If you are planning to build an app like Whatsapp, it is an amazing idea. With more than 1 billion people using Whatsapp in more than 180 countries, it is one of the most widely used and loved messaging apps worldwide.
When it was released in 2009, WhatsApp was the first of its kind. Around then, only Skype was popular for online chatting and calling. However, it was only for desktop and made a late entry to mobile phones. WhatsApp filled this gap by letting people send free messages and calls over smartphones.
WhatsApp was to free messaging over phones what Skype was to free calling over desktops. After WhatsApp, several other mobile messaging applications, for example, Kik and Viber came out but WhatsApp remained the best application for chatting.
So, what made Whatsapp a success? Which features of Whatsapp are loved most by its users? And how much would it cost to build an app like Whatsapp? If you are planning to build another Whatsapp like app, you must know the answer to these questions before you jump into Whatsapp like app development.
So, let’s delve deeper and find out all.
WhatsApp was released in the year 2009 by Jan Koum and Brian Acton (former employees of Yahoo!) with a seed fund of $250,000 from their old colleagues. Just after five years, Facebook – the social media giant – acquired WhatsApp for nearly $20B. Yes, that’s right. The company was worth nearly $20 billion just after five years of its inception. Isn’t it interesting? Of course, it is.
Let’s see the secrets behind this amazing success to find out how you can replicate it:
“Our product is special because it contains No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks,” said WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum.
WhatsApp is a success because of the single-minded approach behind it. It’s a simple to use chat application that is reliable and well-built by keeping the user’s privacy in mind. WhatsApp’s priority from an early stage was to make a clean, extremely fast communication service that works faultlessly. And, it did it.
The founders of Whatsapp believed that nobody would wake up at midnight to see the advertisements in-app. But, people will use their product to see what their loved ones are up to even at midnight. And, that’s was they decided to make an ad-free platform with no animations that provide just a single service – easy communication.
The approach to building a product first instead of generating revenue helped Whatsapp in becoming the most popular global mobile messaging app of today based on the number of monthly active users.
What to learn? When building a great app, your focus should be on building a great product that users find value in. Focusing on the product and providing a great user experience is something that made Whatsapp much more powerful. The company knew from the start what its customers wanted and stuck to it.
When it comes to using a real-time instant messaging app like Whatsapp, one of the major concerns users have is security – and that’s a valid concern.
To address this concern of users, Whatsapp uses end-to-end encryption that ensures only people who are involved in the communication can see what’s sent and received, and nobody in between, not even the developers at WhatsApp.
What to Learn? When building an app like Whatsapp, it’s important to keep the data of your users protected and secure from third parties. The concern of users regarding their privacy is something that should not be neglected. Prioritizing the user security should be the first and foremost step of building an app like Whatsapp.
When Whatsapp wasn’t there, people used to send messages via SMS. And that was a paid alternative for chatting. The founders – Jan Koum and Brian Acton – solved this problem by releasing Whatsapp. At the time of its launch, WhatsApp was (and still is) the best option when it comes to sending messages.
Later on, the team developed new features over the existing platform, such as location sharing, group chats, voice messaging, etc. The product was developed using an MVP approach.
The founders solved a problem first, by releasing the MVP. They tested the idea, it was a hit and then they scaled the product to become what they are today – a million-dollar company.
What to Learn? To build a successful product, it is not necessary to include a number of features in it in one go. The right way to scale is by solving a problem first and then adding the features – one after another. And, that’s what helped Whatsapp in growing and scaling with a pace tasting popularity en-route.
Now that you know the factors behind the success of Whatsapp, let’s see the basic things you need to decide when developing Whatsapp like application and then we will see the must-have features for a messaging app.
One of the major lessons we learned from the discussion in the above section is that building a product using the MVP approach pays off in the long run. You get to know what your users want in the initial go by investing less and then you can adapt accordingly. This approach will reduce the development cost and will also help you get to the market faster.
At Appcentric, we always focus on building the MVP first and then plan out the further releases depending on the feedback of users.
Second, you should decide which type of app you want to develop. There are three options available when it comes to deciding the app type and they are:
The third and most important factor is the UI/UX design. How your app looks and feels is the first thing a user will check. It is crucial that your app impress the users in the initial interaction to avoid a high churn rate which a number of apps have these days because of poor UI/UX design.
WhatsApp had a clean design and engaging app features at the time of its launch which enabled the users to do directly what they desired: messaging like there’s no tomorrow. So while developing an app like WhatsApp, look for designers that have experience in developing such apps and know the tricks to create an amazing UX.
Now that you are all set for building an app like WhatsApp, you should know what features you can include in it. Keep in mind that there are plenty of features that you can integrate into your app like Whatsapp, however, there are some which are crucial to the app’s functionality. Let’s have a look at them now.
If you want your chat app to be successful, you should not limit it to messaging only. Popular chat apps like WhatsApp are not just limited to messaging these days. They are used for multiple purposes from calling to payment transfer. Also, your app’s user can be a celebrity or layman. So, that is why it is necessary that you have a simple and secure Registration and Login process in your app.
You can allow users to register using a mobile number or an email. WhatsApp is having a secure registration process and it uses the user’s mobile number to verify him. On WhatsApp, you are your phone number and that’s what makes it easy to use the application.
It is true that profiles matter when developing a social media app. But, for a messaging app as well, profile customization feature is crucial. Your users would love to show their pictures and details to the people with they are chatting. This feature will also improve the app’s engagement rate and will reduce the churn rate.
WhatsApp allows users to change their profile picture, status, privacy details, and name. It also lets users see when their friends were online, their last seen, their status, etc. If you want to go a step ahead to make your app’s functionality better than WhatsApp, you can allow your users to share or tweak other things like check-ins or locations in your app.
To provide a seamless chatting experience through your WhatsApp like app, you must allow your users to send messages instantly. Also, for this, your users should have the option to begin a conversation. To make an app like WhatsApp, you’ll have to design a screen from where the users can manage all these chats in one go.
Whatsapp uses Extensible Messaging & Presence Protocol technology for letting users send messages in a split second. Also, to provide security to users, WhatsApp stores messages on the server temporarily. The messages users send are stored on a server for a while and when the receiver receives the message – they get deleted from the server automatically. This method provides extreme security to users and is one of the reasons behind the app’s immense popularity.
Video and voice calls make a messaging application immensely interactive, putting no restrictions on the ways users can communicate with each other.
Voice calling lets users call their contacts free of cost, even if they’re in some other countries. With voice calling, users can talk just like you talk on the phone but they can’t see one another.
Video calling provides visual communication between users. A video call can be made using the internet connection of the mobile and is enabled through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This feature makes it simple to connect loved ones even when they’re miles away.
Chat applications can also enable users to make voice/video calls inside groups. WhatsApp provides its users the ability to make calls with more than one person at a time. In group chats, users should be able to send instant messages, pictures, and videos to one another. Group names and calls should be customized, so it becomes simple for users to manage their chats.
This feature should be added to a chat application while building the MVP only. They serve as a direct line of communication between the app owner and its users. These helpful short messages keep users active inside the application and educate them when they receive new messages or when somebody comes online. Also, this feature would be helpful for you, if in the future you plan to monetize your chat app using any method.
WhatsApp provides multimedia file transmission feature to its users. This implies that every kind of data and files can be sent through the application. Aside from emoticons and text messages, users love to share different kinds of media, for example, photographs, stickers, and GIFs using the chat apps. We all know, some of the time, a picture says it all, especially when using a real-time chat application. So, it is crucial to include this feature in your app.
Also, Stickers are among the top monetization alternatives for a chatting application.
This is also an exceptionally valuable feature particularly when you are required to share your present location with somebody. Today, most of the successful messaging applications have this feature.
Also, if we keep the common users aside, this feature plays an imperative role in businesses like transportation and taxi services. The reason is extremely simple that the users, as well as the person who owns the business, can have an idea regarding the location or whereabouts of the vehicle.
Now that you know the must-have features of an app like Whatsapp, let’s see how much would it cost you to build such an app.
The process of building an app like WhatsApp revolves around backend development, UI/UX designing, API development and code testing. The cost of developing the app will vary depending on the features you decide to integrate into your app.
If you plan to add the must-have features only in your chat app – the ones that are listed above – the cost would come somewhere around $40-$50K. However, if you plan to integrate some advanced features in your app like WhatsApp like Chatbot integration, payment transfer or social media integration – the cost will go above $50k. The cost will also depend on the hourly rate of the app developers you hire.
The process of developing the chat app can take up to 1700 hours by a team of developers who have experience in the industry. So, the cost will depend on their hourly rate as well.
We hope now you have a clear idea of how you can develop your own chat app. Whatsapp may rule the market but there is still space for your messaging application to flourish if you know what can make it stand out. So, just find that factor and make it your USP. For any help, you can always contact expert app developers at Appcentric.