How to Build an App Like Tinder
The development of information technology inevitably reaches all spheres of people’s lives. Even the private one. You have all heard about Tinder. An app created to simplify the process of meeting and dating people. But have you ever wondered how it became so successful and why? What would you have to do to create an app like that?
1. What is Tinder?
2. Initial growth stage – Why did it become popular?
3. A new look at virtual dating: Tinder psychology
4. Monetization: How to earn money with apps like Tinder?
5. Creating a dating app like Tinder: 5 factors to keep in mind
6. The ultimate functionality of a Tinder-like app
7. 3 unique features to add to your Tinder-like app?
8. The cost of an app like Tinder development
Tinder was created on September 1, 2012, at Hatch Labs, the business incubator of the American corporation InterActiveCorp. Shortly after its launch, the app already was in great demand. In two years, the number of Tinder users exceeded 10,000,000 and reached 40 million and 1 million swipes per day by the end of the second year. In 2019, Tinder swipes count has amounted to 1.6 billion swipes per day with over 20 billion matches. Let’s try to figure out how the app creators managed to achieve that.
What exactly is Tinder?
Tinder is a mobile app for iOS and Android users written on Java, Objective-C and C# that allows people to get to know each other and date. As a potential pair, the user is offered people from the circle of his or her friends on social networks and other Tinder users who are nearby (the service supports geolocation).
After viewing someone’s profile on the app, you can remove it (swipe to the left), or initiate a match (swipe to the right). If the person you swiped right also swipes your profile to the right, a match is created, and now you can have a private chat conversation, where you can ask each other questions and arrange a date.
However, Tinder is not a classic startup, which most people consider it to be. The service was created with the support of InterActiveCorp Corporation, which owns Match.com, one of the largest dating sites. Match.com CEO Sam Yagan explains that they did not want to take away the reputation of a traditional startup from Tinder. They wanted to present it as a successful project created from scratch, which is way more appealing than the reputation of just another project of InterActiveCorp. Sam Yagan also notes that InterActiveCorp considers Tinder an extremely valuable asset and does not even consider selling it.
Initial growth stage
Tinder got a successful start due to the gamification of the whole process. It turns the dating process into an exciting game. Subsequently, the press, as well as word of mouth, contributed to the growth of its popularity.
As for the marketing, the main task at its initial stage was to attract women. If they begin to actively register, the male audiences will follow. Tinder relied on women as early followers, and it worked. Soon, the service began to be actively loaded by males (mostly millennials).
Another real breakthrough made by Tinder is related to user psychology. People registered on Match.com or eHarmony were often embarrassed by this fact and were in no hurry to recommend these resources to their friends. Everything was different with Tinder: people willingly shared their experience using the app, which contributed to the growth of its audience.
The number of users in each particular region was a critical factor for Tinder. In a city where only 100 people installed the application, potential partners would end in a couple of sessions, and the service would be forgotten. Nobody will use the dating service, even the most advanced in terms of UX, if this service does not provide an opportunity to meet new people.
Through numerous presentations, Tinder managed to build the audience to the critical mass, which launched a chain reaction.
A new look at virtual dating
One of the main secrets of Tinder’s popularity lies in the approach that the UX-designers of the project chose to organize the search for the right person. Information about potential partners is presented in the form of cards, the management of which is intuitive and requires minimum effort.
The app has an extremely large gaming component. The service does not allow you to see who is the next potential partner. That way your curiosity is heated: what if your perfect match is there? You make one more swipe, and one more. This can go on almost endlessly since it is very similar to playing a game.
Tinder psychology: love at first sight
As the creators of Tinder explain, the relationship between users of their service is a reflection of the interaction between people in everyday life. When you sit at the bar and think about whether it is worth meeting a girl or a guy next to you, you have a very small amount of information at your disposal. Decisions have to be made based on the person’s appearance.
Same on Tinder. Initially, you are shown only a photo of a potential partner, and you decide: swipe left or right. At the same time, unlike a bar or any other place, here you can have no doubt that the person you are interested in is not against meeting someone.
A serious drawback of traditional dating sites is that many users (mostly women) receive countless messages from people with whom they would never agree to go on a date. In Tinder, this problem is solved by using a double confirmation system.
This system also significantly reduces anxiety. Starting a dialogue, people already know about mutual interest, since both made a swipe to the right on the profile. From a psychological point of view, this is an extremely important factor.
Filling out forms on classic dating sites takes a lot of time. Thanks to integration with Facebook and the App Store, registering with Tinder requires almost no effort. People just log in through their social media accounts. The person who first heard about the application, after a couple of minutes, can become involved in the search process.
Matchmaker is an additional feature that appeared in the application a few years ago. It allowed users to introduce other people to each other. The addition of a seemingly simple function opened up new horizons for Tinder. Before Matchmaker, the platform’s audience was limited to single people looking for a couple. The introduction of the new option allowed including those who are not looking for a partner for themselves but would like to help someone from their circle find the perfect date.
Initially, Tinder management did not consider advertisements as a way to profit. However, it changed in 2014, when the users saw the first ads on their screens. A year later, Tinder launched TinderPlus, a paid tariff plan the price of which depends on the user’s age, place of residence, and in some cases on gender. For most users, the cost of this service is $9.99 per month ($19.99 for people over 30).
TinderPlus offers a number of additional features:
- Rewind, allowing you to return to your favorite profile in case of an accidental swipe (one of the most popular functions);
- Access to profiles of users from all over the world without reference to the user’s location;
- No ads.
Creating a dating app like Tinder
Although thee is Tinder, Badoo, Hinge, and many other dating apps, there is still plenty of room on this market. And if you want to create your own app like Tinder, you need to know what to consider. Start with a market analysis:
- What is the target audience?
- How to fill the application with profiles of real people?
- What to do in unpleasant situations?
- How to make money on a dating app?
- How to achieve long-term success?
When creating a dating app, you have two ways: to bet on a large market or a small niche. Tinder went the first way since it had such an opportunity thanks to the new matching algorithm. If you have an idea or technology that will stand out in the market and quickly gain popularity, do the same.
But if you don’t, create a niche project. A large market is in a state of oversaturation by large players, which will make it quite difficult to succeed, especially if you do not have a lot of money or an information resource. While gaining a separate niche is much easier and, ultimately, even more profitable.
A good example of a niche project among dating apps is OurTime dating app for people aged 50+. If a user likes a certain category of people (wealthy people, residents of a certain country or region, mature women or even pilots), he or she will be happy to use the service tailored to those particular tastes. For example, if the user is gay, he will most likely look for a service where hi will not be offered to get acquainted with heterosexuals or women.
First user problem
The main problem of new dating services is the user base. An application may have a stunning design, an ideal interface and functionality, but if there are few profiles it is a failure because people will not have anyone to talk to and will not register and use the app.
To get 1000 first profiles for a new dating app:
- Partner with an existing service. Many popular dating sites offer affiliate programs, exchanging the database of user profiles for traffic and part of the revenue.
- Target a small audience. If you start betting on a small city or a rather narrow niche, you can quickly collect several thousand real profiles with minimal expenses for marketing promotion.
- Viral marketing. Despite the fact that Tinder is often mentioned in films, series and mass media, users are still very rarely sharing links (recommendations) to dating services, considering it something shameful. But you can get around this by betting not on your target audience, but on third-party people and the media.
- Traffic through advertising. Expensive but effective. Attract bloggers popular on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook and use targeted ads.
New dating apps often use fake profiles and chatbots to create the illusion of popularity. It is not worth it because bots are easy to detect, and when it happens, the app will get a bad reputation that you can hardly fix.
It’s better to bring lawyers to this issue, since an incorrectly crafted application policy can cause big problems. For example, you can face a situation where fraudsters will use your site to fraudulently get money from other users (a typical practice on most dating services) or if your app will be used to offer paid services of an intimate nature.
Keep this in mind when creating an app like Tinder, and protect yourself in advance from the consequences of similar and other negative scenarios. In addition, it is worth thinking about how to fight (weed out) some categories of users:
- Mentally ill and uncontrollable people;
- Racists, sexists, fascists;
- Stalkers, spammers and scammers.
Usually these people are fought with by registering through social networks and are banned based on complaints of other people. This must be described in detail in the application policy, otherwise there may be problems with claims from both sides.
Monetization of the project
- Paid subscriptions
Users once in a certain time pay for access to the app or for additional functions. The latter option is usually introduced only after the app has become popular and has gained a large user base. Tinder has two such subscriptions: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. They expand the capabilities of participants (more likes and super likes, as well as increasing the maximum distance) and add new ones (for example, canceling the last like).
- Freemium model
A business model that divides the app into a free version with reduced functionality and a paid version with a full range of features and capabilities. For example, to use emoticons or GIFs in messages. Unlike the subscription model, freemium model involves a one-time payment, which gives constant access to all the features of the app.
- Advertisements and announcements
It is considered the best way to monetize dating applications, provided that the advertisement is correctly implemented and does not interfere with users.
“Burnout” of the audience
In services targeted at a wide range of users, there is such a term as “critical user base”. This is the number of active participants sufficient for the normal operation of the system. In the case of Tinder-like apps, this is the amount that will allow users to constantly meet new people.
If there is not enough people, the “burnout” of the audience will happen: there will be no one else to talk to, meaning no reason to use the app anymore. This often happens in services aimed at a very narrow niche.
To avoid this, it is necessary that the user base either constantly replenishes or is initially very large. Database updates can be achieved through advertising and / or entering new niches. The second option can be achieved if you focus on multi-million cities (metropolitan areas) or very large niches.
The ultimate functionality of a Tinder-like app
The above factors are not the only things that you should pay attention to when creating an app like Tinder. No less important is the set of functions and tools of the app as they affect the convenience and reliability of the service, as well as the speed and cost of its development.
Login and user profile
The best way is to use the authorization mechanism is through social networks: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is necessary so that users can verify the authenticity of the photograph and age. It is also necessary for the service to ban it in case of inadequate behavior of the participant and to complicate the possibility of re-registration as much as possible.
Usually, registration is carried out using the open protocol in such a way that the system fills in the fact of authorization and connection to the social network account, but does not record the login and password of the social network account.
Other methods of registration are via phone number or email. If you use these approaches, then users will have less confidence in the system, since there will be no way to verify the authenticity of the data: photo, age, region, and so on. Age is very important as users need to know if another user has come of age.
Immediately after registering, users should be sent to the “Profile” section. Here, new participants should indicate their age, location, interests and describe themselves briefly. That is the information the other users will see.
When implementing a profile:
- The main emphasis should be on the photo, which can be uploaded from the device, social network or made using the camera;
- The text field should be small — up to 1000 characters. It should include a link to the social network and the ability to write a message that the other users will see.
Tinder is a dating app based on the location of users. People can search others by location (within a certain radius), and the system will show them profiles of all the people who are near them.
In Tinder, you can configure the detection parameters of other users by age, gender and maximum distance. In the free version, the maximum distance is 10 miles.
Search and swipe
This is the main Tinder feature that helps bring people together with minimal effort on both sides. It is implemented unusually simply: see the photo, and if you like a person, swipe the photo to the right, if not — to the left. In 2015, Tinder introduced the ability to make Super Like (swipe up).
Match & Chat
If users express mutual sympathy (like each other), the system captures a match and opens up the possibility for them to communicate in real time. If sympathy disappears for one reason or another, the user can be blocked.
Social media integration
Users can integrate Snapchat and Instagram accounts with their Tinder profiles. Viewing users on social networks should open after the match.
Using this feature, you can ensure user engagement, as they immediately recognize a new match or message. Thanks to this, participants will be able to communicate in real time.
If you plan to create not just another copy of Tinder, but something unique, then you need to think about adding a few additional useful features to stand out from the competition.
Such functions may be:
Advanced AI algorithms. Using deep neural networks and big data, you can create a self-learning algorithm that will more effectively map users, increasing the likelihood of mutual sympathy.
Spam filters. You can create a system that will notify people if they receive the same messages as other users.
DNA matching algorithms. The point is that the immune systems of some people may be incompatible with each other. The formation of a pair in this case is undesirable, as this can lead to the appearance of children with poor immunity or a tendency to attack the cells of their own body. And vice versa.
Algorithms that correlate appearance, such as the shape of a face, skull, or fingerprints, are best to be avoided. These are anti-scientific misconceptions, the application of which can lead to lawsuits.
Cost of an app like Tinder
If you intend to create an application similar to Tinder, then you will need a mobile development team that will most likely include:
- 1 project manager;
- 2 developers for Android and 2 for iOS
- 1-2 UI/UX designers;
- 2 backend developers;
- 1-2 QA engineers.
In this case, the development process will take from 1000 to 25000 hours and will cost from 55 to 110 thousand dollars. Of course, this is an approximate figure and the exact cost of the app will be calculated from the required functionality.