How to Find & Hire a Good App Developer

Whether you’re an entrepreneur with an app idea, a Fortune 500 company, or somewhere in between, you can benefit from hiring a good app developer.

Even if you don’t need a customer-facing app, any business can benefit from internal apps.

Indeed, a report from Fliplet found that businesses get an additional 240 hours of work from each employee who uses mobile enterprise apps. If you paid employees $30 per hour on average, your business would save $7,200 per year per employee from having internal apps.

The problem is that hiring in the tech talent market is extremely competitive. It’s challenging to find app developers who will successfully deliver on your projects.

This article explores how you can find and hire an excellent app developer.

What is an app developer?

The definition of an app developer is a software engineer who develops applications for desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, and other devices like smartwatches.

App developers are responsible for testing their apps to find and fix as many bugs as possible before either releasing the app or passing it forward to testers.

App developers usually make design decisions when developing their apps to make them easier to use and more functional.

What skills does an app developer need?

There are many aspects to an application, including the platform and device on which it runs, and the type of user who uses it.

Platform-specific skills

An app developer might specialize in developing for a specific platform, such as Windows, Android, macOS, iOS.

App developers commonly use C++ for Windows development because the language can utilize the full performance of a computer. C can also utilize the full performance of hardware running Windows, but development takes longer than with higher-level languages like C++.

App developers can also use other programming languages to create apps for Windows, such as Java, C#, JavaScript, and Python. Each programming language has its pros and cons, with varying development speeds, execution performance, and ease of maintenance.

Java is the official language of Android app development. Kotlin is an alternative to Java. It’s similar to Java but is generally easier to use.

Objective-C and Swift can be used to create apps for any Apple device.

Objective-C is the most popular programming language for creating Apple desktop and laptop apps on macOS.

Swift is the most popular programming language for development on iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Swift encourages cleaner code compared with Objective-C and includes more safeguards to prevent errors.

Device-specific skills

An app developer might specialize in creating apps for specific types of devices, such as smart TVs or smartwatches.

Different types of devices need apps that account for their unusual properties. For example, a smart TV app has a lot of screen real estate. On the other hand, a smartwatch app needs to use screen space extra efficiently.

Domain-specific skills

App developers can also specialize in development areas, such as office suites or accounting applications.

Developing apps for a particular use case requires knowledge of and experience in that use case. For example, an app developer with accounting training and experience would likely create a better accounting app that accountants will like to use.

How much does it cost to hire an app developer?

The cost of hiring an app developer depends on whether you want to hire a full-time employee, a freelancer, or a development company.

Cost of a full-time app developer

The average salary of an app developer in the US is around $71,000 or $30 per hour and 80% of US app developer salaries are between $50,000 and $100,000, according to PayScale. You can check out the average salary of an app developer in your own country here.

You’ll need to provide full-time app developers with a proper desk setup

Aside from salary, hiring a full-time app developer involves other costs such as equipment, tax and retirement contributions.

Pros of hiring a full-time app developer

  • Employees learn your values and goals, which enables them to make better decisions when building your app.
  • You can communicate with employees more effectively because they take the time to learn how to use your existing communication tools.

Cons of hiring a full-time app developer

  • An individual app developer may be competent in all aspects of app development, but they can’t be a master of every aspect.
  • An employee can be costly to terminate if they don’t perform as expected.
  • You need to provide an employee with equipment and software licenses.
  • You pay employees even when you don’t have suitable work to give them.
  • You need to have a project manager to oversee an employee’s work.

Cost of a freelance app developer

Individual freelancers are usually more expensive per hour than employees because they have more expenses to pay themselves, such as their own equipment, and higher tax contributions.

They charge you more per hour or project, but you only pay them when you need them. This can be a considerable cost saving if you only need an app developer for half a year or less.

$543 is the average cost of a freelancer-completed app project hired from Freelancer.com, although Freelancer.com tends to attract beginner to intermediate-level talent.

The average hourly rate worldwide for an iOS developer is $81 to $100 and, for a Java or Android developer, is $61 to $80, according to Arc.

Pros of hiring a freelance app developer

  • You only pay a freelancer when you need them.
  • Freelance contracts can be terminated easily if needed.
  • You don’t need to worry about sick pay, taxes, or benefits.
  • You can hire app developers with different skills as needed rather than committing to just one for the long-term.

Cons of hiring a freelance app developer

  • A freelancer may give up on your project in favor of a more profitable one.
  • A freelancer could be working on multiple projects at once, slowing the delivery of your app.
  • If their first language differs from yours, a freelancer could misunderstand your requirements.
  • A freelancer’s programming style and written documentation may not be sufficient for another developer to take over the app.

Cost of a development company

App development companies are usually more expensive to hire than the equivalent number of full-time or freelancers developers.

They are more expensive because they need to pay their own app developers and make a profit for the company.

According to Clutch.io, around half of all app development companies charge more than $5,000 for discovery and more than $10,000 for design. This is before any development, testing, or deployment is done. Ongoing maintenance after deployment costs extra.

A development company could end up being cheaper overall if an employee or freelancer doesn’t successfully deliver your app, forcing you to rehire and redevelop.

Pros of hiring an app development company

  • A development company is guaranteed to finish your app. They have developers of all different specialties, so your project won’t grind to a halt due to inexperience.
  • A development company is more likely to deliver your app on schedule because they can assign more developers to work on it as needed.
  • You don’t need to worry about project management because they manage it in-house.
  • You can tell them what you want the app to achieve and let them worry about the implementation details.

Cons of hiring an app development company

  • App development companies only accept projects worth over a minimum value. According to Clutch.io, 90% of app development companies only accept projects with a value of at least $5,000, and 57% have a $10,000 minimum.

Where can I find app developers?

Let’s take a look at the many different places where you can find app developers that you can rely on.

CodinGame Sourcing

Start your app developer search with CodinGame Sourcing.

Powerful matching algorithms find you top app developers who are best suited for your requirements.

Freelancer platforms

These are some of the best freelance websites to find app developers.

Upwork and Freelancer are two of the biggest freelance websites out there. You will have plenty of developers to choose from. Warning: Many will be unqualified. You will need to put more effort into screening candidates on these platforms.

Toptal and TopCoder only admit highly experienced freelancers onto their platforms. You pay more to hire through these platforms for the benefit of reduced effort and risk.

Some other freelance platforms to check out are WeWorkRemotely, Codeable, Guru, Gun.io, 10X Management, YouTeam.

Development company lists

Clutch.co, GoodFirms.co, and TheyMakeApps.com each have their own comprehensive list of app development companies.

You can read reviews for each company, and see their minimum project values, number of employees, and average cost per hour worked on your project.

Design portfolios

You can check out app designs created by individual designers on Dribbble and Behance.

While some of these designers will exclusively design apps and not develop them, some will work with app developers who they might recommend to you.

Programming Q&A websites

Programming question-and-answer websites like StackOverflow are filled with programming experts.

Check out some app development questions. See who wrote the top answers and reach out to them, asking if they’re interested in working with you.

StackOverflow also has a job advertising platform.

Code repositories

The public code repository GitHub is a great place to find app developers.

Professional and hobbyist developers publish their projects for everyone to see. You can browse the trending page to see which projects are most popular with enthusiasts.

Filter the trending page by an app-development programming language. For example, filter by Swift to see the best iOS projects. You can then reach out to the app developers who created them.

Social media

LinkedIn is arguably the best social media platform to find app developers. Developers list their specific app development skills on their profiles, which others can then endorse. App developers whose skills have been endorsed heavily by others are typically more experienced.

Developers, like other professionals, keep their LinkedIn profile up to date

In-person and remote networking

You can attract a lot of interest from app developers at networking events if you put on a bit of a show.

You can attract up-and-coming app developers at college and university career fairs and recruitment talks. The best thing about student events is that many of the best app developers won’t know how in-demand they are yet!

While in-person events aren’t happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still source developers remotely with virtual career fairs, virtual information sessions, recruitment webinars, and online coding competitions such as CodinGame’s Clash of Code.

The 5 best places to find a good app developer

1. Toptal

Toptal allows only the top 3% of freelance app developers on its platform. Developers must pass a sequence of tests that challenge their technical communication and problem-solving skills.

To have a chance of being accepted onto Toptal, app developers have to deliver a full app project. So, when you hire from Toptal, you save time by not having to give developers test projects to complete to prove themselves.

If you want, you can try out a freelancer for a trial period. You only pay them if you’re satisfied.

2. CodinGame Sourcing

The most talented app developers don’t apply for jobs. They’re too busy working on their existing projects. Instead, they wait for the right job offers to come to them.

CodinGame Sourcing uses your app developer requirements to match you with the best app developer candidates for you. Find your ideal app developer from within our community of 2 million developers, with a free trial of CodinGame Sourcing.

3. Clutch.co

Clutch.co has a comprehensive list of over 4,000 app development companies.

You can read detailed client reviews and view examples of past app projects.

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a go-to source when searching for tech talent.

One of the best aspects of LinkedIn is that you can see how many people endorse a developer’s app development-specific skills.

You can easily gauge how well respected an app developer is.

5. StackOverflow

The people writing the best answers to app development questions on StackOverflow probably know a thing or two about app development.

Reach out to top contributors. They might be looking for a job or a side-project to work on.

Conclusion

When you’ve identified a problem in your target market or within your organization and outlined some app ideas, it’s time to find app developers to help make it happen.

No single app developer will have all the skills needed to create any type of app. Every app developer has a different set of skills suited to making specific types of apps.

Use the websites in this guide to find app developers to deliver on your project successfully.

Once you find someone suitable, check out our guide on how to screen developers remotely.

STRUGGLING TO HIRE SKILLED DEVELOPERS?

There’s a better way to test coding skills.

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Jon Holstead

Jon Holstead

Jon Holstead is a writer at CodinGame. Jon has previously worked as a software developer and CTO for both SaaS startups and larger tech organizations. He started his career in technology by earning a computer science Bachelor of Science degree from Durham University, UK. Jon has since built a multitude of ventures, including a property investment company and a business blog. Outside of work, Jon enjoys eating "pain au chocolat" and is a sucker for golden retrievers.