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09 November, 2021

How to Create an App Like Yelp: What You Need to Know

Many factors influence the buying decision of a customer. The reviews and rates of a company are some of the most influential on the list. Yelp gives clients the opportunity to examine the previous reviews and leave their own. Our guide will help you build your own review platform like Yelp.

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

Each and every day, millions of people search for services in wide-ranging categories. They look for hairdressers, dining establishments and food delivery, pet groomers, hotels, and much more. You're certainly among them, and occasionally the services turn out to be so good (or just the opposite) that you feel compelled to leave reviews.

Service providers are the other side of the coin. They look for customers in order to expand their markets, but they also want feedback and honest assessments of their performance. The market is constantly competitive, and accordingly, there's an intense desire to impress the customer. If it was ever really possible to get by with mediocre service, that day has passed. The Internet, with its ocean of influence, has made it possible for anyone to beat the pack by offering better, quicker, more responsive service.

Consequently, both sides require a mediator that can provide a platform for customers to leave comments as well as for businesses to collect and analyze them. That’s why Yelp was created. If you think it's a good idea to build an app like Yelp, this guide will set you off on the right foot.

What is the Yelp app?

We'll begin with a closer look at Yelp. Founded in 2004, Yelp is a crowd-sourced review platform that’s accessible via computers and mobile devices. Its primary focus is clients’ reviews on local businesses of all types from restaurants and hotels to dentists and other medical professionals. 

The app uses geolocation to offer users all the businesses nearby. In their turn, users can pick a certain industry they want to explore or filter the results by rating, price, and distance. When the business is chosen, Yelp provides users with its address, phone number, and working hours.

The app’s users have the ability to leave video and text reviews and rate services from 1 to 5.

How does Yelp work?

Yelp is available as a website and in the form of apps for iOS and Android devices. Businesses are listed and filtered by type, location, price range, and features. For example, users can search for a restaurant that has outdoor seating or the ability to reserve seating.

When a service is fulfilled or a venue is visited, a client can leave a review and rate the quality of the experience. The website has a very simple review process: 

  • Open the page of the business you want to rate.

  • Click the “Write a review" button.

  • Choose the rating (1 to 5).

  • Type a review.

  • Attach photos if desired.

  • Click “Post a review.”

Everything is done! The mobile process looks very much the same, but the apps have a “Start a review” button and you can immediately add photos.

If a business owner wants to get their service on the list in Yelp, the registration process is a breeze. The website has a separate business page where a service provider can start their journey. Apps work a bit differently: Click “More,” followed by “Add business,” then fill in the description and hit “Send.” After that, you'll wait for confirmation and approval.

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Notable statistics about Yelp

It’s easy to talk about an application in general. “It’s successful,” “the app has a lot of fans,” “businesses love the app.” Here are some numbers to prove that such statements are not vague and have a solid background.

  • During the first quarter of 2021, Yelp made $257 million in revenue.

  • As of 2020, Yelp was installed on 31 million unique devices.

  • Millennials and Gen Z make 67% of Yelp’s users.

  • 45% of customers would check the reviews on Yelp before opting for a service provider.

  • Business pages with five-star ratings get 25% more page views.

  • The platform has already accumulated more than 224 million reviews.

  • 87% of people trust online reviews.

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These numbers make clear that an app such as Yelp has the potential to become successful on the market.

Worth mentioning Yelp competitors

Yelp is the major review platform, but it doesn't have a monopoly. So, there are other apps to study in order to devise a perfect solution. Here are three more apps you should consider too.

  • TripAdvisor

This is one of the most popular services for travelers. Here you can find the listings of hotels and transportation services that have been rated and reviewed by other customers. In addition to accommodations, TripAdvisor lists other services and locations a traveler will need, including museums and attractions, restaurants, theatres, bars, nightclubs, and more.

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  • Foursquare City Guide

Foursquare City Guide is a search-and-discovery platform that shows the closest locations a user can visit. The service uses geolocation to find suitable options. Additionally, users can look for and share their own recommendations. Foursquare lists all kinds of places and services: restaurants, entertainment facilities, bars, nightclubs, and shopping malls.

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  • MerchantCircle

This platform allows small and medium businesses to stay in touch with their clientele and with each other. Users can search for the necessary services in the area and opt for the best deal.  Additionally, they can leave reviews and ratings. The number of categories is huge: autos, home and garden, finances, food, education, real estate, and many more.

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Defining the features of a Yelp clone app

A proper set of features is the core of any application or platform. They define what tools the team will use and what value the users will get from the software. Review platforms such as Yelp have several features that are present in almost any solution. Here are Yelp clone’s key features that will be useful for your app.

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  • User profiles

Today’s software is entirely user-oriented. So, the inclusion of a profile feature will ensure the user that their experience is personalized to meet their needs. In an app such as Yelp, users can create lists of favorites, manage their reviews, and save their payment data. Service providers in turn use profiles to manage their business pages, answer reviews and analyze the feedback they've received.

  • Social media authorization

Most review apps have this feature by default. It lets them shorten the registration time so the user can start searching in just a few seconds. Any feature that facilitates processes is valuable, so think about implementing it.

  • Location-based search

Geolocation is an important part of a Yelp-like platform. It lets the user look for businesses nearby. To implement it, you can employ dedicated APIs that help your app track the user's location. Google Maps API and Mapbox are the most popular tools of this kind.

  • Reviews and ratings

Users should be able to leave text reviews on the services they've received. The space for such input can be a plain field where the user simply enters the text, but it can also be a questionnaire with space for comments. Moreover, you can give clients the ability to attach photos or videos so the reviews appear more detailed.

  • Filters

When a user is searching for the desired service, it should be possible to filter the results. The most common filters are price, rating, delivery, and distance.

  • Admin panel

If the above-mentioned features are dedicated to making the app convenient for users and businesses, this one will make it easier for your employees. The admin panel will help you manage services, add and edit content, approve businesses and block users when necessary.

Stages in the creation of a Yelp-like app

If you want to build an application such as Yelp, consider the steps that will facilitate the development. These steps will help organize your thinking, gather a team, create a design and start building.

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1. Determine your niche and target audience

The market has a wealth of apps such as Yelp, and each of them has vast audience potential. So, the most effective way to beat your competitors is to narrow down your niche and specify a target audience. For example, you can create a review platform exclusively for real-estate agencies or legal services.

Several platforms already function within specific domains. For example, Zomato lists only bars and restaurants. HomeAdvisor offers home service contractors, and TripAdvisor is intended for travelers.

2. Find your UVP

A unique value proposition (known as a UVP) is a selling point that makes you stand out from the crowd. It's a distinct feature of your platform that will impress and attract users. To determine which aspect of your app should be in the spotlight, simply analyze your competitors and see what they offer. Is there something they're missing, or is there a way to do one thing better?

3. Focus on usability

Your final users should be satisfied with what they see, and that’s why you should always remember what they need and want. Of course, each of the platforms they use and trust will have the following attributes:

  • An easy-to-find search bar

  • Clear, understandable text

  • A record of previous searches

  • Quick, convenient search suggestions

  • The ability to apply filters

Take those attributes into account, and your platform will address the basic user needs.

4. Hire a development team

If you have your own in-house team with relevant experience, you’re done with this stage. However, if you have no one who can engage the development process, you'll need to hire a dedicated team. The most reliable one will have field-proven expertise, a logical business model, and a verifiable hourly rate.

5. Develop, test, release, and repeat

You are now ready to begin the development phase. This part of the process will be the most resource-hungry, particularly when you consider testing and the initial market launch. Then your product will start to build an audience and accrue feedback. The information you receive from end-users—including clients and service providers--will help you detect bottlenecks so that your platform can be improved.

How does Yelp make money?

Yelp has several ways of generating revenue, as shown below:

  • Business adds

Advertising is Yelp's primary method of monetization. Yelp sells ads to businesses so they can promote themselves on the website and mobile apps. It works on a pay-per-click basis and can be customized to the needs of a particular business. Users can also set different target audiences and budgets.

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  • Upgrade package

Business-page creation is free in Yelp, but the platform also offers an upgrade package that positions the company higher on the search list, blocks competing ads, and allows more communication with the community.

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  • Fees for deals and gift certificates

Yelp charges businesses a commission for each service or product that was sold via discounted deals. Additionally, gift certificates function the same: When a client buys a certificate, the platform charges the business depending on the certificate’s cost.

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These monetization strategies are the most common and trustworthy for such platforms, but you can try other ways such as subscription and in-app purchases.

How much does the Yelp app cost?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. You should consider the team’s location, hourly rate, the list of desired features, the needed tech stack, and many more. However, it’s possible to roughly estimate how many hours a standard team can spend on the development of such an app. In terms of statistical averaging, the numbers look like this:

  • Project management: 700 hours

  • Back end: 960 hours

  • Front end (one platform): 1,000 hours

  • UI/UX design: 250 hours

  • QA: 300 hours

If we consider an average hourly rate of $125 in the U.S., the final cost of the product can total approximately $400,000. With respect to Eastern Europe, the app would cost $128,000, given an average hourly rate of $40.

Technologies and requirements 

To have something to start from, we can analyze what Yelp uses to maintain and update the platform. The service is based on a LAMP stack, which is common for a lot of web projects. Usually, it includes:

  • Linux

  • Apache

  • MySQL

  • Python, PHP, or Perl

It doesn't mean that you should use only these tools. You can opt for alternatives such as Java, PostgreSQL, and React to create an app like Yelp. Everything depends on your project and its requirements.

Summary 

Yelp is a great example of a successful review app that has won the attention of an audience and subsequently earned its trust. However, it might seem daunting to create such an app. Certainly, the process is complicated by various risks and pitfalls, but by following our recommendations you can minimize the negative factors and create a functional, competitive platform.

⭐ What’s Yelp?

Yelp is a crowd-sourced review platform that’s available for mobile and web. Its major focus is clients’ reviews on local businesses.

⭐ How does Yelp work?

Clients can leave text and photo reviews on businesses and apply ratings of 1 to 5. Businesses can arrange their listings and buy ads to promote their pages.

⭐ What are the best features for a Yelp clone?

The key features of a Yelp-like app include user profiles, social media authorization, location-based search, reviews, rating, search filters, and the admin panel.

⭐ How much does it cost to create an app like Yelp?

Depending on the app’s requirements, tech stack, and the team’s hourly rate, the cost of a Yelp-like app can range from $120,000 to approximately $400,000. Please contact our team of specialists for a cost itemization.

Tags
How-to
Mobile development
Yelp

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