Step Guide: How to develop a chat app?

5 min read

The troublesome question on how to develop a chat app is a complex process consisting of various steps. Before we get to the overview of the main chat app features, let’s address a core question that troubles many before the main app development kicks in.

How does a regular app function? If you look at WhatsApp, this application allows you to share text, video, or audio messages inside the group chat application between two users or multiple users. To ensure the safety and security of the transferred data, it uses a highly secured protocol. And to provide simplicity, it has a very user-friendly interface that can attract more users.

So these were the essential points for understanding the base functionality of a chat app. But the question remains: How do you develop a mobile chat app? What are the challenges? How difficult is it? And how much does it cost? All of that and even more you can find in this new JetRuby article!

What are the Benefits of Creating Instant Messaging Apps for Businesses?

How to develop a chat app? - Essential Features
How to develop a chat app? – Essential Features

Various things can significantly benefit not only your business model but your business infrastructure. You may never think it when asked “Hw to develop a chat app”, but there are certain things that can be distinguished apart from your profits and customers. Here are some of the examples:

Saves Time and Money

A bold and apparent reason for you to develop a chat app is to eliminate the nuisance of calls to your friends in another time zone. Plus, it saves time for startups to make a living conversation and dedicate their time to focus on other things. While all of it seems proper to the primary customer needs, there also has to be some solid and unique feature that will distinguish your creation apart from the others.

Task Organization

The process of chat app development makes your task management much more straightforward. While keeping track of work progress even when you are staying in remote access. Furthermore, you can use your chat app for assigning tasks and exercises for your development team members to get your app done within the deadline.

Establishes Smooth Communication with Customers

Another clear and definite way to develop a chat app is to provide a concrete platform for your users to communicate and share with them. You can analyze what they what do they like and dislike about your product. So, by collecting a sufficient amount of feedback, you can actively improve and enhance an app to gain more brand trust.

How to Create a Chat App in 10 Steps

Want to know how to develop a chat app? We prepared a small and concise list of all things an entrepreneur has to do to build a chat app digital product.

  1. Clarify your unique selling proposition
  2. Set your business goals
  3. Choose an experienced outsource company that is proficient in developing a chat app.
  4. Make a priority list of all key features
  5. Produce your first UX/UI design prototype
  6. Be confident in your product development process
  7. Test marketing strategies and identify the beneficial one
  8. Test & deploy your chat app to the digital stores
  9. Connect with users, collect feedback, and plan further steps

It is a very raw and general insight on how to develop a chat app. This process can be much longer and exhausting, while the preparation process may take a while too. If you don’t know now how exactly the product development process should be flowing and what goals you should be aiming for, then JetRuby has developed a Product Development Strategy Session for you. It is a preliminary free business analysis of your project. Our experts will produce an action plan with high-level features while adding core adjustments to your business and technological development. If you are interested, leave your project details, and we’ll contact your unique business idea within 24 hours.

How to develop a chat app with top basic features

How to develop a chat app? - Basic Features
How to develop a chat app? – Basic Features

Since the process of developing a chat app may be an exhausting and very long one, you need to understand how it should proceed. But at first, before going into the core product development, you need to produce an MVP version. Since you have to test your idea live, see how your target audience will react to it and any traction.

To build a chat app correctly and have no issues in the initial phase, we recommend developing only the core and basic features. These are the ones that your user should have before they get to see the final product.

Signing in

A regular type of authenticating your users to the chat app is by signing in. And there can be three ways to do that: with their phone number, with their email, or any social media account. But in most cases, all of the popular chat apps (like Telegram or WhatsApp) are using only phone numbers for convenient reasons.

Personal profile setting and customization

For a typical user to have a sense of control and personalization over his chat app, you need to have their account embedded into your product. Also, it is essential to include notification, blacklisting, and favorite contacts settings in your first version.

Messages and group chats

A fundamental function that is a core and main feature in developing a chat app is sending messages from one user to another. And to have a bunch of group chats, where several users can share various types of information, like texts, audio, photos, and videos.

Files exchanges

As mentioned above, any contact between two users is conducted by sharing information, including file sharing. That may be pictures, documents, favorite funny videos, screenshots, etc. Allow your users to engage with each other within several chat rooms by adding this feature.

Contacts import

Another good feature to include is importing all contacts they either have on their SIM card or their phone database. Because you want your user to have the ability to communicate back to their friends who also have the same app on their phones. Automated social network connections and phone book data export also save users’ time. Plus, it’s a good idea to invite new users to your app by sending social or SMS invites.

Secret chats and data encryption

An excellent way to keep users’ information or data intact will be to create secret chats with security based on dynamic data encryption technology. While keeping shared data apart from any possible cyber threats while you are still developing a chat app.

Push notification

In most cases, while creating your chat app, you want to make sure that your users constantly use your app at the maximum level. That way, you can analyze and research their potential problems. And one of the ways to do that is to implement push notifications. It’s one of the significant features of a chat app.

Challenges of Building a Chat App

As the market of chat app digital products has been on the high edge over the past five years, it’s no wonder that there are a lot of competitors you should be fighting with. So it is essential to produce high-quality chat apps with unique features that can capture potential customers. To assist you with developing a chat app that could surpass others, we collected three main points you need to be careful with:


One of the most sensitive topics in digital products that are being constantly highlighted is cybersecurity. It is one of the very first things you should include while developing a chat app. You need to be confident that your customers’ information won’t be stolen, no matter what kind of data has been shared. Furthermore, things like Identity theft, email phishing, unsecured personal profiles, or absence of authentication methods should be taken into account with a red, bold flag in mind.


With WeChat and Facebook Messenger’s appearance, many other 3d-party services have been attached to them. For example, with the two previously named apps, you can quickly pay for your gaming platforms or purchase some marketing tools with ease. And that’s just one example of how such integration works. Thus, to overcome competitors, while you are still developing a chat app, you should combine the concepts of a typical social network, an interactive mobile game, and a direct communication channel with a payment terminal.

Frequent updates

You need to maintain your digital product competitive advantage among your competitors. Since the digital market is always dynamic and may change the next day, to make a chat app with a high retention rate and excellent onboarding user experience, your app should always satisfy your users and constantly engage them with regular updates. Otherwise, your MVP could be missed by users in a month after being on top for one week.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Messaging App Like WhatsApp?

How to develop a chat app? - Costs
How to develop a chat app? – Costs

We have already touched on the topic of mobile app development costs to check more relevant information there. While here we would like to stress that the price for an MVP highly depends on any additional requirements you will provide. However, if we’re talking about implementing only the listed features below, it should vary from $20,000 to $35,000. While the list of features includes:

  • Sign in and personal profile – 50 hours
  • Messages and group chats – 80 hours
  • Video and audio calls – 180 hours
  • Files exchanges – 40 hours
  • Location tracking – 30 hours
  • Push notification – 20 hours
  • Advertisement – 15 – 30 hours

On average, the UX and UI design works are taking around 90 to 150 hours, while the back-end development processes are mostly taking 600 hours in total for only one platform.

Another thing to note on the development works is that you can’t predict the total number of hours to take for your app to be finished. While it is true that the numbers for each respective feature listed above will stay at around the same range, but the total number will again depend on the complexity of your requirements.


All in all, developing a chat app is not an easy task and will require a significant amount of assistance from both the business and technical side of your business. You need to know how it should operate from the technical perspective and also from the business side. To make sure you have both sides covered, you may need to consult or cooperate with an IT outsourcing company with a lot of experience developing similar applications.

JetRuby has extensive experience in developing and producing various chat apps or chat integration into different business industries. And before any development works start and actively proceed to the core app development, lots of startups are going through the preliminary stage of our technological flow. This stage is called the Product Development Strategy Session. This is an essential step towards a confident launch of your early digital product. Together with our business team, we will analyze your project requirements and align your current development flow. All of that with no penny charged. Leave your project description, and we’ll contact you within 24 hours.

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