What genius things a man can do when putting his mind to good use. From inventing the wheel to curing diseases and stepping on the moon. Thousands of years can be summed up in one word – innovation.

Not a single industry has been left untouched by digitalization. The most exciting thing is how technology is accompanying us in our daily activities, making our lives easier, more productive, and more meaningful.

Community Apps Trend

The purpose of building a community app is to make strong connections between a large number of people and to facilitate communication and engagement around their shared beliefs and interests.

With the help of mobile and web apps, instead of having one real place to share their beliefs, now people can get together with a few simple taps on the screen. Bless you, technology, for that!

How to build a community app

There’s a broad range of tools and technologies that can be used to build a community application. The reason behind choosing the ones mentioned below is related to the purposes of this kind of apps, as following:

  • Covering communication purposes;
  • Making teaching resources available to everyone;
  • Connection with like-minded users;
  • Sharing knowledge, expertise;
  • Interactions.

The user base of community apps varies a lot depending on their age, gender, culture, backgrounds, and the topics they are interested in. It’s essential to assure a great experience on both mobile and web devices. Ideally, a community app should be appealing to use and at the same time beneficial.

General app development technologies and Tools

There is an endless list of notable programming languages, libraries, and frameworks that could be used for developing mobile and web apps. In this case, having an app version supported for iOS, Android, and Web devices is a better way to go with.

Community web apps like any other apps can be developed with React Native or two separate native apps for each platform: iOS and Android. When it comes to the “Web side” of the world, web apps can be developed using such web-application frameworks like Java, Ruby on Rails (that is based on the Ruby programming language).

The benefits of using Ruby on Rails are:

  • It’s time and cost-effective on many levels, such as cutting developing costs and using ready-made modules and plugins.>
  • It offers a large variety of features and gems that can be downloaded from the open-source code platforms, such as Github.
  • It’s a mature framework that evolves once new features are added, based on the real needs encountered at basecamp.

Since JavaScript frameworks have a variety of tool supports and ample availability of libraries, it is worth considering to cover Front-End development using frameworks like Ember.JS, Angular.JS, and Vue.js. Also, another worth mentioning Javascript library that helps to build User Interfaces is React.

Specific features for community apps and tools to build them

Community apps should be built with one idea in mind. They should all bring additional value to already existent offline activities and topics. Let’s analyze what kind of features to add for specific purposes and needs, that are found in the everyday life of a person and what are the best tools for each.

Communication purposes (Push Notifications and chats)

Besides the common reasons why people decide to take part in a community that is related to a topic, there’s another strong reason for joining. Communities are known for giving a strong feeling of belonging, and it is a good way of socializing with like-minded people who have similar beliefs. That’s why community apps must have a chat embedded for the purpose of facilitating communication between members.

An easy way to integrate new features into the apps and make them easy to use for Admins is to build a CMS (Content Management System) for the Web App, which is a software that allows editing and publishing new content on the website. A shortcut for doing this is to use FAE CMS, which is a customizable Ruby on Rails gem with many perks and benefits that makes it a time and resource saver.

Push Notifications that act like regular phone messages can be used for general announcements regarding community activities, events, reminders.

Mobile app push notifications can be added by using APNS (Apple Push Notification Service) for the iOS platform or Firebase Cloud Messaging that is good for both messages and notifications on all platforms, including web.

Chats – Sending Messages

Instant messaging is something users are so used too, and it would be almost like an insult to build an app without a chat. That can be done by using Vue.js or Javascript and Ruby on Rails, together with tools for Push Notification and WebSockets.

Sharing teaching resources through multimedia capabilities:

A core characteristic of communities is the sharing of knowledge, inspiration and expertise. Therefore, to be considered valuable, a community app must include image, video and audio sharing and the chance to create engagement around those uploaded files (likes, comments, shares). A perfect scenario would be to have a Feed incorporated in the app where members of the community can share daily with their friends/family some pieces of inspirational content. This way, the app is going to run on user-generated content.

Community building apps

Very often, communities have recurrent events, seminars, appointments, classes, or holiday celebrations that require a pre-event registration. A great way to keep the community active and to collect information from attendees is to be able to share in the app registration forms for events.

An optimal solution for this need is to synchronize your app with third-party calendar apps.

This way, users will be able to:

  • Create events;
  • Search for upcoming events based on region, theme and event time;
  • Attend events and see other community members who will be joining;
  • Share events with their communities.

Best third-party calendar apps for iPhone

Best third-party calendar apps for Android

 App Features for Offline Community Administrative purposes

Most of the offline communities have some administrative duties and flows to maintain. Here are some features that can come handy for management roles:

  • Adding new user profiles;
  • Secure logging in;
  • Social media integration;
  • Maps localization;
  • Tracking attendance during significant events;
  • Contact us form;
  • Advanced analytics.

Adding new user profiles, Secure logging in and Social media integration

It is known that communities have people with defined roles and different responsibilities. As mentioned above, FAE CMS remains the go-to solution for creating specific User Profiles with secured logging in. That’s where Auth0 does its magic. Auth0 is a platform for authentication and management that can be used for the web, mobile & IoT apps that have many built-in features.

Auth0 Key features useful for community apps:

  • Single Sign-On;
  • Role-based Permission;
  • Universal Login;
  • User Management;
  • Advanced Analytics.

Maps localization to identify the nearest communities

Communities have no boundaries. With great power comes great responsibility. In our case, the burden falls on devices that have to help traveling people in finding the nearest meeting points around them.

If geo-location on Web Apps can be added by embedding Google Maps API or Here Apps API or any other alternative, then on mobile apps, many use Apple Maps or Open Street Map.

Tracking attendance during large events

Conferences or other big national gatherings or events can become very crowded, and the traditional way of tracking attendance can be irrelevant nowadays. The new way of keeping track of the numbers is to integrate a barcode scanner into the community app. The latest versions of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch have built-in cameras that can scan a Quick Response (QR) code. There are also other third-party scanning tools such as Scandit – a barcode Scanner for the iOS platform.

At the end of the day, a community app is built for the great use of its members, and it can either be built from scratch or puzzled up using already existent solutions and tools. What matters the most is to define the precise User Stories and app specs based on well-detailed market research. A team of skillful app developers can easily find optimal solutions and creative ways to build apps with flawless code and great visuals.

Do you need help with building a community app? Contact our team at Wolfpack Digital and let’s build a powerful digital product together.