How to Find Great App Developers: Why Cheaper is not Always Better

It is no secret that business apps are key to reaching consumers. As a senior member of our company, I took on the challenge of hiring a developer to build our app a few years ago. As mobile solutions have become the worldwide trend, I thought that my experience could be helpful for you now.

We hired our fair share of freelancers; changing developer agencies several times along the way. We`ve learned our lessons the hard way, and we`re sharing them with you so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Cheaper is Not Always Better

You might be tempted to hire companies that are offering you a low price. However, usually a low price is just a tactic to win the bid for your project. Unfortunately, that low price often balloons into a huge cost as the project goes on. This type of tactic is used by developers from all parts of the world; from India, to the UK, to the US. The way this plays out is that hidden costs are sprung on you once the project is midway through, and you are already invested, so feel you can no longer back down.

Another way that you can be ripped off by this bait-and-switch tactic is when you get low quality work. You have to pay more in order to fix problems that shouldn`t even be there in the first place. The end result? You fall behind on your scheduled timeline, you have incurred higher costs, and you end up with inferior work.

What You Have to Do:

In order to avoid this kind of costly mistake, you need to ensure your chosen developer clearly understand the scope of work for the project in its entirety up front. This needs to be agreed upon and properly quoted. No add-ons!

Senior or Junior Developer?

Another tactic to be wary of is when a company shows you an impressive portfolio, but actually has inexperienced junior developers working on projects. There is a huge difference between a senior and a junior developer. A junior developer could be someone fresh out of school, who is still in the process of learning the ropes and acquiring the skills, which a senior developer already has. Some companies have been known to assign their junior developers on projects in order to improve their skills and knowledge, at the unfortunate expense of the client. Good for them, but not fair for you.

You might be fooled into thinking that a reputable development company backed by a great portfolio will be the right team to work for you. But first, you need to find out where the level of experience is for the developers who will work on your project, especially if they offered you a low price for their services. A bona fide senior developer will demand a much higher price.

What You Have to Do:

Ask the development company about the level of skills of the people who will be working specifically on your project. If possible, ask for their portfolio and CV as well.

Hourly or Fixed Rate?

Next, we learned that opting for hourly pay can be quite risky. Certain software development companies can take advantage of you by providing a low hourly rate. Although the hourly rate is low, they turn around and log a ton of hours. The provider is not being productive with the use of their time, because they want to log more hours and earn more.

What You Have to Do:

It is important to agree about the amount of time that steps of the development should take beforehand. You should receive the schedule for each step and ask for progress updates to monitor how the app is coming along. Have a discussion and make an agreement about the concrete results for each part of work- before hiring.

Made-to-order or Out-of-the-box Solutions?

Another cost-cutting solution which some business owners opt for, which can end up being more costly in the long run, is the use of an out-of-the-box solution.These already have a pre-existing layout and do not allow much in terms of customization options. The difference between a customized app design and a out-of-the-box solution, is like the difference between an off-the-rack outfit and a handmade, exquisitely tailored one.

Out-of-the-box apps or software is OK, but only for the standard business needs. However, if you are thinking of expanding in the future, it doesn`t provide much in terms of scalability, which enables you to change requirements for an app`s functionality.

What You Have to Do:

If you are planning to expand your business, then it goes without saying that your app needs to grow, too. Customized apps allow for flexibility, while ready made software is more appropriate for a quick start. Think strategically - which one you really need?

Find the Balance between Price and Quality

So let`s look at the benefits of paying a little more for a legitimate software development company. You get high-quality work. You are assured that a professional developer company is working on your app. You get a secure and stable working application with proper functionality. The money you would have otherwise spent on fixing bugs, could be better spent to improve your business.

A professional app developer is experienced when it comes to working on projects with tight deadlines and will make sure to finish it on time. You can have your app done just in time for a product launch or to coincide with a promotion.

You get add-ons. You will get communicative and responsive people who will keep you up-to-date on the status of your project, as well as a dedicated after sales support. Offshoring your app development might result to cultural and time zone differences, which could make communication difficult. On the other hand, you are assured of constant and clear communication when working with professional development agency.

The Takeaway

A lot of app development companies advertise that their services are “cheap,” “affordable,” or “cost-effective.” But the truth of the matter is, a high quality app development doesn`t come cheap. At the end of the day, your business will benefit from working with an experienced software developer that doesn`t cut corners, nor compromise on quality just to give you a bargain price. You will need to find the balance between cost, time and quality, to ensure you get an app that will represent your company properly, function right, and grow with you over time.

Vladimir Potapenko
November 04, 2015
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