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, eHarmony, 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.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do not echo this purpose. Users on these platforms do not whether an individual on that platform is interested in dating or even minutely thinking of it.
No one can take a guess. And this makes people avoid taking a leap of faith on such websites. On the other hand, when users meet other individuals on dating platforms, the first step is already cleared--everyone knows that the other person is interested in dating.
Social interaction and the warmth of others is what keeps us as humans going. Deep down, people crave for social interaction because the fire burns at the very core of human evolution.
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 to create an online dating app; from the scratch.
What Are The Basic Requirements To Create An Online 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’ll have a dedicated blog post for you to follow as a step by step guide to creating your own dating app. This blog, however, will focus on the primordial requirements to create the app.
1.0 Understanding User Expectations of the target audience
No doubt this has to be the first step towards the goal. Not just with online dating, but for any business, to keep in mind the user expectations of its targeted audience is the base on which a successful business will stand. The road to a winning online dating business is paved by serving what the users expect from your app.
Let us the face the fact: Relationships are hard. Not because it requires an Einstein to decipher them, but because they are purely subjective.
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 do 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 to having no idea what they are doing there.
“I have profiles on Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. What I’m looking for depends on my mood, but ... I do want a boyfriend. I’ve gone on a couple dates and actually ended up 'talking' to someone [from a dating app]. Things didn’t work out, but it was nice to bond with someone.” says Tara, 25.
“I’m looking for something less serious than a relationship, partially due to the fact that I'm leaving the area and don’t want to get attached to anyone.” says Ana, 23.
More such 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.
1.1 Core Requisites, Deciding Technology Stack & APIs
What goes under the hood? What elements make this task possible? Let’s look at what features are necessary for a dating app.
- Messaging or Chat
- Push Notifications
- User Interface
- Custom Profile
- Social Media Authorization
- Location Targeting
These are some of the most basic things one would look for in a dating app. These are the prerequisites one should focus on.
Messaging or Chat: 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 platform, 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.
Choices: Platform should have ample adequate amount of choices available. The system needs to avoid Choice Paralysis in all case.
Custom 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 is someone visited the profile etc
Social Media Authorization: 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 their location becomes easy and feasible. Location targeting or mapping is one of the most critical feature for an online dating platform. This is one the preferences users have. Mapping allows to build important features of the platform like geocoding, geohashing, proximity awareness.
Examples Of Technology Stack Behind Renowned Dating Platforms
Marketing: Google Tag Manager, PageFair, Return Path, Revcontent, Rubicon Project, Taboola.
Product & Design: Google Fonts, Fancy Box
Analytics: Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Yahoo! Analytics.
HR: HackerRank & Jobvite.
Productivity & Operations: HelloSign & Zoom
Android/iOS mobile app stack: Swift, Objective C, Java, Ruby/Cucumber & Rubymotion.
Website stack: jQuery, Node.js & Nginx
Marketing: Google Doubleclick, Google AdMob & AppsFlyer
These are the two prime examples of technology stacks required for a dating app. Both these websites have a large number of user profiles and segmentation stored in the backend.
Taking into consideration both these examples, one can rely on similar technologies for making a new online dating platform.
Further, the app requires integrating third-party APIs in order to enable the chat functions. There are several APIs available which work seamlessly with the platform.
It’s easier than ever to integrate a chat API on a website or an app. Let’s say, for example, the dating platform is based on Angular JS, with just a few clicks, the chat module can be integrated with the platform.
1.2 Inclusion Of 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 get easily 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. Provide sufficient amount of access and daily resources to the users and let the users decide how they want to use them.
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
We have seen games like Farmville, Sim City etc where users are made to feel they own the Farm or the City in these cases respectively.
These give 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 connected.
- Easy Gesture controls
Just like one would do in games, app like Tinder has simplified user gestures on mobile. Without having to touch infinite amount of times on the screen, Tinder made is 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.
1.3 Data Protection and Security
With the huge amount of user’s data and private information, security should be top-notch. Also, the messages that users send should be encrypted end-to-end.
In order to build basic security, a PGP based cryptographic encryption should suffice. Let us focus on the three central aspects obligatory to an online dating app.
- Strong Authentication and Authorization
It’s safe to tell that one of the most indispensible 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.
In addition, protecting authentication data such as passwords should also be taken into consideration since this app stores user’s personal data. Hence a system which asks for authorization at every stage of the authentication process is considered a safe bet.
- 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.
The team must also ensure that no sensitive data is exposed through push notifications, text messages or chats.
- 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.
1.4 Technical Requisites
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.
- Payment Wallet
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
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 should be the preferred tech stack for a new online dating app?
- 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.
- 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.
- Product Design
- 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.
- Google doubleclick- DoubleClick is a digital advertising solution from Google.
- Google sign in- Google Sign-In is a secure authentication system that enables users to sign in with their Google accounts.
- Facebook Login- Facebook Login is a secure, fast and convenient way for people to log into your app or website.
- Apps Flyer- Leading data-driven marketers rely on AppsFlyer for independent measurement solutions and innovative tools to grow their mobile.
- Google AdMob- AdMob is a mobile advertising network that helps app developers monetize and promote their mobile and tablet apps with ads.
- Customer support
- Zendesk- Zendesk provides a SaaS suite that offers help desk ticketing, issue tracking, and customer service support.
- Ethnio- Ethnio lets businesses create a screener and schedule participants for research.
- Polljoy- A prompt for feedback and 5 star ratings on Unity, iOS, Android and HTML5.
For server, either Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud is preferred.
Creating a Login and Register Module and Connecting it With a Database
This is a more detailed aspect to the authorization and user authentication module of the app. 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 profile that people set up. There can be any number of reasons for users to set up fake profile 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.
2.0 Social Registration
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.
Similarly, another to sign up users on the app is through their email ids. A confirmation link can be sent to their authentic email account in order to validate the user for legitimacy.
2.1 Database Connection
Connecting user’s profile through social media provides with copious amount their personal information including their 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 inflated with time.
This is an example of database connection where each data set is intricately connected with the impertinent qualifying element.
Information sourced from social media or email integration provides the Name, Age, Religion, Gender, Location, Interests, Likes, Mutual Friends, Images every other type of information a user has provided online.
Now, Instagram may provide more number user’s pictures than Facebook and on the other hand Facebook provides information about their mutual connections, likes and dislikes. If another user has signed up through email, for that account Google sign up, the app will get a different set of information about their pictures and mutual connections.
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.
2.2 Saving Discovery Preferences for Matching Algorithms
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 too 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 exactly the thing is that these groups 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?
This is how most of today’s dating algorithms work. Segmenting a set of users with similar interests into a certain group imbibes a sense of emotional proximity to the users.
In the app whenever the user opens it, the underlying algorithm logs each and every step from the time when a user opened the app till closing it.
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.
2.3 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.
Creating Layout For User Functionality
As we previously discussed, the reason why Tinder struck a chord with its users is because of a 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 a 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 goingcard-basedimages is a strength of card-based design. Also, cards are more adequately designed for thumbs.
Users understand the physics of card design and turning 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 user’s profile in a similar manner as Tinder, it stands out because of its bubble-view where 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 contrary is more popular among millenials.
Adding Chat Module To The Platform
This addresses the most important factor for an online dating app--Chat. A dating app without chat serves no purpose to the users. Once they find their relevant match, users need a platform to chat or send messages to the concerned person.
Chat modules are easy to integrate. They do not create much hassle. When creating the app simply integrating a the preferred chat module API, one can easily integrate chat with the app.
A few things to consider are: a) The chat should provide real time live chat b) Offline chat management c) Group live chat with many-to-many live and offline session management d) File sharing (Audios, Images, Videos etc) e) Emojis, GIFs, Stickers etc.
4.0 Real-time Text Messaging
Similar to chat apps around the world, the chat module should be able to provide real-time chat support. When two users whose profile has matched, would prefer having a one-on-one conversation, instead of sharing messages (offline) and waiting for their reply.
If both the users happen to be online, the module should provide real-time conversation with no latency.
With precise integration a single click enables users to start chatting in real-time.
4.2 Offline Chat Management
There will be situations when either of the user from both the matches might not be online on the app. The chances of two matched individuals getting online simultaneously are very rare in the initial stages.
If the profiles match, either individual would like to send a prompt or a quick ‘Hi’ to the other. This is possible with the help of offline chat management.
Your chat service provider’s server should be able to store the message sent by one individual and when the person gets online, they get notified about the message.
Offline chat management is also helpful when two individuals happen to be in different time zones.
4.3 Group real-time text messaging
Individuals create groups of like-minded people and love to interact. These are groups created by a single individual where others have the option to voluntarily join or are added by request in the group. These are the modern versions of chat-rooms.
A group chat ensures the users remain engaged and love coming back to the app. It gives them a virtual cafe to hangout with their closed group of peers. Groups can be either public, password protected and invitation-only groups.
4.4 File sharing
Another important feature for a chat module to have is file sharing options. It could be anything from images, to videos, audio--either audio songs or real time audio recordings to PDF documents.
Simple text based chatting has long been forgotten and users prefer sharing media over the chat when they can do so at the touch of their fingertips. When they meet someone new online, sharing images and videos induces a sense of trust among the users.
Hence, file sharing compatibility is important for the app’s lifecycle.
4.5 Emojis, GIFs and Stickers
Being more expressive is important when meeting strangers, especially if you one is looking forward to spend more time with the other.
Previously what was known as ‘smileys’, have now evolved into a more expressive, sophisticated version called Emojis or Emoticons.
With a classic set of emojis one can express more and connect easily.
Evolving a step further, users today also utilize stickers as a way of expression. Stickers liven up any conversations. These vibrant stickers help express users with the creativity & style.
You can add all of the above and more exciting Communication, Collaboration, Monetization and Administration features in your dating app development at one go by using CometChat API - a Voice, Video & Text Chat API for dating apps.
CometChat integrates with all major platforms and the mobile SDK comes with full access to UI source Code
Over To You
Now that you have the recipe, simply gather the ingredients and churn out the most innovative application that the dating world has ever seen!
In case you need an extra hand with dating app development, I can recommend TRooTech Business Solutions.