How to Make a Meditation App Like Headspace or Calm?
Some say, that our smartphones make us unproductive and distracted. But what if I say that it depends on how you use them? Sometimes it may have the opposite effect!
Look at any meditation app. Nowadays some of them — for example, Headspace or Calm — hit over 10.000.000 downloads. They are the bright example of how your smartphone can help you stay concentrated, rested and productive throughout the day.
The modern trends are also telling us that the popularity of meditation apps will only grow.
It became especially clear during 2019-2020 coronavirus lockdowns all over the world. Millions of people had to stay at home, looking for new ways to fill suddenly free hours and days. During this time mobile apps turned out to be a perfect solution in many industries — from food and grocery delivery to meditation, home fitness, online coaching and others.
One of the biggest mobile app advantages is that they can be used by anyone, from anywhere. Where most of the traditional offline businesses faced new challenges, mobile-centric companies found a new opportunity to grow and scale.
Just look at the Google Trends data for the meditation apps request. Do you notice that huge jump from the begging of March 2020, when many countries set nationwide lockdowns? That’s it!
Why do people like them so much? I guess the example of Headspace can give us the answer.
📰 Success Story Behind the Headspace Meditation App
Headspace was launched in 2010, and its origin story is quite interesting. The app was created by a few friends and one of them was… a Buddhist monk! Well, not as you may have imagined that, right?
Andy Puddicombe was born in Bristol but at the age of 22 left the country for a 10 years long Tibetan monastic training across Asia. After coming back to Britain, together with his friends he started holding live meditation events. The crew eventually came to the idea of meditation app development.
It wasn’t the most obvious decision for the guy who spent a decade device-free and was pretty skeptical about modern technologies. However, the app was their ticket to reaching millions. Moreover, that was something fresh and unique back then.
They didn’t have that much in the very beginning — around $50,000 from their friends and family. It’s the typical amount which people like you, me and our friends can risk and spend on making our idea a reality, right? In return - we can either fail or achieve exciting things like Headspace founders did. So, let’s get back to the story about Headspace.
The first version of the Headspace app was quite different from what we can download now. Actually, it was a set of 365 meditation sessions — all are recorded and voiced by Andy Puddicombe.
Lesson # 1: it’s possible to create a successful app without enormous spendings.
The company scaled gradually. Since 2014 (4 years after the launch) they started to add tailored “packs” on specific topics like stress, sleep, sports, relationships, focus and others.
Also, they’ve optimized sessions for different levels of complexity: starting from a suite for kids to tracks for experienced meditators.
Lesson # 2: start with an MVP (implement only essential features first) and then scale gradually.
Eventually, they’ve managed to develop a meditation app with a wide user base that included both males and females across ages from 18 to 70 in over 200 countries. Impressive, isn’t it?
Today the Headspace app has over 11 million downloads and 400,000 paying subscribers. This allows generating an annual revenue of $50 million dollars. It proves that mindfulness app development can be a great choice from the business perspective as well.
But what are the secret components that helped the app (and other apps like Headspace) succeed? Here they are!
⚙️ Top Features of the Meditation Apps like Headspace
Onboarding Block: introduce meditation to users 🎎
Meditation becomes more popular with every coming year. Yet, for many people it’s still something likely unknown and even a bit exotic. If you don’t want to leave your users frustrated, you should create a comprehensible onboarding screen.
An Onboarding Tutorial is a short walkthrough that appears when users open your app for the first time.
Here are a few tips to follow:
- Don’t try to tell about all features at once. An Onboarding should highlight only the most important ones and help users to discover his main possibilities. Additional features may be explained later, as the user reaches them.
- Headspace uses a one-minute long animated video to introduce the app to the users. This may be a good solution for you, too!
Specific Design: calm and smooth 🎨
Meditation practices are all about making you calm and concentrated. So the design of your app should contribute to this goal as well.
First of all, don’t use too bright colors or their combinations. Probably, the best choices are:
These are the colors that mainly used in Headspace and Calm apps, so if you want to create a meditation app like Calm, stick to this palette.
Secondly, make sure your design doesn’t look too cluttered. Actually, this is the golden rule for any kind of mobile application, not only for apps like Headspace.
If you review the most popular meditation apps you will see that they usually have a minimalistic design. Just the list of available sessions and no excessive navigation elements. That helps to make the application content-centered and not distracting.
Thirdly, take care of animations. They should be smooth and quite plain. Your aim here is not to impress users with some complicated design features but to create a specific mood, a sense of relaxation that will help to catch the right wave and get the best after-effect from your meditation sessions.
LUNSegmentedControl developed by our Stormotion team is a great example of such a smooth animation. It can be used in apps like Calm to move between different tabs of screens.
Profiles: all about personalization 👤
Personalization is an essential part of any mobile application but if you want to create a meditation app like Headspace it’s particularly important for your project. Here are 2 main reasons why you should care:
- Everyone has its own motivation to meditate.
There are a plenty reasons why people start to meditate. Some may consider this as a 10-minute break in the mid of a working day to rest and clear their mind. For others, meditation may be a key to a sound sleep or fighting off stress, fear and depression.
Profiles allow providing users with a tailored experience according to their preferences. By using machine learning algorithms your meditation app can analyze what session a user has already listened to and offer him similar sets to improve his experience. Sounds complicated, right? In reality — it isn’t. Check out the link to find out more.
- Gamification makes users more involved.
Yet, profiles can bring you more benefit from the business perspective as well.
For example, the Headspace app has its own achievement system — users can get badges for completing sessions 1, 3, 10, 15, 30, 90, 180 and 365 days in a row. The desire to keep up with the score makes users visit the Headspace app on a daily basis, increases retention and KPIs and, eventually, get more involved to buy a paid subscription.
Many people find themselves looking forward to progressing in the application and reaching new milestones, so feel free to use it to your advantage during your meditation app development!
Meditation Session Sets: the heart of your app 🎧
The feature we are going to talk about now is definitely the most important one if you want to develop a mindfulness app. So what should you know about it?
Meditation sessions are made in a form of podcasts. These are the conversations on the selected topic together with a calm background music or nature sounds. Their duration isn’t limited but the generally accepted format is a record of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes long. However, longer options (45 or 60 minutes) are also possible.
As I’ve already said, everyone has personal reasons to meditate. One of the pillars of Headspace’s success, as we learned it earlier, is that they’ve managed to offer valuable content to people of different sex, age and needs. Take it into account when you make own meditation app.
At the MVP stage, it’s possible to create a single pack (or a few ones) to introduce users to the meditation and cover a few basic topics like stress, concentration and sleep.
Yet, as you will grow the user base and scale, adding new session sets or improving the previous ones will become one of the most important tasks for you.
Play Screen: let your users relax ▶️
This screen is one of the most important in mindfulness apps. It also has a pretty plain and minimalistic design. The central part is usually occupied by a “play” button with smooth animation, to create a specific mood for a session.
Also, don’t forget to place a nice background image. The best options to go are some beautiful landscapes in soft green and blue colors or gradients in warm colors.
Finally, you may also add some background music. Yet, it’s not obligatory. For example, the Headspace meditation app has only Andy Puddicombe’s voice talking to you while the Calm app enhances sessions with nature sounds.
Also, we want to share with you a few ideas regarding additional functionality that you can implement:
- Download and cache sessions in order to listen to them later, when the internet connection is missing.
- Listen to podcasts in the background, after leaving the app.
Discover Screen: let users explore the app on their own 🕵️♀️
To keep users engaged with your app you need them to check it at least once a day. And nothing can motivate them to do it as much as the discover option.
Basically, this is a separate screen where users can explore new meditation packs, single sessions and other valuable content.
Providing a few free trial sessions (considering that packs usually have 10-30 sessions) can have a positive after-effect for your business. Users will be more likely to buy a pack or a subscription after they get a chance to experience locked sessions on their own.
Push Notifications: keep the audience engaged 🔔
Finally, don’t forget to integrate push notifications when you create a meditation app like Headspace. It’s a powerful retargeting tool that will help you to keep the users near your app.
Here are a few ideas on how can you use push notifications in apps like Headspace:
- Simply remind users to visit your app and have another meditation session according to their schedule (users usually listen to 1 podcast a day).
- Notify when new packs are available or the old ones are extended.
- Announce discounts, giveaways and other news that may encourage people to buy paid packs or subscribe.
- Don’t forget about the gamification element! Remind users to keep their score high and use the app every day.
So, these were the top features that you will need to develop a meditation app like Calm. Earlier we’ve also mentioned that the development doesn’t require as many financial resources as you might think. So what is the cost to build a meditation app? Read on, we’re going to find it out right now!
💰 How Much Does it Cost to Build a Meditation App?
As usual, our team prepared a rough estimation of the main features. Don’t forget that the estimation for your project will be different depending on your individual list of features and other factors.
Yet, the estimation of the Headspace app by the Stormotion team will help to form a general idea of the possible cost to build a meditation app:
Note: we took an average rate of $40/hour but it depends on many different factors so don't think of it as the final price.
This block of our article was about spending money. But what about earning them? Read on, cause we have something to share with you on this topic too.
💵 How to Make Money with a Meditation App?
If you were reading previous paragraphs carefully, you would notice that we’ve already shared a few ideas on how to make money with this kind of apps. Nevertheless, we decided to make up a table where we listed all the possible options. Enjoy!
- Pay Per Download
Paid downloads are quite outdated and, frankly speaking, not an effective way to make revenue with the app. Modern users don’t want to buy a pig in dwell and prefer to explore the app before paying for it. Yet, there are still some apps that use this monetization model.
Example: Buddhify - $4.99 for iOS and $2.99 for Android.
The most common monetization model for the apps of this type. The idea behind it is simple as that: users get unlimited access to all the features as long as they pay for them on a monthly or yearly basis. Subscriptions are used by the main industry leaders so their efficiency and profitability don’t need additional confirmation.
|$12.99/month $94.99/year $399.99/lifetime||$12.99/month $59.99/year $299.99/lifetime||$2.99/month||$9.99/month $59.99/year $149.99/lifetime|
- In-App Purchases
Another option for you is to implement in-app purchases. That will allow users to buy specific session packs without unlocking other content.
Example: the Insight Timer app offers (along with the monthly subscription) to buy separate collections at a price of $2-$3.
Finally, you can generate revenue from the ads and leave your app completely free. Yet, since you are going to make own meditation app and advertisements often annoy people… this may be not the best idea.
🛠️ Tech Tips
We would also like to share a few tech tools that will help you create a great mindfulness application. Check them out:
- For sending push notifications, Firebase SDK can be applied.
- Braintree and Stripe SDKs are good tools to integrate in-app payments for purchasing a subscription or separate meditation blocks.
- LUNSegmentedControl may be used as a nice UI element of your application.
- Facebook Mobile SDKs can be used for many different purposes: a fast sign up process, analytics, monetization, providing customer support through Messenger etc.
Meditation app development seems like a good idea for a startup. It’s not very expensive or complicated from the development perspective, yet, it can be quite profitable. The cost to build a meditation app starts from $14,760.
Top elements of the app that require the most attention are:
- Clear and comprehensive Onboarding Block to introduce the main idea and features of the app.
- Specific UI based on calm colors and smooth animations.
- User Profiles that allow to tailor the experience and engage the audience with gamification elements.
- Various sets of meditation sessions to cover as big target audience as possible.
- Plain Play Screen with a minimalistic UI.
- Discover Screen where users can explore your app on their own.
- Push Notifications to keep people engaged.
Contact us! We are ready to help you with your meditation app development and provide an estimation of your project within 24 hours. Let’s change the world together!