So You Want a Mobile App: the Basics of Building a Mobile Development Team

Apps are the new gold rush. It seems like every company is getting onboard with their own proprietary application: from bakeries to banks to pharmacies, it seems like every mom and pop store is launching their own app these days. It’s understandable why a business owner might want to get in on that, but where do you start? How do you get a team together to build your dream?

Going Solo

Well, first you need to know what an App development team is going to consist of. At its most barebones, it’s one person: an app developer. This is the cheapest way to get the work done and should usually be fine for smaller projects, though it has a much higher variance rate in terms of success—you might get a superstar, but you might also get a conman. If you’re going this route, be wary of super-cheap developers on sites like Fiverr: they tend to be deeply incompetent at best, and active scammers at worst. The common wisdom is that you should price an app like you’d price a car: great ones cost $50,000+, you can get something newer and mechanically sound for less than $10,000 if you shop around, and you may spend less than a couple thousand if you’re comfortable with future repairs. You’d never buy a car for $100, you’d get an absolute lemon. Individual freelancers need a lot of vetting: don’t go to somebody you don’t trust, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Teams tend to be a more reliable: it’s not that scam companies don’t exist, but if they’re at the point where they’re renting office space and failing tax returns, it’s much harder for them to slip the net—their customers and the authorities have a much easier time keeping tabs on them, and they tend to get taken down quickly.

Who You Need

A team is probably going to consist of:

  • UI/UX specialists and Frontend developers
  • Backend developers
  • QA teams
  • DevOps

The Front end teams (and the UI/UX developers, a sort of specialised front end dev) deal with everything the user can see and interact with. This is where things like brand identity, colour choices, layout, navigation flows and the like are sorted out.

The back end teams handle the things the customer can’t see, like databases and servers. If, say, your ridesharing app records star ratings for each driver, it needs to store them somewhere, and that’s going to be in a database. The backend developer builds and maintains these systems.

QA (quality assurance) teams are testers. Every system is going to have bugs, but catching them early can save you thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. Good QA is critical in app health and success.

 DevOps is management. That’s not strictly accurate (not really at all) but it’s close enough if you’re not a techie.

By splitting this up between specialists, it allows the team to operate at a much higher level of quality: the days when one person could handle both sides of a website or application are long-gone. Our apps are just too complex these days, and splitting it up like this is the best way to guarantee quality.

So, you want all of these things. Where do you get them?

Putting the Team Together

There’s two ways to go about this: constructing your own team by pulling individuals together, or hiring a team wholesale. If you’ve already got a solid tech and management background, pulling a team together can be a great idea, and follows pretty standard hiring procedures. The biggest difference in tech is that hiring remote developers is much more viable. You’re going to need excellent management and communication skills to hold everybody together, but some companies like Zapier run almost 100% remotely and are going from strength to strength.

This probably isn’t the best way to go if you just need a single app developed: it’s more for those who want to set up a development company. If you’re just looking for the app and want to offload management/office space etc onto somebody else, you want to hire an app development company. You’ll want to verify the following:

  • The size of their team
  • Their available hours
  • Their pricing
  • Their portfolio
  • How long they’ve been active

If you can, try to find some of their previous customers to talk to—it’s a good way to get an objective read on how good they actually are. Reviews can be faked, and it’s best you try to vet your prospective team independently. Some testimonials are harder to fake than others and so tend to be a bit more trustworthy, e.g. video testimonials. If they only have two text reviews and they’re both five stars and don’t mention any specifics, I’d probably get a little skeptical.

There’s a lot to say here, and I’d recommend you read a more detailed guide to hiring an app developer if want to go a bit deeper.

Really, hiring app developers is like hiring any other team: be smart, be thorough, be skeptical if they promise the moon. Finding the right team could be your ticket to business success! If you’re looking for a great mobile app development company in Indiana, look no further than CodeClouds.

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