5 simple tips for choosing the best app developer


BY Sam Davies


3 November 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have been working in and around app development since 2010, and in that time I have learnt A LOT! Including 1) a great idea on paper is difficult to translate into $$$ on the App Store and 2) developing software is neither cheap nor easy.

If you are in the process of looking for a developer to build an app for your business or startup, take heed of the following straightforward insights.

Do your research

If you were building a house you would no doubt spend a significant amount of time looking for a builder that suits your needs. Developers come in all shapes and sizes, from fresh-out-of-uni freelancers to top end, well-proven agencies. You should shortlist at least 5 developers that look like they could potentially develop your idea.  Check out the projects they have done and the clients they have worked with. How is their social game? Is their blog up to date? Can you find their work on the App Store and do their apps work? This is a huge relationship you are about to get into, make sure you dig deep and weed out any cowboys early on. (There are a lot of cowboys out there!)

Cheap doesn’t always = Cheap

The same project that might cost you $100K with a well-established agency, could cost $25k with a freelancer or just $10k with an offshore company. The thing you need to weigh up is what is best for your business at the stage it is currently at. If you have market sensitive deadlines and stakeholders to report to, then an agency is probably a safer bet. Freelancers and smaller outfits, although cheaper, often miss deadlines, and projects can blow out 3-12 months longer than expected. Offshore development is a huge lure for many startups. Rates of $10-$15 an hour often seem hard to turn down. Cheap prices come with risks though.

You need a tech co-founder to go offshore

If you are neither technically minded nor have a business partner who is, then I would avoid the lure of offshore or cheap local developers. In all but extremely rare cases, you are not going to get your hand held through the development process, and what might have seemed like clear instructions from your end can often result in a giant mess. The culture of many offshore teams is that of a ‘paint by numbers’ approach. You are not paying for creative or technical input.  I have seen startups waste years frustratingly going back and forth with offshore teams. Time is critical in this business and you are better off planning your marketing strategy than arguing over mundane tech specs on Skype.

Communication is more important than location

Contrary to the previous point, a local team is not necessarily always the best solution. It comes down to what you are building and who is the ideal fit to get it done. If an interstate team has worked on a similar project, or done work that you admire, there is no reason why you cannot work together. Communication is key in any long term project and if you are happy that the company has the skills to get the job done and can communicate effectively with you, then there is no reason you cannot work remotely. Most decent teams would be more than happy to jump on a plane for a face to face meeting too.

Treat it like a pitch

Once you have shortlisted 3-5 developers it is time to engage. One of the biggest mistakes I see from startups is that they walk into a developer’s offices without a pitch. Developers can meet up to 10-20 new leads a week, all of whom think they have the next Uber. As excited as you are, I can guarantee that the person on the other side of that table has most likely heard your idea before, or one very similar. You need to treat this meeting as your first round of pitching. Get your elevator pitch down pat and deliver the crux of your solution confidently and succinctly. Having a business plan and research with you is a very good idea. Developers who are worth their salt are busy people and they know it is not worth wasting their time with dreamers. If you can’t sell it to a service provider, then good luck with investors!


If you would like any further assistance in finding the right developer for your app project feel free to contact me on Linkedin, I am always happy to chat.

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Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir