How To Vet A Freelance App Developer | 5 Killer Tips

With the ubiquity of smartphones and the necessity of a personalized and more intimate user experience for your customers, more companies than ever are turning to custom proprietary apps to help better engage and get to know their clients.

A well-designed app can radically impact your sales opportunities, your marketing, your customer acquisition and retention, and your conversions. 

Not every business has the time or the expertise to develop their own applications, however.

Building an app from the ground up is labour intensive and requires specialized knowledge of common programming languages (depending on which platform your app will be for). People go to school to learn how to develop mobile apps and good developers have hundreds, if not thousands of hours of practice under their belt, and perhaps dozens of apps to their name.

In short, a lot of companies outsource their app development, and to great success. If you are contemplating a proprietary mobile app for your business, here is how to vet your freelance app developer and find the right person for the job.

1. Ask Them About Their Testing Process

Because there are so many individuals and companies out there looking for customized proprietary apps, there is a massive industry of freelancers that has grown around it.

Like any freelance niche, it is full of both pros and amateurs, more expensive options, and discount ones. Depending on what you are looking for and what your budget is, you will have to decide on the talent and experience you need to build what you are trying to develop. 

One thing to ask whichever developer you decide on, however, is what their testing process entails. If you are new to app development, a good dev should be able to explain things to you in fairly simple language.

Especially important is to find out how much exploratory testing your developer does as part of his normal due diligence when building an app.

2. Vet Them For Communication

It is difficult, though not impossible, to find a freelance app developer who is based in the same location as you.

There is a high probability that you will never be able to meet this person face to face. While a lack of in-person interaction is not necessarily a bad thing, it entirely depends on the person and how well they communicate virtually, as well as how conscientiously you think they will provide you with regular updates and progress reports. 

When you are selecting a freelance developer, you will more likely than not interview and reach out to several different people while you are looking.

Sometimes the first person you contact is a good match. Other times it can seem like there is no one out there who will be able to take on your project and create what you are looking for.

Throughout this process, make special note of how potential candidates speak to you, how forthright they are, whether their English is good enough for you to be able to have meaningful conversations and meetings with them, and how quickly they respond to and follow-up on questions and queries you give them. 

3. Vet Them For Ability

When you are choosing a freelancer, especially if you are going through an agency or using one of the major freelance platforms on the web, their CV will always be front and centre.

You should be able to look at their resume to see what kind of training and formal expertise they have in the field, as well as their portfolio of successful development projects in the past. As it is with any recruitment and selection process, however, you need to make sure that a candidate can back up his or her claims. 

Because anyone can claim to be an app developer, and many people with very little experience often do, you should look for people who can speak to both postsecondary software development training as well as bootcamp experience.

One of the first things you are likely to realize when beginning your search for a developer is just how many completely unqualified people there are out there clamouring for your business and willing to accept next to no money for a job.

4. Find Out How Many Projects They’re Working On

Building mobile apps can pay the bills, but it is often inconsistent work, or done on the side by developers who also ply their trade elsewhere.

Perhaps they will be building your app while also working a full-time gig and spending an hour or so here and there (on weekends and evenings) to make some extra cash on the side.

This sort of arrangement can absolutely work out if the developer is good and is able to set aside time on a regular basis to complete your project. 

If your app developer has a long list of projects they are trying to work into an already busy schedule, on the other hand, you might want to ask yourself how much time do you think they will realistically be able to set aside for your app on a regular basis. #

Not only this, but if their attention is spread across a bunch of different development and other projects, do you foresee there being a drop in quality? These are questions you need to take into consideration when choosing an app developer.

5. Check Their Portfolio

With so many freelancers offering app building services out there, it can be easy to make a bad decision. As with any specialized or creative pursuit, you should always spend some time looking through a potential app developers portfolio of projects.

If this is something they have been at for a while, they should have been building a portfolio of work to show prospective new clients. 

If you are able to, try to download and preview some of their apps to see what your finished product may look like. If you find their apps clunky, counter-intuitive and generally difficult to use, there is a good chance that if you don’t enjoy using the apps a developer has created for other clients, or themselves, you (and others) are not going to enjoy anything that same developer creates for you.

Wrapping Up

Finding a freelance app developer has never been easier, and at the same time, selecting the right one can be quite difficult.

With so many people offering their services, it really is a buyer’s market and you can spend as much time as you like shopping around for a dev that you like and who you think will be a good fit for your project. On the other hand, with so many people trying to break into freelance app development, and the undercutting that goes with it, you can find yourself with what you believe to be a bargain that turns out to be the wrong fit. 

An app can make or break your business and if you are in a niche or industry where your competitors are already using mobile apps and this is what customers expect, forgoing a well-made, helpful app can have a significant negative impact on your sales and market share.

Always make sure you ask pointed questions about a dev’s testing process; find out how and how well they communicate; try to get a feel for their ability; consider the number of projects they will be working on simultaneously, and therefore how much attention they will be able to give you; and always browse their portfolio and get to know their previous projects before making a decision.



John is a freelance writer with years of experience writing about freelance work and market trends. When he's not at home writing, he's out walking his dog or reading a book.