Messenger app development: all questions answered

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How to make a messenger app
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    Could you name one thing that unites all of us? Take a second to think. Our answer is the fact that we all have at least one messenger installed on our phones. We use messaging apps not only for daily communications, but also for keeping up with news, setting appointments through bots, and chatting with customer support.

    If you’re hesitant about the decision to create a messaging app – just look at the recent numbers The Facebook Messenger app is used by 1.3 billion people globally, while WhatsApp grew to having 2 billions active users worldwide. Popular in Asian countries WeChat is slightly behind, having 1.2 billion users. Slack helps 12 million people maintain business communication within companies. The great news is that the majority of users have multiple apps installed on their smartphone, so all listed companies are complementors, rather than competitors. 

    The number of active users is expected only to grow, and the messaging app market is blossoming and thriving. At Purrweb we have received a lot of questions about messengers, therefore we decided to collect our experience and create a comprehensive guide on how to nail chat app development. Enjoy this article and get you free app estimation at the bottom of the page!

    Key features

    Let’s go straight to the point — there is a set of functions you need to consider in order to develop an on-demand messaging app. At Purrweb, we believe an app should be user-friendly at first place and consider customer pain points. Therefore we always advise to start with brainstorming and defining your niche,  your unique characteristics, and the target audience. Then, you can move on to execution and pick what functionality you need for your app. Based on our experience, we created lists of must-have and nice-to-have features for the best messaging app.

    Must-have features

    Authorization functionality

    The registration process should be as quick as a new Tesla goes to 100 km/h. Okay, maybe it will take users more than 2 seconds, but you got the point. In order to make authorization fast, we recommend adding social media, phone number, or e-mail integration. After this, the user will be able to choose a photo and a username. Some apps like Telegram allow users to hide their phone numbers and create multiple profiles. It might be really useful, for example, if you live between two countries and have multiple SIM-cards.

    Contact access

    This feature makes the onboarding process much easier, because a user can sign up, sync its contacts, and instantly start messaging.

    How to make a messenger app like Telegram

    Messaging functionality

    This is the core of your chat app. For successful chatting your apps will need elements like private and group chats, send and unsend messages, delivery status, text history, and editing functionality. If you want to create a messaging app like a pro, consider adding video and audio messages to your app later on. We know, it sounds like a lot of elements to integrate – that’s why you will need an experienced UX-designer, who will create an easy-to-navigate interface.

    how to make a messenger app

    File exchange

    Ability to exchange media files can not only spice things up but also extend the variety of reasons why people will use your app. Let users send photos, videos, gifs, and documents to each other and use chats as cloud storage (yes, we all look for an ID photo in our messengers).

    Push notifications

    Users should instantly be notified that they have received a new message. If you have ever used a messenger in your life, you probably know how important notifications are 😉

    Data protection

    When it comes to any kind of communication — personal or work — privacy is important. Users’ data is usually stored on app-owned servers, messages are encrypted and they are transferred between devices using different communication protocols. Consult us directly to know more about data security technologies.

    Nice-to-have features


    Modern chat apps are much more than just message exchange. If you want to go to infinity and beyond, you should consider adding voice and video calls to the app. Maybe it’s not that necessary on the first development stage, but as soon as you have resources, it’s good to think about expanding the functionality to the call exchange.


    This feature will bring a lot of business to your messenger. Chatbot is an automatic software that maintains online communications with customers, sends automatic replies, and answers frequently asked questions. They can also call a human if a user’s question is too difficult for the machine.

    how to make a messenger app

    Do chat apps make money?

    The question about monetization strategies inevitably arises among those who want to create a messaging app. The short answer is yes, they do. You are probably wondering how, because regular users enjoy free of charge texting and calling. Here are a few options on how to make your chat app profitable.

    • In-app ads;
    • Call termination technology that allows users to get ordinary calls and texts from abroad on messengers;
    • Promo stickers in collaboration with brands;
    • Donations (yes, it’s also an option and that’s how Telegram exists);

    How to find a trustworthy contractor?

    Let’s discuss what you should pay prior attention to when hiring a development team.

    To perform a background check before signing a contract, we recommend two things. Firstly, just google the company name. Yes, it sounds very simple and primitive, but if there is something you should know about the developer — Google will tell you, nothing there is hidden or forgotten. Secondly, check out the Dribble and Behance websites to see their previous works and experience.

    Also, time and money are important for a startup, so our genuine advice is to choose someone who works with React Native.

    React Native is a framework created by Facebook 5 years ago. It works with JavaScript — one of the most popular programming languages across the world. There are 3 major pros of working with a company that develops on React Native.

    JavaScript. The language is very common among developers, so it’s not difficult and time consuming to find a contractor for your app development.

    One shared codebase. When developing different versions of the app for Android and iOS, they will share around 65-70% of the code. What does it mean for your business? First of all, it significantly cuts the developing time. Secondly, there is no need to hire and pay (!) two separate teams — just find one who works with the framework.

    Native-like UI/UX design. Facebook has massive libraries of native UI-elements for an interface. How is it beneficial to your idea? Well, it simply means that your future app will scroll, swipe, and tap like native-build ones. The performance of the messenger will be native, but you will save tons of time and money choosing React Native over the native development.

    We have been working with React Native for the past 4 years, and we can’t say we are disappointed. The framework allows us to create MVPs for our clients in 3 months — it means that after 3 months you come to us with an idea, you will have a working product version that you can test to collect feedback and show to potential investors.

    How much does it cost to create a messaging app?

    We reached the most important part of the article — estimated costs and timelines. Chat app development is a complex process that involves a team of developers, UX-designers, product managers, and QA specialists. And everyone needs to be paid 🙂

    Our philosophy is to be as open and transparent as possible, so we always discuss prices and timeframes beforehand. We offer a full-cycle development of a React Native app from scratch, including UI/UX, API, Frontend development services, and testing– everything you need for the mobile app release in App Store and Google Play. Moreover, to develop an on-demand messenger, we will take extra cases of data security, establish communication protocols and reliable connection with servers,  while our UX-designers will research your potential users, plan the architecture of the app and create a design concept.

    Let’s finally do the math now!

    how to make a messenger app

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    Overall, the team of 6 people will execute your messaging app. According to similar projects we have made, the estimated cost of development is from $80,000 to $100,000 for a full cycle of development, including UI/UX design, building a prototype, QA testing, creating iOS and Android versions, connecting to servers and everything else needed. 

    As a bonus — we will answer all your questions about how to create a messaging app and share with you tips and secrets about successful execution. You can always check our portfolio and reviews and reach out to us anytime via Telegram or Whatsapp.