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Discussion apps: everything you need to know


Discussion apps are great, you get to share your passion with people all over the world. Learn new things, share experiences, discuss different topics, and produce meaningful interactions with people who love what you love.

Life before the internet must have been dull. If you were the only person in your hometown with a specific hobby or interest, you’d be completely starved of interaction about your favourite thing. You’d have to spend hours seeking out anything related to it and generally just annoy your friends hoping one might gain an interest.

With the internet came online discussion and everything changed. Your interactions were no longer restricted to who you knew, could talk to, phone, or send letters. You could find or create discussions around topics that mattered to you.

With the rise of smartphones, online discussion migrated from websites to having dedicated discussion apps. With apps for hosting discussions, you could see the latest posts on the move.

However, a discussion app designed to host different types of discussion has to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. This goes against the nature of online discussion spaces which cater to unique communities built around specific subjects, sometimes oddly specific. Taking a community based around one of these and fitting them into a default template for discussion seems counter-intuitive. They also only provide basic, generic functions with little customisation.

The best discussion app is going to be specific to the community using it. To help you achieve this we’re going to go through everything we know about building your own discussion app.

Benefits of building your own discussion app

Building your own discussion app puts you in complete control. You get to build something unique to your community. There are platforms available that create discussion apps for you, and you can build one without any knowledge of coding.

Disciple is a community platform builder. We believe each community is unique and important with its own culture, ways of talking to each other, interests and needs.

Good discussion software offers everything you could ever need to build your own discussion app. This often includes a wide range of tools and features to make your life easier. The aim of most discussion platforms is to allow you the freedom and choice to use your own branding, tailor the look and feel to your community’s needs, and help you reach your goals. 

Some discussion platforms have a public API feature that allows you to integrate existing tools. Also, if you download the discussion app from an official app store, you should get quality software that will be regularly updated and meet the app store’s guidelines. 

Disciple ticks all of the above boxes and gives you an all-in-one platform to build and host your discussion app for iOS and Android.

Complete control

Discussion apps provide the technology required for you to build your discussion board’s community in a safe space that is owned and controlled by you. From the design and operation of your discussion app to the data and value it generates, you’re in complete control.

Don’t put the data of your users in the hands of someone else. Make sure that the discussion app you decide to use is a GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant platform. This means it will have built-in security levels to ensure your online discussions operate in a trusted and secure environment.

A good discussion app will provide you with the option to customise your discussion space, so you can get the look and feel just right and build the best discussion app possible.

Produce revenue directly

If you’re a company trying to build a community around a brand or product, or a life coach, wellness coach or artist looking to provide information about new content. Disciple allows you to generate income directly from your discussion board. 

At Disciple, we call this the “passion economy”. Basically, you can harness people’s enthusiasm and interests around a specific passion into something that generates revenue.

Whatever your method of monetisation, Disciple offers full support to implement it seamlessly into your discussion space. Whether it is eCommerce, tiered subscriptions, or paywalls for exclusive content.


Disciple’s Console

With Disciple’s easy-to-use Console managing your discussion app is easier than ever. You can control all aspects of your discussions directly from the Console:

  • Easy and quick publishing of content
  • Set it and forget it by scheduling posts in advance
  • Get to know your community and manage membership database and profiles
  • Gain valuable insights about your community by accessing analytics
  • Control the way your discussion app works by using integrations & API
  • Make sure your community is warm and welcoming by using moderation tools

How to create discussion apps

After all that, it might seem straightforward to create a discussion app. Although Disciple will provide you with all the tech for creating the best discussion app out there. If you want to make it successful, you’re going to need a strategy. To get started, it’s a good idea to have a clear idea on your:

  • discussion topic,
  • purpose of your discussion,
  • type of person you want to participate in the discussion,
  • how you are going to build your audience,
  • required features,
  • and the design of your discussion app.

Discussion topic

With so many discussion boards already available online, it’s important to choose the topic for your discussion app carefully. Look for a subject or interest that is currently not best served by what is available. Or take a fresh angle on a popular field to make your discussion app stand out. For example, if you build a discussion app around football you’re competing against a large number of established discussion boards that have already found their niche audience.

You can go even further still, by sub-niching. To find a sub-niche, you need to look a little closer at what your discussion is all about. 

For instance, say you’re a life coach specialising in helping online influencers. In this case the overall niche is helping online influencers to manage and get the most out of their lives. Sub-niches could include practical ways to live better: fitness regimes or workouts, healthy eating, mindfulness, etc. If you find the right sub-niche it can really help your brand to stand out from the crowd and build a thriving community.

Discussion purpose

Make sure you have set goals for what you want to achieve with your online discussion. Do you want it to be a place where people come to discuss the latest news about a topic? Is it a place for providing education in a certain field? Is it a discussion app to promote collaboration and social interaction around a specific hobby?

Whatever it may be, make the purpose of your discussion app clear from the outset.

Discussion audience

The topic and purpose of your discussion app will guide how you choose the type of people you want to use it. Whether you want it to be a place for the hardcore and experienced or a place for newcomers. People looking to offer opinions or curious people there to ask questions.

Whoever your target audience is, it is important to have a strategy for attracting them to your discussion app. It’s a busy and hectic world, the people with an interest in the topic likely already have sources of information and discussion around it. To be successful you need to offer an advantage over what they already use. 

For example, let’s say you’re an online fitness coach. There’s a good chance that your ideal audience already attend a gym or fitness classes in real life. Why would they want to use your online service too? You need to make them aware of the advantages: 

  • convenience – you can follow workouts in your living room 
  • time – you can just do 10 minute sessions when you get the chance
  • relationships – they can make new friends in the community or discussion board
  • notifications – keep them up to date with the latest information
  • motivation – you can contact them directly through notifications, emails, etc. 

If migrating your discussion community from a different platform, we make sure we provide our customers with all of the resources, guides, and tips they need, to make the move to a custom discussion app as seamless as possible.

Discussion space design

This last section covers the overall design of your discussion space. 

Let’s start with the appearance. Obviously you want your discussion board to look appealing. But, a good rule of thumb is to keep it fairly simple too. You don’t want too much going on, otherwise the screen can look cluttered or confusing. Pick a simple colour scheme that matches your brand and stick to it. 

In terms of the presentation of your online discussion, it really depends on the type of content you’re likely to be sharing. If you share a lot of text content, you want it to flow nicely for reading. If you’re sharing lots of video content, you want API’s that make it easy to play video content. To make life easier, you should look for a discussion app that includes a content library, giving you a central place to store all your files.

The important thing to remember when customising your design and presentation, is to keep it intuitive. People don’t want to sit through a 10 minute tutorial on how to use your discussion board. They want to jump right in and use it straight away. Don’t make them wait!

Lastly, you need to design how your discussion board works. This includes setting out use guidelines. Don’t worry if you don’t get these right to begin with, most discussion apps regularly update their guidelines as things progress. You also need to think about moderation. Are you going to moderate the discussion yourself, or get volunteers or paid staff to moderate it for you?

Final Words

It may seem like there is a lot to learn about creating discussion apps. But with Disciple, you have access to everything you’ll need and the experts who can help you bring your online discussion to life.

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