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How to Overcome The Top 5 Challenges of Building a Chat App (checklist included)

by | April 10, 2019

Ready to build a chat app but don’t know what lies ahead?

Before you embark on this adventure, make sure you go through and check off the top 5 hurdles you’ll be facing throughout the process:

  • Picking Core Real-Time Features.
  • Choosing the Right Tool Stack for Your Messaging Service.
  • Making Your Chat App Stand Out.
  • Providing Top Security on Cloud Communication Services.
  • Getting Actual Users and Having Them Stay.

Overcoming the Mysterious World of Real-Time Features

Sticking to the minimum viable product for your chat app, won’t yield the results you need. The core set of real-time features you enable have to work – and work really well! Anticipate the high expectations your users will have and give priority to:

  • Instant messaging. Users should be able to send one-to-one and group messages instantly, easily and in real time.
  • Host custom fonts, stickers, and royalty-free emojis. This adds a bit of spark on conversations and keeps them lively.
  • Allow users to mute chats. Group chats are especially active and some of the buzz may be a bit much, so allow users to be able to mute them altogether.
  • Enable statuses such as “read, sent, and seen” for the messages. Everyone wants to see whether their message was received or not.
  • Enable video and voice calls. Your users will expect to be able to make individual and group calls as well as video chats.
  • Allow file transfers in several different formats like voice notes, videos, images and documents.

Overcoming the Paralysis-by-Analysis of Tech Requirements

The server architecture becomes a major part of your chat app. From the single point of entry (load balancer) through the application logic, all the way to its database and back.

  • Make sure your database is able to scale properly. As far as databases go, you’ll need it to scale horizontally. There are some solutions in today’s market (like Amazon’s DynamoDB) that make this easier to a certain extent.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel with the architecture. We suggest using services that already offer the basics of this architecture. Twilio, for example,  is a programmable cloud communications platform that works as building blocks to add messaging, voice, and video in web and mobile applications. When using this type of service, you won’t have to spend all your resources designing extremely complex server clusters and architectures, but rather, you can just put the pieces together and choose the features you want.
  • Use a front-end framework like React or Angular. These are probably the two most popular JavaScript-based web app frameworks. We suggest using them because they make creating a modern web client easier.

chat app

Overcoming The “Normal” App Syndrome

Users are always looking for an infinite source of everything in a single place. Think about having one of these special features built as a core functionality of your application:

  • Send push notifications to keep users active within the app and inform them when new messages have arrived.
  • Provide the ability to sync reminders and events to their calendars.
  • Enable message broadcasting so that users can send a single text to different contacts regardless of them being in a group or not.

Overcoming Security Concerns

Security is not taken lightly when it comes to the cloud communication services out there. Most (successful) messaging apps have applied one of the following tactics:

  • Make it so that the private key is stored on the device itself and therefore inaccessible without the device.
  • Allow the ability to time a message so that it disappears from both the sender’s and the receiver’s devices a certain amount of time after it’s read.
  • Build an always-on, strong, truly end-to-end encryption where no one can decipher the content of the messages.

Here’s snapshot of end-to-end encryption when using a cloud communications platform like  Twilio:


Overcoming the Product Adoption Hurdle

When it comes to product adoption, think “how, when and what will my audience actually use?” That’s the basis of everything. Now, to break that down into actionable pieces of information:

  • Create a good onboarding experience for your chat app. By simply pointing out where everything is within the app, creating tooltips and/or messages for users, you can increase the amount of features they are using and, therefore, make sure they stick around.
  • Personalize their experience. Was your app built for different segments? Create different screens and tooltips making their experience unique. Aligning the experience with each of the user’s needs will increase the chances of them continuing to use the app.
  • Help them spread the word. By creating easy ways to share the application and providing incentives, you can encourage early adopters to spread the word.
  • Keep them updated. Whenever you launch a new release, change a functionality or implement a new feature, let the users know. Whether it is through a blog post, a newsletter or an in-app notification, they’ll appreciate you keeping them in the loop.

Check Yourself.

To recap on all the ways to make your messaging app a success, we’ve created this checklist to help you go step by step on every point.

As you can see, there aren’t any challenges that can’t be overcome with the right tools and strategy. If you’re on the verge of embarking on building your very own chat app, talk to us – we can help you surpass all the challenges above and then some. Talk to one of our experts about building your very own communication solution.

Talk to An Expert.

If you would like to start a project, feel free to contact us today.
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