nyc skyline at night by app developer nyc

You’re probably here because you’re interested in hiring an app developer NYC. You’ve come to the right place!

My name is Ryan Waggoner, and I’m an independent iOS developer in New York City with 10 years and 100+ apps under my belt. I’ve built and maintained apps for clients like Nike, Fannie Mae, VMWare, Bayer, Neutrogena, and dozens of startups.

OK, I’m going to be honest: I love NYC.

Yes, the city is not perfect. It’s noisy and expensive and dirty and chaotic.

But it’s still the greatest city on earth. I’m incredibly proud to call it home and have the opportunity to work with so many incredible clients here.

Whether you hire me or not, I can share a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while looking for mobile app development services in New York (and beyond).

You should also consider subscribing to my email list. I periodically send out thoughtful articles for entrepreneurs, managers, and other decision-makers about how mobile apps can impact your business. You can sign up here.

Mobile app development in NYC

There is no better place on earth to get your app developed than NYC.

Negatives of app development in NYC

First, let’s talk about the downsides of NYC when it comes to app development here in the city:

  1. Mobile app development companies and freelancers in NYC have a lot of options. This can make it hard to get their attention.
  2. App development costs can be much higher here than other parts of the country and the world.

Don’t worry: below I’m going to tell you a few quick tips to deal with both of the above.

Upsides of hiring an app developer NYC

On the other hand, there are some huge benefits to finding someone to build your app here:

  1. New York is the #2 tech capital in the world, behind only Silicon Valley. And thanks to the absolute insane prices for everything in northern California, even NYC app development is not as expensive as there!
  2. Here in New York City, we’ve always been at the forefront of the intersections between culture, technology, fashion, journalism, art, and commerce. There’s no greater concentration of energy or knowledge in the world vs. here. That translates into opportunities for all kinds of apps.
  3. The skill level of app makers in NYC is insane. Seriously, I’ve lived all over the country and the amount of talent in New York is incredible. From iOS and Android developers to UI / UX designers to growth marketers, the talent pool here is incredibly deep.
  4. I work with clients all over the world. While these projects turn out well, there’s something special about getting to meet with clients face-to-face. I love seeing their excitement as their app comes to life. Additionally, it cuts down on the iteration time to be able to jump in a room together for a few hours here and there to iron out issues. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker if you don’t live in the same place as your app developer, but it’s a big plus.

Freelance app developers vs. mobile app development companies

So should you hire an individual like me or a bigger app development team to build your app?

I’m biased here, but not as much as you’d think. I do not want your business if a larger app development company would serve your needs better. It’s just going to be a frustrating experience for both of us.

Here are some things to think about when considering an independent developer like me vs. a firm:


The biggest signal that you’re probably a better fit for a larger agency is budget: 90% of my app development engagements are in the $20k to $100k range. There are occasional projects that fall outside that range (on either end), but not commonly. If you have a budget of $250k or more, you’d be better served finding a full-service agency to work with.


Another question is how much of a consultation-oriented approach you need. I specialize in helping clients go from concept to polished app, where they need a mix of product management (my background) and app development. Because I’m solo instead of a large team with dozens of people to coordinate effectively, we can move faster and be more creative. And unlike larger app dev companies, you’re going to have a much larger share of my attention.


Additionally, almost all of the bigger app developer NYC shops also do a lot of other kinds of work, not just apps. Apps are probably only a small portion of their business, so they’re unlikely to be as focused on it as someone like me. I only does iOS app development and so I can stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest from the iOS ecosystem.


Finally, there’s a lot of value in being able to talk directly to the person who is writing some or all of the code for your app. A lot of detail is lost when you talk to an account manager, who talks to a project manager, who talks to an engineering manager, who talks to the developer actually doing the work.

The one caveat with talking directly to the developer who is building the app is communication style. Make sure they know how to “translate” the technical concepts so the client understands the necessary details. Fortunately, my previous life was as a product manager. I’ve spent thousands of hours communicating with non-technical audiences. Additionally, I’ve also been a founder myself, so I know how to evaluate technical decisions in the context of their impact on the bottom line.

Whichever route you choose to go, the good news is that NYC is full of the entire spectrum of app builders for you to collaborate with, from part-time students who will work on your idea in their spare time for cheap to the very biggest and best studios who won’t talk to you unless your budget is $1mm+.

Hiring iPhone app developer NYC: questions to ask

Whether you want to go with a freelance iOS developer like me or a bigger full-service mobile app development company, there are some questions you need to ask:

How much do they charge for app development?

You may be quoted a mixture of hourly or daily rates. Also, some firms will only offer an estimate after hearing more information on your app concept.

As mentioned above, the bigger agencies and studios will cost a lot more in total, and usually aren’t a fit unless your budget is well into six figures.

Do they offer a roadmapping engagement?

One very effective way to reduce the budget and the risk at the same time is to start with a roadmapping engagement. If you’re not familiar, this is a smaller engagement at the front-end that breaks down the app concepts, plans out the user experience and technical architecture, and creates a project plan to deliver the app.

Where will they do the actual app development work?

Since NYC is so expensive, there’s a temptation to have the client-facing roles here, but farm out the work to offshore teams in other parts of the world.

This can work, but it’s a high-risk strategy. It’s generally not a good fit, nor offers as much savings as you’d think. App development is expensive, and there’s just no getting around that.

Even worse, many mobile app development companies who employ this strategy won’t be completely transparent about the fact that they’re doing this. This is a terrible way to start the relationship off.

On the other hand, I do my own work, with the exception of some basic project setup and QA. I have a junior developer that I work with on projects where the client is completely comfortable. Of course, I remain fully responsible for all of our work.

Be sure to ask whether you’ll be working with a local app developer NYC!

Who will be your point of contact?

Will you only have an account manager to talk to? Or will you be able to interface directly with the app developers?

It might sound really helpful to have a dedicated account manager, but it won’t be as helpful when your suggestions are implemented incorrectly for the 5th time in a row, or the deadlines keep getting blown because the account manager told you what you wanted to hear without checking with the dev team first. These are very common issues in the agency world.

How much attention will they give you?

Are you their only client, one of a handful, or a tiny minnow in the huge pond of all the clients they’re working with?

Of course, these questions assume the basic ability to deliver on the part of the app developer. You first need to verify they can build mobile apps effectively before any of the above questions make a lot of sense to ask.


I hope this article has been useful as you’re considering hiring an app developer in NYC. If there’s any way that I can help you evaluate your options, please contact me.

Again, I don’t want your business unless it’s a good fit for both of us, so you can be assured you won’t get a hard sell from me.

And even if we don’t work together, let me know when your app is released! I love to see new things from fellow residents in this amazing city of ours.