How to Start a Mobile Dating App

With the invasion of technology, life will never be the same again. Nowadays, people can’t imagine their lives without computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Consequently, it influences almost all sides of our lives – from work to personal life. Yeah, when it comes to personal life, technology is used actively. People use their smartphones not only to connect with those they already know, but to meet new people and build new relationships.

Dating applications are not going to stop being popular since the subject they cover will always be in demand. And it means that this industry has a great potential for launching a successful startup.

Dating apps market

Technology has changed the way people date, and there are no signs of slowing down. Online dating is becoming a mainstream. Meanwhile, online dating industry is generating more and more money. So, the idea to capture your part in this market place looks pretty attractive. However, despite becoming more popular in general, there are a lot of failures in this industry.

dating application

There is growing demand for dating applications as people tend to use them more often. It’s important and possible to find here your niche and target audience, interests of which you would satisfy. Plus, there are such ways of making income as premium features, ads, etc. At the same time, it is not that easy to break into this market because of strong competition. And, in order to boost your profit, there must be high brand recognition and you should capture the attention of a great deal of customers so that they will use your application. So, before entering this market, it’s important to be aware of your competitors and the most successful players in order to know what you want to create and how to overcome the obstacles on the way to success.

Types of dating apps

In general, there are four basic types of dating applications:

  • The ones providing matching based on geolocation information

  • Dating apps, which use matching algorithm, apply to the personal information about users and, this way, find the appropriate matches for the customers

  • Traditional dating applications, which are the mobile version of dating websites

  • Niche dating apps, which aim at some group of users.

Popular dating apps

So, there are several mobile dating applications extremely popular among users nowadays. Let’s take a closer look at them and identify, which specialties they use to attract customers.

Tinder

There are no doubts that Tinder is the front-runner in mobile dating industry. Having been launched in 2012 in the University of Arizona campus, its popularity grew so fast that it became widespread on the international level in less than one year. Though Tinder doesn’t announce its official statistics, the researches show that nearly 50 million people use this dating app.

tinder app

So what is the reason for its success? The answer is easy and lies in its simplicity. Tinder was revolutionarily simple. It is not about long questionnaires or complicated algorithms. You see the photo of the person in your location, you swipe to the left if you don’t like him/her or to the right if you would like to chat or meet that person and then, when there is a match, goes texting. It’s very easy to use and has a simple interface, which is why it engages a lot of customers.

Hinge

Hinge is called “Tinder for thinking people”, because there are more users with dating expectations rather than just-hooking-up ones. Hinge matches its users with their Facebook friends’ friends or third-degree connections and is spread among people who are tired of Tinder’s unstoppable swipes and strange profiles. However, concentrating on the friends-of-friends concept leads to fewer amount of matches because there are not so many people the user can be connected to.

Coffee Meets Bagel

Coffee Meets Bagel has creative branding lying in its name. A bagel is a profile of potential match and you are the coffee  looking for the bagel – your mate. There is the possibility of sending only one match every day at noon, which makes the process simpler and more time-effective.

The League


The League is described as Tinder for the elites. It offers signing up via LinkedIn, using educational and professional background of the clients as a base for screening and selection and allowing maximum of five potential matches a day. Its core value lies in its positioning – The League states it’s for the people with high standards, who prefer spending their time in more intelligent way.

Bumble

Bumble looks similar to Tinder and is considered to be not that “shameful”, giving a right to start a conversation only to girls. This makes an app appealing to female part of users, which is usually much smaller than the male part. What is more, users have only 24 hours after matching to start a conversation, which pushes girls to decide more quickly. In addition, it has user-friendly interface and easy setup.

There are also apps, which chose their target audience strictly. There is JSwipe only for Jewish people, Grindr for gay people, and Her for lesbian women. These apps are far not for everyone, but they have their strong communities, which express loyalty towards them.

Core features of dating apps

All dating apps include some common features, which must be considered:

Registration

Most of dating apps use signing up with other social networks such as Facebook, Google or Twitter. It is done in order to prevent the customers from fake accounts, which are so popular in this industry. Moreover, such registration options give you an access to the necessary information about the user – location, friends, hobbies, etc. All of these can be used for finding an appropriate match.

dating apps use signing up with other social networks

It is also very important to mention here that people are often scared to sign up this way because there is the possibility that these apps could share their personal information or post something on their FB timelines. That’s why, it is worth pointing out that it is not going to happen.

Profiles

All these long questionnaires with numberless questions online dating industry used to put in the user’s profile are now in the past. Writing much about oneself can be too disturbing and reading it can be even more. People tend to skip too much text, and are more attracted to visual elements. So, the main components of any dating app are images, location, and age. What is more, you have to try avoiding the registration of fake profiles, which is very common among dating sites and applications. Instead, you can register using Facebook, as was mentioned before, push others to use their real names, check the information about them and so on.

Matching algorithms

Online dating industry is popular for showing you the profiles of people, which are the most compatible with you. It can be a simple process, which lies in comparing attributes of the profiles,  or more complicated one with complex surveys and mathematical algorithms to match partners. For instance, EHarmony states it uses “29 key dimensions that help predict compatibility and the potential for relationship success”. Meanwhile, Zoosk evaluates compatibility using “yes” or “no” responses.

Real-time notifications

Nowadays, real-time is a new trend. It is very important to follow it and let your users know immediately when something happens. So, when a new message or match appears – there must be a notification about it, depending whether the user is online or offline.

General building stages of a dating app

Coming up with an idea. In order to launch an application of any type, you should have an idea. There must be clear a vision of what you want to create, a concept, which would be valuable for users. Moreover, when it comes to dating apps, you should determine your competitive advantages and decide on your niche – the target audience you will focus on. In the area of dating apps, there are many companies already aimed at people, who just look for a date. Therefore, targeting on people united with some spectacular feature, may provide you with your market share.

Mobilizing resources. Actually, your resources are you development team. You should have a team of developers, which would be ready and able to work on your application. Usually, a basic development team of such project would require of a project manager, a UI/UX designer, at least two developers, one backend developer, and a quality assurance engineer.

Making up a wireframe. On this stage, your ideas and sketches are drawn out in one picture. Wireframing reflects everything that is going to be on each page of an application and the way it’s connected. It also enables evaluation of the scope of the project and understanding how it’s going to look in practice.

Designing. Before you start coding, you must deal with design. Your dating app has to look and feel good. With User Experience (UX) you can set up the interaction system of the design elements, and User Interface (UI) will provide the look and beauty for your app. It’s very important for a dating app to have a user-friendly interface and ease of use, because customers won’t be eager to spend plenty of time examining how this application works.


Coding itself. When it comes to coding, keep in mind that there must be some specific features in dating apps, such as login, user profile, app and discovery settings, chat, geolocation, matchings, premium features, integration with some social network (Facebook, Instagram), etc.

Testing your application. Before your application is on the market it’s very important to make it reachable to the users who will beta test it. There must be some people using your application and providing feedback. The most important thing of this stage is not only letting users show its drawbacks, but also demonstrating an app to them so that they will be eager to use it and even promote this app in the future.

Launching the dating app. So, when your dating app is ready to enter the market, first thing you do is submit it to the relevant app store. Publishing your app to the app store can take a few weeks. In addition, marketplaces have different policies when it comes to this process. For instance, on IOS each app is manually reviewed and you must be ready to make some changes in order to launch it. Once your app is finally in the app store, it’s time to make it noticeable and widely used, which is a beginning of another long story.

How to make money with dating application

There are several ways to turn your dating application into money. The main are the following:

  • Paid subscription. Charging fee for a certain period of using your application

  • In-app ads. Advertisement is a popular way to earn money. At the same time it can be extremely annoying and intrusive for the users

  • Premium features. Such option allows access to some specific features of an application for some extra money

  • In-app purchases. Users buy some currency, stickers, or icons within an application.

making money on dating app
Many dating applications use access restriction or some additional features to make users pay for it. For example, Tinder Plus, the premium version of Tinder’s service, demonstrates how money can be made by making some crucial features of the app payable. Tinder Plus offers Undo button and Passport option for searching outside your current geographic region as premium features. But such trick pays out when there is high level of brand recognition and loyalty to the app – Tinder Plus was introduced after Tinder has already become popular.

Recommendations

  • Don’t make it overcomplicated – people like simple things (Tinder proves)

  • Design it for the ladies – there are usually less girls than boys using dating apps

  • Pick some selected location – for instance, a city with many students, and concentrate on it – everything big starts from small

  • Find your niche. In order to strike a market you need to offer something new, something that no one from your competitors had. When you enter a market and want to succeed you don’t have to satisfy everyone. You have to find your niche – a specific audience interests of which you will satisfy

  • Pay enough attention to the app promotion – use social media to advertise your app

  • Gamification of selection process makes it more interactive and interesting

  • Pay special attention to design and make it user-friendly

  • Create a monetization plan – the way you are going to make money from an app. What you need is creating something not only widespread and successful, but also profitable.


Author: Roma Gnatyk

Researcher, copywriter, social media manager

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