Should I hire a single developer to build my app?

Here are some of the pros and cons

If your business or organization is getting ready to develop an app, there are many questions to answer before even beginning the process. If you have decided to outsource, as opposed to doing the work in house, you have two primary choices. One option is to hire an app development firm, and the other is hiring a single developer for your app development. You can also attempt to learn to code yourself (and there are plenty of free options for doing so) but time is money. And hiring a single developer is often an attractive option, especially when budget is an issue.

At first glance, a single freelance app developer may seem like a bargain. They might quote an hourly rate that is a quarter of what a professional firm would cost. Or, they might offer a fixed price that appears to be a fraction of what an app development firm’s final cost would be. Even the most well-funded organization might be interested in saving that kind of money on app development. However, there are several risks of hiring a single app developer to build your app. You should seriously consider these before deciding on how you will proceed.

Communication issues

Clear communications are an essential part of every stage of app development. From the initial conception of the app to final delivery, clear and regular communication ensures that both the developer and the client are clear about expectations and deliverables. Reputable app development firms have developed processes and protocols to ensure that lines of communication are open each step of the way. There is usually someone on the team tasked with ensuring clarity in the exchange of information.

While it is possible for a single developer to have a reliable communications process, there is no guarantee. Most freelance developers work on their own with no administrative support. Their talent is often in the hard skills of software development and not always in process and communications best practices. If you and your developer do not attend to this, it can lead to misunderstandings, delays, an unsatisfactory final product, or even project abandonment.

The perceived advantage of saving money can also be negligible when the app takes longer to develop or misunderstandings lead to additional work. Beware of looking only at the hourly rate. The savings of lower hourly rates are easily lost when it takes significantly more billed hours to complete the project.

Quality concerns

When you are paying to have an app developed, you expect it to be of high-quality from the user interface to the back-end functionality. While it is possible to achieve this using a single developer, you are taking your chances. When working with an app development firm, you have an organization standing behind the developers and their work. Someone else has done the work of verifying their competence and ensuring that every aspect of their work is up to industry standards.

Referrals are important for sourcing any vendor, big or small. It can be a lot more challenging to find verifiable referrals for a single developer compared to a team of people.

Potential security issues

If the development of your app requires access to intellectual property or customer data, you need to be sure your information is safe. While this is possible with a single developer, app development firms are more likely to have clear data security protocols and a track record of data integrity. Professional teams of app developers are typically used to safe file transfers between members and clients, whereas a single app developer may not be as experienced or strict with how data is handled.

Skill gaps

No one single developer could possibly encompass all of the possible skills needed to develop an entire app. From front end, to back end, to devops and deployment, to validation, automation and testing. One person might be able to fulfill some of those, even all of them, but to the highest standard possible across the board? They say it takes a village….. Hiring an organization brings with it all of the facets required to deploy an app of the highest quality. A team of people with the various skillsets that compliment each other and allow for a comprehensive development effort for your app.

So what are the pros?

Hiring a single developer can be very effective if you yourself are tech-savvy and able to clearly communicate to the developer and leap over those potential misunderstandings in the scope of work. Some solitary app developers are phenomenal resources and able to be very nimble with their development. Fewer people involved on the dev side can sometimes be an improvement over communicating with a team of people who all need to be kept in the loop.

However, be warned that if they’re a solitary app developer because they don’t work well with others – they might not work well with you and your team, either. 

If you’re looking for a better cost break-down of what you can expect with your app development, check out our App Cost Calculator. It’ll give you the nuts and bolts overview of what you can expect from the features you’re envisioning.


Talk with Us

Have a new product to launch or a service that needs to be updated? Let’s talk.