The constant competition in business and the labor market, financial crises, pandemics and huge flows of (mostly negative) information cause great harm to our mental health. Therefore, it is not surprising that more and more people are suffering from behavioral disorders and mental illness. It's also not surprising that the number of users of various mental health apps is increasing every year - many people simply can't afford traditional psychotherapy, they don't have access to it or are worried about stigma.
In this article, we'll describe how to enter this burgeoning market by creating your own mental health app. The development process will be exemplified by the launch of a meditation app.
Why a Meditation App
Mobile meditation (or mindfulness) apps have become widespread in the last couple of years and there are several reasons for that. First, meditation and mindfulness as a type of meditation - is a simple, but quite rewarding practice without any side effects. Second, meditation allows you to overcome the clutter in your head and concentrate on important thoughts (tasks). Third, meditation in some cases can effectively reduce blood pressure, relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and help with chronic back pain or migraines.
Why people meditate - results of the National Health Interview Survey. Source
Due to these positive effects, many people are increasingly using meditative practices. For example, according to Statista, meditation is the second most popular activity for relieving stress and anxiety among American adults. Meanwhile, many of them use mobile apps that help track meditation time and create a pleasant atmosphere (through sounds, music, voice messages), as well as monitor the practitioner's condition (heart rate, breathing, saturation, encephalogram and more).
In 2022, meditation apps are experiencing a real boom in popularity due to the coronavirus pandemic, the looming financial crisis and increasing instability in the world. That said, researchers predict that interest in these apps will not fade and the market will continue to grow from $80.34 million in 2022 to $180 million in 2032 with a CAGR of 8.4%.
All this suggests a high potential for this market. So if you've been thinking about launching a mental health app, meditation is a great option. The main thing is to make it user-friendly and interesting for users.
The Calm meditation app has been consistently ranked among the 10 most downloaded apps in the world in the health and fitness category for several years running. Source
How to create a meditation app
Now let's guide you through the necessary steps to create your meditation app. Typically, this process can be broken down into 7 steps.
A niche and audience analysis
There are different types of meditation apps, each catering to different groups of people. In the first stage of developing your project, you need to decide exactly which target audience you will be targeting. For example, you can focus on soothing meditations for people with PTSD and make a collection of relaxing music for office workers. In addition to people's psychological needs, you should also consider things like cultural sensitivities, age (many apps are designed for children), financial considerations, and user experience. This will help to shape the marketing strategy.
Here are a few promising niches you can choose from:
- Sleep meditation apps. Such apps offer meditative practices to help people who have trouble sleeping, such as insomnia or recurring nightmares. Some types of pre-sleep meditation and relaxing sounds/music during sleep can help fall asleep and alleviate the problem of recurring nightmares.
- Anxiety calming apps. These apps are useful for people who suffer from various forms of anxiety. They include sets of guided meditation sessions, as well as audio and video files with instructions and relaxing music. These sessions usually last 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the meditation practice and application.
- Breath Concentration Apps. Breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways to calm and focus. This type of app has a counter and a special timer that shows when and how to inhale and exhale correctly so that a calming effect occurs. These techniques can be used to fight anxiety or reduce stress levels. They can also be useful for panic attacks.
- Stress management apps. This type of meditation app helps users to measure stress levels, identify possible causes of stress and offers meditative practices that can help manage stress. Along with instructions for meditation, such apps can include images, sounds, videos, and music.
- Attention-focusing apps. Because of the many apps and services we constantly use in modern life, many people are easily distracted. Focusing apps help people detach themselves from distractions and focus all their attention on one task.
- Yoga apps. It's not a secret that meditation and yoga frequently go hand in hand. If you decide to create a yoga app, you should think about combining exercises with meditation techniques.
Choosing a reliable technical partner
Once you've identified your target audience and niche, it's time to choose a vendor with whom you'll partner to develop your app
. To create a secure app
that meets the expectations of your users, consider the following factors when choosing a technical panther:
- Expertise. A solid portfolio and work on cases similar to your project can demonstrate that the developer understands all the complexities of such solutions and has a practiced algorithm for creating similar products.
- Knowledge of project technologies. Another important factor is the amount of technology with which the vendor has experience. The company should have in-depth knowledge of the technologies you plan to use to launch a mental health application.
- Security qualifications. Security is the other key priority for all applications that deal with medical data (medical secrets). So when choosing a technical partner, look for a company with a deep understanding of the security measures needed to protect sensitive data.
Develop an effective application design
An example of good and bad mental health app design. Source
Effective design is probably the most important factor in the success of your future project, because it is the first thing your users will encounter. If the design of your app is unpleasant and incomprehensible, they will simply close it and never return to it again. And in the case of developing a mental health app, the risks of this scenario are even more likely, as you will be interacting with a very sensitive audience in this case.
Look at the reviews of mental health (meditation and/or mindfulness) apps on the Apple Store or Google Play. You'll see that a huge number of people complain not only about overloaded design and poor navigation, but also about aggressive design - irrelevant design irritates users just as much as aggressive ads and leaks of their personal data.
To avoid these design flaws, follow these rules:
- Color scheme. Try to avoid bright, screaming colors that can trigger negative feelings and aggravate the user's condition. Instead, choose calm, preferably warm tones that will evoke pleasant associations. For example, purple is often used for screens related to meditation; while green is commonly used on screens to relieve stress and anxiety; blue is used to evoke feelings of confidence and trust; and pink usually helps to relax.
- Simple "airy" design. Usually users of mental health apps prefer a minimalistic interface, not overloaded with information and superfluous functions. At the same time, it is also desirable that it be "airy" - so that there is a large distance between pictures, buttons, texts, and other design elements.
- Calm sounds. The sounds inside the app shouldn't be harsh or loud; instead, use soothing music and sounds of nature. If the app has voice-over narration, it should also be calm and slightly muted so as not to annoy users.
- Soft lines. In addition to this, it is also important to avoid straight and sharp lines / corners. They are associated with energy (aggression) and prevent you from relaxing.
Selection of basic and advanced functions
. If you want to retain users and reduce the bounce rate the first time they see the app, you need a simple, yet engaging onboarding process. Onboarding is the first thing users see and do in the app. Consequently, onboarding should be clear and easy to understand and perform. In addition, it must be fast too, so that users can enjoy your app as quickly as possible.
For example, Calm starts the adaptation process with a purple screen that encourages users to take a deep breath. This simple technique immediately sets the atmosphere and shows that the main goal of the app is to help users relax. Next, Calm prompts users to answer a few questions, which are necessary to adapt the content and features of the app to the individual. At the same time, the app allows the user to opt out of the survey in order to start exploring the program and start meditating right away.
After the survey, the platform notifies users that their plan is ready and how much it costs to subscribe. And only after that, Calm prompts users to sign up or sign in with a Google, Apple or Facebook account or with their email and password to use all of the app's features.
Onboarding process in the Calm meditation app
The Headspace app uses a similar but shorter adaptation process. It starts with a question about goals and how the user wants to achieve them - the system offers several options to choose from. Afterwards, users are notified of subscription plans and pricing and encouraged to explore the app.
The onboarding process in Headspace meditation app
Well-designed, beautiful homepage draws people in and motivates them to keep using the app. For example, the Calm home page opens with a greeting followed by a background animation of the river and mountains, then offers a choice of ways to relax, such as daily meditations, mental preparation and sleep stories. By scrolling down, users can see various meditation practices and recommendations.
Calm meditation app homepage
The Headspace home page is organized a little differently. Instead of quickly showing several meditation practices, Headspace shows the meditation plan for the day. The user is also prompted to click on the profile icon and add their favorite meditations in addition to displaying the most recent ones.
Homepage of the Headspace meditation app
#3 Playback Screen
. The screen displays the process of meditation and other relaxation practices. This screen usually has a nice animation (forest, river, waterfall, clouds, space, fire, etc.), a control panel and a large button in the center that starts the timer/meditation process. At the same time, such a screen also needs the ability to customize the design, music, and animation so that users can set it according to their mood. Both Calm and Headspace have this feature.
Playback screens in Calm (top) and Headspace (bottom)
#4 Meditation Sessions.
Obviously, a meditation app should provide a variety of meditation practices, exercises and workouts so that the user has the opportunity to select the best option for them. In Calm, you can select the meditation you want through the home page. There you can also notice various categories (in small rectangles) which you can click to view a listing of themed sessions. In addition, Calm also has a discovery tab to help you find more specific content, such as the audio accompaniment of a particular narrator.
Meditation categories in the Calm app
The Headspace Meditation App provides exercise and meditation options in four tabs: Meditation, Sleep, Movement, and Focus. Each tab has multiple categories with themed meditations and information on every meditation or exercise option.
Headspace meditation categories
#5 Notifications and reminders
. This tool allows you to inform users unobtrusively about the latest news, recently provided features, promotions or gifts. Besides this kind of informational notifications, you can also send game messages to your users to cheer them up and increase their engagement. For example, you can send your users inspirational quotes, jokes, questions, and reminders.
Calm and Headspace notifications example
#6 User Profile
. You need it to personalize content, track meditation history, display achievements and many other things that help to increase users' engagement. Most meditation apps have these features, but Calm allows users to bookmark their favorite content and Headspace has a separate tab where users can add their friends.
User Profile in the Calm app
Application development (coding)
Frontend development. While developing the client side of the mental health application, you should pay increased attention to such aspects as security, performance and integration with user gadgets and third-party applications and services. So, in terms of security of your product, you have to protect sensitive user data as much as possible, which involves implementing the following security tools:
- sophisticated data encryption;
- integration with an authorized API;
- high-level cryptographic methods;
- use of Android Keystore system;
- use of cryptographic standards and algorithms such as ATS;
- avoiding storing cryptographic keys locally or in code;
- end-to-end encryption for text, audio and video chats;
- improving possible authentication methods;
- biometric user authentication.
In terms of frontend performance, you should minimize slow rendering, such as with Profile GPU Rendering or GPU Profier Visual Output and optimize the hierarchy of Ul components, such as with Hierarchy Viewer; as well as distributing the load between Ul and background threads.
In terms of integration, beyond the standard APIs, mental health apps require integration with wearable devices and other health or fitness apps (such as Google Fit, Samsung Health app) that can help track stress, etc.) so that various health indicators can be tracked and analyzed by a therapist and/or any other professional assisting the user.
Backend development. When developing the server side, in addition to security and performance, you must also pay close attention to:
- The most challenging issue in the healthcare industry is interoperability. It refers to the seamless exchange of data between different systems, devices and applications. When creating an application related to medical data, equipment or devices, you must ensure that your application can communicate with them securely and seamlessly through APIs.
- This is the ability of the application to work properly and perform its tasks with an ever-growing number of users and a corresponding workload. When creating your application, you need to plan for this aspect and maintain the horizontal and vertical scalability of your product.
- Another aspect you need to consider when developing a mental health app is to comply with the rules for collecting and storing sensitive data. Your meditation app must comply with HIPAA, GDPR, PIPEDA, and other laws and regulations regarding the collection of sensitive data.
. This is a set of development tools that programmers
will use when writing code for your application.
- Google, AWS, Azure - hosting.
- Cloudflare/Amazon CloudFront - content delivery network.
- js, Java, PHP and Ruby on Rails - programming languages.
- Firebase, Parse, Oracle and Red Hat - mobile backend as a service (MBaaS).
- com, Google Fonts, Redbooth, Invision - product and design.
- MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL and MongoDB - databases.
- Google Analytics, adjust, CrazyEgg, Cloudera and Mix Panel - analysis, reporting, statistics.
- Braintree, Stripe, PayPal - payment gateways.
- net, PayPal, Deem, SAP ERP - finance and accounting.
- Amazon S3 - data backup.
- Google Maps and Google Places APIs - geotargeting.
- Twilio, Push.io, Firebase, RabbitMQ - push notifications.
- Adometry, Effective Measure, Convertro, eMarketer, Criteo - marketing.
- Nexmo, Twilio - SMS, voice and phone verification.
- BuiltWith, SurveyMonkey, Companybook, Google Forms - sales and support.
- AWS Simple Queue System - Nginx messaging queues.
- Glassdoor Jobs, HireVue, Connectifier, Humanity - HR.
- Logstash, ELK Stack - log management.
- Docker and Ansible - deployment.
- Nginx - load balancer.
- Spring Security - security.
- MailChimp Integration - email.
- Git - code repository.
Testing the developed product
Testing the developed product
is necessary to minimize the number of bugs in the code, improve the performance and usability of the application. QA-engineers and focus groups are responsible for checking all this.
Deployment and Support
Once your application has been thoroughly tested, it is ready for users. To do this, you need to move it to a production environment and publish it to the Google Play and Apps Store app marketplaces. In addition to this, you also need to set up a support team.
The cost of creating a meditation app
How Can We Help
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, blockchain, game mode and healthcare since 2015, which has given us a solid portfolio of cases and understanding of business needs when implementing application solutions. Contact our managers
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