What to Look for in a Mobile App Developer

June 28, 2022
Luan Campos
Adding a dedicated mobile app developer to your team can streamline the process of mobile application development. Uncover what to look for here.
What to Look for in a Mobile App Developer

If you want to develop a mobile app, consider hiring a mobile app developer.

Also known as mobile developers or app developers, mobile app developers use programming languages to design, develop, and implement mobile applications. They work alongside data scientists, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers, and other team members to create applications. They're also responsible for testing and fixing bugs before product launch.

However, finding mobile application developers is easier said than done. With so many app developers on sites like Fiverr and LinkedIn, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Sifting top-notch talent from the rest can also be exhausting and time-consuming.

Luckily, there's a quick and easy way to find the best pick for your team — by hiring dedicated mobile app devs through talent marketplaces.

Follow our comprehensive guide to learn how to hire mobile app developers. We'll also talk about the primary function of a mobile app developer, what skills you should look for, the benefits of hiring mobile app developers for your startup, and how to find a mobile app developer.

The Primary Function of a Mobile App Developer

As their name suggests, mobile app developers use coding languages to create and test apps for mobile phones and other mobile devices. They work with UI/UX designers, data scientists, marketing, quality assurance (QA), and other departments to create and deploy applications.

Depending on their area of expertise, mobile developers can write apps for Android, iOS, or both.

Note that "mobile app developer" is a broad term. The term includes distinct specializations such as:

  • Native app developers: Native developers write native apps for iOS and Android. Since native apps are developed exclusively for a single platform, they run smoother and provide access to all of the operating system's features, including GPS, offline access, and much more. Accordingly, native app developers tend to charge higher rates and salaries than other types of mobile app developers.
  • Hybrid app developers: These developers use frameworks like Apache Cordova to create hybrid apps that work across different platforms. Hybrid apps are essentially web or browser apps encapsulated in native environments or shells. They use plugins to access mobile device features such as the camera and microphone. Hybrid apps are generally quicker and less expensive to develop because developers only have to write code once. However, they tend to be slower with limited UX.
  • Cross-platform developers: Like hybrid developers, cross-platform devs can write code once and reuse it on different mobile platforms. However, the similarities end here. Unlike hybrid apps, cross-platform apps use native rendering engines. Developers connect the codebase to native components through bridges, providing close-to-native UX.

What Skills Does Your Developer Need for Mobile App Development?

Now that you know what a mobile app developer does, let's take a look at mobile app development skills for prospective hires.

Technical Skills

First, your ideal mobile app developer should have well-honed technical or hard skills, including:

Programming Experience

Like all developers, mobile app developers must have robust programming skills.

What languages a dev should know depends on what you're hiring them for. If you're hiring someone to create native iOS apps, they should know the following:

  • Objective-C: An object-oriented programming (OOP) language, Objective-C was first created by Apple in the 1980s. Based on the language C, Objective-C is still used to create iOS apps. In recent years, it's largely been replaced by Apple's newest native language, Swift.
  • Swift: Introduced in 2014, Swift is a multiparadigm language for creating iOS apps. Many popular iOS apps use Swift, including WhatsApp and LinkedIn. Unlike Objective-C, Swift is clean, concise, and expressive. It also has handy features like Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) to track and manage app memory storage. As such, Swift is the go-to language for almost all iOS mobile developers.

However, if you're hiring for Android development, you need to look for a different set of languages. At a minimum, your hire should know at least two of the following:

  • Java: Java was Android's official language before 2019. As such, many popular Android apps are built with Java, including Spotify and Twitter.  
  • Kotlin: Android's official language since 2019, Kotlin is an open-source statically typed coding language that interoperates fully with Java.
  • Python: One of the most flexible and powerful programming languages, Python is open-source, runs everywhere, and boasts a huge community. Android doesn't support native Python apps, but mobile app devs can use tools to turn Python apps into Android ones.
  • C#: Similar to Java, C# is ideal for Android app development. It boasts a variety of features, including garbage collection, which can protect your app from memory leaks.
  • C++: Devs can use C++ to make unique apps. However, they need to write parts of the app in C++ native code using the Android Native Development Kit (NDK).
  • Dart: An open-source language, Dart can create beautiful and high-performing mobile apps. With features like hot reload, which lets devs see changes instantly, Dart makes UI development easier than ever. It's also known for its lightning-speed performance and its ability to compile to x64 and ARM machine code for mobile.

Hybrid and cross-platform developers should know at least three of the above languages.

Familiarity With Cross-Platform Development

Cross-platform developers should also be familiar with certain frameworks. These frameworks allow developers to run their codebase on different platforms.

The best cross-platform developer for your team should know at least two of the following:

  • Ionic: One of the most popular cross-platform app frameworks, Ionic allows devs to use a mix of many languages. For example, they can use a JavaScript, Cordova, and CSS wrapper to access native platform controllers. Ionic also empowers devs to deliver dynamic UI and UX. As a result, many Ionic apps are extremely native-like and interactive.
  • Flutter: Introduced by Google in 2017, Flutter can create apps that run effectively on multiple platforms. It has an inbuilt graphic engine and doesn't require devs to update UI contents manually. Flutter devs only need to update variables to change the UI.
  • React Native: Built on JavaScript, React Native can give cross-platform apps a native-like feel. Users can also use React Native's native libraries and modules to perform heavy tasks such as video processing and image processing.
  • Xamarin: Unlike the other frameworks on this list, Xamarin uses .Net and C# instead of HTML and JavaScript libraries. Developers can get native-level app functionality with Xamarin since it reduces hardware compatibility issues through APIs and plugins. It also links with native Objective-C, C++, and Java libraries, allowing devs to reuse numerous third-party codebases.
  • Appcelerator Titanium: This is an open-source framework that empowers devs to create mobile apps on Android, iOS, and Windows using a single JavaScript codebase. Appcelerator Titanium's core features include a cross-platform API for accessing native UI components, the framework Alloy, and transparent access to native functionality through native modules and Hyperloop.

Experience Working With Different Operating Systems: iOS and Android

The best mobile app developer for your team should have ample experience working with relevant operating systems.

For example, if you're hiring an iOS mobile developer, you should look for someone who has at least three years of experience with developing, testing, and deploying iOS apps. Similarly, if you want to hire a cross-platform developer, you should look for someone who knows how to develop, test, and deploy iOS and Android apps.

User Experience and Design Skills

Your ideal hire should also know how to collaborate with UI/UX designers to create excellent user interfaces and experiences that address business objectives and customer needs.

Specifically, your hire should know how to implement your UI/UX designers' wireframes and Photoshop templates. They should also know how to test your app's UI and UX to ensure that it's:

  • Clear: Does the app's UI and UX avoid ambiguity and confusion? Apps with good UI and UX don't need extensive tutorials to show users how the app works.  
  • Responsive: An excellent UI and UX shouldn't be slow. Mobile users should be able to type user input like names and passwords without experiencing lag.
  • Consistent: Your app is part of your brand, so it should be consistent with the rest of your offerings. The app UI and UX should also be consistent across the application so that mobile users can apply their knowledge of how the interface works to new pages and features.

Platform Testing

Like other types of developers, mobile app developers must know how to test apps in development environments. If your mobile app developer can't effectively spot and eliminate bugs before production, your app will probably get a lot of negative reviews.

Here's a list of tests that your dev should incorporate into the app development lifecycle:

  • Unit testing: This is a form of software testing where individual components of an app are tested. Developers perform unit testing during the development or coding phase to ensure that each part of the code performs as expected.
  • Functional testing: A form of automated testing that deals with how apps function in relation to users, functional testing only tests what the app does. Unlike unit testing, it doesn't care about an app's internal details. Devs perform functional testing by running test cases against real iOS and Android devices.
  • Regression testing: These tests check whether app updates or a patch have created new bugs. They should be performed every time a change is made to the app code.

Coding Skills

Last but not least, your hire should have robust coding skills. Besides knowing two to three of the languages listed above, they should know how to code effectively and efficiently. They should also know how to:

  • Use appropriate algorithms
  • Use design patterns as needed
  • Organize programs into smaller files
  • Write readable and concise code
  • Locate and delete unnecessary code

Soft Skills

Besides solid technical skills, the ideal hire should also have impressive soft skills like project management and communication skills. Without these skills, your dev will have a hard time integrating with the rest of your team, making it difficult to create, test, and deploy apps effectively and efficiently.

Project Management

To deliver competitive products on time, mobile app devs need exceptional project management skills, including:

  • Time management skills: The best mobile devs need to meet all deadlines ahead of time. As such, they need to be able to anticipate roadblocks before they happen. If they're working on multiple apps simultaneously, they should also know how to multitask and juggle multiple schedules.
  • Leadership skills: If you're hiring a senior mobile dev, look for strong leadership skills. A senior mobile dev should be able to effectively guide, coach, and motivate co-workers to deliver positive outcomes. They should also help team members feel like they're part of the team by providing constructive feedback, evaluating individual and team performances, and setting goals.
  • Risk management skills: Mobile devs should also know how to identify and plan for potential risks. They should be able to identify risks at the beginning of a project and develop actionable mitigation plans to prevent and address risks.
  • Problem-solving skills: Problem-solving is a skill that every team member should have, but it's especially useful in mobile app development. Top-notch mobile devs are proactive, level-headed, and use their problem-solving skills to address problems. They also use their critical thinking skills to lower barriers to entry for your app.

Your dev should also be familiar with at least one of the following project management methodologies:

  • Waterfall: A linear project management process, Waterfall maps a project into distinct phases, with each phase starting only once the previous one has been completed. It's called Waterfall because teams can't go back up after falling down, even if they spot mistakes. If your hire follows Waterfall, they will expect the entire project to be mapped in the beginning.
  • Agile: Agile is a rapid, iterative project management approach that delivers work in small increments called "sprints." Unlike Waterfall mobile devs, Agile programmers release products quickly, encouraging customer feedback throughout the app development process. Adaptiveness and responsiveness are key to this approach, making it a great pick for uncertain markets and situations.
  • Lean: The application of lean manufacturing principles to project management, lean project management aims to maximize value while minimizing waste. It identifies three types of waste:
  • Muda, which are activities that use resources without providing additional value
  • Mura or operational "unevenness," which lowers productivity and efficiency in the long run
  • Muri, which refers to the overuse of employees or equipment

Communication

Like other developers, mobile app devs don't work in a vacuum. As such, your hire should have effective communication skills. They should know:

  • How and when to speak and listen
  • The importance of empathy and seeing problems from different perspectives
  • How to work in a multidisciplinary team
  • How to collaborate with different departments, including marketing and management

Benefits of Hiring Dedicated Mobile Developers

Many companies hire mobile developers through LinkedIn and other job sites. However, this can be a frustrating and expensive process, since you need to manually sift through resumes, vet candidates yourself, and much more.

That's why you should consider hiring remote dedicated mobile devs through talent marketplaces. Unlike other hiring models, dedicated services are cost-effective and efficient. Dedicated mobile devs also provide the following benefits:

Possess Development Skills Needed to Ensure Quality

Most talent marketplaces boast dedicated developers who have been rigorously pre-vetted for their app development skills and English proficiency. For instance, Revelo has mobile devs who have been tested for a wide range of development skills, including:

  • Native, hybrid, and cross-platform development
  • Project management skills, including familiarity with Agile, Lean, and Waterfall development environments
  • UI/UX implementation
  • Back-end computing, including knowledge of frameworks, security, database management, and hardware interaction

Learn More: How to Hire Unreal Engine Developers

Access to an Expert During the Entire Testing Process

The right dedicated mobile dev doesn't just create and deploy apps — they will also work with your QA team to test apps throughout the app development lifecycle. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Creating test strategies and plans
  • Explaining the importance of test plans and strategies to teammates
  • Designing manual and automated tests
  • Testing apps by themselves
  • Identifying and updating client requirements as needed
  • Creating bug reports that include:
  • Information unearthed through tests
  • Levels and types of tests performed
  • Time taken to complete tests
  • Incident reports
  • Overall description of the mobile application, including whether it's ready for release and whether it meets client criteria

They're Familiar With the Programming Language Needed for the App Development Process

Talent marketplaces also vet dedicated devs for their programming skills. As such, dedicated mobile devs are experts in the programming language(s) needed for the app development process. Say goodbye to testing potential hires for their coding skills and experience.

Hire a Developer for Your Mobile Application Development Process

If you need an all-in-one dedicated solution for your project or company, consider partnering with Revelo. We'll help you source, hire, and manage mobile devs all on one platform.

To get started, just tell us about your project. We'll send you a list of the best picks in three days. After picking the candidates you want, you can immediately start building apps with a free 14-day trial.

Contact us today to learn how to hire a mobile app developer.

Need to source and hire remote software developers? Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days.

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