will increase your bottom line. It can be:
Important note. Looking for an app developer working as a freelancer might be insufficient for successful app delivery and launch. You might need a team with the following roles on a complex project:
When hiring a dedicated team, you must also allocate time to managing your outsourcing programmers. But a dedicated team demands less time than coordinating a team of freelancers.
Step 3. Make a list of your top providers
Whether you want to find a mobile app developer or a team, study their profiles. Peruse:
- professional websites (Google, Bing)
- directories and marketplaces (Clutch, Goodfirms)
Available options might seem endless. For instance, Clutch boasts 280,000+ vetted providers. Google returns 246M results for the request “find an iOS app developer.” What do you do?
Narrow down your search using filters. The most common include:
- relevant experience
- hourly rate
- minimum budget
- client reviews
We recommend you thoroughly study client reviews. To find developers with experience you’re looking for, focus specifically on these sections:
- project summary
- project scope
- team performance
- advice and improvement areas
Think of the reviewer’s background. Look for a team or an engineer with a high level of expertise. You need someone who knows how to provide you with a relevant implementation path.
Make a list of potential providers.
Give priority to app developers who have delivered projects similar to yours.
More on the topic: check an example list of the top ten companies plus explanations in the post
“10 Top Mobile App Development Companies.”
Step 4. Sign NDA. Discuss your project needs
Get in touch with the providers you have included on your list.
Sign an NDA. Then send them the same project requirements or idea outlines.
Schedule a call with the developers or company representatives from your list. Evaluate each candidate’s expertise. Your goal is to narrow down your list of candidates to the top service provider and back-up provider.
Discuss your project goals and possible tech challenges. Review the developer’s/team’s previous experience in:
- addressing different screen sizes
- optimizing app performance
- using native/cross-platform technologies
- handling peripherals (BLE, accelerometer, GPS, camera, and more)
- adapting apps to other smart devices: tablets, smartwatches, or TVs (if relevant)
- developing an API (connects software parts into one integral system)
- handling OS updates
- keeping up with the latest mobile development trends.
Note down responses.
The rule of thumb: dependable providers send you a follow-up email summarizing the meeting, set a deadline for response, and provide you with the next steps for moving forward.
Be prepared for reliable providers contacting you with clarifying questions. Their goal is to provide you with the best possible proposal and an accurate estimate.
Compare communication, offered plans, and your impressions from discussions. Put service providers in order from most to least relevant.
Step 5. Assess vendors to choose the best
Hiring the wrong team provides immense risks for your project success. In the best-case scenario, you will overspend your resources. In the worst-case scenario, your funds are gone and you have nothing to launch.
Ensure the provider you want to hire:
- understands you
- knows how to help
- offers a reasonable alternative when something does not fit in with your goal
- gives top priority to your project
A dependable team maintains transparency with you. You are fully aware of what you get for your money.
Look for specific signals that warn of difficulties in future cooperation. These include:
- Slow communication
Providers might delay answering when only marginally interested in your project. Or they have ineffective communication. You need neither.
- No questions from the provider
Providers always ask clarifying questions unless you want something simple. They need more details for accurate estimates. No questions mean they have no interest or experience.
- Low estimates
An estimate might look too good for a true comparison to the other providers on your list. The team might either have an unrealistic outlook due to lack of experience or intend to charge you extra after you sign on the dotted line.
- Narrow tech stack
Highly popular technologies ensure successful project transfer. Service providers must have a solid explanation when proposing a less-popular stack. Beware: they may want you to slip into vendor dependency.
You must check each offer meticulously. Ensure that you find mobile app developers who are:
Step 6. Start with a pilot task (or project discovery)
Starting small is key to future success. Both a pilot task and project discovery enable you to:
- identify risks and challenges
- elaborate the project plan
- evaluate the team and its workflow
Use project discovery to build an app from scratch or when redevelopment is planned. It takes 2 – 6 weeks, depending on complexity.
The development team studies project details and presents deliverables, including:
- detailed requirements
- project documentation
- user flow and wireframes
Project discovery decreases the overall development timeline. An accurate estimate is possible upon it.
A pilot task is needed when project discovery makes no sense, e.g., for ongoing projects.
A pilot task usually takes one Sprint (1 – 2 weeks). It can include:
- project audit
- delivery of small functionality
- project improvements
The pilot task helps both parties understand if the team can deliver.
2 Where to Find an App Developer
Apart from search engines, here are some valuable sources where to look for app developers:
Often, businesses turn to IT Craft because of former or current client recommendations.
Recommendations decrease search time. Parties move forward faster due to a high level of initial trust. Check testimonials for more insights on the reasons behind clients’ requests.
- Directories and marketplaces
Most popular directories and marketplaces include:
Clutch offers a vast range of products and services. Its killer feature is structured thoroughly verified client reviews.
Goodfirms is Clutch’s main rival. It offers shorter reviews compared to those listed on Clutch. Yet, it provides visitors with video testimonials.
Upwork provides a platform for finding both freelancers and agencies. It keeps a detailed record of a provider’s accomplishments.
Behance focuses on the visual aspect of software projects. It lets businesses discover designs and creative works.
LinkedIn is a professional business network. You can discover the provider’s activities and evaluate employees with its help.
3 When to Find an App Developer
You need to look for mobile app developers when you cannot progress any further on your own.
You launch and elaborate faster by outsourcing app development. Also, common pitfalls do not block your long-term sustainability.
The right time for cooperation depends on several factors, including:
- available concept (understanding what you create and for whom)
- completed market study (identifying an underserved niche and specific pains)
- available financing (expertise is expensive)
Even if you are not ready to start negotiations right now, it makes sense to compose a list of expert-level service providers. You need to take the first step.
Finding app developers takes time and energy. Hiring might take longer than expected when you are busy with marketing and concept elaboration. You risk extending the delivery time.
Why should you keep a list?
You must ensure the service provider can take over the project as soon as you need help. When your top choice is busy at a specific time point, you switch to the next one.
4 How Does IT Craft Help You Find Mobile App Developers?
Mobile app development is one of IT Craft’s key competencies. We can help you with:
- native and cross-platform Android app developers
- app development for smart devices
- MVP development from scratch
- maintenance and expansion
- project rescue
- gaming app developers
- app modernization
Here are just two of many projects:
The client wanted to create an app where athletes showcase their talents. Coaches can discover and follow athletes. This decreases both time and effort needed to vet young talents.
The IT Craft team helped the client launch an iOS MVP app. The team estimated the project scope and adhered to the estimate, enabling the client to remain within budget limits.
The client had a successful web solution and an Android app. They sought an expansion to the iOS platform.
IT Craft’s iPhone developers delivered an iOS app based on the client’s guidelines and UI. The IT Craft team also improved the Android app’s code base.
Technologies evolve rapidly and constantly. Smart machines get smarter. Current technologies are continuously improved. New devices, apps, services, and trends appear every day.
You should meet the changes in full force. Engage a team that can turn disruptive tech changes into your competitive advantage. A team that keeps track of IT trends, analyzes possible scenarios, acts proactively, and suggests winning strategies to you.
The best way to find mobile app developers is through recommendations.
If you have no one who can help you, keep the following points in mind:
- look for mobile developers on trusted sources
- read verified feedback
- check the reasoning behind low ratings
- examine the website and portfolio
- ask for references
You can find programmers for startup by using:
- Google search
Consider the following hourly rates for outsourcing app developers:
USA/Canada: $100 – $250
Western Europe: $65 – $170
Central and Eastern Europe: $30 – $65
India: $20 – $45
South-Eastern Asia: $20
Australia: $100 – $150
It depends on scope and complexity. The team size varies between 3 – 11 members. The number also includes essential non-engineering roles such as designer, project manager, and business analyst.