Wellness is something that lots of people crave right now. Since the start of 2020, the whole world has been immersed in high levels of stress and anxiety, not knowing what the next day will bring. Traditional therapy sessions to cope with pandemic stress are a luxury not many can afford. People seeking to ease their anxiety have turned to wellness and meditation apps that provide some comfort, at-home accessibility, and affordability.

Mental health sessions take first place among things that patients would consider using a telehealth service for.

In-person appointments adults would consider having via telehealth service
Source: Business Insider

In the course of the pandemic, interest in digital mental healthcare rose among multiple demographics. In October 2020, Teladoc, a global telemedicine leader, issued data showing that compared to 2019, in 2020 there was a 79% leap among men and a 75% leap among women in telemental health visits. From June to October 2020, the use of telemental health services among boomers increased by 16%. The biggest year-over-year growth in online mental health visits was among Gen Z (currently accounting for 14% of all Teladoc’s mental health visits).

The mental health and meditation apps industry is predicted to be valued at $2 billion by 2022 according to Marketplace. From April to October 2020, it was estimated that prescriptions issued through mental health apps rose by 6,500%, and hundreds of people are downloading apps every day to manage their mental health. 

Ross O’Brien, an associate director of innovation and technology for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, confirms that the pandemic is responsible for an increase in mental health app downloads because apps give instant and direct help and have a broad range of uses.

Virtual mental healthcare benefits

Virtual Mental Healthcare Benefits
source: steelkiwi.com

Steelkiwi’s extensive portfolio includes numerous mobile application development and custom healthcare software development projects that we have launched over the years. In this guide to meditation app development, we’ll share our experienced-based advice and suggestions for creating a prosperous product.

Mental health apps vary in their intricacy and goals. Some provide a soothing effect and teach relaxation techniques, some give users tools to track their moods. There are lots of applications that aim to help users improve their mental health through gamification, like IsDatRaar, which assists doctors in assessing a patient's mental health state. In addition, we can’t forget about doctor-on-demand apps that connect people with licensed specialists. 

In this article, we concentrate on meditation app development because of the rising popularity of the practice and its proven effectiveness. In the US alone, the number of adults and children exercising meditation has more than tripled since 2012 according to the most recent National Health Interview Survey. And there are quite a lot of reasons why people meditate.

meditation app development

What is a meditation application?

Meditation applications help users learn and use various techniques to relax, clear their minds, and alleviate stress with the help of guided meditations. Often, these apps also include mood trackers, journals, games, and meditator communities.

The best meditation apps on the market

With around 2,500 meditation mobile applications on the market, it’s necessary to understand why and how the market favorites stand out. Airnow Data and Verywell Mind both name Calm and Headspace as the best meditation applications of 2021, both in terms of the number of downloads and according to independent reviewers. Let’s do a quick analysis of what makes Calm and Headspace worth it for users to download.

According to a new report from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the world’s 10 largest English-language mental wellness apps saw a combined 2 million more downloads in April 2020 compared with January 2020, reaching close to 10 million total downloads for the month.

Headspace and Calm app features

#1 Onboarding

A high-quality and engaging onboarding process is an absolute necessity for your app if you want to retain users and reduce your bounce rate. Onboarding is also the first thing customers see and do in an app. Hence, onboarding needs to be easy to understand and follow. Make your onboarding short and sweet so users can enjoy your app as quickly as possible.

Calm app features

Calm starts the onboarding process with a purple ombre screen that calls users to take a deep breath. This simple visual immediately sets the atmosphere and signals that the app’s purpose is to make users relax. 

Calm then presents the user with a short personalization quiz to tailor the app’s content and plan to the user’s aims, determine the need for kid’s materials, and ask about what types of content the user wishes to explore. The quiz can also be skipped, which is a nice option if users want to start meditating straight away.

After completing the personalization quiz, users are notified that their plan is ready and how much the subscription costs. Finally, they just need to sign up or log in through a Google, Apple, or Facebook account or via their email and password to use all the Calm app features.

Headspace takes a similar yet shorter approach to onboarding. It opens up with a question about the user’s goals and how the user wants to achieve them, with a few options to choose from. 

Users are then notified about subscription plans and prices and are encouraged to explore the app.

#2 Home page

A nicely thought out home page attracts users and motivates them to continue with the app. A home page should present the app’s content well and should guide users.

Calm meditation app features

Calm’s home page opens with a greeting accompanied by a background animation of a river and mountains. A mountain icon in the upper left corner lets users choose from a large array of additional background animations.

The home page features multiple relaxation options like daily meditations, mental fitness, and sleep stories. Scrolling down, users can see various recommended collections as well as meditations read by known figures like LeBron James and Camila Cabello.

Headspace UI

Headspace’s home page is organized differently, although it also has a greeting at the top. Instead of showing multiple meditations rapidly, the Headspace home page opts to show a meditation plan for the day. Also, the user is prompted to click the profile icon or add favorite meditations in addition to being shown the most recent ones.

#3 Play screen

A minimalist but calming play screen is a vital feature for a meditation app. Usually, the play screen features background animations, a control panel, and a large play button in the center. The screen is often tailored to the mood of the meditation, both in terms of colors and animations. Users tend to enjoy such customizations, as they keep them from getting bored by the same screen. Also, the screen will visually reveal the vibe of the meditation even before users hit play.

Calm vs Headspace

Both Calm and Headspace follow these unspoken guidelines for the play screen. Their screen colors and backgrounds are customized to convey the mood of the session as well as the music, sounds, or tone of voice of the speaker.

#4 Meditation sessions

It’s obvious that a meditation app should contain a diverse library of content such as meditations, breathing exercises, and workouts so users have a good variety to choose from. High-quality content is key to making your customers continue using your app.

Another crucial point to consider is how you’re going to display and group meditations.

Calm app features

Calm’s home page is a place where users can browse meditations and exercises separately or by playlists. Also, on the homepage, you can notice various categories (in little rectangles) that you can click to see topical sessions.

The Calm app also has a Discover tab that contains even more specific categories. It also includes a search bar in case users want to look for something specific, like content by a certain narrator.

Headspace guided meditation app

Headspace presents meditation and exercise sets in four tabs: Meditate, Sleep, Move, and Focus. Each tab has many categories of folders packed with topical meditations. 

Headspace app features

#5 Notifications and reminders

Meditation app features

Mobile app notifications are critical for retargeting and user engagement. They are a powerful tool to unobtrusively keep users up to date with recent news, freshly introduced features, promotions, or giveaways. 

Gamifying notifications is another opportunity to boost user engagement. You can send users jokes, inspirational quotes, questions, and reminders to track their progress to motivate users to open the app.

Meditation application features

It’s best to make notifications optional. Not all users enjoy notifications and some may get annoyed by them quickly, so make sure you give users as much control over notifications as possible.

Types of notifications for a meditation app:

  • Thoughtful expressions
  • Bedtime notifications
  • Mood check-ins
  • Wake-up reminders
  • Gratitude check-ins
  • Meditation reminders

#6 User profile

Calm app features

A personalized user profile is a crucial feature that can raise retention. First, user profiles give your users an easy transition between devices as well as their own space and a sense of identity. Also, with user profiles, you can develop your app with machine learning algorithms to provide content suggestions based on users’ likes and viewed sessions.

Meditation apps like Headspace and Calm acknowledge the necessity of user profiles. Both have integrated dashboards for users to see their progress and achievements, which inspires meditators to go forward. In addition, Calm allows users to bookmark their favorite content, while Headspace has a separate tab for users to add their friends.

Want to build a meditation app like Headspace or Calm? Find out how.

Create your own meditation app

How to create a meditation app
source: steelkiwi.com

Research and validate your idea

The first step to developing a meditation app should be in-depth research and idea evaluation. Even if your idea seems fresh and groundbreaking, you need to validate it before you invest your time and money in development.

Draw up an approximate plan for the app:

  1. What audience do you seek to attract: first-time users, people with experience, or both? 
  2. What problems do you want to solve and how do you plan to solve them?
  3. What kinds of activities is your app going to provide?
  4. What unique value is your app going to bring?
  5. What are your app’s must-have features and which are optional?
  6. How do you plan to track the app’s performance?
  7. How do you plan to monetize your app?

It’s also critical that you research your competitors and gaps in their offerings (which many apps have). For instance, lots of meditation apps are available only in a few languages, primarily in English, which is a big downside for non-English speakers.

Having a concept in hand, you can start consulting with custom healthcare software development companies to receive development cost and time estimates so you know what to expect.

Find and hire your development team

If you don’t have experience developing healthcare software and don’t currently employ a team of developers, it makes sense to find a software development provider with experience in the industry. 

First of all, you must abide by multiple laws and regulations when developing an application within the healthcare industry. By hiring an experienced developer, you can be confident that your app will be built in compliance with applicable requirements. Moreover, an experienced team should be able to consult you on the best technologies to build and run your meditation application.

To find a knowledgeable developer, search various healthcare software providers and look at their expertise and past healthtech projects. In addition, consider if you like their style and apps, download an application or two, and analyze how well they are built. 

You can also get acquainted with companies’ reviews on Clutch and ask for suggestions on LinkedIn — these powerful platforms can help you a ton in your search.

Once you have a list of your top choices, schedule a meeting with each one to discuss your idea. Don’t forget to request an NDA before the meeting to ensure the confidentiality of your information!

Create a list of requirements and a design concept

The beginning of the development process usually involves meetings with business analysts. In short, a business analyst’s job entails conducting market, competitor, and other key research as well as taking your idea and basic app description and transforming them into technical specifications. When you finish your collaboration with the business analyst and the list of requirements is ready, it is forwarded to the development team who will build the software accordingly.

Meditation app design 

After your requirements and wireframes are ready, it’s time to start consulting with a UI/UX designer on creating a user-friendly interface and on the design concept for your meditation app.

Meditation apps strive to make users relax, and the app’s design must convey that. Generally, wellness apps have a minimalist design and are executed in pastel tones of pink, blue, green, yellow, beige, or other colors. However, deeper shades of blue, purple, and green are also coming into fashion among meditation applications.

Meditation app design
Source: Saad Ibn Sayed, Dribble

If you want to create a meditation app like Calm, go for deep shades of purple and blue. The Headspace app also uses a dark blue for the background but spices it up with vibrant images and animations all throughout the app, with colors like bright orange, yellow, green, and blue.

Don’t overload or clutter the app’s design. In doing so, you risk disengaging users. When a design obstructs customers from reaching the content they like or leaves little space to use the app, the user bounce rate grows. This is true for all mobile applications, but it is particularly significant when developing a meditation app that aims to create a calm atmosphere for its users.

Meditation app design
Source: steelkiwi

Lots of top meditation apps use animation in their designs. Although their animations are simple, they succeed in creating a peaceful and relaxing environment for meditation sessions. Headspace uses cartoonish animations for breathing exercises, while Calm uses realistic flowing rivers and other natural scenery for their backgrounds and activities.

Develop an MVP

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a basic product version that has all the fundamental features and design needed to introduce the product to the market and get consumers’ attention. 

You can build an MVP to test your app’s reception by the target audience and to gather and evaluate initial feedback. 

Here’s why many companies choose to start with an MVP.

MVP development company

Gather feedback and define next steps

After you launch a meditation application MVP and collect the first user feedback, you’ll need to define the following steps with your development team based on the feedback received.

You might only need to make minor changes, or you might need to alter the whole concept to better match the tastes of the target audience.

Ways to make your meditation app profitable

How to monetize a meditation app

There are a few ways to monetize an app. However, not all monetization models are going to work for a meditation app for ethical reasons. You should strongly consider the mental state of your customers when deciding on a monetization option.

For example, ads in your meditation app can be distracting and irritating to users. Hence, this monetization model is not advisable. Moreover, ad-based monetization requires an app to have a large number of active users, and you’ll need to find businesses willing to advertise their services or products in your app.


Offering subscriptions is the most widely used monetization model in meditation apps due to its straightforwardness. Users receive unlimited access to all of the app’s content by paying a monthly, yearly, or lifetime fee. Apps that use this type of monetization also offer free trials.

Headspace and Calm both employ a subscription model. Headspace costs $12.99 per month and $69.99 or $94.99 per year, while Calm charges $12.99 or $14.99 per month and $46.99 or $95.99 per year depending on the type of subscription (regular or premium).

In-app purchases

This monetization option allows your users to enjoy some of the app’s content for free and separately purchase premium content (like meditations read by celebrities), features (like video calls with instructors), and other perks. 

Pay to download

With this monetization model, your customers need to buy the app before downloading it. Today’s users want to see what they’re purchasing and to scroll through an app first before paying, however, so this model is considered slightly out of date. 

Nevertheless, one of the meditation app market leaders, Buddhify, uses exactly this model and charges $4.99 in the App Store and $3.99 in the Play Store.

Final thoughts

With mental health problems on the rise and wellness applications gaining traction, it’s obvious that people are searching for high-quality tools to manage their mental health. 

If you have a compelling idea for a meditation application, it’s your sign to send us a note. Tomorrow we could already be on a call!

With our extensive experience and comprehensive knowledge of healthcare software development, we can build a top-notch meditation app that will give Calm and Headspace a run for their money!