Dating app development - what makes online dating successful
18 October 2023
12 minutes read
Table of Contents
Dating apps - what makes them popular?
Dating apps have gained tremendous popularity in recent years. In the US, over fifty percent of people under thirty have used a dating app or site to find their significant others. But how have dating apps become so successful?
One reason is that dating apps are available to anyone at any time. They have the convenience of allowing users to exchange messages, photos, and voice and video calls anywhere - texting someone or browsing potential matches' profiles has become a much easier way to find a date than speed dating or going to the club. The diversity of users makes it simpler since, on the app, you can find many users worldwide. If the user is not ready for a long-distance relationship, they can also use a feature to search for someone by location.
Another advantage of apps over conventional dating methods is the possibility of avoiding unwanted interactions. If the user is not interested in someone and unwilling to connect, they don't have to find a way to escape the conversation.
If all of these benefits encourage you to develop your own successful dating app - let's start from the basics and discuss details!
Back in the time - the beginning of online dating
Online dating has existed in the current technological world for a long time. Its unquestionable boom emerged during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, but they were still significant before 2020.
The first dating service using technology was invented in 1965. Considering that we date the invention of the first computer to 1938, a year before the beginning of World War II, we can assume that dating technologies were inevitably going to be created sooner or later. The first dating service, Operation Match, used a printed-out questionnaire to receive information about its users. The questionnaire was then converted into a punched card, which was processed by a computer. After a week or two, the results were ready, and the list of matches was sent to the person who sent the questionnaire.
Just a year later, in 1966, the number of people using Operation Match had reached 90,000. This shows how much everyone demanded this service!
In 1995, the first online dating page was created. Match.com gathered over 100,000 users in its first six months, becoming one of the most recognizable domain names of its time. Match still exists and continues to develop new features for its users such as Lara, developed in 2017, a dating chatbot that lasted until the end of 2022.
eHarmony is a UK-based online dating platform that was formed in 2000. eHarmony's matching system was based on a user survey like Operation Match - the big difference was the creation of the survey by a relationship counselor. The involvement of study-based questions granted eHarmony a permanent place in the European dating market.
OkCupid is another online dating website that is also still present today since its launch in 2004. OkCupid is also based on the questionnaire but takes a different approach - the match is made after answering how importanta question is to you and not after replying to the question itself. The questions allow users to determine how well they might get on with a person - e.g., rating "Are carbohydrates something you think about?" as important implies that dieting and physical activity are something that you deem to be significant. Hence, it's not a good idea for a couch potato to reach you. This is still one of the most beloved ways to find a partner, and OkCupid is still based on this survey type.
When the smartphone trend started, dating websites had to adapt to the rising popularity of mobile devices. In 2007, the first dating mobile app, Zoosk, changed the online dating business. Zoosk allowed users to sync their accounts with Google+ or Facebook accounts, making the setup easy and user-friendly. The app also opened a new horizon of dating - finding a significant other was no longer limited to a country; the user could interact with anyone worldwide!
Another few significant moments in time for online dating apps were the years 2012 and 2014.
2012 was the year Tinder was introduced into the market. The most recognizable dating app, Tinder, was based on an easy algorithm of swiping left and right, left for "I don't wanna date this person" and right for "I'm interested in this person.". This model became so popular that "swiping right" became a slang phrase, even among people who never used Tinder.
On the other hand, 2014 was the year of Bumble, a "feminist dating app", as coined by its creator and director. Bumble stood up to competition with the change in messaging system - in Bumble, only women are allowed to send a message first in matches. It caused the rise of the Bumble app into the position of the second-most-used dating app today.
The number of dating apps continues to rise, offering multiple options for anyone. But only some apps are destined for success - so let's talk about what makes a dating app successful!
Mobile dating app development - basic features
To create a booming mobile dating app, you must consider a few things. Below, we will look at what makes mobile dating app development challenging, how to overcome these challenges, and what some vital steps are in creating a mobile dating app.
Product discovery - get to know your product
Product discovery is the first step in creating a business plan for the app and the design of the app itself. Let's explore the vital parts of this process.
Target audience - your dating app users
One of the steps of product discovery is setting the target audience of your online dating app - would it be an app for a particular niche group of people, or should it reach a less specific market? Deciding on the target audience makes your next steps much easier since you would have in mind the needs and expectations of the group.
Dating app monetization - how your app earns
Another would be the dating app monetization strategy - would it be free but containing in-app ads, or would you set up a premium app version or in-app purchases for additional features? This part will become less challenging if you've set up a group of potential users and performed research on user profiles.
Market research is one of the most crucial steps in creating any app, especially a dating app. You must ask yourself questions such as - What is the competition? Which problems had they solved in which ways? And most importantly - what can you do better than them? Also, why are the users engaged in the app, and why do they want to stick to it? Is the in-app messaging process unique, or is it a voice and video calling feature standing out in this app? Or the premium features are particularly quaint? Check the user feedback about every app, look for some forums, and use the experience and mistakes of your competition to your advantage!
UX and UI - design plays a big part
UX, short for user experience, is the path a user must follow to obtain their goal in your app. UI, short for user interface, is everything a user sees in your app, such as designs, icons, colors. They're both part of a digital product design process.
In terms of a dating app, UX is one of the most challenging and crucial parts of designing the app. It can't duplicate the patterns previously used in other apps - another swiping app would be recognized as a Tinder wannabe and not received well by the public. It has to be new, fresh, and something that hasn't been used before. While it may pose a challenge, the resolution could be a breakthrough for your app. But you should also consider user behavior - if the new flow is too complicated or uninteresting, it could discourage users from using your app.
A part of the UX flow is also push notifications. It's one of the key features of the dating application - to inform the user that something has happened in the app with their profile. The push notification also enables users to reach the changed element by tapping the notification instead of searching it manually. A smart push notification strategy can keep your users engaged and, therefore keep them using your application.
UI is also a feature that should be prioritized. Since UI is everything the user sees, it should be clean to use but also attractive. An essential part of the app's design is also the app onboarding - the app's introduction. It must be easy to understand and engaging enough for the users not to skip it carelessly.
MVP stands for minimum viable product. This is the first version of your own dating app, containing every basic requirement for its launch. Exploring your MVP is a great way to see how your future users will respond to the app and obtain their suggestions for improvement. This kind of introduction can be a great asset in your marketing strategy. Taking advantage of this can lead to a successful launching campaign.
What should your app contain?
Let's talk about a dating app MVP. What are the absolute basic features of a dating application?
Log in - start your journey
The app onboarding is the first thing your user sees while launching the app. It guides them through creating an account, exploring the algorithm, and adding content to the app. The times of creating an account manually are slowly fading as social media login has been introduced. Social media accounts can now be used to log into many different apps, so allowing your user to log in through a social media account is a must to incorporate. Remember also about solid authentication of the profiles.
Show yourself! Profile creation
Every dating app requires the creation of a user's profile to be able to use the app efficiently. It's one of the first things you can do differently from your competition. Instead of uploading a photo and answering a list of questions, like in any other app, you can create an entirely new user onboarding flow. Add something fun to it - a little gamification or an avatar creation makes the process less dull for the user and makes them want to explore the app.
It's a match!
The matching algorithm is something that connects users. The possibilities of filters are endless - location, similar interests, a dream type, anything you're asking about in profile creation can lead to an effective match. It's also a moment where your creativity can shine. Why not gamify the moment of waiting while the matching algorithm is searching for a potential match? If the game is based on additional questions about the user, it can lead to even more effective matching.
Artificial intelligence can also be interesting in terms of creating the algorithm. It can generate more questions using information about what is important for particular groups of people. This information can be used to match users better.
Left or right? Showing interest
Swiping has become a primary way of showing interest or not since the introduction of Tinder. Known globally, it became a flagship of this app. Since incorporating the exact mechanism is no longer possible, you must create your own unique way for the user to show if they want to connect to someone. Gamification could be an answer to that once again - an easy game where the user's avatar and potential matches interact can become a cute way to say yes or no.
Messaging - the primary way of connection
In-app chat is essential for a dating application - without it, the app will struggle to function. You can incorporate this messaging function in a way that is fun and engaging for users. The personification of the messaging window makes the conversation more exciting and personal. Custom emojis can be used to show the personality of their user. Video chats could become a premium feature or an achievement upon sending enough messages or committing enough time into a conversation.
Secure users’ data
Data security is a particularly vulnerable matter in the case of a dating app. User profiles contain information that should not be leaked out of the app. While creating a dating app, include this matter in your talks with the development team. The app should not only be protected from your side of the server, but it's also wise to incorporate an option for a user to protect their privacy - a PIN or password login into the app lets you protect your users' privacy.
Reporting user behavior
Reporting user behavior in in-app chat should be one of the key features. This lets your users feel safer, as they're protected from rudeness, sexism, racism, and other potentially harmful behaviors. Monitor user behavior to prevent dangerous situations that could occur during first dates.
Additional features for your dating app
Artificial intelligence and its impact on dating apps
AI could be a great aid in creating an online app. From creating a matching algorithm to being a livebot helping with FAQs, AI is worth incorporating, as it can improve your app. There are even some trials in incorporating AI as a training model for flirting! They teach users how to respond to or approach certain situations based on dating statistics.
Team up with others to make your app attractive
Partnerships are beneficial for both sides in terms of dating applications. Reach out to taxi companies, restaurants, flower delivery companies, hotels, or any other business where you can mutually help each other grow. Promote them on your app for a discount for their services, and reap the mutual rewards. Your users will also thank you, as these partner companies can help their dates go smoother!
Oh no, you did not want to match with this person. How do you politely tell them that it was a mistake and you, in fact, didn't want to connect? Unmatching could be an easy solution to this terrible problem. A hidden but subtle option of "remove from matched list" could save many users' nerves.
How to create a successful dating app?
Finding a reliable development company is the most crucial thing in dating mobile app development. Development team will become the core of your project and will create your app, so it’s important to search thoroughly and ensure you find a team that matches your goals. It’s important to check potential teams’ background and opinions on the market. You can also meet with them and talk about the dating app development costs on a basic level as well as for additional features that you would like to develop later. The app development cost could be different depending on the app architecture and tech stack but also on the size of the team involved in app development.
App architecture and tech stack
After brainstorming with our best app developers, they agreed that the two best tech stacks exist to develop a dating application.
The first proposal from our app developers is:
This stack was recommended because of the uniformity of the programming languages, low time of development, low dating app development cost, easy scaling, and low maintenance cost.
But our dating app developers also proposed another technology stack:
This technology stack is characterized by mobile native languages, ensuring higher performance and security levels. Still, because of the need to write two apps in their native languages, the dating app development cost also rises significantly.
Dating app development team
The development team should match your expectations and details of the project. The basic MVP app development team should contain a team leader, for example, a scrum master, who would mediate between you and the rest of the team, a backend developer, a frontend developer, who usually is also a mobile developer in this case, and a tester, who would check if all the functionalities work correctly before releasing it to the public.
Developing a dating app is a great challenge but achievable with an experienced development team. Make sure to do your research and planning thoroughly to ensure that you can communicate your desires for your app with the development team. Consider essential elements of UX and UI, as well as creative features that make your app unique. The online dating market is rising quickly and is gaining more and more popularity, so if you're ready to invest in a dating application, we would be happy to support you through this journey from the beginning to the very end!
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