Nowadays, nobody could deny that dating philosophy changed dramatically within the past 5 years. Love is currently not just in the air but also in everybody’s smartphones. Also, there are no reasons to be in shame of telling friends that you’ve met your soulmate on Tinder.
Statistics said that over 46% of Americans use online dating apps in 2019 and, what is more astonishing, near 20% of relationships in the USA started from online communication. For other countries, statistics tend to become similar within a couple of years.
As a result, the online dating app market is still growing and there is a constant demand for innovative dating apps everywhere from China to New Zealand. In this article, we’ll figure out how to create a dating website and make it profitable in 2019.
How to Make a Dating App from Scratch
Everybody uses dating apps to create a couple or hang out, but we will hardly find two identical apps.
Tinder gives us a chance to decide on whether we would like to proceed communication with the person quickly, while OkCupid works with detailed profiles trying to push us to look for a partner that 99,9% suits us for months. Facebook Dating which is now been testing in Columbia looks similar to the native Facebook marketplace while Badoo had been grown from a regular dating website with its classical interface.
Naturally, it’s impossible to answer the question on dating app development procedure without considering which special features your app should have.
But, speaking generally, dating app development looks pretty similar to any other iOS and Android apps development.
In article about mobile app development cost, we’ve already described key stages of the process in details. Here, let’s recollect them briefly:
- Choose your app principles
- Find and develop a revenue model
- Decide on MVP features and plan marketing campaigns
- Work on structure and UX / UI design
- Develop an MVP and launch it
- Study feedback and work on mistakes
However, the thing you need to start building a dating site with is marketing research. There is no need to create a product that is identical to any other and there are no reasons to waste investments on development of the app that doesn't really have its audience. Marketing research helps to avoid those mistakes.
To save your time and money, learn more about the niche, keep your target group detailed and try to plan the financial success looking through already existing cases.
Choosing a Catching Name
Naming is a great issue for dating app startup. When it comes to love affairs, not all existing marketing models are well-applicable due to Google and social networks’ policy. Sometimes a brand name is the only thing you can say about your product legally.
And another reason for dating app marketing to be tricky is the public attitude to dating fever. Nobody wants to be caught on extra effort for trying to find a partner. Therefore, the name of your product should not shout from the screen of the smartphone “Look! This person does not have a loved one”.
That’s why naming as a part of marketing is extremely important for building a dating app. And if you’d like to learn more about it and apply bits of knowledge during startup planning in another field, go for our big guide on app naming.
But what is most important in dating app naming? Let us name some principles and rules:
- The name has to reflect app core features. Examples – both OkCupid and Match emphasis on the ability of apps to connect users with their future partners. Tinder hints fiery passion topic.
- You need to differentiate your app from the competitors and have your unique domain. Don’t use too popular words and already existing names. Check name availability before making the final decision.
- Make your app name easy to spell and remember. Mind that most short and memorable apps’ names consist of 2 syllables and not more than 10 symbols. Examples – Badoo, Bumble, and Pure.
- The name should be searchable but don’t name an app too keyword-sounding. Remember that you also have the description field to throw several keywords into it. However, having a searchable keyword in its name your product would be likely shown highly in the search listing. Example – Do I date with a date keyword and Luxy standing for luxurious dating.
- Play with words in order to make the name not sounding like “Hey! I’m using a dating app”. Tinder, Plenty Of Fish, and Coffee Meets Bagel are good examples of how to create a memorable name with indirect meaning.
Also, you need to decide if your product name needs to sound familiar to your audience and evoke pleasant associations or it should sound gorgeous and even a bit snob. Use your target user description to find answers and determine the core naming vector.
Make an amazing UI/UX dating app design
No doubt any app needs great UX and fabulous UI to be adored by its target audience. At the same time, dating app development has its specific design brackets. Here, we would like to list and describe the most important of them:
- Navigation and functionality. Think of classic dating navigation. It has to be easy and understandable from the first glance. Profile editing, partner search, and communication sections – all of them should be clarified for users.
- Introduce key feature. Why do users use a dating app? Naturally, they want to meet someone. In other terms, you need to provide them with easy and quick access to partner search. Let searching screen to be the basic one. Give users a chance to search for partners without long profile editing procedure.
- Plan chat options. Chatting interface is the second important feature of the dating app. People use them to find partners and then to meet with them. Chat gives an opportunity to decide whether a person worth meeting or not and to discuss the future meeting. Before designing your chat, learn what chat features your users really need. It may happen that you don’t have to waste money on video chats as people use your inbuilt messenger to exchange phones or Facebook profile links only.
- Develop an empathetic environment. Remember that dating is an emotional area. People may feel overdressed chatting with somebody they like a lot. That is also kind of heroic for some of them to text unknown person. How to make Tinder app? Be friendly and playful! Create a pleasant and safety design environment to make people forget about their hesitations and fears. Right UI will help people to avoid conflicts and devastation. Use clear buttons, bright colors, and short texts.
- Think of matching engine. People would adore your app if it proposes them lovely partners all the time. But how to make partner search quick and precise at the same time? UI is an answer. Tinder managed to automate the procedure using geolocation principle and analyzing social networks profiles. Happn pushes its users to fill in detailed profiles. Some apps are more creative – Badoo turns profile editing into funny game proposing users to select beloved celebrities; Hater connects partners who hate the same things. Most of the dating apps use AI permanently improving search mechanics. Decide what and when are you going to ask users about themselves in order to meet their expectations about finding a perfect partner.
- Design profiles carefully. Most people lie in their profiles. That causes user disappointment during 44% of offline dates. That’s why some app like Badoo added a live video chat option to the chat. But that is not the only way to strive for truth and user happiness in dating apps. Your app may check Instagram and Facebook information and browse some pictures automatically as Tinder does. Think of what your users may need in addition to the standard profile overview interface. For example, the well-spread trick is to create a two-tabbed interface for toggling between profile and chat. A great idea was also developed by Dine. The dating app integrates with Yelp and matches people with the same gastronomic preferences.
- Rise safety and control issues. No one wants others to ruin his or her privacy. That’s why not everybody is OK with logging in through Facebook or Instagram. But here, it is better to rise the feeling of control and safety generally than to lose social networks linking. How to evoke safety feelings? Bumble gives women some privileges – they text their male matches first and men have 24 hours only to respond. Dating app like Hinge pushes its users to browse video to the profile while others could give likes to it. Zoosk the dating app that describes itself as a tool for people looking for serious relations has phone and photo validation feature.
MVP for a Dating App
How to create a dating app? Building an MVP is the best way to test your app idea and prevent yourself from wasting money on an idea that would not work well.
Use our full MVP-building guide to learn the process in details and avoid critical drawbacks. Here, we’ll apheresis the key points and highlight specific rules of creating a proper dating MVP taking Tinder as an example.
First, let’s analyze the Tinder application. Probably, it is the most minimalistic dating app ever created. And the simplicity of Tinder is likely to be its strength, that’s why Tinder hasn’t been changed too much since it had been launched in 2014. To create something similar to Tinder, it is mandatory to consider the app key features. Don’t worry we’d already done it for you:
- Sign In. Long registration with creating a unique password and email link verifying process is now the part of the past. If you don’t want to lose half of your potential users, you need to create a quick sign-in feature with registration via Facebook, Instagram or other social network profile.
- Profile. The user profile should be editable and indicate a person’s appearance and other facts such as interests, hobbies, occupation and something from the bio. Make sure that users will guess how to fill the profiles. That is also important to arrange the profile sections in a simple and convenient way to help other users to read the information and make decisions without hesitations.
- Geolocation. Not only Tinder, but most of the dating apps use mobile geolocation tracking to show users the potential soulmates who are easy to meet with. Integrate the feature in order to gather people from the same area.
- Matches. Nowadays, matching algorithms are mostly AI-based. Consider this! AI development may cost your extra money and requires skilled teammates.
- Chats. Users need a tool to contact each other. Chats may fulfill their need to know partners better and decide if they meet the expectations. Video chatting integrations, voice clips, GIFs and stickers posting – all of those features are obligatory for the dating app if you want to keep your users inside the app all the time. Otherwise, they would jump into another more functional messenger soon after matching.
- Notifications. Users will spend more time inside your app if you give more reasons to do so. Notifications are a good idea of how to let the user check the app frequently and stay in instant contact with potential soulmates.
- App settings. Most users are OK with default app settings, but not all of them. App setting dashboard integration includes notification muting, filters customization, and visibility modes.
- Admin panel. That one will be hidden from the users and that is you and your support team who will access an admin panel through the desktop version. Admin panel should be created to provide you with a possibility to block users, solve conflicts, and study user experience.
Dating App Marketing Plan. What’s special?
How to gain first really loyal users of yours and attract millions of others? For that, you need a proper marketing plan.
To develop app carefully you need to have at your hand at least target audience and market researches.
The last one includes competitive niche analysis, index of market niche growth and some numbers performing how much money you could get from launching a brand new dating app right now.
Having all this you are able to calculate marketing outcomes, compare them with expected incomes and finally decide what kinds of marketing tricks are most profitable for you.
Consider that dating app promotion has legal restrictions. For example, there is no chance to promote such apps within Instagram or Facebook, so you have to create a lead form to gather email and forward ads to subscribers’ mailboxes.
Most of general informational portals would refuse your advertisement pointing that it is adult content. As a result, your marketing arsenal may seem very limited to you. But that is far from the truth. Here are some tips that will help to answer the question of how to make a dating app and build its marketing plan right:
Look for your niche and promote your solution on specialized platforms
Is it possible to create an app like Tinder or Facebook now? No, but it is not a problem anymore.
Face the fact that you don’t need everybody's’ attention for launching a product successfully. Take your target user portraits, list key problems that you help them to solve and then find out where the best place to tell the potential users about the advantages of your solution is.
Example – Bumble app allows nobody but women to make the first move so not surprising that it is promoted through women magazines as well as psychological communities. Tastebuds dating app is aimed at music lovers and Bro App for Men was created for those who want to start a bromance. They also use specialized promotional channels.
Work on corporate image. Let people think they are just having fun!
Tinder was first who turned the soulmate search into a swiping game where users could pretend they were just playing. However, dating experience gamifying is not the only way to make an app exciting and engaging. The other one is to design an unpredictable searching award such as fancy animation.
You may also create limited offers. Examples – Coffee Meets Bagel shows you only one match per day exactly at noon and Happn sends you a push notification when you’ve crossed paths with a partner.
Encourage users to share their love stories!
Due to fun dating gamification, more and more people are not shy anymore about the fact they use dating app. And moreover, millennials share their digital dating experience with great pleasure turning it into a thing to be proud of.
In 2019, your task is to let people share their successful love stories and generate app-related content wherever it is possible, especially on Facebook and Instagram. Promote your app using hashtags and user content.
Examples – Tinder has 5,000 social networks mentions daily having sharing options inside the app.
Make Friends with Influences
Yes, you are not allowed to promote yourself on Facebook and Instagram, but there was nothing said about crowd marketing, feedback-based promotion, and other types of organic buzz.
Invest in the search for people your target audience respects. Invite them to try your app and share the experience with their subscribers.
Don’t use straight forward promotional video with stars using your app (especially if they don’t). Collaborate with those who would like to test your product. That was a brilliant Hinge idea to mix user and influencers marketing content using a memorable hashtag.
And one more tip. Your marketing plan should be ready before the development process or at least 2 months before the official launch. Include plan A, B, and C to it, set success indicators, and calculate costs carefully. Prepare marketing road map and budget in advance.
Principles and Mechanics to Build a Dating App: Tinder and OkCupid Examples
At first glance, most dating apps look similar. Users register, search for soulmates, choose between them and then the conversation begins. But, depending on the particular app idea, the dynamics, a number of founded partners, searching time and conversation style may vary.
Here, we would like to compare the principles and mechanics of the two polar dating apps. The one is Tinder that is considered to have the most minimalistic dating app design in the world. The second app is OkCupid, Tinder nearest competitor. See, how different approaches could be applied while building a dating site:
Established – 2012
Number of users (2019) – 57 million
Monetization model – Freemium
Tinder is a world dating leader and the explanation of its success is the fact that the app is very simple and therefore quick and understandable for everybody. It is also the first dating app that has turned soulmate search into a game of swipes.
And yes, Tinder is a pioneer of the dating app field. Its breakthrough was such a brilliant that the team still doesn’t have much to improve – Tinder of 2012 looks similar to Tinder of 2019.
Dating mechanics. User needs to download an app and sign in using his or her Facebook or Instagram account. People could also sign in with an email and by creating an individual password, however, everybody has to prove that they are older than 18.
Then user set up a profile writing 500-character bio and downloading up to 6 images. Linking an Instagram account means that others could check your Instagram photos. The user finishes the profile with additional information about his or her working place which is optional.
When the profile is complete, the user goes to partner search. There, the Tinder app shows full-screen photos with names and ages. Tapping on the photo, the user could check other information like bio, the number of mutual friends on Facebook or employee name.
Right swipe stands for a like and left swipe is for passing the candidate. To give a person super like user needs to swipe up. If users liked each other, Tinder shows that they are matched and invites them to text one another.
The app doesn’t allow people to text others if they didn’t like them in response. Paid Tinder version unlimits daily swipes and gives you more super likes.
Established – 2004, launched as an app in 2012
Number of users (2019) – 10 million
Monetization model – Freemium
Back in 2004, OkCupid was launched as a regular desktop dating service. In 2012, it has been also started as an app with all the features and ideas has been performed by its web version.
In 2019, all dating apps tend to become similar to Tinder. OkCupid is not an exception. However, it has its own specific features and unique selling proposition.
Dating mechanics. A user downloads an app, creates a username and starts filling out the profile. The user could link an Instagram account to the app, but the main idea is to answer a very long list of specific questions. Some of them are about your expectations as for partners’ answers for the same questions. The user could choose to make the answers public or hide them at all, mark some of the questions as important and the rest as optional.
From its side, OkCupid app compares answers and gives scores to users in order to create an ideal match. There is a slide-out menu where you could find people you may like, but if you don’t want to read profiles or compare potential candidates, click quick match option and choose between several photos selected by the app.
The user could give likes to others, but, in fact, the better idea is to text the person directly. Likes are shown to paid users only (A-list status users).
OkCupid allows anybody texts anybody else which is a serious drawback according to users’ feedbacks.
The app interface also may look clunky and too complicated as in fact an app is just the simplified version of the web site, where same features work well.
The Technology of Attraction: How to Make an App Like Tinder?
In 2012, Tinder was a revolutionary app that became popular within several months. It is a niche leader and at the same time a flagman everybody would like to learn from. But what is Tinder and what had dating app developers done to it to make the app so unique?
Tinder is a location-based social search mobile app aimed at matching people from the same area. The name of the app means fuze or candlewick which probably hints that the application allows you to find a partner for a hot relationship.
Tinder has a Freemium revenue model and 4.1 of 57 million of Tinder users around the world are Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold subscribers. In 2018, Tinder year revenue reached $800 million.
So what is behind those numbers? The answer is the technology of user attraction. Let’s explore some of its features:
All you need is to sign in and swipe. Big pictures, simple gestures and easy to access chat features.
Tinder was first who matched dating platform with GPS tracking mobile feature successfully. The trick is we are more likely to start relationship with somebody from the same street than the one over the ocean.
Finding similarities automatically
OkCupid went further than other applications in this question, but its weakness is that no one wants to fill out questionnaires for years.
Tinder analyzes profiles automatically, compares our Facebook and Instagram profiles and browses information on our friends from social networks without our extra effort. We don’t need to spend much time on our profiles – all we need to do is to check what Tinder picked up for us.
AI approach to behavior analysis
The user produces a lot of data. Tinder algorithms analyze it immediately, learn from it, and try to adopt the search engine to the particular person dating style. The app shows more people of the kind you supposed to like according to your previous behavior and doesn’t show those who are not of your favorite type.
But no matter how attractive it looks to repeat everything that Tinder has done on a market that it has not reached yet, think about this twice. In the global market, the platform is already known. Instead of copying, try to create a niche resource based on Tinder concept. Tinder for LGBT, people of a certain age or interest – these are always some free niches in many regions.
How Much Does It Cost to Make an App Like Tinder?
How to make an app like Tinder? Tinder-like app development is a process which is pretty similar to any other mobile app building. You need to start with an idea and general marketing plan, switch to design and finish with native, cross-platform or web app development.
In the previous article, we’ve already described factors that affect development budget. Here, we are trying to calculate the final development costs of Tinder clone according to our pricing.
Tinder has two native versions of its app – iOS and Android ones. To count how much it would cost to build an MVP app, we listed all the features performed in Tinder and accompanied them with a number of hours required for development and integration:
Sign in feature – 8 hours
Instagram integration – 40 hours
Profile photo editing and gallery arrangement – 10 hours
User profile editing – 40 hours
App settings – 10 hours
GPS tracking – 8 hours
Matching algorithms (plus AI engine development) – 200 hours
Matching menu and swipe effects – 40 hours
Push notifications – 8 hours
Chats – 80 hours
Payment methods integration – 20 hours
Admin panel – 80 hours
Mind that features development is not the only services you need to pay in order to get a ready to use solution. Your team also need UI and UX design, QA, and marketing support.
To provide you with admin access to everything that is going on inside Tinder world, developers also have to create a web-based admin panel. That is also a good idea to create a dating website for users who would like to check what's new on Tinder being at work.
To calculate the final bill we’ve taken the average Eastern Europe hourly rate which is also the rate of LANARS work – $50 per hour. So here, you may find general project costs split by type of work:
Project management – 100 hours
UI / UX design – 100 hours
Native mobile development (iOS and Android) – 600 hours (300 for each platform)
Web app development – 180 hours
Marketing strategy development and implementation – 200 hours
QA assistance – 220 hours
There are 1,400 hours and $70,000 in total. Usually, dating app developers team that could cope with tasks like this consists of a backend developer, a designer, an Android developer, an iOS developer, a project manager, a marketing specialist, and a QA engineer. To speed up product development, you can double the number of all team members, except for the designer and project manager.
How Do Dating Apps Make Money
There are more than 1,500 dating apps currently matching people around the world. Most of them are free, but it doesn’t mean that they get zero revenue daily.
Speaking generally, most dating apps are using one of the three business models – subscription model, freemium or in-app purchasing model. To learn about all existing monetization concepts read our big app monetization guide.
In addition, app owners could sell in-app advertisement space or propose some kinds of offline services like table bookings and interpreter hiring.
Let us describe those concepts and give you some examples:
Download an app and use its key features for free. To use extra features, such as account boosting, profile verification, unlimited amount of swipes, super likes or direct texting to the chosen person, you need to pay once.
Freemium apps also get extra revenue from ad-based collaborations that sometimes get even viral (like Tinder campaign for Ex Machina movie where the profile of movie character had appeared in the system). Other Freemium examples – Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and OkCupid. Premium version of Freemium apps also doesn’t have ads.
The concept is popular among luxurious apps for serious relations, or those who provide extra privacy and exclusive types of partnership. Some of the apps ask for payment weekly – most of them are aimed at people who search for legal commitment, but the rest has a monthly subscription plan. Longer periods are usually cheaper. Examples – Luxy, Raya, Zoosk, and Chemistry.
In-App purchases and extra offline services
Sometimes an app could propose its users to upgrade profile, enable particular features, or purchase digital gifts. Those things are usually cheaper than entire subscription where you could get some of them for free on a regular basis.
Additional services often include services related to dating arrangements. Examples of apps pursuing on in-app purchases – Happn, Plenty Of Fish, and Hinge.
The audience of dating services can turn into an excellent base of future customers for brands. An app already knows a lot about these people including information on what they love, where they eat, how they relax, and that’s not counting their gender and age. That is a great advantage for brands.
It is not surprising that in free applications we find targeted advertising of restaurants, lingerie shops, and jewelry salons.
Examples of apps with ads – Match (check ad campaign for Starbucks) and Tinder (has regular collaborations with brands and organizations like Domino’s, Amnesty International, and Diageo).
Despite the fact that most of the applications on App Store and Play Market are free and show advertising to their users, in the world of dating apps advertising-based concept is not that profitable. Half of their revenue still comes from premium users.
According to eHarmony research, by the end of 2031, every second married couple will have met online, which means that there will be a constant demand for dating apps during the next 10 years. And one more fact. Nowadays, as much as 48% of online dating services users reach their soulmates via mobile devices and the number continues to grow.
Everything suggests that you can not lose a minute. The main players on the modern dating app market are Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, and Hinge, but their users have a lot of claims to the products.
In your dating startup, you can use the experience of leaders to create an app like Tinder and even better.
Ask yourself how to create a dating website with competitor research at your hand.
The market is on the side of dating applications. The most profitable model of monetization of this product is Freemium which is easy to build. But the most interesting thing about dating apps is that there can be as many of them as there are segments of the audience. So study your target groups, find intriguing insights, build your marketing plan and rush into the market.