Welcome to "Beyond the Bubble" the one-of-a-kind content series brought to you by CometChat! A series where we deconstruct the nuts and bolts of chat interfaces in popular apps, offering critical insights on how businesses can elevate user engagement and experience through smart chat design.
Real-time messaging, which was just a concept in the early 2010s, has become almost table-stakes featured in any digital product in just a decade. While it was rather intuitive in messaging apps like WhatsApp or team collaboration apps like Slack, products in other industries have quickly realized that real-time messaging and engagement is the silver bullet for true user engagement.
One niche where real-time messaging forms the foundation of the core product role is dating. And hey, before we dive into real-time messaging, let's give a shoutout to all the dating apps for revolutionizing how relationships happen and consistently pushing the boundaries of how products can shape real-world behavior.
On the first episode of "Beyond the Bubble," we'll be taking apart Bumble, arguably one of the best dating apps, and exploring how they've utilized real-time engagement features to enhance the stickiness and usefulness of their product.
While many of us have enjoyed Bumble as end-users, let's put on our builder's hat and uncover the layers behind what makes it one of the slickest and stickiest dating apps out there.
What’s a teardown from a product builder’s perspective without frameworks?
As makers of CometChat who have enabled real-time messaging for 1000s of products across multiple verticals, we certainly know a thing or two about how to build real-time messaging capabilities. Here are the multiple facets of real-time messaging that we will be observing and discussing in this series.
Core Real-Time engagement features of Bumble:
Messaging lies at the heart of user engagement within the lauded dating app, Bumble. Since its inception, Bumble has garnered significant attention due to its innovative women-first approach to initiating conversations. Adapting to changing times, Bumble has broadened its horizons, tailoring its offerings to accommodate a diverse range of relationships. The app now caters to non-heterosexual connections, the journey to establishing platonic and meaningful bonds with Bumble BFF, and a foray into professional networking with Bumble Bizz.
Across all these product lines, the core messaging experience remains consistent, albeit with some minor adjustments to enhance engagement and incorporate elements of gamification.
Furthermore, Bumble was the first of the dating apps to go beyond text messaging to improve real-time engagement by introducing voice and video calls in 2019.
Bumble BFF offers a standout feature - the ability to create group chats between multiple users you have matched with. It's an excellent way to introduce potential friends to each other and spark group discussions or even plan group activities. The messaging experience is the same as that of the 1:1 chat, however, there are quite a few improvements that they should explore to make the group chat stickier.
For instance, there is no way to mention and address a specific user in a group nor can you create threaded conversations to deep dive into a particular topic.
Bumble's messaging UX is the linchpin of its platform, offering a dynamic and engaging space for users to connect, communicate, and build relationships, whether in the realms of dating, friendship, or professional networking. Here are some key aspects of Bumble's messaging UX:
Audio messages- Because who wouldn't love hearing their match's voice narrating a funny anecdote?
File Sharing - File sharing is currently restricted to image and video, but then again, who's sending spreadsheets on a dating app?
Typing indicators - They provide a dynamic typing indicator. The three dots act as a real-time proxy for interest between the matches.
Unread Message Count - While Bumble doesn’t offer an unread count, it offers an unread indicator against the profile picture of the user and also a reply prompt in the form of “Your Move.”
Message Replies - You can reply to specific messages, but they don't form threaded conversations. Keep track of those tangents!
User Search - Bumble provides a search bar, allowing users to search other users. To enhance the search experience, Bumble offers various filter options, which include Recent/Nearby/Unread.
Read Receipts - Bumble doesn’t offer read receipts but does offer a delivery receipt.
Chat History - Bumble preserves chat conversations, which means that users can access and review their past messages with other users. This feature allows users to revisit and reference previous conversations as needed.
It’s no surprise that Bumble has nailed most of the core messaging elements. Although some minor rough edges could use some smoothing out. Here is our take on what Bumble could consider its feature roadmap, primed to take its core messaging experience from good to 'Oh, wow!'.
User Presence: An online status or 'last seen' could give users a heads-up if they're sending a message into the void.
Read Receipts: Because guessing if your message has been read is as tricky as decoding the end of Inception.
Edit Messages: Because autocorrect is notorious for turning innocent chitchat into embarrassing slips.
Delete feature: The ability to delete messages can be a lifesaver. We all have those 'shouldn't have sent that' moments!
Unread Message Count: Currently, Bumble doesn't give the tally of unopened messages. A little nudge never hurts!
Message Search - Bumble doesn't let users search for a particular message inside a user's chat. Users might have to scroll for a long time to access a message.
A robust chat engagement strategy is crucial to maintaining user activity and interest, providing a more dynamic and less daunting dating experience.
Bumble chat offers users a range of expressive tools including emojis, GIFs, and rich media content. With the convenience of Rich Media Preview, users can view content seamlessly within the chat, eliminating the need for disruptive transitions.
With chat very much forming the core product experience, Bumble aptly pushed the boundaries of chat by bringing in intuitive and interactive product features to be part of the conversation experiences. They achieve these through interactive custom messages which has a different UI compared to the standard chat experience.
Here are a few interactive messages that stands out in Bumble:
Bumble generates personalized conversation prompts tailored to individual user profiles, sparking thoughtful interactions. Users are also encouraged to craft their own prompts, adding a personalized touch to their conversations. It also incorporates an innovative response reveal mechanism, where responses remain concealed until both users reply.
Additionally, Bumble's 'Compliments' feature facilitates warm and personal connections, further enhancing the conversational aspect. These strategic design choices reflect Bumble's commitment to fostering meaningful connections, making chat engagement an integral part of the app's appeal.
Bumble differentiates itself with a unique 'Speed Dating' feature, which significantly impacts its Chat User Interface (UI). This format emphasizes personality and conversation chemistry over appearances, with a timer in the chat marking the session's duration. Post conversation, if mutual interest is expressed, photos are revealed within the same chat interface.
What can be better?
Stickers/Reactions - Bumble could allow users to send stickers and react to a particular message. This could be more engaging and would keep them connected.
Mentions in Bumble BFF - Bumble could allow users to mention others in the group chat inside Bumble BFF.
Pin Chat - Users could have the option to pin their favorite chat on the top and this feature could save scrolling time to search for a particular user.
Starred Messages - Users could star their favorite messages/compliments, anything that makes them smile!
Polls - Adding polls to interactive messages can add an element of fun, because who doesn't love a good 'this or that' question?
Smart Replies - Bumble has been making quite a few strides with AI. Their philosophy is to enable user conversations with AI assistance and not to replace the essence of human interaction. A virtual wingman to help with that tricky first move!
With conversations being the core engagement module for Bumble, they have to do very less in driving adoption. They are ensuring they are sticking to all basic engagement mechanisms.
Bumble utilizes push notifications effectively to alert users of new messages from their matches. These timely alerts serve to prompt quick responses, enhancing the overall communication experience.
In an environment where each match comes with a 24-hour response window, Bumble ensures users are reminded of this ticking clock. If a conversation hasn't been initiated as the countdown nears its end, a push notification is sent to nudge the user towards action.
Further, Bumble uses in-app notifications to remind users to return to ongoing conversations, maintaining user engagement. They also manage expectations well, using in-chat notifications to inform users when responses might be delayed.
Recognizing the importance of user autonomy, Bumble incorporates a unique 'Snooze' feature. This allows users to temporarily pause new conversations when they wish to take a break, without disturbing existing threads. They can then seamlessly resume communication once they're ready, ensuring a balanced user experience.
What could be better ?
Currently, notifications merely alert users to new messages. These notifications will not only announce the arrival of a new message but also display the message content directly within the notification itself. This means users can respond swiftly without the need to navigate into the app, making the entire experience more convenient and efficient.
Privacy and security
Bumble places a strong emphasis on user privacy and security, offering several features and practices to enhance user safety:
Block and Unmatch: Bumble allows users to block and unmatch other users easily. Blocking prevents unwanted contact while unmatching ensures users can disengage from conversations and profiles that make them uncomfortable.
Report: Bumble offers a robust reporting system, allowing users to report any inappropriate messages or flag them as offensive/abusive.
Text Moderation : Bumble aims to bring down occurrences of body-shaming, racial slurs and rude conversation with it’s rude message detector
The image moderation feature ‘The Private Detector’ employs AI to automatically blur explicit photos, notifying the user of potentially inappropriate content. Users have the choice to reveal the photo by tapping on it or to ignore it, and they can also opt to report it if they wish, putting control in their hands. Worth noting that they have open-sourced their private detector feature for anyone to introduce image moderation in their apps.
What can be better? -
In Bumble, users are not notified when someone takes a screenshot or records their screen during a conversation. This means that personal conversations or images shared on the platform could potentially be captured without the knowledge or consent of the person sharing them. This lack of notification might raise concerns about privacy and safety, as users might be unaware that their content is being recorded or shared inappropriately.
Bumble certainly has cracked the monetization levers for their product, they aren’t really harnessing the power of real-time engagement as a monetisation lever.
Here is an unsolicited yet useful list of monetization options for Bumble’s revenue PM to consider:
Leveraging voice and video call limits for premium Bumble users could prove mutually beneficial. Not only would it enhance user experience by fostering deeper connections, but it would also add value to premium subscriptions and align with Bumble's mission of fostering meaningful connections.
Introducing read receipts and the ability to view a match's last active time as part of its premium features could offer premium users an edge. Greater communication insights and transparency could significantly boost user satisfaction.
Granting users the freedom to unsend or edit messages could alleviate the occasional 'oops' moments and promote a more forgiving communication environment. Imagine the relief of being able to take back that message sent in haste or error!
Monetizing access to chat history could be a win-win. As a premium feature, it could provide users the convenience of revisiting past discussions - a boon for those looking to rekindle connections or review crucial information. This feature could well be the carrot that lures users to premium memberships, adding to Bumble's revenue while enhancing user engagement.
AI-based insights as an exclusive perk for premium Bumble users could be a game-changer. These AI-driven analytics could offer users valuable insights into their dating patterns, helping them fine-tune their profile, messages, and overall interaction endeavors.
Implementing a premium real-time language translation feature could break down language barriers and facilitate smoother conversations.
As we conclude our exploration of Bumble's engagement features, it's clear how pivotal real-time messaging and user interaction have been in its success. This isn't exclusive to Bumble. It underscores the significant impact real-time engagement can have on any digital product.
While Bumble has a robust product team that has built a robust messaging module, all of what Bumble has done can be achieved with CometChat powering your real-time engagement with very little development effort. CometChat boasts a rich list of dating apps as our customers including the likes of Shaadi.com and Woo.
As we forge ahead in our "Beyond the Bubble" series by CometChat, we'll continue to unveil the secrets behind the real-time engagement of your favorite apps. Because in the digital world, real-time engagement is not just about being up-to-date, it's about creating meaningful connections.