How to Hire an iOS Developer

Got a great idea for the next Clash of Clans or Snapchat, but not sure how to write the code? Finding the right iOS developer is an extremely vital step in bringing your app to market. Most of us non-tech people tend to skip over this step when making a mental map for our new startup; we focus on the product itself, how we’re going to get it to market, and whether we might get acquired. We assume that, somewhere along the way, someone will magically appear to take our rough sketch, type in some numbers, and swiftly create the app. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. Good developers can be difficult to find, particularly if you don’t have tech experience yourself, so we’ve compiled these useful tips to give you a headstart.

Be clear about what you want

Before you get down to the nitty-gritty of hiring someone, you should have a pretty clear idea of what you’re going to want them to do. Are you going to hire a single developer who’s going to be responsible for the entire project, or are you planning on hiring several different developers? If it’s the latter, you should know what part of the project you’re looking for them to build.

Part of making your goals clear is doing a bit of research about what might be involved in building your app. In the past, you could only use Objective-C and C to code iOS apps. Since the end of 2014, though, Apple’s offered a user-friendly and powerful alternative, Swift. Check in with your developer about what languages they’re most familiar with, and what past experience they have with app development, and why they would choose a certain language for your project.

Get online

Your best chance of finding a good iOS developer is online. There are a host of sites that are essentially the freelancer version of eHarmony or Tinder, where you can get matched up with a developer whose skills fit your needs. It’s possible you won’t need to use a hiring site — if you have a great network of freelancers, or an old buddy who’s looking to join your team, you can skip this step — but if you’re not finding leads through your own contacts, this is the next best approach.

We recommend checking out Toptal, a matching service that sets a new standard when it comes to vetting developers. Every candidate for Toptal’s network undergoes an extremely series of tests that cover everything from personality and language screens to live skill reviews and a test project. Only about 3% of developers are accepted. It’s the clear choice if you have a complex project and need high quality assurance.

Another option is Freelancer. In a few clicks, you can fill out a form detailing your needs, compare prices and bidders, and you’ll pay only if satisfied. There’s no quality assurance here, but if you’re working on a relatively simple project on a low budget, this is a good choice that will let you get off the ground quickly.

Slow it down

It may seem as if once you’re in the process of hiring a developer, you’re just a one step away from bringing your app to life. It’s all very exciting, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Not only does development take awhile, but you should take your time when hiring. You don’t need to interview candidates for two months, but you should make sure you’re putting in due diligence. If you hire too quickly, you run the risk of making a mistake or overlooking better candidates. The last thing you want is to be four weeks into development and suddenly realize that your developer is lacking some key skills or is a total dud.

Go for fit

A lot of people tend to make the mistake of not vetting freelance hires for fit. Don’t be one of them. If you’re project is relatively complex, you’ll be stuck with your developer for awhile, and you want to make sure they’re someone who’s not going to drive you nuts. Make sure they’re responsive, responsible, friendly, and efficient, and that they understand you’ll be treating them just like any other employee. If they don’t appreciate and share your company’s core values, take a hard pass.

Back off (a bit)

Your app is like your baby, only way more lucrative and less messy, and it can be tempting to micromanage every step of the process. While you don’t want to give your developer completely free reign, you also don’t want to be breathing down their neck for the entire length of the project. It’ll stifle their creativity, stress both of you out, and distract you from other parts of the project that need your attention. This is why it’s so crucial to take the time to make sure you’re hiring someone you can trust and like, so that you know that if you don’t check in for a couple of days, they’ll still be working their butt off.

You get what you pay for

Building a successful startup isn’t easy and it definitely comes with its fair share of anxiety and frustration. You won’t have much money until your app gets to market and even then, it might be awhile before you start seeing some returns. That said, you won’t have any money if your app is constructed poorly, or if your developer keeps on having to go back to correct old mistakes. While you don’t need to hire the most expensive developer in the world, keep in mind that developers who work for unbelievably low fees might only be working for such low rates because they can’t get hired for better projects.

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