#Entrepreneurship #Guides | 12 min read

How to Create a Dating App: Business and Technical Tips

Alina Nesvit , Head of Marketing

No more building up the courage to ask somebody out in person. 

With the rise of dating apps like Tinder, finding Mrs. or Mr. Right has never been easier. 

It may seem that the market for creating a dating app is overloaded, but more than 2000 businesses appeared in the dating service industry in 2019.

In 2019, the revenue in online dating reached $1.958M and it is expected to grow to $2.530M by 2024.

So, it might be a great chance to start now. Read ahead to find out exactly how to create a dating app.

1) Dating App Market

how to create a dating app: dating app market

According to Statista (January 2019), 45% of respondents aged between 18 to 34 years revealed that they used a dating web or mobile app to find a significant other. 

  • Revenue in the online dating segment is expected to amount to US$2.141m in 2020.

how to create a dating app: Revenue in the online dating

  • User penetration is 3.2% in 2020 and is expected to hit 3.6% by 2024.

how to create a dating app: User penetration in the online dating

  • The average revenue per user is now US$8.92
  • Most revenue in online dating is generated in the United States (US$973m in 2020).

how to create a dating app: biggest revenue in online dating

  • The biggest target audience group (43%) of dating apps comprises 25 to 34-year-olds.

how to create a dating app: biggest target audience in online dating

It was reported that in September 2019 Tinder reached 4.2% of the U.S. mobile audience (7.86 million users), making it the most popular online dating app in the United States. Second place went to Bumble (2.692% of U.S. mobile audience, or 5.03 million users).

2) Types of Dating Apps

All dating apps can be divided into four main groups:

how to create a dating app: types of daating apps

  • Traditional Dating Apps

These are the old fashioned dating websites where customers use multiple questionnaires to find their match.

Examples: eHarmony, OkCupid.

okcupid dating app

  • Geolocation Matching Dating Apps

Geolocation dating apps find matches according to users’ proximity. The most prominent example of such a dating app is Tinder. 

Examples: Badoo, Tinder. 

Badoo dating website

  • AI-Matching Dating Apps

AI matching dating apps is the next stage in the evolution process of the online dating industry. Some dating apps, like Zoosk, use behavioral matchmaking technology, others like Hily use AI-matching.  

Examples: Zoosk, Hily.

Hily dating app

  • Niche Dating Apps 

Niche dating apps are focused on certain groups of people: 

  • SweetRing: a user can find the right guy or girl who’s ready to get married. 
  • The Catch: allows girls to play the game of asking the guys their selected questions and then rating them and choosing one to chat with. 
  • Luxy: a Silicon Valley dating app for rich people
  • Ourtime: a dating app for people over 50.

OurTime dating website

3) Web Dating App vs Mobile Dating App

how to create a dating app: web app or mobile app

The online dating industry started in the 1980s and little by little has filled the Internet with a wide variety of dating choices. Dating websites appeared first, then with technologies moving forward, web and mobile dating apps became popular.

If you are thinking of how to create a dating app then deciding whether to build a dating website or a mobile dating application like Tinder, this is one of the questions that should be discussed in the very beginning of the project.

There are two factors for deciding what type of dating app to build:

  • Target Audience

Who is your Target Audience? What gender and age is your target audience going to be?

Deciding what target audience is going to use your app will closely correlate with the type of your dating app.

For example, mobile dating apps are mostly used by young people because they are more accustomed to using them on the go, in comparison to older people who take their time deciding on their preferences and choices.

  • USP

Obviously, before starting dating app development, you need to decide how your dating app will be differentiated from others. In doing so, you’ll be able to offer users something that is not on the market. However, your USP is likely to have some features that are more suited for development on a web or a mobile app.

For example, if you are planning to use GPS matching then building a mobile dating app should be your first choice. But if you want to build a more comprehensive search system with filtering and complex architecture, then making a dating website should be a priority.

There is also a case when you might need to build both a web and a mobile app, for instance, if you need to cover different target audiences. However, building both apps at the same time isn’t a great idea. Most of the time, startuppers focus all their energy and resources on building one app. And then after seeing the demand to build a mobile or a web version of their online dating service they move over to building a second platform for dating services.

4) How to Monetize a Dating App

How to Monetize a Dating App

Even though the majority of dating apps are free to use, every dating app has a way of monetizing its business

Here are the most popular ways to monetize a dating app:

  • Freemium/Subscription

With freemium, you give your users access to basic features for free. However, for the additional price, your users can have extra features, account boosters, an unlimited number of swipes and direct texting.

Examples: Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, OkCupid, Luxy, Zoosk, Match.com.

  • Advertising

Advertising is a great way to make extra bucks on your dating app. However, this monetization model has one major drawback: Risk of losing users due to spamming them with ads. So, while making a dating app, use native advertising. This will discourage users from leaving your platform. 

It is advised to introduce such a model as an addition. For example, Tinder and Grindr use both freemium and advertising models. 

Examples: Tinder, Grindr, Match.   

  • Partnering

By partnering with flower deliveries, restaurants and taxi services, your business gets a percentage for every ordered service. Your dating app can offer different additional services on the platform. Say a customer wants to impress a girl – he can send her flowers or could book a restaurant with just a few clicks. 

5) How to Create a Dating App: 4 Main Features

Whether you are building a mobile or web dating app, there are some features that are typical for all kinds of apps:

  • Registration

How to Create a Dating App: registration

Registration is the first thing that a user does on a dating app. It shouldn’t be rocket science. Give your users the ability to sign up with an email/phone number or social media, like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Anonymity is a very important factor in dating apps. Some people might be embarrassed to say that they use dating apps. So, be sure to mention that registering with any social media won’t give a dating app access to advertise its services on customers’ profile pages. It will only allow the platform to collect the necessary information for filling in a user profile.

  • User Profile

How to Create a Dating App: user profile

The user profile is a signature line for every user seeking to find a match.

Ability to change or edit a user’s photo and description. Usually, dating apps ask users to connect to Facebook in order to ease the process of filling in the information about themselves.

  • Matching

How to Create a Dating App: matching

People are extremely busy with their lives now more than ever. They don’t have time to go through filters to find a suitable mate. 

No, they want to have a match that they are satisfied with in a matter of a few clicks and seconds. That’s where Tinder has raised the bar for all other dating apps. Thanks to great UI and a gamified matching process, Tinder has become the most popular dating app in the USA in 2019 with an estimated annual revenue of $600M. Tinder uses users’ preferences and locations to do the matching.

Besides geolocation matching, there are other ways to match users, for example, OkCupid uses compatibility matching and Zoosk uses behaviour-based matching.

 Later on, we’ll describe the main types of matching and the challenges that come with them.

  • Communication

How to Create a Dating App: communication

The next step after matching the users should be encouraging them to communicate with each other. By building an advanced messaging system with the abilities to record audios, send stickers, gifts, emojis or to auto-suggest, you’ll be able to keep your users on the platform longer.

However, you need to think through how your messaging is going to work. There are a couple of choices:

  1. Offer to message a user each time there was a match.
  2. Allow users to message whoever they want.

With the latter choice, you risk users getting spammed with loads of messages. The solution to this problem can be limiting the number of messages per day or making it possible for users to restrict messages. This type of limitation is used on the Badoo dating service.

6) Peculiarities of Creating a Dating App

If you are considering building a dating app or a dating website, then there are some things you need to take into account.

1. Security

How to Create a Dating App: security

In order to make sure that users can trust your dating platform, you need to provide security both for your platform and users:

  • Platform Security

To protect your users’ personal data and not risk data leakage while making a dating app turn your attention to implementing a high-security standard, namely GDPR (General Data Protection Policy)

  • User Security

For users’ security, your platform needs to have a user’s verification, the ability to ban users or add them to a blacklist and to block inappropriate photos and messages.

For example, Bumble and Badoo verify users with selfies. They ask potential users to take a selfie in a specific pose to ensure there’s no catfishing on their platform. Besides that, Badoo also uses social media and phone-based user verification.

2. Matching

How to Create a Dating App: matching

When startups are thinking of how to make a dating app they usually start with coming up with a matching system. And they are not wrong. Matching is probably the most important feature in your dating app. If no matches are found or an app matches users badly, the customer retention is going to fall. So be sure to dedicate some extra time for this feature during your dating app development.

There are four main matching algorithms for a dating app:

1. Geolocation Matching

Geolocation matching is matching based on a user’s location. With such a matching approach, an app asks for a user’s permission for their location area and then suggests some nearby users. 

Examples: Tinder, Happn, MeetMe, Grindr, Skout. 

2. AI-Matching

They say that a match was made in heaven. We say that a match was made by AI.

For implementing a more advanced matching method, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are used. AI-matching uses a variety of factors for finding a suitable match, some of them can be based on users’ GPS, preferences and behavior. 

Note: In reality, matching actually limits users in finding a perfect guy or a girl. Analyze your target audience and determine which kind of matching will be suitable for your dating app.

AI matching for online dating apps can be divided into two categories:

  • Compatibility Matching

Compatibility matching is matching based on users’ preferences. Usually, users answer a questionnaire where they describe their likes and dislikes and what they are looking for in a guy or a girl. Then an app runs a mathematical algorithm based on the answered questions and determines the matching percentage.

However, the challenge here is when people start to describe some characteristics which can’t uniquely set a value. These characteristics can be either defined by a range, by words with fuzzy logic or by clusterization.

With a compatibility matching, users are matched not by analyzing certain answers but rather by the questionnaire in total.

Examples: Coffee Meets Bagel, OkCupid, Hater, Clover, eHarmony. 

  • Behavior-based Matching

Behavior-based matching is matching based on the data gathered from other sources besides a dating app, such as various social media apps, music platforms, etc. For processing and analyzing big chunks of data, you’ll need to use Big Data analysis. 

Say a man wants to find a woman with blonde hair but no woman’s profile says whether she’s blonde or not. That’s where image recognition may come in handy. Another example is related to NLP: supposing a woman wants to find a man who is interested in hiking, but no profile matches this requirement. What the system can do is use, for instance, Twitter or any other available social media to gather information, sort it and find a suitable profile. 

Examples: Zoosk. 

  • Moderation

How to Create a Dating App: moderation

It is no secret that there are a lot of scammers on dating websites. Sometimes they can even get passed by a solid user verification. That is why platform moderation is required. 

Moderation can be conducted either manually or automatically.

For manual moderation, you’ll need to hire a person who will detect any unusual activities on your platform and will be able to ban users once and for all. Plus, this person will verify users on the initial stage of registration. 

For automated moderation, all you’ll need is to find either a service that will take care of your content moderation or simply integrate a suitable API on your dating website.

7) Dating App Promotion

Building a dating app isn’t enough to be ahead of the game. You need to promote your app through different channels. In order not to waste money on launching some pointless campaigns, you need to know who to target and what to offer.

Here are some factors worth considering before promoting a dating app:

  • Target Audience

If you’ve already run the Project Discovery Phase, then you probably know your target audience inside out. If not, then study the market to find out who is using dating apps, what for how old they are. 

Essentially, you need to define your buyer personas, which are made-up characters created to illustrate a particular type of user who is interested in using or buying your services.

  • Niche

There are thousands of dating apps, you need to choose a niche where you think you’ll reach your full potential. You can niche into different aspects:

– Location

– Type of service

– Type of user

  • USP

It’s great that you know what to promote but you need to know how to promote it. That’s where you’ll be needing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). By knowing exactly how your product differentiates itself from others, you’ll be able to show what is so great about it, thus increasing the chance of users using your app.

How to Create a Dating App: promotion

To sum up

 The online dating industry shows a lot of potentials and is predicted to grow in revenue. Before deciding on how to create a dating app, you have to analyze your target audience, need to determine what exactly you are going to build: Traditional, Niche, AI, or Geolocation dating app. Whether you are going to build a mobile or a web app, or even a dating website.

All in all, when building a dating app, you need to take into account the following four factors:

  • Type of a dating app: web, mobile, or website.
  • Monetization model 
  • Core features 
  • Peculiarities of creating online dating services
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