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According to the Allied Market research, the value of the global live chat market is estimated to reach approximately $1.7 billion by 2030. And that’s not surprising at all, considering how popular messaging apps have become. Once being used for un entertainment and communication only, they transformed into a valuable business asset. The number of messaging app users is growing exponentially and hence, if you ever considered developing your own app, you need to approach the process very carefully in order to stand out from thousands of similar products.
So what makes a great messaging app and how not to overload it with unnecessary functions? In this article, we’ll walk you through the essentials of a good chat app and will talk about add-ons that you can incorporate for better user experience.
The main types of messaging apps
Before discussing the functionality of a good messaging app, it’s important to differentiate between the two main types of such apps: enterprise and personal. As the name suggests, enterprise apps are used by enterprises for internal (employee to employee) or external (employee to customer) communications. Such apps place special emphasis on security and usually have a number of enterprise features, such as video conferencing.
Personal chat apps are the ones most of us are well familiar with. Examples include WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger and their primary features are based around real-time chatting in different formats (video, audio, text).
But despite the app type, there are a number of features expected in any messaging app. These features are also essential for an MVP (minimum viable product) if you are planning to develop one – and we highly recommend doing so. Now, let’s see what a good messaging app is made of and why these features are important.
Key features of a messaging app that users want and love
There is a fine line between a functional and user-centric app and an application that is overloaded with features just for the sake of it. Some app developers believe that more equals better and pack the app with features that are not even supposed to be there. That’s why it is so important to create a list of features and prioritize them before starting the development process. Feature prioritization allows you to:
- Cut development costs and time since you won’t be spending them on something unnecessary
- Make the app user-friendly instead of confusing
- Ensure good performance of the app from the start
Now that we understand why it’s critical to differentiate between essential and nice-to-have features, let’s take a look at the list of core features of a messaging app that add value and create a positive experience.
Easy sign-in and registration
Though seemingly obvious, this feature is often overlooked by app developers. As a result, poor or too complex sign-in and registration lead to users’ frustration and confusion and lower the chances for further app use.
Some of the essentials of easy app registration include registration via social media and authentication via multiple methods (phone number, email, etc.). In this way, a user doesn’t have to spend too much time on filling in the necessary fields and all time-saving activities inevitably lead to better user experience. In other words, the faster the registration process goes, the better user experience is.
Integration of contacts
It makes sense that a messenger app is there for users to communicate with people whom they know, aka their contacts. Hence, it is a must that an app allows integration of contacts from the user’s device, so a user can instantly start messaging them. Imagine a nightmare where a user has to manually transfer their contacts to an app – how bad would it be for user experience and user’s patience?
Cloud storage and backup
Any messaging app involves a great amount of various data, such as texts, videos, images, or files. To effectively store all this data without losing it, messaging apps are almost always synched with the cloud. This allows to avoid clogging of the device’s memory and automatically apply changes to cloud copies of files. And in case a user changes a device or needs to restore their data, cloud backup will save a lot of time and effort in doing so.
Regardless of what type of messaging app you work on, it is essential to make it as secure as possible. Messaging apps constantly process great amounts of sensitive user data and to protect it, you need to implement several security measures during the app development.
Some of the best practices of mobile app security include:
- End-to-end encryption
- Multi-factor authentication
- Regular app updates
- Use of password managers
- Enhanced server-side security
Keep in mind that we’ve mentioned the core basics and that mobile app security is a complex subject with lots of aspects to consider. To ensure that your app is protected, we recommend reviewing your current security policies, implementing security basics (i.e., secure coding) from the start of the development process, and educating users on secure app use via notifications and reminders.
When it comes to messaging apps, it’s natural that users want to be notified when a new message is in their inbox. Push notifications are essential for any chat app, either enterprise or personal, but there are several things to keep in mind when developing this feature.
A user should be able to configure notifications in a convenient way. By that, we mean the way notifications are displayed (as a banner, with the display of a sender’s name, etc.). As well, a user should be able to enable/disable notifications as needed, so they do not interrupt any other activities.
Voice and video calls
Gone are the days when users were satisfied with sole text messages. Today, we want to make video calls, send voice memos, and use messengers not only for messaging but for calling, in general.
Hence, your chat app should support both voice and video messaging, and it should be a free and a standard option, not something that a user will have to pay for. There are now hundreds of messengers that provide multiple communication options for free, so why should your app be any different?
Same as with video and audio, users do not want to share plain text. Today, users expect a messaging app to support files of various formats, be it images, MP3 files, videos, PDFs, and more. Hence, to add value to your app, make sure that it supports various file formats and allows users to freely attach and exchange them.
Dark and light modes
We are all used to light modes of our favorite apps, but the dark mode that was introduced to the UX design quite a while ago, has suddenly become a renewed trend that users now expect in their apps. For instance, over 80% of people use their devices in the dark mode and there are several reasons why a dark mode is often preferred over its light counterpart:
- A healthier option in terms of an eyesight;
- Enables longer battery life;
- More appealing in terms of design.
Thus, we advise working on both light and dark modes if you want to make your app more appealing for users.
Bonus: extra features to add a competitive edge to your app
We’ve discussed the main features that make a great messaging apps – but they can be found in any chat app and will unlikely wow users. So what extra features can you incorporate to make your app stand out?
Some of the ideas include:
- Disappearing messages: also known as self-destructive messages, these messages disappear after a certain period of time and are not stored in chat history. This adds to privacy and allows users to share sensitive information without it being disclosed.
- Conversation channels: such channels are great if a user needs to translate a message to a broad audience. Channels often allow comments and reactions from its members, and channel admins can configure channel settings as needed.
- AI assistants: modern chats use Artificial Intelligence to provide users with smart virtual assistants, capable of such tasks as meeting scheduling or creating meeting notes.
But the main thing to remember when designing a messaging app is usability and value for users. No matter how many pretty background themes you offer – if a user is not able to attach a file or take a photo directly from the app, they will most likely uninstall it and leave for the alternatives. Hence, before starting the development process, outline all possible user journeys and identify the real needs of users, based on your target audience.