Hiring App Developers: Timeless Mistakes to Avoid

Topic: Guides

Author's photo

Updated on May 28, 2024

Year after year, we consistently encounter projects facing severe issues due to their owners entrusting them to unreliable offshore developers. We've heard countless stories of such projects and have been involved in their revival.

We've observed that certain fatal scenarios tend to repeat over and over again. Drawing from the lessons of failed app development hires, we firmly believe that these harmful paths can be largely avoided. That's why we've written this article.

You won't encounter here broadly disseminated general recommendations found all over the internet. Instead, we'll solely draw from our firsthand experience to show how to identify untrustworthy app developers, which steps can be genuinely helpful in preventing missteps and which ones may not be as effective.

We'll support each point with actual cases and provide links for you to read the whole story behind these actual projects.

In particular, within this article, you will find:

  • Typical scenarios in cases where a project falls into the wrong hands.
  • Red flags when hiring an app developer and tactics for protecting yourself.
  • Signs that a project needs rescue and tactics for minimizing losses.
  • Proven vs risky tactics for saving money when hiring app developers.

Cost of Errors When One Hires App Developers

As we step into problematic projects, natural curiosity leads us to ask customers about their experiences. While each story has an individuality, one can easily discern these recurring scenarios:

  1. Developers request payment and just do nothing, sometimes for years. Dishonest software offshore staffing endlessly offers new excuses, makes promises, and extends deadlines without delivering. Here's the story where entrepreneurs held onto hope for two years before conceding that their offshore vendor wouldn't uphold their responsibilities.
  2. 99% ready project stalls and will never move forward. Unqualified developers take on a task beyond their capabilities and hit a dead end. They craft some code, and an app even showcases certain features, but overall, it's not going to work. Here's the story of how an entrepreneur tried to revive such a project, having exhausted their entire budget on initial developers.
  3. The great proposal and early success abruptly shift to a mess of unsolvable problems. Developers claimed the project would be completed faster and cheaper than possible, relying on many shortcuts and simplifications, accumulating technical debt. Here's the article on how it looks when development moves at top speed and the client is happy, and then how tech debt shows itself.
  4. The delivered app becomes a constant headache for many years ahead. Unqualified developers construct an app in an unsuitable basement. The owner now possesses an app with severely restricted capabilities, destined to be an everlasting source of barely resolvable problems. Here's the story about an entrepreneur who spent eight years wrestling with such an app, giving up their prospects, only to eventually lose it, along with a substantial part of the established user base.
  5. The development persists until the owner's final dollar; the app will never be released. Unreliable developers tirelessly stack up code with no ultimate goal until the budget is depleted. The owner can witness their desired features coming to life, but they will never turn into a product accessible to any user. Here's the story of an entrepreneur who dedicated two years and sold several items from their luxury car collection to secure additional funds, yet their website never saw the light of day.

How to Hire Someone to Build an App: Tactics for Minimizing Risks

After hearing numerous stories of projects ending up in the wrong hands, we've formed a clear picture of what works and what doesn't in the widely recommended methods to safeguard oneself when selecting outsourcing software development companies.

Here's the plan we believe is the best option for entrepreneurs who lack experience in development and don't have a technical expert on their business team. It's not a sure thing. Nonetheless, even in the event of selecting the wrong team, this tactic still greatly reduces the hardships that project owners usually confront.

Rely on the Recommendations of People You Know

When someone you depend on has a history of successful collaboration with a specific outsourcing software development company, it's perhaps the most reassuring sign of that team's reliability, especially for entrepreneurs without any technical background.

Numerous cases suggest that the alternative path of researching multiple companies and conducting numerous interviews by the entrepreneurs themselves doesn't result in greater confidence.

Check Online Testimonials

We all know that online testimonials are not as valuable as feedback from your acquaintances. Service vendors are well-versed in a variety of methods to obtain positive reviews, ranging from creating completely fake ones to subtly nudging customers to enhance reality. On the other hand, negative reviews are frequently marred by subjectivity.

Nonetheless, it's a reasonable step to take, as it can still be valuable in identifying blatant scammers. An abundance of negative reviews is a bad sign.

Get Help From Tech-Savvy Acquaintances

Without a technical background, it is almost impossible to make judgments about developers' qualifications and experience.

Specifically, it's reasonable to consult a tech expert for this:

Reviewing a developers portfolio. Portfolios can give a sense of a team's experience in particular business areas, technologies, and types of software. However, it's worth noting that, just like with favorable reviews, vendors often resort to various tricks when presenting their portfolios. This can range from describing entirely fictional projects to claiming credit for projects in which they were minimally involved.

Interviewing developers to evaluate their experience and skills. An expert can thoroughly question developers about the technical aspects of their past projects and how they plan to bring your idea to life. Then they can offer their opinion on whether developers are sufficiently competent for the upcoming work.

Assessing the feasibility of technologies proposed by developers for your projects. Picking the right technology for creating an app is a matter of great importance. Numerous cases have shown that mistakes here can lead to extremely unpleasant, long-term, and costly consequences. That's why it makes sense to seek the opinion of an independent expert regarding the technologies your prospective developers have chosen.

Discuss Team's Development Approach

The team's development approach will significantly shape the project's future. It's important to ask your prospective developers to describe what the process of creating your app will look like.

Here're important red flags that have proven to be high-risk factors for project mishandling:

  • The developers are asking for full upfront payment for the app development. The customer risks losing their entire budget if the performers turn out to be dishonest or incompetent. It's much more reasonable to release funds incrementally as you track the progress of the project. For example, monthly payments are a widely accepted practice.
  • The developers don't give the customer access to the code repository. Developers could use this to impede a customer from conducting an independent review of their app's source code or handing over the project to another service provider. As a standard practice, the code is stored in a repository (such as GitHub) under the app owner's name, giving them full control over the codebase.
  • The developers only show the results to the customer when the entire app is completed. The customer might come to realize that there has been little progress, or that the app falls short of their expectations, after many months and a substantial part of the budget has been spent. As a standard practice, the developers showcase completed features to the customer at least once a week.
  • The developers start the project without a roadmap for the app's release. There is a risk that the app could accumulate features without a clear goal until the entire budget has been spent. As a standard practice, developers plan a release before project kickoff, specifying the included features, estimating timelines, and associated costs.

Don't Overestimate Communication Style

Developers and the customer have to communicate effectively and be able to handle misunderstandings and disagreements. Hence, when interacting with the team, it's worth considering whether you've established a personal connection.

However, it's important to remember that besides communication, the high qualifications of developers are essential.

Therefore, basing your choice solely on the pleasantness of interacting with the team is not the best idea.

Closely Track the Project's Progress

While it's not possible to entirely eliminate the risk of hiring wrong developers, one can definitely arrange things to minimize losses in case of an error. And tracking the project progress is a crucial measure for achieving this.

We believe that entrepreneurs need to schedule at least weekly team meetings, where developers will showcase the app features they've completed. In these meetings, it's reasonable to double-check that you're presented with real working features, like a button that functions as expected upon clicking.

When in Doubt, Seek Advice From Independent Experts Promptly

This is another measure that is crucial for minimizing losses from mishandling the project.

A project could be in need of rescue when:

  • The app hasn't seen any fresh features added for several weeks.
  • The expectations for the added features haven't been met for several weeks.
  • The app's ongoing malfunctions have been unaddressed for several weeks.
  • The release deadline has been pushed back multiple times due to technical issues.

In such situations, the initial action the app owner could consider is involving external experts to audit the app's source code. If it becomes clear that the app's quality falls below standards, it is advisable to promptly transition to a new team, as persisting with unreliable vendors will escalate the owner's losses.

How to Save Money When You Hire a Developer to Make an App

Striving to minimize unnecessary expenses when developing an app for your business is perfectly reasonable, and we're dedicated to offering our utmost support. Below are our thoughts on how to achieve this.

The most straightforward strategy may, in fact, result in the polar opposite effect once you deal with the consequences of poor developer recruitment. As evidenced by numerous real-world cases, when you hire tech staff who offer the lowest cost, this can lead to substantial additional expenses instead of savings if executors fall short of quality standards.

Here're some examples of unexpected losses entrepreneurs had to face in such circumstances:

  • The entire budget was wasted because developers either did nothing, delivered barely usable results, or had no intention of releasing the product.
  • Persistent costs associated with expensive and often low-effective developers' efforts to address the shortcomings of a low-quality app.
  • Revenue declined as the app's limited capabilities prevented an entrepreneur from competing effectively.

The strategy we advocate for really getting the most out of every invested dollar:

  • Establishing routines that prevent compensating for work that fails to meet expectations. It involves closely monitoring what's happening in the project, the quality of the deliverables, and plan adherence. Here you'll find a detailed description of how it's achieved in practice.
  • Following practices that prevent developing features users don't need and ensure a swift app release. It includes the upfront planning of the app release within the budget constraints and selecting features to build based on user feedback. Here's a depiction of what it looks like in a real project.
  • Incorporating a monetization plan right from the beginning to ensure the app becomes profitable as soon as possible. Here're two stories that illustrate how an owner's strategy for app monetization and the sale of a startup can make a substantial difference.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an App Developer?

To answer this question, it's important to consider that building an app is not a one-time expense.

Unfortunately, there's no fixed fee that grants you an app forever without further costs. Apps must undergo continuous maintenance by developers, or they'll quickly become obsolete and unusable.

In fact, building and maintaining an app is a continuous task, so its expense is measured in dollars-per-month. The precise amount depends on the number of developers involved.

Here are rough cost estimates for small business application development:

  • Big app or rapid development - 10+ engineers - >$20k per month
  • Average app, regular development - 3-8 engineers - $5-15k per month
  • Small app or maintenance only - 1-2 engineers - <$2k per month

Usually, a release can be achieved in a few months. Afterward, the app begins to acquire users and can start generating revenue, while developers keep improving its functionality.

Popular Platforms for Hiring App Developers

If you're leaning towards your professional or personal networks to hire app developers, you can ask around on social media for recommendations.

On top of that, there are numerous online platforms where developers create profiles, list their skills and experiences, and showcase project portfolios. Many of these sites also feature customer reviews, and some even take on the responsibility of verifying their authenticity.

Below are some online platforms where many choose to hire an app development company:

Conclusion: How to Hire an App Developer for Optimal Results

There are widely-accepted industry standards that define what the development process and development results should look like.

Knowing these standards is far from pointless. Why? Because they serve as a shield against project mishandling and offer the most dependable path to achieving startup success among the recognized alternatives. If the developers don't adhere to these standards, no matter how low their prices are, the outcome will be substantial financial losses.

What should the development process look like?

  • The owner steers the project and monitors the progress on a weekly or even daily basis.
  • There is a plan to make the app release happen as soon as possible.
  • Features are added into the app based on users feedback.
  • Project volume is managed to stay within the budget.

What should the development result look like?

  • The app aligns with the owner's and users' expectations.
  • The app is easy and inexpensive to maintain and expand. It can be easily assessed by any expert engineer by auditing the source code against widely accepted quality standards.

Why It's Worth It to Hire IT Consultants

Hiring an IT consultant can be a real game-changer in ensuring IT project success. Here's why:

Minimizing risks and streamlining the process:

  • Expert Technical Evaluation: An IT consultant can really assess developer competencies.
  • Time Efficiency: If you hire an IT consultant, it saves your time and resources.
  • Communication Facilitation: A specialist tackles misunderstandings due to technical language complexity.
  • Future-Proofing Projects: A consultant shields you from making hiring mistakes, ensuring your project is managed by dependable professionals.

Strategic and cost-effective hiring:

  • Cost-Effective Hiring: An IT consultant provides impartial advice on balancing quality and budget.
  • Broader Network Access: From an IT consultant for hire, you get access to their extensive industry contacts.
  • Ongoing Project Support: A consultant, already informed about your project, can advise you in the future if needed.


What to know before hiring an app developer?

Before hiring on demand developers, make sure you know if there are facts proving their honesty and skill, the feedback from past customers, the relevance of their experience to your project, if they follow industry norms, and the quality of their reporting on the progress to the customer.

What are the most common hiring mistakes?

Common mistakes in recruitment are misplaced trust in contractors without strong justification, ignoring the need for technical expertise during hiring, overlooking warning signals, overestimating personal impressions, and lack of supervision over on demand developers once the project is underway.

How do you avoid bad hiring decisions?

To avoid bad hiring decisions, rely on recommendations from trusted sources, scrutinize online testimonials, consult tech-savvy acquaintances, and quickly seek independent IT consultant advice when in doubt.

What are the potential effects of hiring the wrong candidate?

Hiring the wrong on demand developer can lead to unfinished projects, wasted budgets, ongoing technical problems, and the inability to compete effectively due to limited app capabilities. It risks entrepreneurs' time, money, and business prospects.

What to look for when hiring an app developer?

Seek credible recommendations, check online reviews, consider IT consultant advice, ensure their methods align with industry standards, confirm no full upfront payment, verify code ownership, and the ability to track progress. Avoid decisions based on personal impressions only.

Any questions left unanswered? Need help with your project? Let us know using the contact form below to receive individual advice.

Related Posts