Building Your Own Dating App: Everything You Need To Know
The concept of dating cannot be put into the exact timeline. Humans have been known to date their counterparts for as long as they have set foot on this earth.
With time, the methods, approach, the process has seen its fair share of nuances. But the core idea of dating has remained the same since time immemorial.
Cut to today, dating is still the same--knowing the other person by spending time with them which may or may not lead to a long-term significant other. But today, dating has got a prefix attached to it.
When people today talk about dating, most of the times it is online. We now say online dating more frequently. The online dating industry has flourished.
Tinder, Happn, Bumble, OKCupid etc are some of the big names in the online dating industry. But it does not end there. These are the old players who have tasted success in the very early stages.
This is because people love to connect with each other especially when they know that they are on a shared platform where each one of them is looking for something common: a partner to date. When people meet on dating platforms, the first step is already cleared--everyone knows that the other person is interested in dating.
Hence, providing a unique platform where like-minded users meet their counterparts adds to the value that automatically attracts profits like magnets.
Further, without beating around the bush of anthropology, we will directly focus on climbing the hill of building an online dating app from scratch.
Step-by-Step Guide to Build a Dating App
Making an online dating app is not easy, but it’s no rocket science either. What code to write and how to include the arrays? Leave that to us.
We have dedicated step by step tutorials to guide you through developing your own dating app using VueJS & React. This blog, however, will focus on the primordial requirements to create the app.
1. Understand User Expectations
No doubt this has to be the first step towards the goal. Understanding the complete picture of how users will behave online by generalizing the facts and figures may not be the correct way to start. Each user has a different set of expectations when they choose to start online dating.
Elite Daily asked 28 men about what they want from dating apps. The answers were honest and shocking at the same time. Surprisingly not all guys wanted the same thing. From casual hook-ups to finding Ms. Perfect and finding love without having any idea of what they are doing there.
Many women openly talked about what they expect from dating apps. And this goes on to hit the last nail on the line that what people want is purely subjective and requires a detailed study about human behavior in a particular niche.
2. Choose Your Apps Features
What goes under the hood? What elements make this task possible? Let’s look at what features are necessary for a dating app.
Text Messaging: This is the Oxygen of the dating platform; a chat feature keeps the online dating platform alive. This is addressing the fundamental requirement of a dating app--the interaction. The more people interact on your dating app, the more they will visit the app or the website.
Push Notification: Users get notified about important events where either someone took interest in their profile, or their profile matched with the other or if someone sent them a message
User Interface: Tinder owes its success to a clean and neat User Interface. And so does Match.com. With a hefty amount of data and features to be presented under one platform, it’s easy to get distracted. Less is more. Keeping the user interface simple and effortless leads to a successful user journey intended for the platform.
Matchmaking: Segmenting the user profiles according to criteria based on age, location, profile, interests, mutual connections etc. The algorithm should be designed in a way where users get the best match analyzing their data sets.
User Profiles: This should enable users to visit and view different profiles they are interested in. Admin functionalities later decide how many profiles can a user visit per day, how to notify if someone visited the profile, etc.
Social Media Authentication: In order to curb spammy profiles and bots, user authentication through social media integration is imperative. Additionally, this also helps in connecting two different users based on their mutual connections. This increases the chances of user interaction.
Location Targeting: With the help of GPS, Google maps and analytics, segmenting profiles based on the users location becomes easy and feasible. Location targeting or mapping is one of the most critical features for an online dating platform. Mapping allows us to build important features of the platform like geocoding, geohashing, proximity awareness.
3. Include Gamification
A gamification layer can be defined as something wherein the user behavior is reinforced by perceived benefits and one which rewards in a strategic, deep-rooted and addictive design & UX.
The core idea behind gamification of the app is to build a system that incentivizes player, so they feel a sense of accomplishment for engaging in the main actions.
Providing Limited Resources
People easily get bored and distracted with something that is abundant. With limited options provided, users are more likely to be intrigued by the app. It keeps them hooked.
The idea behind providing a single ‘Super-Like’ per day is to increase the retention rate by letting users login every day and spend their share of super likes. This also helps drive revenue through users purchasing additional super likes.
Implant a Sense of Ownership
A sense of ownership gives users something which they love and cherish. In terms of online dating, users love and cherish when someone visits their profile or gets a view.
By giving ownership of their profile data, display pictures, and profile information, users feel in charge of the outcome.
Easy Gesture Controls
Just like one would do in games, apps like Tinder have simplified user gestures on mobile. Without having to touch an infinite amount of times on the screen, Tinder makes it easy and fun to make decisions on the app.
More than 80% of the important app features are managed with swipes; right, left, up, and down. Instilling a similar feature that gamifies the user experience in the app makes it more likable.
4. Ensure User Data Protection and Security
With the huge amount of users’ data and private information, security should be top-notch. Also, the messages that users send should be securely encrypted.
It’s safe to tell that one of the most indispensable steps for a dating app security checklist is implementing strong authentication and authorization mechanisms.
Considering privacy, session management, identity management and device security, a strong authentication process is imperative. Enforcing a multi-factor authentication, rather than just relying on usernames and passwords alone is a must.
Strongly recommended technology is OAuth 2.0 authorization framework or the OpenID Connect protocol considering the most current versions.
Secure Communication Between Servers
Online dating apps incessantly communicate with other systems such as back-end servers, cloud-based services, chat servers, GPS etc.
For securing these communications, Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, and have a process to validate security certificates are implemented.
In addition, all APIs that the app uses should be secured. iOS includes App Transport Security, a feature that forces apps to use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure when connecting to back-end services.
App Data Protection
Since the app stores personal data like name, number, social media profile and pictures and also the location, encryption has to be done wherever the data resides, whether in files, databases or other data stores.
Latest and most proven encryption technologies include 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard symmetric-key algorithm. Whenever the app displays sensitive data, it should be masked, exposing only what is necessary.
Later into the app lifecycle, taking up heavy security measures is, both, time-consuming and costly. Hence, taking up these measures from the very start is essential.
Learn more about data protection regulations in this article - GDPR: A Carrot and Stick Approach on Data Privacy
5. Choose Technology Stack & APIs
Once you have zeroed down on the user expectations, next comes the deciding technology stack. After finalizing the technology stack, next comes the inclusion of gamification.
Since the baseline for the application is ready, next up is the security measures that are required for the app. Combining all these elements, a raw structure of application starts developing.
The application has now started getting its own structure. Now will be the good time to decide the required technical functionalities.
All the purchases made on dating apps are usually intangible, they fall under the category of digital goods. So, use of payment gateway is not necessary. In order to process the in-app purchases, simply integrate Apple and Google’s wallet for the app.
Push notification play a vital role in the functionality of an app. Users too understand that. Each notification is subjective to the user hence seamless bidirectional low latency data transfer is required. In order to keep the users engaged, the app should be able to send push notification with minimum latency.
Preferred Technology Stack
Previously we had an overview about the technology stack of Match.com and Tinder. What are the preferred tech stack for modern online dating apps?
Python - A general purpose, high level programming language.
Node.js - Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment for developing server-side web applications.
MongoDB - MongoDB is the next-generation NoSQL database that helps businesses transform their industries by harnessing the power of data.
Redis - Redis is an open-source, BSD licensed, advanced key-value data structure server.
ReactiveX - ReactiveX is a library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs by using observable sequences.
Perl is a programming language especially designed for text processing.
Bolts - Bolts is a collection of low-level libraries designed to make developing mobile apps easier.
Crashlytics - Crashlytics offers a crash-reporting solution for Android and iOS.
Fabric- Fabric is a modular mobile platform that helps you build the best apps.
Cloudflare- Cloudflare DNS is a free, authoritative DNS service.
New Relic- New Relic is a SaaS-based software analytics platform offering app performance management and mobile monitoring solutions.
Rollbar- Rollbar provides real-time error tracking services for developers to detect errors in web applications.
Nginx- Nginx is a free, open-source, high-performance HTTP server and reverse proxy, as well as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server.
For server, either Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud is preferred.
Branch Metrics - Branch helps mobile apps grow with deep links that power referral systems, sharing links and invites with full attribution and analytics.
Apache Hadoop - Hadoop is an open-source software framework written in Java for distributed storage and distributed processing of very large data sets.
Google Analytics - Google Analytics is a free service that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website.
Google Fonts - Free, open-source fonts optimized for the web.
Adobe Typekit - Typekit is a subscription font service that brings thousands of fonts from foundry partners into one library for quick browsing, easy use.
Spine Animation - Spine is 2D skeletal animation software.
Registering new users or authorizing new user login is a vital step for an online dating app.
An aching pain for online dating apps is the number of fake profiles that people set up. There can be any number of reasons for users to set up fake profiles but this directly harms the credibility of the app. It affects the user behaviour with the app and they refrain from using the application in future.
In order to curb these, various methods can be implemented.
Ask users to register on the dating app with their Facebook profile and get their identity verified from there. Even though it does not take more than a few minutes to create a fake Facebook profile, a threshold should be put on number of users, profile information, likes etc which a valid user has.
An active Facebook user for example has an average of Five likes per picture or has a minimum amount of 50 friends on his/her profile. This is just an example to understand what kind of threshold can be kept.
Connecting a user's profile through social media provides a copious amount of personal information including images and videos. All the data required for the dating app is siphoned from their Facebook and Instagram activities.
Considering that each legitimate user profile has 15 pictures on an average per social media, when millions of users register through their social profiles, this data is inflated with time.
This is an example of database connection where each data set is intricately connected with the impertinent qualifying element.
Now, talking about the location, a few apps might use Google maps to pinpoint the correct location of a user, and some might use the location entered by the user on their social media profiles to get the idea about the location. It all depends on the user behaviour with the app.
In this manner, information will flow through various channels at all times. In order to create a strong user profile, database connection is required. This allows for a seamless flow of information from one node to another.
User Privacy Controls
Every service where users are required to put up their personal data on the server is obligated to grant users complete privacy control of their data. User privacy controls should be mitigated based on the information provided by them.
7. Develop Your Apps Matching Algorithm
In 2007, Gavin Potter, a retired management consultant with a degree in psychology, made headlines when he competed successfully in the Netflix Prize, a $1m competition to improve the recommendations its website offered to the members. The approach he took was called collaborative filtering.
Collaborative filtering collects the preferences of many people, and groups them into sets of similar users. Because there's so much data, and so many people, what these users might have in common isn't always clear to anyone but the algorithm, but it works; and this was back in 2007.
Does this ring a bell?
Segmenting a set of users with similar interests into a certain group imbibes a sense of emotional proximity to the users.
The algorithm logs
How many profiles did a user discover in that session,
How many did a user respond to,
The average amount of time spent by the user on a profile to take a decision,
The number of times a user responded negatively or positively,
The location where a user found the most number of matches or where he found the least number of those,
How many profiles did a user visit per day,
How many matches does a user get on an average and how many do they respond to.
Saving all these preferences helps the app understand user behaviour which in turn enhances the user experience. Such algorithms harness the ability of machine learning techniques to learn from successful or failed matches, thus adjusting the future suggestions accordingly.
8. Design an Engaging User Experience
As we previously discussed, the reason why Tinder struck a chord with its users is because of the amazingly clean and uncomplicated layout. Tinder’s UX is neat and easy to understand. Finding a date online is already complicated for some users, and we don’t want to add to the woes.
The core concept behind any dating app is simple: match users based on their likes and interests, location, and preferences. It’s the how that separates the best from the average. What path one takes makes that huge difference.
Let’s look at different forms of layout suitable for the dating app.
Card Style Layout
This is the famous ‘Tinder’ layout. Card style interface can be considered native to dating apps.
Notable feature is the ability of the user to swipe the top card and instantaneously display the card along with a ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ stamp on the card interface.
One to take care of is that cards chunk the content inside closed walls; they divide content into meaningful sections. Studies confirm that going card-based images is a strength of card-based design. Also, cards are more adequately designed for thumbs.
Users understand the physics of card design and turn it over for more information. Taking into account these factors, a card based layout is therefore considered the most appropriate design for an online dating app.
List Style Layout
A fine example of this layout type is Badoo. Even though Badoo displays the user's profile in a similar manner as Tinder, it stands out because of its bubble-view where the user's name and image are displayed inside a small circle.
Another prominent example is Match.com. Match uses the legacy list interface where users can choose which profile to view from a list of displayed results.
A list layout is popular among legacy users who have been using dating sites before the age of Tinder. A card layout, on the contrary, is more popular among millennials.
To ease the process of adding chat APIs, we have created step by step tutorials to help you build chat for your dating app. It takes less than an hour to integrate with most technologies and frameworks. Plus our Chat APIs are free to start with, highly robust and secure, and comply with most data protection regulations like GDPR, SOC 2, etc.
Here are three of our most popular tutorials for dating apps:
Now that you have the recipe, simply gather the ingredients and churn out the most innovative application that the dating world has ever seen! Start building with CometChat for free. Or get in touch with us to learn more.
About the Author
Ravi is the Director of Engineering at CometChat and loves programming and building products. Ravi is an avid problem solver with an profound expertise in technology and software development. For Ravi, writing on the internet is about sharing his learnings and expertise with fellow programmers and tech enthusiasts.