Vilmate Blog

How to Make a Dating App Like Tinder:
Tricks of the Trade

App DevelopmentDating AppTechnologies

Matchmaking has been around since time immemorial. It was both a custom and a trade to ply in most, if not all, societies and times. The advent of the Web has taken matchmaking to a whole new level. It has scaled it up immensely, having opened a plethora of unmatched (pardon the tautology) opportunities for those who are looking to invest in a new business niche.

Unlike with many other market niches, the dating segment of the Web is not only merely gargantuan (according to MarketData Enterprises Inc., the US online dating market stood at $ 2.5 billion in early 2016.) It is also composed of a diverse number of sub-niches, one of which is always big enough to accommodate just another business-savvy and well-targeted startup.

Judge for yourself: despite the presence of such heavyweights, as, for example, Tinder, which sports a hefty 50 million visitors per month, the number of US-based dating app-empowered businesses is, currently, estimated at around 1500-1600, while the overall number of Americans who use online dating services is more than 40 million people.

However, what augurs well for someone who is considering dating app development as an investment is, actually, the globe’s growing population (which, according to ourworldindata.org, will have exceeded 9 billion people by 2020) and the ever-growing number of Internet users in nations with emerging economies. To illustrate, according to the Borgen Project, the number of Internet users in Brazil, China and Chile had grown by 10-12% between 2013 and 2015).

Lastly, many of those who use online dating services use more than one dating application.

So, how to make an app like Tinder? What if you’ve never been part of the dating industry before, but you are eager to tap into this budding market? Can you do so and succeed? How to develop an app like Tinder, perhaps, not so large-scale, but just as successful in a specific niche or geography?

There are several must-knows you cannot afford to overlook if you want to find a lucrative spot in a space where thousands of businesses reside and compete.

Your Dating App’s Functionality: Tricks, Gimmicks, and Pitfalls

In essence, most dating sites provide the same feature set. The devil is in how those features are developed, structured, and made available to users.

Usually, a conventional dating app allows the user to create a profile, add their photos and friends, have followers, look through other users’ pics and review their profiles. It is also possible to “like” a user’s pic, make comments under it, signal a desire to converse and send messages.

Normally, you can, also, blacklist a user, filter users based on multiple criteria, see who is online, chat with other users, take part in contests and play a bunch of games. Even if we’ve left out something, it would most probably be nothing new to you. This sounds like a bunch of ancient platitudes, is there anything that could give you an edge?

Yes, there is. Here are the things that we would recommend functionality-wise.

1. Big and clear pics are essential

While the look and feel of your dating app is highly important, you must also juggle it with the ability to display big and clear pictures to provide a good enough UI/UX experience.

2. Implement differentiated messaging

Many men, many minds. You always find some folks more attractive than others. When it comes to the opposite sex, this may be instantaneous. Consequently, the attention of some people can be a lot more of interest than that of others. To help a user avoid embarrassing situations and unwanted, irksome attention, you should implement the messaging functionality of your dating app accordingly. For example, it can be implemented so that the user will receive messages only from those whose pics they have previously “liked”, or whom they have added as a friend or followed.

As an alternative, you can also make the ability to receive a message from any user in the system optional.

3. Take a differentiated approach to implementing email notifications

Similarly, it would be beneficial only from the point of view of the UI/UX if you use a limited number of email notifications. Many dating sites start funneling scores of them into their users’ mailboxes once the latter have ticked off the corresponding option.

Sent on every other occasion by both your site and the gaming apps it is integrated with, such notifications can clutter up your user’s mailbox to the brim within days, become a nuisance and, eventually, put them off using your dating app.

Aside from matches-related notifications, it would be better to send email notifications only about events associated with the user’s friends, or those whom they have followed rather than with any sign of attention from any of the system’s users.

4. Use a fair and advanced profile-ranking algorithm

Profile ranking can be very useful and appealing to a great part of your target audience. However, most of the algorithms that are presently employed by dating apps rank users solely in accordance with the number of “likes” their snapshots have drawn. These algorithms don’t take into account the time that user snapshots have spent on the site. A more sophisticated ranking algorithm, capable of factoring this in, could prove to be a lot more engaging and retentive.

5. Implement user-driven comment control in user profiles

Many of the comments made by users in other users’ profiles can be off-limits and have a severe off-putting effect.

In addition to the ability to disable comments in their profiles, the users of your dating app should also be allowed the ability to ban specific users from making comments in them.

6. Make the list of “likes” user-friendly

With some dating apps, the list of profile visits and “likes” a user has drawn is implemented as one or several (in accordance with the types of “likes” the app supports) sets of clickable thumbnails.

These thumbnails can be enlarged and viewed as the corresponding user’s photo from the main feed. Thus, you cannot switch between the “likes” and conveniently view them one by one. This can become a significant UI/UX issue.

7. Optimize geolocation

Geolocation is of great importance for most dating applications, especially, for mobile apps. For example, Tinder’s matching algorithm is centered around user preferences and location. However, the way geolocation is implemented in Web-enabled dating applications is, often, not the most optimal one.

For instance, after the user has been shown all the photos of users that meet their criteria and are based in the location of their choice, they may automatically start being shown the snapshots of users based in a neighboring location. This location may be another major city and not smaller cities and towns in the user’s vicinity. Moreover, the location suggested by the site may actually be foreign, or one of little relevance to the user for any of an array of reasons: personal, linguistic, and so on.

If you are considering building a mobile dating app, you should also pick a provider with significant experience in developing and implementing geographic information systems (GIS) and creating GPS-powered apps: you may want to guide your users around and show them places to go out and other spots that can promote their romantic endeavors.

8. Implement user tracking

While some users spend half their lives harvesting “likes” and building a large following, interests of others are somehow different. They visit the app on and off, review part of the events that have come to pass in their absence and leave.

That is why, a user should be able to mark those users in whom they are interested and receive a notification, for example, by SMS or email, when those users appear on the site.

9. Make your dating app a place where users can actually make dates

Sometimes, you are running out of time or just don’t feel up to meeting someone new online when a “like” or match that tickles your fancy comes your way.

Surprisingly, the one thing most dating apps do not actually do is provide the ability to make dates in any way other than the one the rest of the Web supports: write and, thus, start a conversation you don’t really feel like having at the moment. Certainly, you can revert to this matter in a while but what kind of impression will this make? Besides, with most people living busy lives these days planning is essential, for things like dating too. This means that implementing an interactive calendar with the ability to suggest several optional time and dates could help conveniently schedule the forthcoming conversation.

With the vast numbers of users most dating apps have and many of those users being time-strapped, this is something that could actually propel your online dating business more powerfully than any matching algorithm: it is no secret that most users of dating apps tend to ignore the matches that are made based on their profile-indicated preferences.

Some dating apps — for example, Clover — also allow finding dates in a specified location by indicating a date and time.

10. Tailor your offering by introducing non-standard communication rules

If your dating app is not narrowly geared toward a specific segment of the online dating market, you can still endear your site to some specific part of its potential target audience, make it stand out from the pack and, thus, earn a greater profit.

A shining example is provided by Bumble, a dating app where ladies are the first to message. Can you imagine what a dating bonanza this little gimmick has created for a lot of folks? They will stay riveted to the site even if you offer them a dozen other similar sites that don’t sport this awesome feature.

Another great example is Hinge, “a relationship app” where you can only get matched with someone your friends know on Facebook. Actually, the concept of a crossbreed between a social network and a dating app where you can get introduced with the help of someone you know in real life to someone they know in real life seems to have a lot of future ahead of it.

Evidently, we all are spoilt for choice and there is a bunch of good examples. Not to worry! There must be a spot for your enterprise among the Tinder-like apps, too. All you need is to determine what features may contribute to your uniqueness and help your app stand out. The small pieces of advice on the dating app’s functionality we have shared with you are not hard rules, anyway. They are just broad guidelines for dating app development, meant to lend a helping hand to those concerned.

Go for it and good luck with your plans!

© 2018, Vilmate LLC

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