Ok, so you are an entrepreneur, and you have an app idea. But you are not a Developer, and you have no idea how to go about hiring one – how to you go about it?
First of all, the basic assumption here is that you have a very good idea what you want to build. Make sure you have created a spec – something like this.
Also, you might need a designer to make the mockups before you hire a developer; or even an artist if you are building a game. The process to find a good designer will be somewhat similar to that of finding a developer, except that you will look at their existing portfolio and ask for rough design sketches instead of solutions (for the last round of filtering).
This is the workflow I recommend -
1. Source good leads first – through your contacts/friends, advisors or even places like this group. Contact those leads and see who are interested. Then get samples of their work.
2. Filter out those who are a bad fit. (for e.g. have no iOS experience) – speak to all of the rest, do a video call so you get a better sense (somehow helps more than just a voice chat, IMHO)
3. Further filtering – share a bit of your idea in your interview, ask them how they might go about with it, and what kind of estimate can they share. Some of them might say they can only give a ballpark or need more details to do an estimate (which might be a fair thing) – basically try to get a sense of who might be confortable doing this task.
If someone has done a very similar task, short list them. But also shortlist developers who have good experience in general and are able to think through at least some aspects of how the solution might work.
4. See how many you have shortlisted – 3-4 is a good number. Ask them to do an estimate, share more details.
(might want to get them to sign an NDA at this stage).
Cover the cost of estimation for all of them (I think that’s fair) – let them work out a detailed solution doc and a corresponding estimate if they were to implement that solution fully. You are paying them for this work (say 1-2 days, maybe a bit more if it’s complex), but it’s a lot lesser than the entire dev cost, and it helps to weigh your options more clearly.
Based on the solutions and the final estimates, take a call on whom to go with.
5. If the winning estimate is more than a month or so, try to break delivery into chunks – prioritise your features, get something delivered (deployable state or at least demoable state) every 15 calendar days. This significantly reduces risk for both parties. You can always switch to one of your other short-list candidates.
PRO-TIP: maintain good relationship with all your shortlists, especially those that you did not hire because you needed only 1 developer. Explain to them why you hired someone else (better solution from someone else, better estimates, etc) – most will like the transparency and it will help you next time you want to hire someone.