Let's be honest here for a second. We are too damn spoiled by big technology companies like Facebook and Google. We don't appreciate how much it takes to create a useful feature until we start to develop our product or use a new product from another Startup. Let's use chat as an example. When it comes to chatting, the golden standard you will think of right away, is maybe Facebook messenger, WhatsApp or Slack. After you use those apps for a while and start to use other products with the chat feature on the market, you will instantly feel something is lacking. Lagging, missing messages, notification error, you can name it.
As a project manager (PM), I can speak from personal experience. You are not wrong about feeling this way. When our team was developing our first app, we didn't consider the chat feature until in the later EPICS. Although we always know the chat will help us keep our users engaged and active, we didn't have time to plan out the feature. Because of the incorrect prioritization, our users could not connect right away and slowly drifted away after the launch. Luckily, we caught the mistake very early on, so we moved our focus on developing the best chat experience possible. When we launched chat in early 2020, we tripled our users and increased active users' numbers in a few months.
That brings me back to my point. The majority of the companies don't consider chat to be an urgent feature. Founders always save the chat feature at the bottom of the backlog. Because decisions like this, more apps have bad chat experience and eventually lose their stickiness.
I understand building chat is not easy. Even if you have a good team and good programmers, it will still take a lot of time to plan out and develop the feature. This is where a Chat API comes in. A good Chat API company offers an easy-to-use API, clear API documentation, and a knowledgeable support team. You can add the API to your SDK in the morning and have it running by the afternoon. A Chat API is a lifesaver when you want to develop a premium and secure chat feature in a tight deadline.
There are several Chat API options on the market, including ChatKitty. I'll tell you more about why we started ChatKitty in a future article but let's focus on using a Chat API for now.
At this point, you may be wondering if you should use Chat API on your product. My answer to you is to check your product demographics and usage patterns.
If your demographics are older like our parents on Nextdoor, chat experience is essential but unnecessary. Most of its conversation take place in a public page. If your product is like UberEats which is not socially driven, you can delay its chat features.
All being said, if you want to target younger demographics and build a product with a social aspect, using Chat API will give you a jump start on gaining and retaining users. Dating apps are the best-case study here. When I was studying as a PM, I tested lots of apps, especially dating apps. A dating app is where you don't want to miss messages - every message you send or receive counts. You want to make sure texts are always delivered, with no missing message and delayed notifications. In a simple term, a good chat experience is a bread and butter for any dating apps.
Hinge is a good example. It has been in the market for as long as Tinder, but didn't catch on until recent years. Now, it's as popular as Tinder and Bumble. One of their action they took was using SendBird's Chat API to power their app. This move made the entire chat experience premium and smooth and made the app more outstanding than its older peers like eHarmony and Match.com.
Here is the bottom line. No matter what community application you build, its chat experience is the glue to bring users together. Big companies have the human power and capital to spend on a team to optimize their chat features. Even if their features sucks, their branding or market influence can bring in users and keep them around. For a startup, we can't afford to take those kinds of risks. Even if you haven't prioritized chat, a good Chat API can help you catch up.