If you’re just now thinking about building a product or knee-deep into a product already, there will be a point in time where finding another developer to help you will become immensely important. I’ve been on both sides of the table and it still is the trickiest thing to get right.

Which brings us to our next question:

[alert color=”blue”]Anonymous Asks — I really need to find a great contract developer to work on my app. Any ideas on how and where I can find one?[/alert]

There are several ways of finding a contract developer, but few proven ways of finding a great one. The trouble with finding great developers is that you need a perfect storm to happen. They’ll need to be between jobs or you’ll need an incredibly convincing argument that’ll persuade them to move away from their current job. Which if they’re a contractor the last thing you want to see is how easily they can be pealed away from a commitment.

So if you’re looking to hire a mobile app developer here are a couple of things that you should be aware of.

Three Keys

Your offering

At the end of the day your budget speaks volumes. If you’re truly sitting with no financing to support a developer you’re going to have an immensely difficult time selling yourself to a great developer. The only way I’ve seen that work is if you find a friend who happens to be a developer.

There is no good reason to not have a general sense for what you’re willing to invest into your own project—especially if you’ve been around and understand cost. If you can’t afford to pay a developer at their rate then don’t bring them on. You’re going to run into a major headache when they realize that you really had no desire to pay them in the first place which is a catastrophic discovery. I’ve been through this and is not at all something I’ll ever go through again.

If you’ve managed to secure funding for the project then everyone wins. Nobody is worrying about being paid and they can simply focus on the product in front of them.

It might just flat-out worthwhile to learn how to build your own products if you don’t have any financing. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who ended up doing this out of frustration. Given a financial burden to your project you’ll have to accept that you’ll need to hire find a low-skilled contract mobile app developer that may come at a cost.

The pain

The pain of a bad contract developer runs deep. The worst case scenario is that you hire a mobile app developer who produces a prototype when you were expecting to have a fully-featured app. I’ve rescued projects where the only sane route forward was to blast away the code and start over. To ignore the problems would only lead to much more time being invested in order to get around them, which, at the end of the day, would still give the client a terrible app.

What’s the cost of this? Say you actually have a $40,000 project on your hands. You found a cheap developer who said they could do it for $15,000. Turns out, you end up sitting on a codebase at the end that is completely unstable and architected extremely poorly. Now, you find a new developer to replace the first developer, costing you a lot of time. The new developer breaks the news that they should really rebuild the codebase due to several underlying architecture issues. You accept and the project ends up billing over $20,000, bringing you to $35,000. I’m being optimistic here. It’s completely possible that these 2 developers completely blow past the cost of a great developer that you found.

You can see where this is going. If you manage to find a senior developer who appears extremely capable based on the projects they’ve worked on, but bills higher than the average, don’t ignore them right away. Investigate a little more to see if they really have your interests in mind. If so, find a way to make it happen.

If you’re that uncertain about investing that kind of money then you should lean how to build the product yourself. I’m almost certain that you’ll build it better than the alternatives.

Trial

Before you commit to a developer I would absolutely spend 2-3 (paid) weeks with them. If at the end of those weeks I really enjoy being around the person and they’ve given me something to sink my teeth into, then we’re good to go. If not, we part ways and the search continues.

Before you even initialize the trial be sure to look at their portfolio and ask them about the projects they’ve worked on. Ask them what they worked on within each project.

If you don’t understand code, how do you judge them? Listen to them. Are they extremely helpful? Do they give you great responses about the projects they’ve worked on? Why do they bill what they bill out? Ask them if you could speak with one of their previous contract stakeholders, get in touch, and ask them if they’ve run into any problems maintaining the product after the developer completed the job.

These insights will give your gut a great sense of what this individual is capable of. Investigate any red flags with extreme thoroughness (do not ignore these).

Wrapping up

I jump into this in much more detail in my first guide. It’s not an easy process. You’ll need a wide network and/or some patience in order to do this. The demand is high and the supply can be crippling at times.

Takeaway

So, the question is. How much can you afford? If you only have enough capital to bring on a junior-to-mid level developer, don’t expect to bring on a senior developer who is really able to take care of you and your project. Go to where developers hang out (Reddit, Twitter, Forums) and talk to them. I’ve found plenty of jobs through Twitter so use that as a way to broadcast that you need to hire a mobile app developer. Use your network.

Your Turn

How about your experience? Do you have any stories or tips when it comes to hiring a new developer for your product? Are you a developer with a crazy story about this? Let me know in the comments below.