Guided Meditation App Development – 5 Essential Steps

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In today’s digital age, most aspects of life have moved online. Everything is tied to smartphones, including meditation and mindfulness. Whether you seek mental clarity or inner peace, you can find a subscription app that meets your needs. Mobile apps have unlocked new opportunities and revenue streams for innovative companies. 

The mindfulness market is growing exponentially, fueled by the health crisis. Today, people have to deal with uncertainties, job loss, financial challenges, and environmental issues. All these problems increase anxiety, stress, and other mental health disorders. According to a recent study, 79% of employees in the U.S. were stressed in 2020 compared to 59% in 2018. 

Another study, "Mental well-being of employees in Poland (Polish: Well-being mentalny pracowników w Polsce)" carried out in 2021 shows that over 1/5 of the respondents assessed their mental condition poorly or very poorly. Only 8% of them claim to be in very good condition. Moreover, 60% of employees feel stressed, and over 35% sleep less than the recommended 7-9 hours. As a result, more people seek mindfulness and meditation apps to take out the hassle in daily life. 

The health crisis increased the demand for meditation apps worldwide. According to UnivDatos Market Insights, the global mindfulness apps market will expand at a CAGR of 48.1% from 2021 to 2027. The market is expected to reach $6.48 billion by 2027. To exploit the new industry of digital meditation, you’ll need to build an app that guides users through the routines and practices. 

Currently, Headspace and Calm are the leaders in this field. But also new apps appear that offer content dedicated to the needs of users from a specific country - ex. Mindy. In the article, we’ll focus on the five most important steps to build a successful mindfulness mobile application. Follow this step-by-step guide to developing a meditation app.

Why are apps like Headspace or Calm so successful? 

Meditation or mindfulness apps gain interest because of two main reasons. First of all, our behavior changes. People become more aware of what impact stress has on the mind and body, and we seek solutions that are easily accessible. The other reason is that we look for an all-in-one solution, so as users, we don’t want to download several apps to each problem. We want to have all the options in one place, which means a single mobile application.

Calm and Headspace are the most successful apps because they combine several techniques. So, users can attain mindfulness and calmness using a single app. 

Practitioners use several types of meditation, including body scan, breath awareness, Zen, loving-kindness, and transcendental. These meditation practices fall under calming or insight techniques. Calming meditation cultivates relaxation and a peaceful mind using tactics like visualization and mantra. With insight meditation, you focus on your breath and arising physical and mental sensations to transform your mind. 

Headspace was built in 2010 and provides guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training in multiple languages via its website and mobile app. This meditation app helps users reduce stress, manage sleep patterns, and enhance mental clarity. It is said that Headspace is best suited for new meditators who prefer more structure and plan to do short sessions.

Founded in 2012, Calm is one of the unicorn companies in this field. Calm offers similar meditation techniques and subsequent benefits as Headspace. However, Calm is designed to be intuitive and soothing, offers longer meditation sessions with less structure, and also more bedtime stories.

Other top meditation apps include Insight Network, Aura Health, Simple Habit, Buddhify, and Wave. 

Key features to include in meditation mobile app

Before you start creating your meditation or mindfulness app, let's focus on the features that should be included in it or at least considered. We don't mean the content you need to prepare to make it competitive and interesting but technical features that allow users to use the meditation mobile application. Below we mention a few features that are the must-have ones:

  • Sign up / Sign-in page make it for your user as easy as possible to sign up into your app. Now, most applications allow to sign up via email, mobile accounts like Apple, or social media accounts, so they don’t need to fill out with data another account and remember the password.
  • Payments options – the success of the application from the user's perspective is evidenced by a good user experience as well as the quality and usefulness of the content. From the creator's perspective, the number of downloads and subscriptions. To monetize your app, you will need payment functionality: In-app purchases or subscriptions.
  • Personal user profile – most users want to track their progress and achievements as well as quickly access important information. They also expect to be able to personalize the overall experience by adding their name and picture or setting up the best time for notifications.
  • Media library meditation apps like Headspace or Calm mainly offer audio content, but sometimes lessons or lectures are extended with video material. The content library should be structured and searchable by purpose, experience level, or other like length or problem they help solve.
  • Play / Stop buttons – Player may be obvious as a feature be it requires implementing so your app users can play, pause or stop the audio or video content whenever it’s convenient to them.
  • Recommendations – most of us like content dedicated to our specific goals. Allow your meditation app users to choose theirs and then implement solutions that assign specific content to particular users. You can also take advantage of machine learning that analyzes each user's meditations and recommends similar ones.
  • Personal progress tracking progress resembles playing a game, the satisfaction increases when you receive a badge, complete a goal or enter the next level. Trackers and statistics are necessary to keep users more engaged and help them monitor their progress.
  • Gamification options – you can implement gamification to incentivize the users to stay on track with positive mental health. This strategy can enhance engagement in your subscription app. Run an A/B test on your target audience. Then, customize gamification to app users. It can help you determine the best gamification model for your mindfulness app. 
  • Push notifications this isn’t a feature expected by every user because not everybody wants to be disturbed. But push notifications are helpful when you start forming new habits and when you can take control over when and how many you receive. It's a reminder to keep going in your personal development.

Our article on how to build a streaming app based on subscriptions may also help you with creating a streaming mobile application.

1. Use the power of UX/UI Design while creating a meditation app

People start practicing meditation to relieve stress, anxiety, and other mental issues. The last thing they need is a meditation app with a complex user interface. Ensure your app is usable and beginner-friendly. 

Overall Product Design: The difference between successful and unsuccessful meditation apps is UX (user experience). An app’s design affects human emotions, a core component of UX. So, your app’s visual language must be appealing. To build a user-friendly mobile app, incorporate a searchable and structured library. Catalog meditations by purpose, such as sleep, anxiety, and guided routines for beginners. This intuitive listing can improve navigation and access. You should also consider allowing users to create custom meditation playlists. 

System Design: Each piece of the app should communicate and function as a coherent whole. So, emphasize coherence in how the design is implemented at all levels. This requirement goes beyond the app itself to include the visibility of emails, notifications, websites, and all other interfaces. What data will your mobile app collect? How will it display the data to the users? 

Customize your app’s UI to meet the needs of your audience: It should be beginner-friendly and enticing for veterans. For example, the Calm app shows off its benefits by allowing first-time users to choose their top goals on the “sign-up/login” screen. 

Headspace simplifies the onboarding process into five steps, starting with a warm welcome, level of experience with meditation, overall goal, and option to set reminders.  After completing the four steps, users can start their first meditation or explore the Headspace app. Focus on delivering seamless interactions and user journeys within your mobile app. 

Visual design: The primary purpose of meditation apps is to relax, meditate, and calm your mind. Colors used in the application can affect the user's mood, so it's essential to get familiar with color theory when you create a meditation app. The choice of color will depend on the purpose of your application. It can be more energetic or neutral.

2. Include the value for the user during meditation app development

There are over 2,500 meditation apps globally. With competitors like Headspace and Calm, you need all the tricks in the book to stand out from the crowd. Here are seven strategies to help you build a world-class app for mindfulness: 

Unique Value Proposition: Product owners must identify their app’s value to stand out from the crowd. For example, Headspace offers beginner-friendly features and guided meditation courses. Defining your app’s Unique Value Proposition can set your business on a path to success. 

Research and niching: Select the market niche and research your prospects to understand the as-is state. Mindfulness and meditation apps focus on mental health. So, understanding the user perspective is of critical importance in this field than in other sectors. You’ll need extensive research focused on users' mental health.

Prototype: Design the low-fi prototype of your app and check the as-it-will-be scenarios on users. Prototypes allow for early-stage design testing. You can also review the app’s functionality with focus groups or simulate UX and workflows expected from the finished product. You can rely on specialists like LeanCode for research best practices. 

Messaging: Consider how you’ll leverage the app and its design to tell users your story. The idea is to convey the core message to end-users with the highest level of clarity. For example, Headspace’s warm cartoonish visuals of minds affirm its commitment to users’ mental health in a friendly way. Using relatable visuals in your design can ensure users feel at home on your meditation app. 

Frontend Interfaces: You’ll need to identify the user frontend interfaces. Currently, Flutter is the best cross-platform app development technology. Flutter's close-to-native languages make it easy for native and cross-platform app developers to learn and use the solution. It offers tons of off-the-shelf solutions and high performance and allows for code reuse. To exploit all these benefits, seek the service of experienced Flutter app developers like LeanCode. 

Underlying Infrastructure: Mobile app performance and UX relies on the streaming platform. You’ll also need a CMS to manage your app’s content, such as adding and removing meditation sessions. Choose a robust content delivery network (CDN) to ensure high performance and availability. All three contribute to your app’s success story from behind the scene. 

MVP: Launch an MVP to test the app’s reception before going all in. This version of the app has minimum features. So, you’ll need to choose the must-have elements of your future MVP. Consider your app’s interface, hosting, infrastructure, and other mission-critical aspects. An MVP can save you money and time. 

3. Choose a proper business model before you build your meditation app

Business models determine revenue generation and financial success in the long term. There are more than five revenue models for mobile apps. However, the subscription-based business model is the most suitable for mindfulness apps. 

Here you can get to know more about implementing a subscription-based model in streaming apps.

With a subscription-based model, users pay a recurring monthly or yearly fee to access meditation or mindfulness sessions. Both Headspace and Calm are streaming apps based on subscriptions. Headspace users get 10 introductory meditation sessions for free. But they have to pay for additional resources. The Calm app offers a 7-day free trial and invites users to pay after the period lapses. 

Apps for mindfulness can also use alternatives to the subscription-based business model: 

  • Pay-per-view or pay-per-download allows users to stream or download one session for a fee. 
  • Meditation apps use the employee benefits model, where they offer online therapy and self-guided coaching to workers of brand partners. For example, Headspace's partners include Google, Nike, Amazon, and Spotify.  
  • You can offer some meditation sessions and resources for free, with optional in-app purchases for premium content. 
  • In-app ads allow product owners to earn from adverts and charge users a small fee to remove the ads. But this model can undermine UX and discourage some customers from using your app. 

Once you’ve chosen your model, calculate your app’s Break Event Point (BEP). Determine how many subscriptions you need to sell within the first 12 months to survive. Be realistic. If you have to sell millions of units to reach your BEP, consider adjusting your pricing.

4. Create a meditation app with its unique user acquisition funnel

Like other businesses, subscription apps require efficient marketing and monitoring. Consider these four features to streamline both processes and boost revenue generation. 

User acquisition funnel: Design the user acquisition funnel to convert prospects into subscribers. Make sure that there are no leakages or blockages in your funnel. You can leverage funnel analysis to visualize the user journeys on your meditation app. 

Traffic attribution: Analyzing users’ actions and behaviors before downloading your app can reveal actionable insights. For instance, you can replicate positive elements or scenarios across all external touchpoints to increase app downloads. To accomplish this, you’ll need traffic attribution tools like Adjust or AppsFlyer. With Adjust attribution, you can trace users’ journeys from external sources and across your subscription funnel in one place. It can increase LTV and ROI and help you understand which ads attracted more users. AppsFlyer attributes clicks and impressions and automates retargeting attribution and user acquisition. It can boost your conversion rate.

Analyze user cohort: Cohorts are user groups linked by a common characteristic such as paying subscribers. So, how do you analyze the user cohort? You take the data from your mindfulness app and break it into related groups for in-depth behavioral analysis. This strategy can visualize the needs of specific user groups. So, your dev team can adjust the features of the meditation app to cater to the users. Cohort analysis is more effective than trying to meet the needs of all users.  

Think about marketing automation: Marketing comes with numerous complexities, including strict timing requirements and repetitive tasks. Automating your marketing campaigns can reduce human error, boost efficiency, and increase revenue. To enjoy these benefits, integrate marketing automation tools while building your meditation app.  

5. Select an experienced partner for your meditation app development

Picking the right development partner to build your meditation or mindfulness app is crucial for success. There are so many software developers out there. But they are not all the same. So, how do you select the best mobile app development studio for your project? 

Step 1: Organize workshops and scoping sessions to select the best development partner. First, communicate your project details, objectives, and challenges to the team. The scoping team will leverage their connections to invite top mobile app developers to your session. Listen to the ideas proposed by all developers to find the best partner for creating your meditation app. 

Step 2: Discuss the project organization. Your partner should have an entire development team, from UI/UX designers to backend developers and project/product managers. To successfully build your own mobile app, ensure the team’s organizational structure meets your project needs. The partner should work seamlessly with your in-house dev teams and management. 

Step 3: Get the estimates for the project. Ideally, the best development partner should fit your app budget. Experienced app developers include mission-critical elements, such as quality assurance and risk management. These elements increase project estimates but also guarantee a high-quality product. 

Step 4: Choose the development partner and kickoff the work. Break down your selection criteria into attributes, such as experience in Flutter. Then, use a priority-based approach to pick the best development team, starting with mission-critical elements. Remember that some software houses look good on paper, so make sure you gather referrals and conduct the review process with the previous clients before you select the development Partner.

Step 5: Establish the proper framework for running the project. Using SCRUM can bring you great benefits like close monitoring and an instant feedback loop. This will help you to make sure that your business requirements are properly interpreted and features are delivered based on priorities. Introducing Scrum will help you to avoid last-minute surprises by working closely with the development team from the start and monitoring the progress. 

Summary of creating mindfulness app

The demand for subscription apps is increasing globally. Using this guide, you can build a meditation or mindfulness app in five steps. Here are the key takeaways: 

  • Identify the unique value using service design methods to stand out from the crowd. 
  • Implement UX/UI innovatively to differentiate from the competition. 
  • Build the scope for the MVP.
  • Enter into a technical partnership with a trusted development company like LeanCode.

In today’s competitive market, combine all the tricks in the book to build a profit-making app for mindfulness. Whether you’re a product owner, startup, or innovative entrepreneur, you can rely on LeanCode’s app development expertise to bring your ideas to life. Our team of developers will incorporate the best practices into your project and accelerate the time to market. 

Read our Case Study on how we developed Mindy, the subscription-based app for media streaming in the mindfulness market. 

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