Mobile devices now account for over half of all internet traffic, with time spent on apps being dominant within that. This upward trend is expected to continue strongly and smart businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity to reach customers and solve their problems in new ways.
Android, Google’s mobile operating system, leads the global smartphone operating system market with an 81% market share. This, combined with frequent updates and a loyal following of users, makes it a top choice for businesses wanting to release an app.
So you have a great idea, you know you want to build it for Android, but what next?
The market for Android developers is huge, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the right candidate to meet your specific needs and bring your app to life in the most successful way. Here, we share our tips to help you find and hire the best Android developers, plus avoid the potential pitfalls of making a bad decision.
Where to find great Android developers
There are three main ways to hire an Android developer:
As an in-house employee,
On a freelance basis,
Through a software company.
Which method you opt for depends on your budget, plus your ability and desire to lead and manage the project. Consider these points when weighing up your options:
In-house and freelance employees
In-house or freelance employees are suitable if you know exactly what kind of app you want, are able to manage that person all the way, and are qualified to make decisions on design, functionality and testing of the app.
Although these hiring options have their merits, you should also be aware of their risks and limitations.
Hiring a developer alone will not be enough to start a project. You will be responsible for defining the development process, plus you will also need a Project Manager and Quality Assurance Specialist to ensure that the project is run successfully.
In-house employees reduce your flexibility to scale the app development up or down. If your business grows quickly, you may want to expand your app, however adding new developers into your team may not be easy. Conversely, once development has been completed and you are at the maintenance stage, you may have a team that is now obsolete. You must decide whether to let employees go, or keep them in case you want to add features or make changes in the future.
Bear in mind the ongoing cost and space commitment of hiring an in-house employee, and don’t forget that you will be responsible for the additional costs of any necessary tools, such as GitHub.
Lastly, it can be difficult to manage a freelance employee due to communication issues brought about by distance, and complexity of the project.
A software company gives you access to a team of experts with more resources on hand than freelance or in-house employees, plus the project management skills needed to develop a high quality app without excessive input from you.
As a rule, you should be able to expect superior standards of communication, quality control, and reliability, as well as established workflow practices derived from experience.
A software company gives you the benefit of greater transparency, both in terms of cost, and the skills of your developer. The price you agree for the project will be your only cost, and in many cases you will be able to choose the developer you work with, to best suit your requirements.
In addition, you have far greater flexibility. You are able to scale the project development up or down depending on your current needs and resources.
How to find the best developers
Once you have decided which method of hiring a developer is best for you, consider the following points to help you zero in on the right candidate:
Whilst it may be tempting to go for the cheapest provider, this can be a false economy when it comes to building an app.
Spend too little, and you risk ending up with a low quality, buggy app which will be of no interest to your customers, and therefore of no value to your business. Worse still, you may end up spending more in the long run hiring other professionals to bring the app up to the desired standard.
An experienced developer will be able to give you multiple examples of their previous projects and a list of clients they have worked with.
Go through their portfolio and download apps they have built from Google Play to assess the quality of their work. Look at their design capabilities in terms of UX and UI, the app’s functionality, and performance.
Don’t be afraid to contact previous clients for references for an impartial view of the developer’s responsiveness, reliability, and communication, as well as their ability to produce a great product.
Check that the developer has experience, and is comfortable with, the intricacies of submitting apps to Google Play.
Relationship and communication
The success of your final product will depend strongly on how often, and how well, you communicate with your developer, and is even more important when working with remote teams.
Establish how and when your developer plans to communicate, and what reporting processes they use. At the very least, you should expect weekly status reports, and a demo on completion of each version.
What to look for in a great Android developer
To be a great Android developer requires an ever-evolving, and ever-increasing, set of hard and soft skills. To hire a developer who is capable of creating feature rich, cutting-edge and powerful mobile applications, look for the following key skills and qualities:
Technical expertise. An Android developer must be well versed in Java programming language, as well as understanding the basics of XML, as these are at the heart of Android app coding. They should also demonstrate hands-on experience in Android SDKs (Software Development Kits), Android Studio, and APIs.
Design skills. The UI and UX of an app are ultimately responsible for its success or failure. Design skills are particularly significant for a developer if they will not be working within a team consisting of designers.
Communication skills. A developer must be comfortable communicating with both technical and non-technical team members, both orally and in writing. In addition, they need to be able to understand instructions and interpret your requirements for the app.
Collaborative skills. It is essential for a developer to effectively collaborate with various team members and stakeholders for a design project to be successful.
Critical thinking. In order to write clean and maintainable code, a developer needs to have strong critical thinking skills.
Problem solving. A large part of a developer’s role is troubleshooting issues that arise within the app development process. They must have the ability to recognise problems and have the skills to resolve them.
The boom in the use of mobile devices to access the internet, and the significance of mobile applications within this, presents businesses with both a huge opportunity and a challenge.
In order to build a successful Android app, choosing the right developer is critical. First weigh up whether your requirements will be best met by hiring an in-house employee, a freelance developer, or using the expertise of a software company.
Consider the budget you can allocate to the project whilst being aware that cheaper is not necessarily best, evaluate the experience of potential developers, and establish the basis of communication throughout the project.
Finally, a successful project hinges on the skills of the developer. Ensure they possess the required technical expertise, design, communication and collaboration skills, plus critical thinking and problem solving abilities, and hire a great Android developer.