$12.000, 3 weeks and a business angel: make app like Reddit

The XXI century. In just a couple minutes, you can find any community you desire, even the most unusual ones. Find a group where people share unethical hints: “If a phone call bothers you, turn on the flight mode — a person on the other side will see the ‘call failed’ message instead of ‘call ended’”. Or maybe join a “Would-be-fathers group” where people share their emotions and recommendations? You have it all on Reddit.

Reading time: 8 minutes

how to make an app reddit
Table of contents

First of all, Reddit is about a major community which made the platform kind of a mirror of the Internet. In the article, we are going to explain how to make an app like Reddit, which features you would need for an MVP, and tell about budget and deadlines.

Reddit is

— 430M monthly users,

— 52M daily users, 

— 1.68B visits in the last 6 months, 

— more than 2.8M subreddits (communities on Reddit),

— 130K active subreddits (min. 5 comments a day),

— mainly US 25-29 y.o. male audience.

Most of the content that we see on the Internet comes from Reddit. The user may find any community there. Have you ever seen a group where people collect old photos? Subreddit r/HistoryPorn is the first place where such a format appeared. Or r/Showerthoughts — people share unusual thoughts that others share on Twitter and pass it off as their own. Well, you got the idea. 

Startup history

In the article I’d like to talk not only about the technical part and how to make an app Reddit. From the project story, you may pick up awesome experiences that will help in launching any startup. 

Boston, 2005. Paul Graham gave a lecture on “How to fund a startup” and 2 students had come all the way from Virginia just to attend it. At that moment, as Graham tells, he wished to try on the angel investor’s role and set up an investment company.     

Reddit founders owe the product launch to Paul Graham. This guy was involved in many businesses but what interests us is that he invested in Twitch, Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe and helped them grow. It’s not definitely known how it happened but Graham suggested students to take part in a new project for startups: Y Combinator.  

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Students wanted to make app where users could order food. They even created a name: “My mobile menu”. Graham didn’t like the idea and refused to invest in custom app development. According to one of the versions, the guys headed home but Paul contacted them and said: “I like you way more than your idea”. The students returned back to Boston and in a few hours of brainstorming with Graham they created the “Main page of the Internet” — Reddit.  


The students decided to make a kind of a news service from the Internet community where users would exchange links and pics, write posts and share their opinions.

Graham invested $12 000 in the students’ project. It was just enough for making the first steps. In 3 weeks, the founders managed to make app: coded a simple website on Lisp. That was ver.1 of Reddit — a primitive link aggregator. In the first version of Reddit there were 4 pages:

  • hottest — recent popular posts,
  • newest — publications sorted by recency, 
  • top all-time — the most popular news of all time,
  • stats — a section with statistics on discussions.

The audience was adding advertisements and correcting the quality of publications by voting ‘for’ or ‘against’.

how to make an app redditMake app — just the beginning. You also need to attract an audience. To win the users, founders decided to create an illusion of activity: placed links on interesting news and created new accounts — the website simultaneously got both new content and users. The strategy worked out: the real users entered the platform, they shared links, commented posts, and fake accounts gradually started to disappear. 

The Wu-Tang-Clan band followed pretty much the same strategy. They dropped a debut single Protect Ya Neck but the musical stores weren’t up for selling it. The band decided to forward their friends to stores and ask if they could get Wu-Tang Clan tapes. An artificial popularity turned into a real one. You can even find the ver.1 of the single: at the beginning you hear the band’s mate calling to a radio station and asking to put Wu-Tang Clan.  

User inflow

Reddit got it’s audience but 5 years after the start, the project was still a little player among aggregator websites ruled by users. The bigger competitor was Digg which had tens of millions of monthly users.

In 2010 the storm came: Digg announced the new version of the website. The company introduced sponsored links as a way to monetize the website. Users’ content gave way to publications from big online news outlets. The users started to have less influence on the content: the website’s democracy was damaged.

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A group of users, bothered by those changes, announced on 30 August 2010 ‘The last day of Digg’ and stuffed the website with content from Reddit. The storm intensified — Reddit saw it and brilliantly played its cards. The founders wrote a public letter to Digg’s CEO, resenting the platform’s deviation from the mission to ‘restore power to people’. Reddit changed its logo by adding the Digg shovel to the alien. In such a sharp way the platform greeted the new users.

The storm reached the peak: millions of Digg users rapidly migrated to Reddit. This way the Reddit that we know now was born.

The key features

Reddit — metropolis with a gazillion of districts. There are skyscrapers in the city center: in one of them people comment on world news, in another one look at funny cats. You approach the next building and can ask any question of the whole city, for example: ‘Why do people not take off shoes at home?’. A bit further, there is a tall building where psychologists, historians, lawyers, gynecologists, architects were coming by, and even a murderer was there once. You can ask them some questions. 

It’s not possible to build up a metropolis on the fly. After all, you don’t need to at the start. Better start with a small settlement — MVP. We drew up a list of 4 key features that will help you make app like Reddit, create a top-notch interface for MVP and attract users.

Sign up

Nobody wants to register. A user enters the app to have fun, buy, read, whatever but not register. The signup form — inevitable evil that you have to deal with when you make app. On the registration stage users often hit a rough patch and that’s a straight road to low conversion rates and users leaving the to make an app reddit

The signup form should be as simple as possible. You’d rather not force users to spend more than a few minutes to enter the app. Earlier Reddit didn’t require any user data — it was enough to create a nickname and a password. Due to that, the company knew little to nothing about the audience and couldn’t set up advertisements. Now Reddit asks for an email at signup stage and the audience interests are collected through subscriptions to communities.

Users don’t need to input any personal info because anonymity reigns on this platform. Users are depersonalized: you can’t differentiate a US president’s profile from a usual one. That’s what made app unique. 

Publication list

Tons of content daily fight over the user’s attention. To not overload users with the information, in 2006 Facebook and Twitter launched news feeds. Twitter displayed news in chronological order, Facebook created an algorithm for displaying news based on the content’s popularity. how to make an app reddit

Algorithms sort out and pick interesting content for the user: help him find the movie (Netflix), music (Spotify), book (Bookmate) and game (Steam). Reddit follows a bit different approach to the news feed. Reddit founders made app with 3 new feeds:

  •  Home. Posts of subreddits and users from your subscriptions.  
  • Popular. Recent popular publications, actual discussions and trends. 
  • All. Posts from all Reddit communities.

There is also a 4th unusual feed: Reddit Live. It appeared recently. There you may see current user streams and even donate money.

Search and sorting

Search and sorting — very different features which follow the same goal in different ways: display the relevant content to the user. Make app with both features won’t go amiss. The search is there to let users find something particular from a huge variety of content. Sorting allows you to adjust the search query, put it in chronological order or sort by popularity.

how to make an app reddit

Founders made app with both features. On Reddit the search will find any user, community or post. On the website, the user may adjust content as it likes: Reddit has 5 criteria. They are on all 3 feeds, inside subreddit and even in the user’s profile.  On Reddit now there are 3 million subreddits — you can’t find something interesting without search and sorting.


On Reddit anybody can create a publication: write a post, share a pic, a video, or a link. For that, you need to write a heading which would describe what you plan to post. There are certain publication rules on Reddit. If you don’t follow them, the post will be blocked or users will down-vote it.  Apart from platform’s rules, many subreddits have their own rules for posting and commenting posts. The logic is the same: if you don’t follow the rules — the post or the account, in case of serious violation, will be banned. If you’re wondering how to make an app Reddit, let the community block it.

how to make an app reddit

Key value of the project is the community. On Reddit there’s nothing more important than subreddits. The user may find any group, there is even a subreddit for searching subreddits. Daily the community leaves around 21M votes. One voting week on Reddit gains more than presidential elections in the USA. 

Reddit gives the community almost full freedom. The users share  content, vote for (or against) it, comment, grant other users for posts or comments. The community coordinates the website almost without editors’ inclusion. 

Timeframes and budget

Reddit launched with a primitive design and raw functionality but it had everything that was necessary for MVP: key features. Gradually Reddit renewed functionality: streaming service, ability to insert a video in post, rewards system, dark theme and account picture. If you want to make app, follow Reddit’s steps: first MVP and quick start, then custom app development and all the rest.

It’s clear how to make an app Reddit. But it’s unclear what about the timescale and budget. Any custom app development project of ours starts with UI/UX design. We discuss with the client project details, their suggestions and ideas, collect negative references — then start designing. We would rather not make an interface like Reddit did back then at start — nowadays it wouldn’t work out. Boring design in custom app development doesn’t attract attention and pushes users off.  

To make app with convenient, logical and clear interface, first designers create mind map, wireframes and a concept. These 3 elements — a fruitful soil for a cool interface. If the client stays always in touch, the stage ‘mind map — wireframes — concept” will take 1,5 weeks.

Usually, we don’t have disagreements with clients during outsource app development. Regular calls, demos, references, mind map, wireframes — alpha-version of the design which serves as a foundation for the visual part. The concept is in a way a beta-version, while the interface is a product ready for release.

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If our view on design differs from the client’s one, it becomes clear on the alpha-version. Beta-version and a ready-made product don’t add up something really new, but rather develop initial ideas. That’s why client’s expectations form even before move over to interface. By the concept stage, both the designers and the startupper have a rough vision of how the app will look like. When the UI is ready and the client approved it — it’s time to outsource app development.

We focus on MVP development to help startuppers test the idea on the market fast without investing millions of dollars. To make app development process smooth, we openly discuss budget and timeframes and keep the client updated on what’s currently happening in the project. We can make app with all key features in just 3 months. We estimated the cost of cross-platform app development of MVP like Reddit:    

how to make an app reddit

If you don’t know how to make an app Reddit by yourself, you may outsource app development and make app like Reddit with us, leave your email or contact us in any suitable way: we will discuss project details and create a precise quote with budget and timelines. 

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