So you want to hire an iOS developer to build, update, or launch your mobile app—how can you attract top talent for your project?
In this article, we’ll give you a quick overview of what goes into the iOS app development process, then provide you with a general framework for writing a detailed, comprehensive iOS project description to help you find the right mobile developer who meets the requirements for your mobile app development project.
WHAT DOES AN IOS DEVELOPER DO?
An iOS developer is much more than an app programmer—they’re integral at every phase of iOS development, from wireframing the screens of your app and software planning through to user interface (UI) design, coding and integrations, and testing and submission to the App Store. An iOS developer will take specifications for your mobile app project and create a functioning, user-ready iOS application. Well-rounded iOS developers have experience with both design aspects, like UI and UX design, and actual programming like Swift.
iOS developer skills are separated into three levels, usually depending on their experience and the complexity of the apps they’ve built. Developers start at the junior phase for the first few years, although the number of apps they’ve developed and the apps’ complexity are far more important when you determine the right developer for your project. After working on more complex projects and alongside more experienced developers, they move to an intermediate phase where they can work on more projects independently. A more experienced developer, which we’ll call a “senior developer”, can not only design and code an app, but they can also handle testing, mobile security, and API integrations.
As far as skills in iOS development, look for tools and technologies like:
- Objective-C, or increasingly, the Swift 3.0 programming language
- Apple’s Xcode IDE
- Frameworks and APIs like Foundation, UIKit, and CocoaTouch
- UI and UX design experience
- Apple Human Interface Guidelines
- 2D and 3D graphics frameworks like SpriteKit and SceneKit
- OpenGL or Metal, iOS graphics APIs
- Familiarity with iOS 10 and newer OS versions
- A Git code repository technology
DEFINING YOUR PROJECT
Generally, the iOS developer you need will be determined by what you’re doing with your app, and how complex the app is. If all you need is someone to develop a quick utility app or make update and bug fixes, you can typically find a developer to do it for you who charges $15-20/hour.
If you have a more complex task at hand, like migrating your iOS app’s codebase from Swift to Swift 3, or you’re developing an app with real-time functionality, complex database integrations or APIs, a senior iOS developer with a broader skill set can charge upwards of $80/hour. The cost is worth it when you consider that you’ll want someone who has experience taking an app from conception through completion—they’ll know how to handle any bugs that appear before production.
To find the right iOS developer for the job, you need to define the project with as much detail and documentation as possible. The better you define what’s going into your mobile app project, the more accurate the estimates will be.
The first thing you should outline is what the iOS developer will be doing. Are they creating an iOS app, including designing a UI and handling back-end integrations, from scratch? Do you have an existing app that was rejected from the App Store and needs to be fixed and resubmitted? With a solid project overview, you’ll have a better idea of the level of programmer that you need (junior, intermediate, or senior).
The final aspect of your project to mention is its deadline and the amount of time it will take to complete. iOS development projects can take many rounds of design and development tweaks, processes that often overlap and affect each other. These can occur over a week, a month, six months, or more—and with constant OS updates and new devices coming to market, keeping your app compatible and optimized may continue over its entire lifespan. Learn more about the iOS app development process.
Once you get an estimate of how long the project will take, work with your developer to break down the project into phases if you have a flat-rate cost estimate. You can break the project into phases and ask for specific deliverables by particular deadlines.
Example phases include the following deliverables:
- UI design
- Software architecting
- Front-end coding
- Back-end integration & APIs
- Publishing and distribution
To help estimate time and cost, read “How Much Does it Cost to Hire an iOS Developer?” to see some sample project costs.
Writing an iOS App Mobile App Project Description
After you get a better idea of your project deliverables, it’s time to write a project description. The title of your project description can include the type of development that you need. You know that you need an iOS developer, but do you need a UI designer as well? Do you need someone who understands a specific framework? The title should attract iOS developers with a specific skill set if you need it.
Now, you can write your project overview. If you have documentation that shows basic wireframes or ideas, you can include these in your project description. Describe the app in enough detail that it gives a developer a good idea of the work to be done. If you need the developer to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), you can also specify this requirement in your description.
Part of your description should also define the deliverables including any designs, documentation, or source code. The source code is usually delivered using a version control solution such as Git.
Sample Project Description
Below is a sample of how a project description may look. Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post or project description, or any other document that describes the work to be done.
Title: iOS Developer Needed for an iOS Version of App for Connected Home IoT Device
Description: We’re looking for an advanced iOS developer to help us with building an iOS version of a user interface app for our networked gas fireplace device, SmartFlame. This device connects your home’s thermostat with a networked gas fireplace so homeowners can operate their gas fireplace from their device to help regulate the temperature and utilities usage in their home from anywhere, and track natural gas use per cycle.
The right developer will be able to provide us with the following skills and services:
- IoT networked device mobile app expertise
- Swift 3 expertise
- Translation of designer mock-ups and wireframes into front-end code
- App integration with device’s networked interface and our existing backend infrastructure and APIs
- Unit testing with Karma
- Excellent mobile app and IoT security experience, including encrypted connections, OAuth2, and secure wireless connections.
- Familiarity with mobile API services—our device is able to connect with the homeowner’s security system/fire prevention account API, networked thermostat API, access data from public utilities account API, and the smart fireplace itself.
We already have our desktop application built out with backend and APIs integrated. Currently, we’re rolling out the mobile apps for Android and iOS, which will enable users to control their smart fireplace from their mobile devices. The iOS app needs to be iOS 10 compatible and the UI must be designed from the ground up to our (and Apple’s) brand guidelines. We’re looking to submit the app for approval by (mm/dd/yyyy).
We are SmartFlame, an innovative networked home device startup seeking to provide homeowners with a way to more efficiently manage their home’s temperature with alternative heating options that save money and energy in colder months.
To ensure you’ve read the entirety of this message, please include the word “Toasty” alongside your portfolio in your reply.
*Note all company names and dates, were created solely for the use of this example.
Regardless of whether your iOS app is complex or simple, you’ll need the right developer to help you achieve your app’s goals. With a well-thought-out project description that fully conveys the vision of your project and the deliverables you need, iOS developers can more accurately determine time and cost estimates with a fully defined project from the start. Also, remember that an app is never “really done,” and often requires follow-up work by a developer to keep up with new versions of operating systems and devices and to release updates and bug fixes. Having a good relationship with a developer who understands your app is paramount to the future health of your mobile app.