The communication process has gone through an extreme transformation over the years. It’s pretty surprising that not long ago, people used to send handwritten letters! Then SMS became the norm. And now, with the emergence of smartphones, chat-based apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Discord, Slack, etc., rule the social and business interactions. Interestingly, over half of Canadian social media users belong to a multi-member group chat.
In this era of hyper-communication, Discord has over 150 million monthly active users worldwide and more than 100M in revenue. It has managed to become the go-to communication platform for various online communities. This article walks you through the factors that make Discord the phenomenon and the strategy you should adopt to create an app like Discord.
What is Discord?
Launched in 2015, Discord is a free text, voice, and video communication service. However, the purpose behind the creation of Discord was to solve entirely a different issue: communicating with friends across the world while playing games online. Later, it branched out to include various communities over the internet, ranging from artists to writers to local hiking clubs to yoga classes.
Now, people aged 13+ love to use the platform to go beyond casual conversation, talking for hours about art projects to family trips, favorite movies to mental health support, and whatnot!
At a basic level, Discord allows members to message each other. Each community is called a “server,” which usually has multiple text and voice channels with different topics or rules. To create an app like Discord, you need to find the answer to this question first: What is it about the app that millions of people consider this platform the best place to talk and hang out!
Why is Discord a popular community chat app?
The main strength of Discord lies in efficiently handling thousands of server communications without glitches. Many of its competitors are heavy, clunky, and outdated, while Discord has low latency and supports huge network groups. Here are the other factors that have played a significant role in making Discord phenomenal.
- Multiple chat options
Discord stands out amongst other chat apps due to its broad range of chat options. It combines the best features of widely used other applications like Slack and Skype with an easy-to-use interface. For instance, the Discord team works dedicatedly to make voice chat more efficient, so it wouldn’t slow down the system while you’re playing games.
- Control over conversations
Users have absolute control over who they interact with on Discord as all conversations are opt-in. Many of the servers are invite-only spaces for people sharing common interests. There also are larger, more open communities, mainly created around specific topics such as popular games like Fortnite or Minecraft.
- Customized “bot-system”
Discord allows users to customize their bots, and they do not have to be coding geniuses to add an automaton to their servers. One can download premade bots and customize them to perform various useful tasks. From welcoming new members to banning trouble makers, from adding music/games to moderating the discussion, Discord bots help users make their server more organized, interactive, and fun.
- Rise of the creator economy
Many YouTubers, live streamers, podcasters, and other online influencers favor Discord to build their internet communities. For example, Patreon — a monetization tool that creators use to give their fans access to their exclusive content — has integrated Discord into their service. So, a user who subscribes to a creator’s Patreon automatically gets invited into the individual creator’s private server and can socialize with other fans.
Strategy to create an app like Discord
Besides keeping all the above factors responsible for the popularity of Discord in mind, you should follow the tactics given below while creating a similar type of app.
- Create a passionate user base
A solid user base means repeat business, referrals, fine-tuned operations, increased revenue, and staying ahead of the competition. Discord’s business model enables users to provide value back into the communities they belong to. Its incentives are completely aligned with the users, which promotes people’s loyalty towards the app. You can also adopt a similar strategy to create a sense of belonging with your users.
- Decide the right technology stack
Selecting the right technology stack is quite essential for creating a revolutionary app. The technologies that Discord uses can be considered best practices.
Backend tech: Like Discord, if your VoIP application is large-scale, you can use technologies like Elixir, Erlang, Golang, C++, and Python, to develop the server part of an app. However, if your app does not require managing high server load, you can use Node.js, which is more simple and affordable.
Client-side: Discord was primarily created for online players, who can be based anywhere and use any platform. So, in addition to having a web version, Discord has an app for Windows desktop, Android, iOS, Linux, and macOS. However, if your primary target audience is diverse, you can focus on standard Android and iOS applications and a web version. The Discord Android app is built on Kotlin and Java, while The iOS app is developed on Swift and Objective-C.
- Provide flexibility in managing channels
Traditional chatting apps generally have one or two roles like chat admin and sometimes chat moderator, who has specified authority for managing the group. Whereas, Discord has about thirty options for permissions that can be combined in different ways.
Also, unlike Google Meet or Zoom, Discord allows users to be in multiple chats simultaneously, focusing on one while blending another into the background. Users indeed cherish the flexible channel management feature of Discord. So, you can consider using it to enhance your app.
- Have a strict policy regarding interactions
A lot of controversy goes around the use of abusive languages, hate speech, political manipulation over the messaging platforms. However, Discord has set a mark with its ‘zero-tolerance policy .’ It bans any user who violates the platform’s terms of service, becomes offensive or disrespectful, uses suspicious IP addresses, or indulges in spamming or trolling.
The users and other tech giants both appreciate Discord’s strict adherence to its policies. It also generates biannual transparency reports to demonstrate its commitment to keeping Discord safe.
- Explore opportunities through collaboration
Establishing meaningful partnerships can help your app reach a broader audience without putting in extra capital or time. For instance, the strategic alliance of Discord with streaming services like Twitch and popular games like Fortnite has enabled it to grow at an extremely rapid speed.
- Find alternative solutions to generate revenue
Online advertisements often put out people. So naturally, many users love Discord for the fact that it is ad-free. The platform doesn’t allow anyone to promote their products, and users revel in not having to sit through dozens of ads. The question is - how Discord makes money when, like most chat apps, it operates on a ‘freemium’ business model.
However, loyal users can subscribe to Discord Nitro, which serves as its main revenue stream. Discord Nitro costs $9.99/month or $99.99/year and comes with upgraded features like bigger file upload size, HD quality video streams, animated emojis, personalized avatars, etc. Another money-saving version is called Nitro Classic, which costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year. Besides, Discord started testing digital stickers for users in Canada in October 2020, many of which cost between $1.50 and $2.25.
For creating an app, you can select any monetization model: freemium, ads, paid downloads, in-app purchases. It is the best option to keep the freemium model and develop an alternative monetization solution, like going ad-free and generating revenue from subscriptions. However, it would be best to conduct detailed market research first, which would also help you decide the budget of your application.
Cost of developing an app like Discord
The cost to create a chat app like Discord depends upon factors like the complexity and number of features, the platform you’re targeting, and the scale of your app mainly. By closely evaluating each of these factors, you can get a rough estimate of the number of people you’ll need. And if you’re running on a tighter schedule, you might require more people to develop an application on time.
No matter how innovative and unique features you plan to incorporate in your application, the success of your app depends upon the skills and expertise of the developers, project managers, UI/UX designers, and quality analysts. And so you need a great team. So share your ideas with us! Our team of developers will consolidate all the required and new range of features and functionality to help you trump the growing demand for over-the-top chat apps.