The success of an application development project will often hinge on choosing the right app developer. Since the field of app development includes a wide range of specialties, and each developer has a unique set of experiences and skills, finding the right person for the job can be difficult and time-consuming. This article will show you how to find an app developer that best suits your organization’s needs, which factors to consider when matching a developer to your project, and how to get started on your search.

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Can You Design Your Own App?

So you have an idea for an app; a great idea, even. The first thought that crosses your mind is probably to develop it yourself, and it’s not a completely outlandish idea. By becoming an app programmer, you greatly minimize the risks associated with your project, particularly by limiting the financial resources you need to invest. In addition, you can control all stages of development, and you are therefore less exposed to intellectual property risks.

Designing your own app

If your programming skills are limited, that’s no problem. A plethora of tools are available today, many of them free, to help you carry out your plan successfully. All the ingredients seem to be there to create the next big app for web or mobile users.

But, is this the right choice?

The Rise of the Citizen Developer

As technological advances often go hand in hand with the democratization of technology, many “ordinary” citizens can now engage in activities that were once the exclusive purview of experts. Take, for example, people without journalistic training who use social media to post information about current events, or amateur athletes who film their exploits with a camera on their helmet or clothing.

App Programmer

It’s a logical progression: the more popular a technology becomes, the more people become interested in it, and therefore more tools become accessible and numerous. This is how platforms for all kinds of DIY projects are born—free and open-source content management systems like WordPress, mixing software, templates or themes for creating resumes or business cards, and so on.

Similarly, there are application development tools that operate based on pre-designed patterns and do not require any programming knowledge. Examples include Bubble for web applications, or Appsbar or Appyet, which allow you to create mobile applications easily and free of charge. Some people may be tempted to adopt the role of app programmer in order to bring their idea to market more quickly.

Limitations of Citizen Developers

However, application development by a non-professional programmer—which is what’s meant by the term “citizen developer,” as in citizen journalist—has its limits.

First of all, even if they’re interested in the field of programming, the citizen developer has no way of knowing their options as well as a professional app programmer. They will be limited by their knowledge and won’t explore original and innovative avenues that go beyond ready-made solutions. As a result, the finished product will most likely get lost among similar offerings, struggle to stand out, and be very difficult to monetize, if desired.

limitations of citizen developers

Secondly, the number of hours required to develop the application is bound to be much higher if the project is carried out by an amateur developer. You may not assign any cost to the time you put into the project, since it’s yours, and so it may not factor into your decision. However, that’s a mistaken conception: there’s always a cost, even if only an opportunity cost.

When you choose to devote time to a particular project, you give up another activity. This takes away one of your resources (your time), which could have been used to focus on other essential aspects of your business. Therefore, it’s perfectly sensible to question the relevance of investing yourself in a field that’s not your specialty. Wouldn’t it make more sense—and be more efficient and cost-effective—to spend your time and energy on tasks you’re good at?

Benefits of Having an App Developer

Knowing that there are significant limitations to developing an app on your own, let’s look at the benefits of dealing with a professional app developer.

Benefits of having an app developer

First, a good developer is not only a competent programmer who can produce the solution you’ve imagined, but they are also an advisor and a coach.

Since you aren’t an app programmer yourself, you may not think like one. There’s a good chance that the solution you’re considering has design weaknesses or security flaws, or is even impossible to program as-is. A professional programmer can give you the straight facts very quickly. An app developer can also provide strategic support. They’ll start by asking you questions to encourage you to clarify your needs so that they can understand them better.

For example:

  • What are the short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives of the project?
  • Will the app be mobile, web-based or both?
  • What needs will the app be fulfilling?
  • Who will be using the app?
  • Do these users have particular computer skills?
  • What’s the most important factor in your project: staying on budget, on schedule, or on spec?

Once you’ve got these details laid out clearly, you can start working on the project in a spirit of co-creation: you’ll design the solution together. The developer will be able to advise you on the best technologies and the programming language to use according to the intended use and the features you have in mind.

There’s a good chance you’ve thought of tons of features that are desirable, but not essential. Your programmer will be able to guide you in prioritizing your work by letting you know the approximate amount of effort required to develop each one. Armed with this information, you can then make informed choices based on your budget and tentative schedule.

Once you’ve determined your app’s specifications, you can work together to create a summary roadmap detailing the development stages, deliverables and deadlines associated with each stage. You will have elements to provide to move the project forward—visual identity, graphic elements, user experience and copy—but your partner will be supporting you throughout the process. 

And since your developer is immersed in his field, they’ll most likely be able to recommend other people in their network with various expertise to help you move your project forward: graphic design, user experience design, copywriting, etc.

All of this knowledge and expertise will let your partner complete your project faster and with a much greater degree of certainty. You’ll avoid any time-consuming trial and error and the associated costs and momentum drain.

App Development Qualifications

App development qualifications

Now that you know how a professional programmer can contribute to the success of your project, you may be wondering how to find software developers who are a good fit for your project. What knowledge, skills and qualifications does this key resource require?

Qualified software developers

First, and most importantly, your programmer must be proficient in the technologies needed to create your app. For example, if you want a cross-platform mobile solution, you need to make sure that they’re able to develop more than just native iOS apps. Some developers specialize in a single operating system or programming language, making them experts, but perhaps not the versatile professionals you’re looking for.

Even if a developer’s versatility isn’t put to the test while the application is being coded, it could become much more important later, when it’s time to put all the pieces together. Your resource should therefore be at least minimally proficient at speaking the language of the different stakeholders: project manager, IT support, and application end-users, among others. They need to be able to understand others’ vision, because without a good grasp of the elements destined to be attached to the developed solution, and of the time devoted to the process, the pieces may not fit together perfectly, and the work will need to be redone.

Finally, since much of the risk associated with the project lies in meeting deliverables and deadlines, it is advisable to find software developers who are comfortable with various collaborative project management tools, or that provide a dedicated project manager to keep the project on-track with sufficient communications around deliverables. Although it may seem disconnected from a developer’s essential basic skills, their mastery of these tools or provision of a project manager will let you closely monitor the project’s activities and follow its progress.

Developer Certifications

Developer certifications

A good programmer will naturally have a degree and/or one or more certifications to prove their skills. However, it’s important to note that there are many different educational paths in the field of application development; diplomas vary and lead to learning different skills. That’s why it’s a good idea to find out what knowledge and skills a developer has acquired in each part of their education. 

In addition, many developers choose to add more strings to their bow later on by specializing in certain areas or by seeking certification of their expertise. Look for certifications that are specific to the technology your application will be created in, such as Claris certifications for Claris FileMaker applications, or OutSystems certifications for OutSystems applications. You may ask to see other applications from a developer’s portfolio in order to assess their skills and abilities.

Finally, Agile and/or Scrum familiarity for project managers have an undeniable value given that agile methodologies currently dominate the IT landscape. A modern programmer needs to be familiar with these methods in order to better integrate into a potential development team.

Where Can I Find an App Developer?

When you’re looking to find software developers, you can search on specialized sites that have a section dedicated to IT professionals, such as Monster or Indeed. These sites feature large numbers of programmers offering their services, and you can browse anonymously through their profiles.

Searching for an app developer

Alternatively, you can post an ad as a potential client on these sites, specifying the nature of the project and the criteria you’re looking for in an ideal candidate, and wait for developers to apply. All you have to do then is go through the applications and contact the people with the most promising profiles.

Of course, if you’re looking for a more complex or long-term project and want professional guidance, you can deal with a custom application development company such as Direct Impact Solutions. After a needs assessment, one or more developers will be assigned to your project and will take charge of each step, from the design of the solution to its deployment.

How to Hire an App Developer

If you believe that your development needs will extend beyond a single project, or that the scope of the project warrants a full-time resource for an extended period of time, it may make sense to hire someone.

Hiring an app developer

There’s always the approach involving LinkedIn ads, but this is a passive method that works best if you have a well-developed network in the field. Failing that, staffing agencies specializing in IT resources are a good place to start. They’ll be able to pre-screen the candidates who best match your vision of the position before passing the torch to you for the final choice.

In short, there are many elements to keep in mind when undertaking an application development project, from the choice of the design method to the selection of the candidate assigned to its creation. Fortunately, there are many resources available today to help guide you, whether you decide to go at it alone or surround yourself with a team to create what could become the next great software innovation of the decade.