Nutrition Apps,
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November 10, 2022

Building a Health or Nutrition App? Here’s How

Eva Medved

Health and nutrition apps are helpful tools in assisting users on their health journeys, whether losing weight, becoming more mindful, or anything in between. An app is often the final piece of a cohesive user experience health service or product providers offer to their customers.

An app allows you to meet the user exactly where they are and respond to their needs and desires immediately. If you already understand the advantages of adding an app to your branding arsenal but don’t know how to get started, you are in the right place. This post breaks down the basics of developing, launching and monetizing a health or nutrition app.

Health and nutrition app features: from food logging to behavior tracking

The features of your app will largely depend on the services and experience you want to offer, but most available apps are based on some standard features listed below.

Function Description Offered by Suggestic
User profile and personalization A collection of user information from biometric data to food preferences, intolerances, and allergies, and personalization of the app according to this ✔️
Chat service Allows for communication between users and service providers (e.g., a health coach, a functional doctor) or other users ✔️
Meal planner A daily, weekly, and monthly plan of meals personalized to individual user’s needs and wishes ✔️
Food logging A function that allows logging foods and meals and counts calories, micro- and macronutrients ✔️
Habit tracking Tracking actions that will help the user achieve a health goal, such as drinking water, exercising, or sleeping ✔️
Dashboard A cohesive first page of the app that presents all the data in a user-friendly way ✔️ 
Health content, programs, and goals The heart of the app, the reason why the user downloaded this app ✔️
Recipe database High-quality recipes, sorted by various factors (prep time, cuisine, budget, etc.) ✔️
Shopping list Creates a shopping list based on meal plan and health goals ✔️
Restaurant meal rating Rating meals in restaurants for allergens, adherence to a specific diet, calorie count ✔️
Restaurant recommendations Allows users to find restaurants that serve meals that fit their dietary needs ✔️
Integration with wearables Allows users to continuously monitor and improve their health journey based on the data the app receives from wearable devices ✔️

 

The #1 thing is you have to celebrate people’s achievements, even for the smallest of things. Habit creation requires people to feel successful.

– Victor Chapela, Suggestic CEO

Ways to build a health or nutrition app

Build it yourself (the DIY option)

This method involves building a team of freelancers or employees who will manage the project, design the UX and UI, develop the mobile app, perform analysis and testing, and finally market the app.

After crystallizing an idea for your app, a very general roadmap to building it from scratch will probably look like the following timeline.

  1. Building a team.
  2. Researching the market and competition.
  3. Outlining the core features.
  4. Creating mockups.
  5. Planning app security.
  6. Performing the coding.
  7. Testing, testing, and testing again.
  8. Collecting and implementing feedback.
  9. Launching the app in the App Store and/or Google Play. 

This method takes the longest and costs the most. The process from start to finish could take up to 9 months and cost from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Use an API (the in-between option)

Whether you’re choosing to build your app from scratch or use a white-label solution, APIs are an intelligent addition to the mix. API is a software that connects your app to a database of recipes, nutritional data, workouts and exercises, barcodes, and pretty much every other information relevant to your project.

If you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled lists of the best food APIs, recipe APIs, and weight loss APIs.

The cost of APIs can vary depending on the number of users and the amount of data provided, but most will have free trial options or will only charge when used (pricing per API call).

Using one or more APIs can drastically reduce your app’s time to market and cost since it covers a large bulk of coding and developing.

Use a white label (the done-for-you option)

A white-label app is a generic health or nutrition app created by software developers as a blank slate for your idea. This is one of the fastest ways to get your app to the market, as all it takes is customizing an existing app with your content, logo, color palettes, and other branding elements.

In addition to being the fastest, a white label health or nutrition app is also the least expensive and most hands-off option. This is the best option if you have a highly monetizable idea but don’t have the resources or expertise  to manage every step of the process.

How to monetize a health or nutrition app

When deciding on a monetization model for your health or nutrition app, you must consider the user first. The psychology they have towards their health journey will determine how much and in what manner they are willing to spend money.

You should decide based on your specific market research and analysis, but here we have gathered some interesting and valuable tips.

The app should be a part of the larger outcome-based program or service. People do value the app, but value the outcome above the app.

– Victor Chapela, Suggestic CEO

Depending on whether your app is offering a “quick fix” or an ever-evolving level-up journey, you should offer a one-time fee or a subscription fee.

  • One-time fee could be suitable for apps that aid in achieving success shortly (e.g., reversing or managing diabetes, losing a few pounds, or other drastic changes).
  • Subscription could be suitable for apps that provide tools to better the user’s overall physical, mental, and spiritual health (e.g., meditation apps, gym subscriptions, habit trackers).

Freemium

The freemium model offers a free download and basic functionality, but the version with upgraded features is paid. While this is still one of the most used monetization models, nowadays, it only pays well for very popular apps, such as MyFitnessPal.

In-app purchases and bundle deals

The goal of a nutrition app may or may not be for the user to keep coming back forever and using it every day. Its value may be much more transitional. Therefore, in-app purchases are the most lucrative way to monetize such an app.

This could mean encouraging in-app purchases of physical products, such as supplements or exercise equipment and earning commission, or offering digital add-ons, such as additional diets, programs, or content.

Free with in-app advertising

The last option to monetize a health or nutrition app is to display ads within the app.

This is a good option if you want to offer a completely free app. However, it might disrupt the user experience. You could also unknowingly be directing your users to competitors’ apps. Finally, it doesn’t make for the most professional-looking app.

It’s important to note, though, that if you’re targeting a more price sensitive group, they will value the fact that the app is free more than they will be annoyed by the interruption of ads.

How to launch a health or nutrition app

Like any other product, an app needs to be launched. The biggest misconception that app developers share is thinking that by simply adding an app to the app store, people will eventually find it and be fascinated by it.

If you have a large social following, getting the word out might be as easy as telling your already loyal followers to download and use the app. In the case of completely new programs, however, we found that the best way to create buzz and excitement is through the waitlist approach or a drip campaign.

Waitlist approach

A landing page prompting the user to sign up for a waitlist is a great way to test the overall viability of your idea. One advantage of this approach is that you can create one before you have even fully developed the idea of your app. Simply invite people to join the waitlist saying that the app is in closed beta for now. The people who sign up can be your testing audience who will help you build the app that users want to use.

The landing page should be designed to convey what users are waiting for and to spell out the offer. Since the waitlist will ask for at least an email address, you can begin to communicate with those on the waitlist by sending them surveys, calling for interviews and feedback, or simply testing email open rates.

A waitlist allows you to start gauging interest and seeing who would be interested in downloading the app while also letting you test and adapt your product and marketing strategy. Through a thought-out landing page, you can gauge what people want and need.

This approach helps you test your messaging and value proposition, so it is especially useful if you are in the earliest stages of developing an app. It allows you to define what is best for your health or nutrition app in terms of messaging and product-market fit. More to the point, through conducting surveys or interviews, you may learn how much interested users are willing to pay and how best to integrate it into your full experience.

Drip campaign

A sequence of 3 emails works well.

  1. The first email should contain pure information. (Example: educate the customer about epigenetics, send them an article about aging clocks, share a relevant study.)
  2. The second email should hint at your product. (Example: hint at the potential of reversing biological age with food and supplements.)
  3. The third email should focus entirely on your offering and include a clear call-to-action. (Example: “Here is the waitlist for our Younger You program. It is restricted to a cohort of one hundred, but you can share this with friends, pre-order the book, or follow us on social media to move up the list.”)

✨ Here is a little secret from our years of releasing nutrition apps at Suggestic. The most important factors to drive fast conversion are a very clear call to action and a sense of scarcity (created either by a time restriction or a small cohort).

Cost and time to develop a health and nutrition app

We have covered above how much the features you choose to implement cost comparatively. Also consider costs associated with the people you hire, the design factors, the complexity of the project, and mostly the development approach for your health or nutrition app. The timeline for a simple app could take up to two months, while a more complex app could take up to nine months.

Suggestic accelerates your time to market while cutting costs. Read how a women’s health startup managed to get their app to the market in just two months, with a team of 3 instead of 25. Also, tune into Building Health  Solutions, Suggestic’s spellbinding podcast on the secrets to a successful digital health and nutrition startup.