Table of content
- When is it time to look for a mobile app developer?
- Who to look for hiring an app developer?
- How to select the best app developers?
- Where to look for web and mobile app developers?
- Outsourced software development possibilities
- Top destinations for software outsourcing
- On-shore, near-shore and off-shore – what are those all about?
- It’s just the beginning of an app adventure…
According to Statista, mobile apps are the future. In 2020, global mobile app revenue increased to over $318 billion, and by 2025, mobile app revenue is projected to reach $613 billion.
That means there’s still room on the market for new apps, but to create one, you need to choose the right contractor. This article won’t be focused on how to do that; you can check Mike’s Popov ultimate guide on that point. I’ll focus on where to find the best app developers and how to hire them.
When is it time to look for a mobile app developer?
We have some clients that came to us with nothing but an idea, but in most cases, people have quite a clear view of their app when contacting an app development company like us. It has dark and bright sides.
It’s good that they know what they want to build before they find a good app developer: it’s easier to estimate the time needed to build the app. However, in many cases, there are a lot of assumptions in such requirements, including the target group’s needs or preferences.
I suggest primarily focusing on preparing a go-to-market strategy to investigate the target audience (Katarzyna, our Head of Marketing, describes how to do that; It’s good to start with at least some parts of it).
If you start with those, you maximise your chances for success. According to Forbes, 42% of startups fail because of improperly defined market needs, so you must be “sure it’s the right product for the right market”.
So, when to start looking for an app developer? When having a clear view of the app or simply an idea?
If you have an experience in market research or marketing, or you have a business analyst on board, you can try to do that with the in-house team. However, if you don’t know what to start with, it might be better to entrust that analysis to professionals.
Who to look for hiring an app developer?
Freelance app developers
Hiring a single freelance app developer is a good idea for small and simple projects when you don’t need sophisticated project management. If you are to build a whole app from scratch, you probably need to hire a few freelancers, a designer and a QA tester.
Although you save some money on equipment (you don’t need to provide any), you may spend much on project management or hiring a project manager. You also need to invest in the hiring process. A team that consists of freelancers is fragmented. Those people are not used to working together, so they probably need some time (and so your money) to become a team.
Although you have access to a wide talent pool from all around the world, you don’t know how trustworthy and reliable they are. You cannot be sure they won’t leave the project after some time. If you wonder whether it’s better to hire freelance app developers or software outsourcing companies, read our article when we compare these two options.
- good for small projects or specific tasks
- less expensive than an in-house team
- minimum of paperwork: you can hire the best experts through a freelance website
- not suitable for large and complicated projects
- people who do not work with each other might miscommunicate
- you don’t have much control over the project
- you need to manage the project or hire another specialist
- freelancers may resign from cooperation at any time
Thanks to an in-house team, you control the project (or projects), but it’s expensive. You must invest in the hiring process and provide them with equipment and software, pay salaries and taxes and guarantee all law-based privileges. It’s also important to note that once the project is finished, you end up with an employee without “something” to work on. For the maintenance and hands-on fixes, you may still need one app developer – but what with the rest? Will you still need a designer and a full-time tester once the project is deployed?
If your employees work from the office, they gain benefits from face-to-face communication and team bonding so they can work as one body.
Nowadays, when a remote job is normal, you can hire app developers from all around the world. That requires a good team leading to increased engagement but allows you to employ the most valuable developers. If you decide to hire a remote app development team from other regions, you can decrease costs but risk language or cultural barriers.
- control over the project
- smooth communication (in case of stationary work)
- the same communication problems as in the case of freelancers and development companies (in case of remote teams)
- more expensive than other solutions
- fragmented and unfamiliar team
- high engagement in hiring every single person
Outsourcing companies and digital project agencies
When hiring an app developer, in most cases, you can choose the model of cooperation. If you need to manage the team, you can choose a dedicated team model (you can read more about billing models on our blog). That gives you the control you need but decreases the costs associated with hiring an in-house development team.
As the company already has a well-established team that works with each other on multiple projects, you hire a well-oiled software development machine. That means they won’t lose time getting to know each other; they already have some teamwork experience.
They’ve also done many projects, so they know how to manage them effectively. You can also gain an advantage from their experience in development to make your app even better than planned.
You don’t need to rent an office, guarantee privileges (like paid leave or sick leave) or educate them – it’s up to your development partner. You simply pay for what is done or how much time the team spends on your project (depending on the billing model).
You can choose a mobile app development company from all over the world, so you can pick the best one. There are some pros and cons of every solution, which you can read about in the article on onshore, nearshore and offshore outsourcing.
An experienced software development company will handle all potential issues like language barriers or time zones. You can also read more about pros and cons of outsourcing software development in our article that covers this topic.
- the most cost-effective solution
- experience in project management
- a team that got used to working with each other
- you don’t need to invest in the team, and it’s up to your development partner
- you can choose the best company from all over the world
- you remain overall control over the project but don’t need to manage
- you can count on a better outcome than expected
- possible communication issues or cultural barriers
- you can choose the wrong partner
How to select the best app developers?
Finding a good outsourcing company or a freelancer to do software development for you may be very tiresome and is definitely not an easy thing to do when you have no idea how to get down to it.
The whole process of choosing a single candidate often takes up to a few weeks/months of work, so it is highly important that it is done right.
As a big shortcut, you should start with creating a so-called long list of candidates, which later narrows to a shortlist by analyzing a few more factors. Getting there, you’re truly close to picking the right candidate for you.
There are a few stages when choosing an app developer. I describe those below briefly, but I suggest you check our 16 tips on choosing an app developer here.
Let’s have a look at the funnel model of finding the best mobile app development company.
Good initial research is vital for creating a long list of software development outsourcing companies. It usually consists of about 10 to 15 positions – top software teams that match your general requirements and expectations. These may include tech stack, web/mobile specialization, geographical location, hourly rate, the size of their crew/company and more. A good practice is to look for app developers who understand the importance of user testing (they might mention it on their website or marketing materials).
Once you gather your possible custom software development partners together, it is time for you to contact them and start the process of narrowing your choices down to a shortlist of approximately 3 positions.
You may want to cross out all the software development companies that do not get back to you within the first 5 working days straight away. The other categories helpful in shortening your list are the quality and time of their reply, years of experience, their portfolio and major projects, or a tiny trial project that they could work on to show off their skills.
Once you get in contact with them all and verify all your selections, you can make a choice of the one custom app development company which will work with you.
No matter if one needs some tiny web design, UI/UX design or a large complex app for a few operating systems, it is essential to find a reliable development partner to take care of it. This is when the funnel model proves vital, as it is the most efficient and reliable way to do so.
Thanks to the internet era, it is very easy to quickly make even a very long list. But ask yourself if no-name websites that you have never heard of before or self-appointed ‘best software development company for mobile apps of 2023′ are a reliable sources of information.
However, following the guidelines, lists and sources provided in this article, you will be able to find answers to where exactly on the internet (but not only!) you will find the most reputable development teams or the best outsourcing software development companies for your project.
Where to look for web and mobile app developers?
Is it a good idea to Google it?
You can also google some companies or read reviews on Facebook or Google, but those are not the most reliable sources. Being in top search results is not 100% about how good they are in the development field: SEO optimisation and social media opinions might not be reliable enough.
However, googling something is one of the most popular options and typing ‘outsourcing software companies in Warsaw’ will give you many great results of mobile and web software companies based on the exact geographical location etc. You can jump straight to their website (and then check their reviews on the portals mentioned below).
Can ChatGPT help?
ChatGPT has been a hot topic lately – this AI tool creates generated responses that look like they were written by a human. Many of us started using ChatGPT for daily work, so you may think it could serve also as a great tool to research app developers.
Unfortunately, I doubt that. ChatGPT is not a knowledge base, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a reliable source of information. Its responses are based on the patterns and information present in the training data it was trained on, but it’s continually filling the database as you put input in it. So basically, every time you put something into ChatGPT, that becomes a new input and goes to the database and its language model. It means we don’t know what these inputs are nor where they’re getting information from. Therefore, if the training data or later inputs contained errors, the answers may also be misleading.
Sometimes ChatGPT may give wrong information because as it claims it has “limited knowledge of world and events after 2021”. Therefore, there is no access to the latest information. That’s why it’s crucial to always double-check the information with other reliable sources.
This seems so obvious, but not many people actually do it. Is there anything better than a web or mobile app developer that is recommended to you by people from your industry? Or by people from your Facebook group? Did one of your friends complete a web app or a UI design with a particular software outsourcing company and is happy with their development services?
You can be sure that they are reliable and know how to suit your needs or work with your content (that’s what custom in a custom software development company stands for).
You can see their real-life portfolio, which may be in the form of a project similar to yours. Moreover, you get a first-hand review and can ask questions straight to their employer. It is, to a big extent, way easier to do a background investigation in this case.
Industry events and expos
You can participate in industry events and expos, but it’s expensive. The ultimate cons are that you can meet all those people face-to-face and talk about your case, but the truth is that nowadays, you can do that via online meetings as well (without spending additional money).
The disadvantage is that not every company can afford to attend such an event: they might not want to spend money for that, have ongoing projects that require their engagement or are located in a different city, country or even continent.
Unknown pre-made lists
This is also another way to find app developers. The question is how impartial such a ranking truly is. It is always hard to tell if the author of 10 trusted software companies of 2023 was paid to show particular unities in a good light or not. This is why one should use only curated lists from reliable sources, well-known and trustworthy websites, or authors.
Another point worth mentioning is that most of these lists will mention big or well-known top software companies. This may come together with the fact that hiring such an entity may often equal a bigger price or lesser availability (or even less focused and personalised approach). Sometimes it is good to rely on a smaller business to be your outsourcing partner that will provide you with the same (or even better) service quality.
The premade lists are, of course, a great time-saving solution that allows you to skip one of the early steps of your research when finding developers. They usually provide you with a short description and analysis of particular software development companies making it even easier for you.
Below you’ll find some reliable portals that gather information about development companies and put them into lists (in many cases, “Top” ones). Those websites, however, are specialised and use their filters and advanced search tools. They also rely on trustworthy sources of information.
I recommend you to check the below platforms for reliable information about app developers:
Platforms for finding full-time employees: Glassdoor, Indeed, Dice, LinkedIn, gun.io, github jobs.
I leave the job boards aside, as I’ll focus on outsourcing.
Below you’ll find a bit more information about how to find software development companies.
Platforms for finding a software development partner
Hiring an app developer, you can hire one software engineer or a whole development team, and you are sure they have the resources you might need.
Those platforms allow you to narrow your search to mobile app developers, web app developers, ios app developers, Android app developers and so on. You can find a specific listing that will suit your needs.
Clutch.co gathers companies from different fields like Development, Design and Production, Advertising & Marketing, Digital Marketing, and IT & Business Services. You’ll find here profiles of most of the outsourcing software development companies.
What differentiates Clutch.co from other listings is that app developers’ reliability is scrupulously verified. Every review added to the company’s profile is a written outcome of a direct conversation of cutch representatives with a client. For projects valued at less than $25 000, people are encouraged to sign the opinion online after signing with Google or LinkedIn account. Reading those opinions, you are sure they come directly from clients. There’s also an average rating from all opinions submitted.
Keep in mind, though, that number of reviews depends on the willingness of clients to share their opinion with Clutch.co. Not every company wants to do that, and not every project can be described (and publicly presented as a portfolio). For example, we have only 23 reviews, although we’ve done more than 85 successful projects.
There’s another catch in review scoring: don’t forget that people have different expectations and what one scores on 5, for someone else, it’s just a strong 4. It’s a good practice to read those reviews instead of just looking at aggregated numbers.
On clutch.co, apart from reviews and ratings, you’ll find specialisation (mobile, web, custom software in case of development), portfolio, hourly rate, number of employees, minimal project cost and more. You can also find out when the company was established, what clients they usually work with (small, medium, large), what frameworks they use and what kind of apps they build.
There’s just one thing you should be aware of: at the beginning of every “top” list, you’ll find sponsors who pay for being listed that high. If a company pays to be on the top, you’ll find the “Sponsor” badge in the profile view.
You can change displaying order at the top right corner of the list. Instead of sponsored, you can display verified companies first, those with more reviews, ratings or in alphabetical order. You can also sort them by the highest Clutch rank, which considers factors like portfolios, specialisation, reviews and badges.
Within the Clutch.co browser, you can also use a few very convenient filters, such as geolocation, services offered, project size, hourly rate, industries they worked for, reviews number and many more. You can also simply look through a particular category.
You can go straight to companies’ websites and contact them directly. Clutch.co does not charge you for matching with an app developer.
By the way, here you can check out TeaCode’s profile on Clutch.
Average developers rates: <$25 – $300+ per hour
Additional fees: no
From this listing, most likely, you’ll go straight to the company’s website, although you can read reviews from Clutch.co.
Like on Clutch.co, the first companies you see are those who sponsor the portal (see the badge in the top right corner). You don’t have any possibility here to switch the order.
Average developers rates: unknown (the same as on Clutch.co, but not displayed)
Additional fees: no
At GoodFirms, you’ll find software development and marketing companies. GoodFirms verify submitted reviews, too. Although everyone can submit the review online, LinkedIn verification is required so you know those are reliable opinions of real customers.
You’ll find here app developers from all over the world that you can sort by sponsoring or most reviews. You can filter companies that meet your expectations in the case of hourly rates, size and location. Hourly rates vary like on Clutch.co: from $10 to even $400 per hour.
GoodFirms offer sponsorship plans as well, so keep in mind that sponsors will appear higher than companies that don’t invest in paid promotion. However, apart from the “Sort by” feature, you’re not informed about that.
This portal doesn’t require any payments as well. You can go directly to companies’ websites and contact them on your own. There’re no fees associated with using this platform.
You can find some interesting information about each company: reviews, hourly rates, year of establishment, certifications, localisation and company size. You can check on which areas they concentrate on, what clients they usually work with (small, medium, large) and what industries they are in.
Average developers rates: <$25 – $300+ per hour
Additional fees: no
Upwork is a great platform for searching for app developers. Although, in most cases, you can find freelancers here, many of them work for software development companies and, hand in hand with their engineering team, can build for you even complex and sophisticated apps (e.g. you can check TeaCode’s and our CTO Jakub Drynkowski‘s profile).
On Upwork, you’re looking for people who can investigate their skills. You have an insight into work history and reviews, so you can assess the quality of work.
There’s one catch: hourly rates. Although Jakub has been assigned an hourly rate of $75, he’s the CTO and only supports our teams instead of developing. The real rates vary from $35 for junior developers to $75 for senior lead developers. Keep that in mind while browsing Upwork.
It has one more advantage: as you’re talking directly with people, you can check their LinkedIn profiles to learn more about who they are and where they work.
However, Upwork provides an opportunity for searching for companies/agencies: you can find app developers, web developers, software developers and many more. In this case, you’re provided with the hourly rate, company size and location, and information about their performance: total earned money, total hours worked, and total jobs they have done. You can also see their skills here (by the way, you can check our profile).
You can’t contact freelancers and agencies directly. You have two options: chat with their lead or post a job and invite the company for it. Upwork gains a provision from such contracts.
Average developers rates: the whole spectrum
Additional fees: yes (Upwork provision)
As you know, LinkedIn is a social network for professional purposes. It’s a great place to look for software engineers, not only as an employee (which is an obvious association). It’s probably the broadest of all mentioned platforms but offers somewhat less adequate and neutral information (you can check the companies you choose in some mentioned listings).
On LinkedIn, you can also find freelance app developers and companies that can build complex apps for you. It’s extremely easy to find them, simply type in what you are looking for and choose options to search among companies. Remember, the more specific you are, the fewer search results you get and the more accurate they are.
Each profile has a main board, much like Facebook, on which the content creators are more or less active. But actually, what should interest you the most is probably their About page. There you can read an overview and find out the company’s size, exact industry, location, and specialization, follow the link to their website and more.
Their LinkedIn profile also allows you to check their years of experience, software products and global clients (if one claims to be an enterprise software development company working across the globe, it’s really important to do a background check on that).
Another pro of such solutions is that you have an insight into people who work there (just open the company’s profile and check all employees): regular workers, managers and chief officers. For example, here is our CEO’s profile.
Average developers rates: the whole spectrum
Additional fees: no
In 99firms you’ll find companies specialised in web & software development, advertising & marketing, design, IT and business services.
You can find out most information from the listing point of view: service focus, minimum project budget, company size, average rates and localisation. You’re provided with a direct link to their website so you can contact them yourself.
After visiting a profile, you can familiarise yourself with reviews and overall scores. The 99firms state that they track them to detect fake opinions.
Average developers rates: $25 – $199 per hour
Additional fees: no
It’s another listing that may be useful when looking for software developers. You’ll find here companies listed in a few categories: app developers, web developers and eCommerce developers. You can view those listings but cannot filter them or change the order.
You’re provided with website links and contact information for every company, their localisation, size, year of founding and average hourly rates. You can check their services and one client review. No sign-in is required.
Average developers rates: <$25 – $199+ per hour
Additional fees: no
Team hiring platforms
As they describe themselves, DevTeam.Space is a vetted community of expert dev teams supported by an AI-powered agile process.
You won’t find companies there, but you can request to find developers for your project. You need to fulfil a questionnaire based on which DevTeam.Space will hand-pick developers who will suit your needs best.
You can find out more about developers, how they’re performing and what experience they have. You can also check their response to an email or chat message to verify their level of communication.
When you’re project is ongoing, you have insight and are provided with all details, but it’s DevTeam.Space takes responsibility for project management.
Average developers rates: $50 – $99 per hour (according to Clutch.co)
Additional fees: unknown
x-team will provide you with a single app developer or a whole team. After contacting them, an account manager will select developers suitable for your project. If you decide to hire them, they will be devoted to your project only.
They hire developers from around the world, which means you have access to a wide pool of talented developers and can forget about time zone issues.
However, it’s a bit expensive as it costs $65 – $125 per hour.
Average developers rates: $65 – $125 per hour
Additional fees: unknown
Founded in 2014, it’s another platform where you can find software developers or whole teams. Gigster will do a lot of work for you.
However, they don’t share information about hourly rates or minimum project size.
Average developers rates: unknown
Additional fees: unknown
Platforms for finding freelancers
Toptal gathers Top Talents from all around the world. As they claim, only 3% of all sign-in requests are accepted, and the acceptance process lasts from 2 to 5 weeks. Hiring a Toptal tech talent, you hire a pre-vetted freelancer.
They offer fair fees and keep deadlines. If you decide to hire a Toptal freelancer, a Toptal representative will monitor how your project is going.
By choosing Toptal, you pay more than in the case of Upwork or Fiverr. However, you gain some kind of supervision. On average, you need to pay $40 – $80 per hour for full-stack, front-end and backend developers. The final price contains freelancers’ wages and Toptal fees.
You also need to provide a $500 deposit before you start (you’ll get it back if you decide not to use Toptal services, or your first invoice will be decreased), although there are no fees needed to recruit or terminate the project.
You must sign in and share much information before browsing the full talent pool.
Average developers rates: $40 – $80 per hour
Additional fees: yes
Outsourced software development possibilities
Nowadays, to outsource software development means to be agile and use 100% of one’s potential. It allows one for great money savings, amazing gains to the team when it comes to technical skills and much more. This is why it is becoming more and more popular among various companies around the globe, which is especially true for software development outsourcing (but for other outsourcing branches as well, such as marketing or translation services).
Are you wondering where to outsource software development or what countries to outsource software from? Let’s start with what options you have. You can either go for Central/Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Central Asia, East and South Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australia. However, some of these outsourcing destinations are too expensive to even think about. For example, outsourcing in Northern America sometimes equals even four times more money per hour for the same service conducted in Eastern Europe.
Of course, different locations have different cultures, educational backgrounds and average English proficiency etc. It affects the overall quality of the outsourced work and the cooperation with the outsourcing partner. So, for example, without any complicated analysis, one will usually guess that the service provided by India will be one of your cheapest, most affordable AND quickest options. However, it will also usually be relatively worse than the one conducted in Australia or Europe.
As you can see, there are two sides to every coin. With certain advantages of one country chosen for outsourcing software, there may come with some disadvantages. And it works both ways – there is no ultimately the best option for choosing a country for your offshore development. However, you can always go for one of the top/most optimal ones, so stay put because now we are going to show you what are your few best options to choose from. And if you’re looking for a software outsourcing company that will give you the best quality for the relatively lowest price? Great! You’re just where you’re meant to be 🙂
Top destinations for software outsourcing
Europe is one of the main destinations for many companies to outsource their IT services, including software development. However, there might be differences in development costs, experience or language skills between Eastern and Western Europe.
Each season, Eastern Europe gets placed around the top when it comes to higher education in the IT/tech field. There are many bright young specialists in developing countries like Poland or Ukraine with very good English language skills and great experience in working remotely for ‘the West’. This is why Poland, amongst others, is considered one of the top outsourcing destinations.
Eastern European prices are much lower compared to Western Europe or the US, and many people would call them very reasonable. This, together with their skills and will to work even in the late hours, should be able to make up for you even with the time difference (UTC +2/+1).
This is probably the best-located geographical region for software development outsourcing. However, it is noticeably more expensive than the East even though it offers you services of very similar, if not of slightly worse quality. In Western Europe, software developers need to pay more for both the day-to-day necessities as well as their education in the field of software outsourcing. This is why the overall development rates will be more or less higher than they are in Eastern European countries.
Overall, Western Europe is among the most balanced regions when it comes to price-quality ratio, as well as serves to you some of the best countries to outsource software development from.
Central Asia is a region that is certainly overshadowed by one country when it comes to offshore software development – India. It has actually dominated the whole global market to some extent as they provide more than two times more IT specialists than the rest of the world altogether. They have a really huge talent pool of software engineers who are open to outsourcing software development to any country in the world at any of the time zones.
Because of this gigantic talent pool of computer specialists and quite low living costs compared to other regions, outsourcing software development in India is definitely your cheapest option. Sadly, despite the relatively ‘decent’ quality of their service, cultural differences and very often a poor level of English make cooperation very difficult.
On-shore, near-shore and off-shore – what are those all about?
When you’re looking for outsourcing options, you might be curious about the terms onshore and offshore and how they differ. But there’s actually a third choice called nearshore, which can be a really good compromise. So how do you know which one is the best fit for you?
Onshore outsourcing is when you assign certain tasks to someone outside your company but they are located within the same country as your business. Its opposite is offshore outsourcing – it happens when you outsource the services far away from your country.
And finally, nearshore outsourcing is a way of working together where you assign tasks to people who are located in neighboring countries rather than in the same country as your company. It’s like a middle ground between onshore and offshore outsourcing. Unlike onshore outsourcing, the subcontractor isn’t in the same country as the client. But unlike offshore outsourcing, they can’t come from just anywhere in the world.
Onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing have slight differences depending on where you and your subcontractor are located, and all of them have their pros and cons that Mike describes in our article. Reading that might help you decide what solution would be best in your case!
It’s just the beginning of an app adventure…
Proper research takes a lot of time, and it’s a rather tedious task. However, having all the mentioned platforms and solutions in mind, you should find it way easier and, more importantly, feel more confident about your choice.
It is really important to hire app developers or freelancers to outsource that will have technical skills, as having to re-code the whole project or pass it to someone else when the chosen candidate fails may turn out not only more troublesome but also way more expensive.
Why not be cost-effective with your outsourced software and get your mobile apps or web app, UX/UI and the whole design and development from one great development partner?
I keep my fingers crossed for your project’s success!