How To Create An App Like Yelp? [Ultimate 2023 Guide]

6564 Updated 01.11.2023
Vasyl Polych

Founder & CEO at Northell


Table of contents

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a review platform? Yelp, of course! If you have ever wanted to create an alike platform, it’s necessary to learn a lot on the subject. How much does it cost to create apps similar to Yelp? What does the average development process look like? Do you have all the skills needed to build an app like Yelp?

This article will answer all your questions about developing a website or app similar to this giant and make it even better.

Main Challenges in Creating Review Apps Like Yelp

Positive thinking is gold, but you should never forget about the possible challenges you might face while creating an app similar to Yelp. Let’s look at the most common ones:

Understand how you will monetize your project

The first challenge you may face while creating an app like Yelp is the monetization strategy for your project. Everything is simple here. If you want to profit from your project, you need to monetize it.

 Monetization options may vary. For example, you can earn money from ads placed on your platform. You can also organize a system of subscriptions and sponsorship. Another option would be a blog with content that people can use for guest posting.

Effective go-to-market strategy

Go-to-market is a strategy for companies that seek to convey their value proposition to the target audience, gain advantages over competitors and sell a product or service. 

There are 2 main ways to use a Go-to-market strategy: sales funnel and flywheel. The first is traditional, which focuses on generating leads and turning them into buyers. The second involves inbound marketing and is aimed at building a long-term relationship with the client (that is, nurturing sales with the subsequent transformation of the buyer from ordinary to permanent).

Regardless of the chosen strategy – sales funnels or flywheel – the stages for the preparation and implementation of GTM are identical. First, you need to learn more about your target audience, then use the information received to develop an advertising campaign and maintain customer satisfaction.

Flexible architecture for project scaling

Another challenge you may face is the architecture of the platform. In order for you to be able to scale your project in the future and actively develop it by adding new functionality, for example, you need to build a flexible architecture for your platform.

Many people developing products like Yelp do not take into account that the market changes over time, and it is necessary to adjust their products to these changes. If your platform is not a flexible platform, then it will be very difficult for you to make changes to it.

Great UX Design

Your customers shouldn’t know how difficult it was to develop an app. All they need to see and feel is that it’s super easy to use and navigate. Never make such a platform too complicated, neither in terms of the design nor the usability.

How to Create an App Like Yelp and Be Successful?

Our team has prepared some tips for you to help you create an app like Yelp successfully. Let’s look at them in detail:

1. Don’t just make a copy

You should not copy the entire Yelp platform. It makes absolutely no sense. Why would people visit the exact same platform if they are already used to using Yelp? It is essential to offer people something new that they have not seen yet. This is called a unique selling proposition or unique selling point.

Unique selling points are what makes your solution different from others, what your competitors don’t have in their platform. If you want to create an app like Yelp and make it even a bigger hit, you can’t go anywhere without putting some extra effort into it.

You can create as many USPs as you can think of as long as they are all relevant and don’t repeat what your competitors already have. This can be a special design element that will facilitate navigation, an AI-based chatbot that’ll help you find exactly what you need faster, or maybe create an outstanding UI – anything would work if you implement it properly.

2. What problem does your product solve?

In order for your platform to be in demand, you need to determine the main user problem it should solve. If this is a platform like Yelp, then the main problem for users that it should solve is finding the necessary services with the ability to view reviews and recommendations.

You can add additional ones to the main goal of the platform. However, remember that the main one should be prominent on the platform. Using your platform, users do not have to spend a lot of time searching for what they need. You need to make it so that users can solve their problems and achieve their goals on your platform in a few minutes.

3. How do you help other people’s businesses?

It is also important to determine how you can help businesses. By publishing information about their business on your platform, people hope that it will bring them some benefits. And in order for people to continue using your platform to publish details about their business, it is essential to make certain conditions for this. For example, it can be advertising, increasing the number of leads, popularity, new employees, awards, and more.

4. Trust and truthfulness of information are most important

If you want as many people as possible to visit your platform, you need to inspire their trust. Do not publish unverified information. After all, in this way, you can frame someone.

We recommend that you carefully select content for publication and, from time to time, check for the truthfulness of the information provided and the honesty of the business that publishes this information.

Create an App Like Yelp and Be Unique

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Create an App Like Yelp

In order to create an application like Yelp and be unique, you should adhere to the following:

1. Unique design

In order to create an application like Yelp but unique, you should first create a unique design. If your application looks different from Yelp, for example, this is already a success. Think about what primary colors you will use for the design. Also, decide on branding. You should have a memorable logo and slogan, for example.

In addition, don’t forget about the visual placement of elements in your application. The placement should be unique and different from competitors.

2. Unique information

All information that you place in your application should be unique. For example, it can be unique places or companies that you publish. If users see reviews about a company that they have been looking for for a very long time, they will definitely stay with you for a long time.

Also, add unique reviews (perhaps in an unusual presentation), unique articles and tips to the application. Remember, uniqueness is always the key to success.

3. Own niche. A second Yelp is no longer needed

Of course, it’s cool when your platform offers solutions to as many needs as possible, and you can find information about virtually anything in one place. But, with websites and apps like Yelp, it’s better to go simple and provide a high-quality solution for a small number of customer needs.

Usually, when a platform offers reviews about home service providers, grocery stores, legal companies, and many other institutions from all over the world, it’s really hard to get a sufficient amount of reviews on every one of them, if any at all. It’s much easier to offer something in one field and make it as comprehensive and helpful as it can possibly be.

Plus, it’s important to understand what kinds of features will be suitable in each case. For example, you don’t need to add a photo upload tool if you’re creating a law firm review platform, but for a restaurant review app or website, it’ll be one of the most important features.

4. Unique offer to its users

Earlier, we already talked about the fact that if you want your application to be in demand, you need to offer something unique to your users. Think about what could be the highlight of your application. Let it be one thing but worthwhile.

For example, if your application provides reviews of different types of wines and wineries, you can offer your users reviews only from professional sommeliers. The chance that reviews from non-specialists will be published is zero. Thus, you offer users high-quality and worthwhile content.

What Features Should a Well-Groomed Review App Contain?

If you want to create an app like Yelp and make it a great one, think of what to put in it. Your solution could have a load of unique selling points, but when it doesn’t have the key features, it all becomes useless. 

If you don’t want to fail before the very launch, we’ve already made the list of the review platform essentials. 

Sure, some of them may vary from niche to niche, but you need to make sure to implement most of them in the first place no matter what.

Reviews and ratings

Sounds silly, right? However, not all of the existing platforms have everything done properly in these terms. If you don’t add an intuitive and comprehensive review tab or at least a convenient comment section, you may not even proceed with your tool development. 

How to make it look good? Divide the whole review tab into the key factors that influence the overall rating (quality of service, price-quality ratio, the overall impression, etc., depending on the area of interest), add a quick “like / dislike” button, and a comment field with no symbol limit so that everyone could write as much they want to make their review truly valuable.

 You should also allow users to enjoy search filters. This way, they could see the latest or the most trending comments about a specific product or service, the top-rated solutions, or the best (most trusted) reviewers. 

User accounts

It’s not only important for users but also for businesses sharing their product or service pages on a review platform. This way, company representatives may communicate with their customers and help them solve issues, help facilitate their recent unpleasant experience, or thank them for a lovely comment.

Plus, user accounts allow businesses to edit their pages, change cover photos or descriptions in case of re-branding, important updates, or if any new services, tools, or features are launched. 

For users, it’s a convenient way to see and store all their reviews, become a more active user, gain specific achievements (if applicable), and save other people’s reviews if they were going to try a particular product or service. Also, it’s usually a necessary requirement to be able to leave a review, so most users need to register if they really want to leave a helpful, relevant comment.

Photo and / or video uploads

It’s not necessary for every niche, but most review platforms still add this feature. Posting a picture or a video from a particular place is even better proof than just words.

If someone said they had a horribly served meal at the restaurant, they can show it. If a concert hall or a nightclub had an awful sound system, you can record a video so that others could hear it too. If you received a broken accessory from an online jewelry store, you should be able to show it at least to a manufacturer.

However, people don’t share pictures or videos just to show how badly they were served. Most of the time, people show them to prove a place is worth visiting, and it’s much more helpful than just a well-written comment. So, if that’s what your platform’s niche needs, add this feature in the first place.

Location-based search + filters

Another essential feature for any review platform. It usually comes with an integrated map showing all the locations of the spots you’re interested in. This is time-savvy and helps see only what you’ve been looking for. You can switch a filter on and you’ll only browse the nearby coffee shops, the cheapest grocery stores, or the highest-rated hair salons. 

These little but important features facilitate users’ search and accelerate the whole process. Hence, people find what they need way faster than usual.

Business pages

As mentioned above, review platforms usually provide separate pages for business owners, allowing them to not only communicate with customers but also boost their brand awareness. If you want to drive more potential partners to your platform, a business page is what you’ll definitely need right away. Plus, the more business accounts your site or app has, the more trusted review source you’ll become soon.


This feature is available on platforms like Foursquare. If you want to drive more user interaction, a check-in feature is exactly what you need. With the help of it, people can save the spot they’ve visited to remember its location and come back again, share it among their friends, or gain a specific badge or achievement for unlocking a specific category.

If your platform is where you can implement something like that, think of the ways you can represent it. It’s always cool when you try to help and entertain your customers at the same time. This will definitely keep users more active on your website or app.

Simple sign-in and sign-up tools

Nobody likes huge registration forms, and not all of us save every single password on our laptops or elsewhere. That’s why you should keep your login page as simplistic as possible.

Usually, people tend to create accounts based on their data from social media or emails, so it’s just what you’ll need to add to save their time setting up a profile. Plus, for a sign-in option, add a “Remember me” box so that people won’t need to re-enter the password every time they enter a website or app once again. 

Finally, if you’re creating a mobile app as well, take care of incorporating a Touch and Face ID sign-in — your users will thank you afterward. 


It’s true — we are trying to get rid of push notifications as much as possible. However, for review platforms, it’s an important way of getting important updates, especially if you’re holding a business account.

Notifications allow you to see if you’ve got a bad rating or if you’ve received a reply in the comment thread. It’s an important feature that helps keep in touch with others and react to any action as fast as possible to ensure proper communication between a business owner and a customer.

So, no matter how negative people react to notifications nowadays, don’t forget to add this feature to your review platform.


This feature will allow those who wish to place ads on your platform. This will allow people to advertise their business, and you will get additional profit. However, it is worth considering in advance and determining the conditions under which advertising will be placed. Perhaps people will pay for clicks on ads or for views. It all depends on how you feel more comfortable.

Content creation

In order to quickly and easily create publications in your application, you need a content creation feature. It should include the creation of various types of publications with the ability to add photos/videos, reviews, comments, etc. It is also important to add the possibility of subsequent content editing to this feature.

Listings and awards

We are sure that it will be convenient for your users to view businesses/services/products in the form of convenient lists. It would also be a cool idea to add awards. In this way, your users will be able to see, for example, the most popular brands or those that have received any awards.


This feature is needed so that only verified and true information gets to your site. For example, if a business wants to publish information about itself on your platform, it will first need to go through the verification process by entering all the necessary data confirming its reliability. Some platforms even contact a business representative by phone, for example.


Cashback is a feature that allows the user to leave a review to receive money/bonuses for it. For example, a user enters the review platform, leaves the review on the coffee shop page, and receives bonuses for this action. Then, A person can use these bonuses in this physical coffee shop to buy coffee, for example.

How To Create a Review Website – The Full Development Cycle


How To Create a Review Website

Now that you know some of the perks and drawbacks of review apps and websites, it’s time to talk about how to actually create an app like Yelp!

What (and who) would you need to create an outstanding review platform? Keep reading and learn all the main steps of the development process.


The planning stage is a critical stage. At this stage, you should decide on a budget. How much money are you willing to allocate to create an application like Yelp? To begin with, we advise you to study the market and possible prices for creating such applications.

You also need to think about the resources needed to build the application. In this case, your main resource is a team that will work on all stages of creating an application.

Deadlines need to be scheduled. Set an approximate date by which you would like to complete the development of the product. So it will be easier for you to control the implementation of each stage, and the process of creating a product will not last for years.

Lastly, state your idea clearly. After all, if you do not know precisely what you want to create, your development team will definitely be confused, and you will definitely not get the desired result.

Analysis / Product Discovery

This is the stage when you have to do thorough market research and define the following:

  • Your business goals
  • Your monetization model
  • Your key competitors
  • Target audience

During this step, you finalize the overall mission and vision of your review platform, define its main advantages, and think of the niche you’re going to enter.

UX/UI Design

Time to go creative! It’s best to design several mockups for both a website and a mobile app (if you’re going to create one). Include the branding: a color palette, logo, icons, and pics or videos you want to use. 

Remember that you will be delivering the same branding throughout all the social channels, newsletters, pages, and subproducts you’re about to launch. Keep the styles and creatives the same everywhere.

It might take some time to come up with a perfect logo and creatives for your platform. However, if you succeed, the proper branding will definitely increase your brand awareness and help build more trust among your potential customers. Plus, you’ll have to create a sitemap and a wireframe. These two elements will help you visualize everything you’ve planned on paper. A little piece of trivia:

  • A sitemap is what helps you see all the pages, how they’re placed and related to each other on the website. It also helps organize your content properly and arrange the website’s functionality.
  • A wireframe shows what each page on your website will look like. It overlooks all the content, including CTAs, headlines, pop-up notifications, and subscription boxes. The wireframe is usually made for both desktop and mobile versions. 

Content creation

Since you know what your product is going to look like, let’s give it some proper wording. Think of all the texting you’ll be using for every page on your platform.

You’ll need to create optimized texts, descriptions, headings, and slogans for all the pages to make your review website rank higher in Google and bring more potential customers.

So, you’ll need to work closely with your marketing and content departments to set up the perfectly formatted and optimized landing pages, blog posts, testimonials, etc. Whatever you find necessary for a successful review platform, should be there.


Once you’re done with designs and content, time to bring your rockstar project to life. At this stage, the team of developers not only works on turning all the images and creatives into a real, working website but also adds all the important tools your service might need. 

Since you want to make a review website, you’ll need a convenient comment section with the ability to add pictures or videos and give ratings to specific factors. Also, for such a platform, you’ll need to add an ability to quickly give feedback to a place or shop someone’s visited. This can be done by adding a like / dislike button or adding some emojis so that people could describe their experience in a fun way.

Plus, if your review platform is going to give some information about the place (address, contacts, etc.), the team should either integrate Google Maps or any online services so that people could easily see the opening hours, location, and price range (if applicable).

Testing and integration

Double-check all the links, page speed, content, UI, UX, and everything else at this stage to make sure the platform is good to go. It’s really important to engage all the departments to look through any possible bugs, typos, faulty links, and other minor issues that could affect the platform launch. 

If you’ve created both a website and a mobile app, make sure both versions are working on all the platforms you were planning to use. Check if all the buttons work properly, whether the comment section is working well, and if both web and mobile platforms are well-optimized and have good load speed.

It’s always better to launch a platform a bit later but you’ll know everything is flawless. It’s worse when you release a faulty product and then have to bring loads of updates all the time to make it work better.


You did it! Your site is live now. What’s next?

Once you’ve launched the website, your work doesn’t end there. You should constantly review how it works and make sure all the bugs are fixed and content is updated on time.

Here are some other steps you should follow to properly maintain your review platform:

  • Add new and update existing content
  • Do traffic check-ups and make sure your site speed is as fast as possible
  • Optimize the visual content to make sure it’s not slowing down the website’s efficiency
  • Make sure all links and buttons work properly

How Much Does it Cost to Create Apps Similar to Yelp?

It’s usually hard to define the exact number for every similar review platform. It depends on a variety of factors, from the desired number of features to the deadlines. Plus, it also depends on the hourly rate of the employees, outstaffed workers, or freelancers you’re creating the app. This rate starts at $15-$25 and can go as high as $150 per hour.

However, if we take an average rate of, let’s say, $50/hour and put it into a development timeline breakdown, we’ll get a rough estimate of how much you’ll spend to create an app like Yelp.

Take into consideration that the hourly rate may also vary depending on the level of experience and the size of the company. If you’re still not sure how much you should expect to spend, you can always apply for a quick consultation with an experienced agency that will help you do all the calculations and provide more accurate timelines. In general, such an application as Yelp may cost you from $30 000 to $150 000. 

Speaking of the development time. What can be an average project length?

The Average Timeline of Creating a Review App

It also depends on the level of expertise and what kind of team you’re hiring. Freelancers can do their job slower if they have other projects to complete, while your full-time employees can get fully devoted to this one task.

If you lack developers or project managers, you can always get a digital agency to help you out and find the high-performing team members to deliver the best results tailored to your business needs.

Taking all these nuances into account, here’s what the average timeline breakdown will look like for all the most essential steps in the app development:

  • Designing an app — approx. 250 hours 
  • Development — approx. 250-850 hours
  • QA — approx. 250 hours
  • Project management — 200-300 hours

Plus, don’t forget the analysis and planning stages, as well as the first-time maintenance which you should also add to the equation.

Our Expertise

At Northell, we have a wealth of experience in creating applications like Yelp. One of our partners, Needl, needed an upgrade of the platform as it was not aligned to the Needl product’s new positioning. Needl is a platform that creates business opportunities (leads) between buyers and sellers. It is currently working in the FMCG retail market (food, drinks, beauty) and is focused on reaching a good product-market fit.


Northell Case – Needl

Our approach to the project was quite comprehensive. We have refreshed the logo and design system according to modern trends and taking into account the industry features. Our team built out more user-friendly navigation and updated the UI/UX of the dashboard for 2 personas. As a result, we helped with aligning Needl’s positioning and created a great platform that is in demand.

If you want to create an app like yelp but don’t know where to start, feel free to contact us. We will gladly help you with your project!  

Wrapping up

Now you know how long it takes and how much does it cost to create an app like Yelp, what key features they should possess, and what possible issues your team might face while working on a project.

Do you know what that means? Time to gather your colleagues and create a review platform masterpiece! As a final piece of reminder, don’t forget the following:

  • Think of the risks and potential opportunities
  • Define the right monetization model
  • Add all the features essential for your niche and top them up with a bunch of USPs

And, if you’re seeking help with website or app development and don’t know where to start, we’re always here to help.

Drop us a line if you want to book a free consultation and cooperate with us on your future successful projects! 

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