How a Family Chat Differs from a Common Messenger App
In the modern world, almost every one of us uses one of various messenger apps. Thanks to these apps, we always feel as if we are next to our friends or colleagues at work. It's time to talk about whether whole families can feel as comfortable online as they do in person.
Today, there are so many different messenger apps that it's hard to keep track of them: WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat, Telegram, Viber, Slack, and so on. To stand out with your app among the competitors, you need to release something really special.
Communication with family has always been and remains very important, especially in today's reality, when the pandemic has caused some families to be away from their loved ones and to communicate exclusively online.
Can online family spaces be considered special in this regard? In our opinion, yes, and now we will look more deeply at why.
Why does a family need its own space?
Among the huge number of different messenger apps, it becomes difficult to distinguish any special one. Most of the apps are very similar to each other. In addition to text messaging, they all provide the ability to exchange various files, such as images, audio files, videos, and documents.
However, common messenger apps don’t solve the problem of communication, for example, between children and parents. Children can skip messages, being carried away by games and cartoons. Adults are not always able to respond to messages from family members at the right time, getting lost in messages about work. Therefore, family messenger apps began to appear, allowing you to be always in touch.
So what makes a family chat stand out? Family chats are unique because they prevent messages from being lost in spam and work messages. In a family messenger app, you only communicate with your closest people and don't miss important information.
The main purpose of the family chat is to maintain a good level of communication with the people related to us. It helps not only to stay in touch with your relatives but also to strengthen the relationships with them.
A messenger app vs a family space
As mentioned earlier, today almost all messenger apps provide the ability to exchange text messages and various files.
In addition to this feature, family chats can be not only useful but also interesting. For example, an app like Famlicious provides the ability to build family trees using information about family members registered in the app. There are also a number of apps that, for example, display an incoming message from a relative on the notification panel that cannot be closed until responded to. Would you agree that this is effective?
Furthermore, you can create protected children's accounts with limited functionality.
Ultimately, the creation of such applications is distinguished by taking into account all of these details, so a messenger app can be as convenient as possible for both the youngest and the oldest users.
What features to consider in a family chat
Despite the fact that this is a messenger app, and most messenger apps have similar functions, you still need to take into account some features.
First of all, such messenger apps should be user-friendly, automated, and should necessitate the minimum number of actions from the user. When each of us has at least three or four messenger apps installed with all sorts of functions and settings, it’s better to avoid more complex and incomprehensible messenger apps and focus on an autonomous and simple chat, where all you need to do is enter family contacts and wait for messages from them.
Additionally, one of the most important considerations is that parents always want to know how their child is doing at school and throughout the day. Previously, they could only find out by talking to a child or a teacher, and the conversation was based mostly on words. Modern digital technologies have opened up new horizons for people to communicate with each other. Parents and their children can create a chat where they can not only write messages to each other but also send images and share videos. The advantage for parents is a sense of closer communication and an opportunity to participate more actively in the daily life of children.
That’s why it’s important to take into account the fact that children will use these messengers, so creating secure children's accounts is a great solution.
Today, children use their phones as much as adults, and it's easy enough for them to skip messages from their parents while playing games or listening to music. Some apps have created a special feature for parents: When a child receives a message from the family, this message is displayed on the notification panel, and a child can’t swipe this message away until they respond to it. This maximizes the chances that the child definitely won’t miss important information and will be in touch when necessary.
In addition to the fact that such a messenger app should be as simple and useful as possible, it also should be engaging. For example, in the Familicious app, a family tree was implemented for this purpose. The family tree can expand as new contacts are added, as well as demonstrate fairly clearly intra-family relationships, like, mother-daughter, grandfather-grandson, and so on.
The more understandable, interesting, and carefully designed will be your app is, the more comfortable its users will feel.
Steps for creating a family chat
As with any product development, the work begins with thinking through the main goals of the product and its technical specifications. Regarding family chats, the main goals will be the ability to always maintain high-quality communication with your family, to avoid losing important information from family among other messages, and also to make the messenger equally convenient for both adults and children.
Then, the work is carried out according to a fairly standard and clear algorithm:
- Idea analysis and software requirements for document preparation
- Creation of wireframes. We recommend you not skip this step in new projects. Wireframes are a great tool for refining product concepts, experimenting, testing, and collecting user feedback at the earliest stage of software development.
- Product prototype and design creation
- Chat app development
- Testing and bug fixing
- Project launch
- Post-project support and implementation of new features
In general, the main difference between creating a family chat and an ordinary messenger app is that you must first take into account that a family chat should contain only the necessary information, be convenient for people of all ages, allow people to share files, and be a kind of online family space where everyone will feel comfortable.
Our experience with Famlicious
In our work on Familicious, we relied on an algorithm that includes all the steps listed earlier. Many cool ideas came to us during the brainstorming stage: We defined the app tasks, decided to build an MVP (minimum viable product), and integrated dynamic family trees.
The most noteworthy app feature is dynamic family trees which were a real challenge to implement. A standard family tree can grow from top downwards or from the bottom upwards and doesn't automatically add each new user to the required trees. As we needed the family trees to be instantly created without user intervention, the standard ways of building trees didn’t suit our goals at all.
In addition, the family trees are instantly created from newly added connections. How do you make family trees dynamic so that they are automatically updated once new family members register in the app? It was a top-priority issue that we had to solve.
Another important challenge was the development of a chat itself. To offer users the opportunity to communicate with each other, we applied a PubNub chat framework. As the tool provides powerful chat APIs, security, and scalability, it became a good solution for our project.
Today Famlicious has undergone various improvements and adjustments, and now it’s a great user-friendly family messenger!
Today we get tons of messages all the time. Among such a large flow of incoming information and spam, it’s easy to accidentally ignore messages from the people with whom we would like to talk to the most.
No matter how we set up our usual messenger apps, the chance that we will miss important messages is still high, and family chat spaces were created to prevent that.
It doesn't matter if you are a student, a CEO of a large company, or a retiree — family chats are relevant for all of us. After all, what can be more important than family?
Let's always stay in touch with those we value the most!
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Disclaimer: in this article, we decided not to dwell on the technical details of building a good API, as there are already really good articles on that (links included). Instead, we looked at the API from the usability perspective and compiled a checklist for you to ensure that your API is easy-to-use and secure.
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