The Scoop on Freelance Developers

This blog post is the first in a four-part series on building a mobile app. Stay tuned for more posts about the pros and cons of working with a development firm, a mobile app platform, or DIY website!

(May 8, 2015) – So you’re thinking about building a mobile app. Good for you—after all, 89% of time spent on smartphones is spent in apps. But where do you start?

There are a number of options for creating a mobile app, each with its pros and cons. In our recent Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Apps, we’ve outlined everything you need to know from types of providers, cost, time investment, and more to help you make an informed decision.

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits and disadvantages of hiring a freelance developer so you know what to expect.

The Freelance Mobile App Developer

The scoop:

An outsourced developer can be anyone you privately hire to build your app from start to finish—whether it’s a contractor from an agency or the teenage kid down the street. Because of the complex coding and nature of a mobile app project, the job usually always requires more than one developer—a front-end designer and at least two back-end developers (one to provide Objective-C (iOS) coding and one for Java (Android), as it’s very rare that a single developer would be proficient in both languages). You may not think you’ll need both, but with iOS and Android commanding the smartphone market share, you need to be able to meet your customers in both spaces by providing an app in each marketplace. In addition, you’ll need third party providers for things like push notifications, texting, analytics, and more for increased functionality.

The benefits:

When you hire a contractor, you call the shots. You’ll get to run your project from start to finish, influencing the look and feel of your app. And depending on the talent level of your developer and the amount of time you’ve paid for, you can commission custom graphics that take your app and brand to the next level.

Note: While “calling the shots,” may seem like a good thing, remember to consider all of the technical decisions you’ll need to make. Building an app from scratch is hard—and you’re going to want help along the way.  

The fine print:

All contract work is for a defined period—usually six to nine months. You don’t get to make changes down the road (unless you’re willing to fork over more money) and you certainly don’t get ongoing support. That means that from the second your app is live, it’s declining in quality. As new phones become available, new mobile best practices become standard, and new regulations arise, new apps that come out will already be adapted—meaning it will be obvious when your custom app has become outdated.

Project management not for you? You’ll just have to trust your developers to make the right decisions. From choosing third party providers and deciding the “look and feel” to licensing and launching, there’s a lot that goes into an app.

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Author: Stefanie Jansen

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