Skills and Qualities of Mobile Developers – What You Should Pay Attention to When Hiring a Team

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Radosław Szeja

Jul 19, 2018 • 11 min read

To say that mobile development is the future would be an understatement – it also dominates the present.

Mobile devices (think smartphones) have overtaken desktop machines (such as laptops and old-school workstations) in Internet use back in 2016, and the trend has only progressed since then. Plainly speaking, if your website or product is not usable on mobile devices, you are set to lose over 50% of your potential customers right off the bat.

You just have to embrace mobile development to stay ahead. This means more than just slapping a responsive template on your website and calling it a day. Mobile web browsers, even though they’re getting better every year, tend to be slow and cumbersome to use even on flagship devices. What you really need is a native experience – an app.

Easier said than done? Well, true. The odds are that you don’t have a bunch of mobile developers sitting around your office and twiddling their thumbs. To get a modern, user-friendly experience for your product, you first have to get a team capable of building it and a nice platform where you can build it. While that might seem daunting, we’ve put together a few tips on getting the right people for the job. Read on to learn what you should pay attention to when hiring a team of mobile developers.

Good mobile developers work well together

In modern development, nothing gets done without teamwork. The days of lone code crunchers building software used by millions are pretty much over. Modern applications are simply too complex to be handled by a single person – having a team is a must. Every team member know different tools available on the market, so it helps choosing the most useful ones. But what’s the use of a team that lacks cohesion and communication? A team of recluses who refuse to speak to one another is more trouble than it’s worth? You’ll spend more time herding the proverbial cats than getting actual work done.

We asked our team about the qualities they consider good and bad among mobile developers, and the answers speak for themselves. One team member mentioned being offended by code review as an issue he’s encountered; another talked about being impatient and unwilling to share knowledge; yet another mentioned lack of communication skills.

Good developers need soft skills, and they need to acknowledge their importance. As far as the qualities in demand are concerned, our team members frequently mentioned characteristics such as open-mindedness, being supportive of less experienced team members, and respecting others’ views. One particularly insightful answer was that caring – about the company, project, and others – is what they look for in a dev. This is radically different from the stereotypical image of an antisocial cyber-genius perpetuated by pop culture.

Still, it’s obvious that many developers don’t check all the soft-skill boxes that we talked about with our team. Which is why it’s a good idea to hire a team of people who already know each other and work together well. This saves you the pain of onboarding, and you will have the management style and other administrative overhead sorted. A crew of developers that has already completed projects together is ready to hit the ground running and start building your enterprise mobile application from day one. Moreover, if they have the character traits we outlined above, they’ll not just build your app, but do so in a professional manner, all the while maintaining an amicable working atmosphere.

In a few words: if possible, save yourself the trouble and risk of building a new team, and get one that’s already battle-proven. Also, make sure that your code warriors are not all about the fight, but also have some camaraderie.


They are cross-platform, and they know the necessary tools

Although specialization might make sense in many areas of software engineering, you want your team of mobile developers to be able to develop for both Android and iOS. While Apple devices are very popular in North America, Android devices, manufactured by companies like Samsung, rule pretty much the rest of the world. You’re probably familiar with the frustration of reading about a new app and then finding out that it’s not available for your phone – that’s simply no good.

To spare your customers that frustration, go for a team that can develop for both Android and iOS, preferably using something such as React Native. React Native is a boon to developers and managers alike: the technology boils down to being able to maintain a single codebase for both mobile platforms.

When talking about being “cross-platform” with our devs, we’ve heard a few interesting things. One characteristic our devs mentioned is being platform-agnostic – that is, not being a platform elitist. I’m sure you’re familiar with the eternal conflict between Android and iOS “fans”. Well, you don’t want your developer to let his enthusiasm for either side cloud his or her professionalism. Another thing is being familiar with both the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, as well as their respective toolsets. In this area, our developers mentioned, among others:

  • IDEs (Xcode, Android Studio),
  • version control (Git),
  • test/error tracking software (Sentry, Crashlytics, TestFlight),
  • CI/CD solutions (Bitrise and Jenkins).

In short: get a team of mobile developers who are skilled in both Android and iOS. Ideally, they should know their way around not just the platforms themselves, but also their associated toolsets.

They are as comfortable with design as they are with coding

In mobile app development parlance, frontend and backend are pretty much what they sound like. The frontend – the face, if you will – is the looks of the app. A successful frontend job is creating a user interface that stands out from the crowd and makes it a joy to use your application. The backend is everything that goes on behind the scenes. A well-designed backend means that your app can scale up to serve millions of users, doesn’t lose or leak data, and doesn’t cost you millions in AWS credits. There’s also the matter of the app’s insides – the code that makes it perform well on any device it’s compatible with.

One developer we talked with said that what he values in developers is following the three major rules:

  • KISS (keep it simple, stupid),
  • DRY (don’t repeat yourself)
  • SOLID.

The third acronym does not explain so easily – it boils down to the five key elements of OOP (object-oriented programming), which are:

  • the single responsibility principle,
  • the open-closed principle,
  • the Liskov substitution principle,
  • the interface segregation principle,
  • the dependency inversion principle.

It might seem like a mouthful, but these development paradigms have been polished over many years of industry experience and will ensure that you keep your development project on the right track.

Obviously, you want your application to be just as performant as it is beautiful. A pretty app that crashes constantly is pretty much a useless eye-candy. A monster of efficiency that has an arcane interface that only the creator understands may be a productivity powerhouse, but what good is it to the average user? You should avoid compromising on the frontend to invest more resources into the backend (and vice versa) – the decision is probably going to come back to bite you. In the same vein, one of the points that our developers made is that, even if the devs aren’t great at design themselves, they should be able to communicate with and respect the opinions of UX/UI designers.

In a nutshell: look for a mobile development team that knows its way around both coding (performance and security) and design (making beautiful, usable software). Otherwise, you might be in for a world of trouble. Afterwards, don't forget about improving visibility in App store.


Wrapping up

Having a mobile app is pretty much mandatory for a large portion of companies. To get one, you need a team, but building a team is fraught with risks and may take a long time. If you need things done well and quickly, it’s best to hire the whole team at once.

What should that team be like? In short: they should work well together, be able to work with both Android and iOS, and have technical and design skills alike.

Sounds like a tall order? Well, fret you not. Professional, tightly-knit mobile developer teams are out there. Actually, Netguru mobile developers can tick all the boxes.

Interested? Get in touch – we’re always happy to talk. And if you would like to make sure you haven't missed any news in mobile sector, see if you know already all our articles.

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Radosław Szeja

Retail Consulting Director | Engineering
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