Creating Messaging App or How to Create a Chat App Like WhatsApp

messaging app development

Messaging apps play an important role in everyday life, therefore the most popular players in this niche have a huge number of users and enormous revenue since there are numerous monetization strategies to try. If you think about how to create a chat app like WhatsApp, but have no idea how to make a messaging app – you’ve landed in the right place.

WhatsApp is considered to be the most popular messaging application, thus it is a good example to follow in messaging app development. In terms of popularity, Messenger, WeChat, Viber, and Line stand right after it. It seems there are enough messaging applications and nothing new and better can be created. However, the recent popularity of the Telegram shows the opposite. Despite the variety of already existing messaging apps, new messaging platforms continue to attract users. That means – there is a space for your idea too. Our changing world demands new solutions and people are ready to switch to a new messaging platform if it meets their demands. The audience is ready for a new app like WhatsApp.

We have figured out that there is a demand for new messaging applications so now let’s talk about your motivation to make a messaging app! Most messaging applications are free but let’s have a look at how you can make money.

Instant messaging apps

2019 Instant messaging trends & statistics

Chatting app development is still a hot trend in 2019, due to the immense popularity of world-class messengers like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. To stay abreast of what’s impacting instant messaging today, we’ve prepared a quick overview of 2019 trends:

  • According to Gartner,  in 2019, instant messaging is going to become even more prominent in the B2B sector. Gradually replacing social media, platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp should become the go-tos in terms of communication between a customer and a business.
  • More instant messaging apps dedicated to business communication will be embracing chatbots.
  • Asia continues being the leading market in the world of instant messaging.

Successful messaging apps

Since 2016 WhatsApp has been the leading instant messaging app worldwide. However, there are some geographic differences. For instance, Facebook Messenger dominates the U.S. market while WeChat is an absolute leader in China.

Depending on personal preferences and purpose of use, each of the mentioned apps has some competitive advantages. WhatsApp is known for its security, which gives it a high level of trust on the side of users. Facebook Messenger is a good choice if you need in-built analytics to measure the effects of chatting. WeChat has tons of integrations – from social media to payment systems.

instant messaging app development

What makes WhatsApp unique?

To create an app like WhatsApp, you should first understand the value behind it. Released 10 years ago, WhatsApp is a freeware messaging service, currently owned by Facebook. Suitable both for personal and business use, the app is hugely popular across the world, with 1,5 billion active users.

Here are the key benefits of WhatsApp:

  • Instant integration with phone contacts.
  • The absence of distracting ads.
  • Unique end-to-end encryption makes WhatsApp a highly secure messaging service.
  • Simplified sharing of media files, location, and more.

Looking at the continuing growth of WhatsApp, instant messaging app development can be a good way to step inside a very profitable industry.

How WhatsApp-like apps make money


If your app is popular enough, marketers will be interested in placing their advertisement and promoting their goods using your instant messaging app. Applications display promotional banners or in-line ads and take money for that service. Simple and beneficial way to use your app as a money-making tool.

Application purchases

Create attractive and up-to-date custom stickers and put a price on them. Follow a modern trend or create your vision of expressing emotions. If your app’s themes and emoticons are good enough people will buy them. Sounds easy but here you have to be careful and not to scare your client’s by super high prices for unworthy pictures. Make sure they are awesome enough to be given money for.


Sometimes users pay a fee for using WhatsApp-like apps for a set period of time. Among the most popular messaging apps, only WhatsApp used to take charge for subscription and then they switched to the free model. This is your business and it is up to you to decide whether you will take money for the subscription or keep it free of charge.

Video calls

Chatting for free is a simple and fast way to keep in touch but sometimes people want more. Providing a visual contact cost money in some applications. The experience of top messaging applications says that people are ready to pay for that.

Of course, not all of the applications bring money through all the ways listed above. Usually, something has to be for free and application developer chooses one or two best ways of earning money by promoting the startup idea. For example, Viber doesn’t make money on strikers while video calls are monetized. WhatsApp has no advertisement but stickers cost money. Balance and common sense will help you to choose the way you will make money on your messaging application.

Now, when you are more or less convinced that it is possible to make good money on the messaging application, let’s have a look how to create an app like WhatsApp.

What should be included in your messaging application


1. Ability to support different data formats

Limitations will not be a benefit if it is a messaging app. A good idea is to create a chat app which is able to send images, videos, audio files, PDFs, DOCs and other files.

2. Cloud services synchronization

Make sure your potential users will spend less time on sending documents through your application. Dropbox, Google Drive services are convenient in usage, take a chance to use them. Make your users able to share their documents directly from such services.

3. Video and audio calls

Chatting is a nice way to communicate but sometimes people need to hear each other. Here is your turn to satisfy their demands. Audio messages which are provided by WhatsApp are rather popular. Think about including video calls to your application as well.

4. Shared chats

Tet-a-tet communication is not the only way to deliver information. Group chats are a must-have item in every messaging app. More variants to communicate – more users.

5. Entertainment

Thematic bots and super fancy stickers – whatever that will make people smile should be in your app. Sound filters may be a good toy for your customers. People are not that serious as they may look like. Satisfy their inner child and your application will gain popularity faster.

When your app meets users’ demands, give the all necessary services – there is another crucial step for you to make. You have to prove that your application worth attention.

Messaging app features

Every instant messaging app has a basic set of features that make it a go – both for public and business use. These include a chat room – a space for communicating with many people in the same conversation; instant file sharing; video conferencing, and some more.

Based on what you’re expecting to reach, there could be some extra features to refine the experience of chat app usage:

  • API integrations. Business API from WhatsApp is a good example. The feature integrates lots of small messaging tools and capabilities for profile management to improve corporate chatting.
  • AR filters and effects. If you’re using Facebook Messenger, you must have noticed lots of AR effects were added over the last two years. Not only does it make private chatting more fun, you can also integrate AR functionality into business messaging to showcase your products in a virtual space.
  • Private replies. Again, the huge perk of WhatsApp. This features allows to quickly reply only to one person in a group chat, which helps you avoid lots of confusion. This functionality also works in Slack pretty well.

Benefits of developing a chat app for public use

With chatting trends so deeply rooted, there’s always a need for solid online communication channels. The perks of creating your messaging app for public use include simplicity in development and reduced cost compared to those for business, a huge audience ready to jump into a user base, tons of lucrative feature like ad-free messaging, group chatting, and much more.

Benefits of building messaging apps for business use

There’s also a growing demand for messaging apps that can be used for business purposes – this is fueled by the need to connect teams and clients in one chatting space.

If you’re wondering how to make a messaging app for business, so that it brings you steady profits, start from security. Businesses opt for private messaging platforms, because they want to protect internal communications, as well as provide their clients with a reliable means for reach out to them.

How to make your messaging application popular

The answer is obvious – invite more users, make them stay and kindly force them to invite friends. There are two ways to do that. The first one is to determine your target audience and describe how these particular people will benefit from using your app. For example, Slack positioned itself as an application which helps people to communicate in groups. Define your target audience and propose something special for them.

Pay enough attention to app marketing strategy: starting from pre-launch app marketing to App Store Optimization and then further engaging and attracting users.

How to create your own WhatsApp-like application

If you think you’re too ambitious believing you can build chat app like WhatsApp, you might be mistaken. With the right resources and a solid understanding of chat app development principles, you can nail it – even without a huge budget. Here are the essential steps that will help you reach the goal:

Choose your customer

Decide what audience you’d like to focus on in the first place. WhatsApp was essentially dedicated to private use – later on the business model was embraced as well. Because the type of users will impact the features you’ll have to integrate into the app, it’s critical to know your customer before the development work starts.

Create a monetization strategy

Idea is king, but in the end of the day, you’ll need to generate revenue, so that your product survives in a competitive market. Once you know who you’re creating for, decide on the ways you’ll be earning on your creations.

There are different ways you can make money with instant messaging apps.The most common one is by using in-app ads – yes, exactly what most users hate. This is not how WhatsApp makes money, but there are many platforms that successfully utilize advertising. For Snapchat, for instance, ads are the main source of revenue. If the strategy fits your business model, you can also try it. And if you’re concerned about users being annoyed, provide the option to disable ads.

As an alternative, you can try subscription model where users should pay to be able to access the app. By integrating paid features, you can monetize in-app purchases. If you partner with external services, your monetization strategy could be built on sponsorships – paying for specific actions inside the app. Pick what suits your idea and start making money like WhatsApp.

Hire development team

Step number three: Find people who know how to create a messaging app or can learn how to do this. App development can be cumbersome, since you need to create a reliable platform with the possibility to add features in future. Therefore, if your budget allows, ensure the team includes the experts who have the good knowledge of mobile app development.

It depends on the size of the project how many people you’ll need to hire. Here are the specialists that are a must-have:

  • Software engineers (4-10 people).
  • Project manager.
  • Sales manager.
  • Marketing manager.
  • QA engineers (1-3).
  • UX/UI designers (2-4).

Develop MVP

Once you’ve developed the core platform (server, OS, database, programming language), think of the MVP features your product should have. As we’ve mentioned before, this will depend on the use of an app – public or business, as well as the monetization strategy you’ve chosen. The examples could be notifications and location sharing – for public and API integrations – for business. It’s a good practice to include the cost of development for each of these features, so that you could understand how much it costs to develop an app like WhatsApp.

Test your product

There’s a misconception that your product testing is successful if all the features work well. Since you want users to interact with your app on a daily basis, it’s important to also test such aspects as usability and design.

Final stage of development

Take another round of development to fix all the imperfections. Once the product meets all the requirements, get ready to launch.

How much does it cost to create an app like WhatsApp

Price depends on several factors. Approximate cost starts from $20-30K. Next features are included in the price.

  • Address information and registration. Signing in, adding contacts to the address book, adding Facebook profiles (if needed) – all this takes time and money.
  • Messages. It is evident that your app will deliver messages. Also, it will save the chat history and have many different entertainment options like stickers and voice calls. This will dictate the price as well.
  • Notifications. This is a small but essential detail thanks to which your users will be informed about new messages.
  • File sharing. Adapting your application to cooperate with different cloud services will take extra time. Don’t neglect this step. It is better to spend additional 7-8 hours and attract more users with a huge variety of options to send different files.

Make your application attractive enough

You already know that there is a huge number of applications that want to attract new users. The first impression is crucial. The last stage of making your app like WhatsApp messenger competitive is to develop a pretty design. Make sure that the icon of the messaging app is able to attract new users. It has to be something that says without words “this is the app that will change your life and make it better”. You have to consult professionals and create a perfect design according to your target audience. Now you know how to make app like WhatsApp and why it may be a good idea.

Time estimate

It’s not enough to know how to create a messaging app like WhatsApp, you should be well aware of the timeline as well. This will help you accurately plan the work and your budget.

If you’re expecting to see the precise number of days you should spend on development, we have to disappoint you. Not only features, but also the number of people working on the product, impact the timeline heavily. However, it’s good to have the average time estimate of development processes – for apps like WhatsApp, it takes 550-650 hours.


The Recent popularity of the Telegram shows that messaging app market is ready for your development. You may earn money while helping people to communicate. It is not that easy as may seem but if to spend enough time and money you may be the next leader on the messaging application market. It is time for you to create a messaging app like WhatsApp (or better)!

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