How to Create a Dating App – From Design to MVP

1 Mobile App Development 20 min read
Natalie Severt

Natalie Severt

Marketing Director

How did you meet your significant other? 

Was it at a party? Through a mutual friend? 

Unfortunately, those days are gone. For Harry to meet Sally in 2020, he has to date online. He can’t just bum a ride to New York City and expect to fall in love.  

And to date online, Harry needs a pocketful of dating apps. 

That’s probably why you’re here. You know that online dating is the zeitgeist. And you want to be the person selling the love serum. 

But how? 

You already know that your dating app idea has to blow the others out of the water. But you might not know how to create a dating app from scratch. 

And that’s because there are so many moving parts. 

There’s concept, design, and development. There’s hiring a talented tech team. And what if you have a great idea but aren’t a technical person? 

Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

That’s why this guide will tell you:

  • How to find out if your dating app idea is innovative and competitive.
  • How to create a dating app from early design to late MVP stages.
  • How to hire programmers, launch your app, and monitor product market fit.

Have a great idea for a dating app? Don’t know how to start building it? That’s ok! At Iterators, we design, build, and maintain custom software and apps for your business.

iterators mobile app development company

Schedule a free consultation with Iterators today! We’d be happy to design and build your dating app so you don’t have to worry about it.

Step 1 – How to Create a Dating App Idea that Can Beat the Competition

In 2020, most people have used a dating app. At the very least, you know what one is. But it’s still worth it to have a look at the essence of a dating app.

What is a dating app?

A dating app is a mobile application that provides digital matchmaking services. Dating apps make it possible for online daters to access dating services via phones. The point? Busy, mobile people have the means to pursue romantic relationships in their pockets. 

Here is a list of 20 of the top dating apps in 2020 in no particular order:

tinder algorithm tinder ui

With all those options, why is it a good idea to figure out how to create a dating app?

Currently, 71% of the US population has a smartphone and that number is expected to rise to almost 73% by 2021. People are using their smartphones to do everything from dating to ordering groceries.  

Before dating apps, most people met their significant others through friends. Recently, online dating has displaced friends as the primary matchmaker for heterosexual couples in the US. 

So, for those lonely souls looking for love, they’re doing it online. And in most cases, they’re using apps on their smartphones. That’s why figuring out how to create a dating app is still worthwhile despite market saturation. 

The next question? Why have so many people moved to online dating? Well, why does anyone do anything online? Like all apps, dating apps solve lots of common problems:

PROBLEM

I’m too busy to date. I work odd hours and Happy Hour just doesn’t cut it. 

SOLUTION

24/7 Availability with a Dating App

PROBLEM

My friends set me up with people I don’t find interesting. I can’t sit through another boring date.

SOLUTION

Targeting with Matching Algorithms

When thinking about how to create a dating app, the first step is deciding what problems you’ll solve and how:

how to start a dating site infographic

Of course, there are a few universal things that people want from ALL dating apps: 

  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Transparency
  • Great Dates

It’s pretty basic that people want to date people who are who they say they are. That they don’t want to date murderers. And that they want their dates to be private. When considering how to create a dating app, you have to make sure that your app covers these bases. And that’s regardless of any unique selling points.

Okay, so your app solves all the common problems by providing general solutions: 

  • Availability
  • Connectability
  • Targeting
  • Efficiency
  • Improved Communication
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Privacy 
  • Security
  • Transparency
  • Great Dates

Now, ask yourself: 

  • What makes your app special? 
  • What’s the unique feature? 
  • What’s going to make people leave Tinder and use your app?

Here’s how Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd, answered those questions:

“Yes, our app is similar to Tinder. But Cheekd sets itself apart because you use it to meet in real time and space with Bluetooth technology. So, if you pop into a bar, gym, or cafe and someone else has the app, you’ll get a push notification. You then have the opportunity to press the “Get Cheeky” button if you’re interested. You can start a conversation or just walk up and say hello like people used to do in the old days.”

Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO, Cheekd
cheekd proximity dating app ui

Filling out a business canvas template is an easy way to figure out how to create a dating app because it helps you answer the questions above:

how to create a dating app business model canvas

Here’s an example of what your business canvas might look like when complete. Our design team made a fake dating app called Puppy Love that will serve as an example:

how to make a dating app business model canvas

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to hire a UX designer to help you with the ideation phase. It’s their job to make sure that your ideas are solid before you get started on anything else. They will also help you through the design stage by creating wireframes, user journeys, and an MVP.

Have another great idea for a mobile app? Think creating an on demand app might be the right solution for you? Not sure how to get started? We’ve got you covered! Check out our full guide: On Demand App Development in 6 Easy Steps + Examples

Step 2: How to Create a Dating App – Design Stages

Once you’re sure you have a unique idea, here’s what you’ll want to do next: 

  • Check Other Apps
  • Select Features and Functionalities
  • Split Features – MoSCoW Method
  • UX/UI Design
  • Create a Rough Timeline and Budget
  • Hire Programmers to Build the App

You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Checking other apps lets you see what features they’ve used to make their apps user-friendly. Product Hunt has a list of dating apps that makes it easy for you to scope the competition.

An easy example is Bumble. From the get-go, you can see that Bumble’s unique selling point is that women make the first move. You can also see that matching is handled via swipe coding. 

how to create a dating app swipe coding bumble

Next, you’ll want to make a master list of features and functionalities for your app. Here are some features you might want to consider when deciding how to create a dating app:

  • Login or Account Setup
  • Facebook Integration
  • Other Social Verification/Integration Options
  • User Profiles
  • Use Tutorial
  • Matching Algorithm
  • Recommendation System
  • Messaging
  • Push Notifications
  • Frictionless Payment
  • Abuse Reporting
  • Abuse Monitoring
  • Data Collection
  • Data Pipeline
  • Help and Support

When creating a minimum viable product (MVP), it’s good to separate features. And a good way to do that is to use the MoSCoW method:

M (Must Have) o S (Should Have) C (Could Have) o W (Won’t Have)

Look at each feature and assign it to one of the categories based on its importance. It’s an easy way to prioritize the deliverables for each phase of development. For example, you may want to monetize your dating app at some point, but not in the first iteration. 

So, here’s an example of how to create a dating app features list: 

MUST HAVE FEATURES FOR MVPSHOULD/ COULD HAVE FEATURES
Login or Account SetupSliding Tutorial
User ProfilesRecommender System
Social Verification/ IntegrationFrictionless Payment
Use TutorialData Collection
Matching AlgorithmData Pipeline
MessagingIn-app Purchasing / Advertising
Push NotificationsOffline Purchasing – e.g., Booking
Abuse Reporting / MonitoringHelp and Support

You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Is the feature necessary for the user to reach the end goal? 
  • Will I need user feedback upfront to implement the feature properly?
  • Can the user complete all steps in the user journey without the feature?

Depending on the premise of your app, your features will differ. For example, when thinking of how to create a dating app, you may select data collection and a matching algorithm. 

You may decide to forgo a swiping or manual matching mechanism altogether. That’s up to you and your UX designers. 

Speaking of which, the next stage is full-on UX/UI design.

UX and UI design are all about making sure your app works and looks right. It’s important to conduct UX research and design through all stages of product development to make sure that your app is working. And it’s very important to layout your design before you hire programmers.

“User experience is about making sure you don’t lose people from the start. It’s asking, “Why is this extra step here?” It’s about speed and ease – but a pretty app goes a long way. Even after your app is built, it’s really crucial that you’re always on your app investigating why someone would want to stay on the thing.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheekd
cheekd proximity dating app profile

Once you have an idea of the scope of your project, you’ll want to figure out how to create a dating app budget and timeline. Here are some things you’ll want to consider: 

  • Reasonable estimated timeline for the delivery of phases. 
  • Reasonable estimated budget for each phase. 
  • Which phase will deliver on each of your designated features? 

Do keep in mind, that these things are subject to change. To get budget and timeline estimates, ask software development companies for quotes.

“Speak to a handful of development companies to get price quotes for an initial MVP. Just understand that the initial version is not going to be the endpoint. The first version is going to cost you something based on an estimate of the requirements. Then you’re going to have additional costs to iterate and develop on top of the initial product.”

 Payam Safa, Founder and CEO, Bellhop

The final steps of figuring out how to create a dating app are to hire a talented tech team. Again, it’s important to stress once again that research and design are ongoing processes.

“It’s really important to test and test and test again. Take feedback from everyone you know. Have focus groups. And watch people play on your app all the time. Video it. Make notes. People jet off these apps in a heartbeat.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheekd

Pro Tip: Find a group of people who can play with your app at all stages. They can be friends, family, or interns. You should also be on the app at all stages. By constantly using the app you’ll notice what works and what doesn’t. From there, you will always be on top of problems or bugs.

Step 3: Choosing a Matching Algorithm for Your Dating App

So, how do you match Tom and Cindy? What’s the secret sauce of dating apps? 

That’s easy – matching algorithms. 

Think about it. When the sole purpose of your app is to match people, your matching algorithm is your most important feature. So, learning how to create a dating app is really about coming up with a unique matching concept and a corresponding algorithm.

Obviously, your matching algorithm will depend on your app concept. If your app matches people based on dog breed preferences, that’s what you set up your algorithm to do – match users who both like pit bulls. 

how to create a dating app example of ux design
UX/UI by Iterators Digital

But there are some universal constraints to consider as well. 

For example, Sean likes pit bulls and lives in Chicago. It’s safe to say he wants to grab drinks with other pit bull lovers from Chicago – not Singapore. That’s an easy location-based constraint that you can build into your algorithm. So, a good first step for deciding how to create a dating app’s matching algorithm is to list constraints. 

Let’s take a closer look at the Tinder algorithm as an example. Tinder’s matching algorithm looks at a user’s age, location, and gender preferences first. That way users don’t waste their time with 40-year-old men who live 200 miles away when they’re looking for the girl next door. 

So, the Tinder algorithm’s initial constraints are: 

  • Proximity
  • Age
  • Gender
tinder algorithm tinder code parameters

After a user is sorted and matched based on those constraints, Tinder’s code gets more complicated. That’s when Tinder’s “interactive” matching algorithm kicks in – the algorithm that matches users based on activity or lack thereof. So, here are some of the constraints: 

  • Activity Vs. Inactivity – Do you swipe? 
  • Preference – Who are you swiping? 
  • Preference – Who is swiping you?

Tinder’s first priority is to make sure they are serving users active profiles. Because the end goal is to get people to go on real dates. That doesn’t happen if David doesn’t use the app. Tinder is hush-hush about how they process all other user activities on the app. 

Some say that the Tinder code gives user profiles a “hotness” score based on two factors: 

  • The quantity of “Nope” and “Yes” swipes you receive. 
  • Who says “Yes” to you – are they hot or not?

The takeaway? It doesn’t really matter how Tinder matches its users. You’re not making a Tinder clone. You’re trying to figure out how to create a dating app that’s better. 

tinder algorithm swipe coding

So, how is your matching algorithm going to do a better job matchmaking than the Tinder algorithm? 

Here are some universal constraints you’ll want to consider:

  • Location/ Proximity – Chicago / 1 mile
  • Age
  • Gender Preference
  • Activity or Inactivity
  • Completeness of Profile
  • App-specific Parameters (e.g., Dog Breeds)

After you’ve chosen basic parameters, you may want to give weight to certain constraints. For example, let’s say your app matches Ivy League graduates. 

Any profile with multiple degrees is more desirable than profiles with single degrees. You decide to give such profiles “extra points” so you can pair the most desirable profiles. Result? Dr. Kate, CEO of Fancy Startup, matches with Dr. Shelly, Rich Corpo Lawyer. And they live happily ever after in their mansion. 

Other types of matching algorithms to consider include: 

  • Mathematical Matching Algorithms
  • Behavioral Matching Algorithms

How to Create a Dating App with a Data-based Matching Algorithm

Ever completed a questionnaire before finding a match? Well, that’s necessary to kickstart a data-based matching algorithm. Dating sites like eHarmony need mass amounts of personal data input from users. Then the algorithm uses the data to pair profiles based on answer similarities.

Here are some examples of similarities: 

  • Percentage of answers that are the same.
  • Importance of questions that are the same.
  • What a person should have answered.
  • All of the above.
  • None of the above.
start a dating website eharmony ux design

PROS OF THE EHARMONY APPROACH

Apps like eHarmony tout that their matching formulas are recipes for love. Real relationship experts come up with the criteria. And they’ve learned how to create a dating app algorithm that spits out matches that will work based on that criteria. 

In the case of eHarmony, a clinical psychologist/ marriage counselor cooked up the recipe. 

  • Users match people based on a variety of specific parameters that are important.

CONS OF THE EHARMONY APPROACH

  • People tend to lie often on profiles, giving inaccurate information about themselves. So, having them fill out a large questionnaire – even one based on science – doesn’t guarantee love.
  • Data-based algorithms require you to capture massive data sets from users. If you’re building an app, that can lead to UX problems. Also, it will require you to hire a team of data scientists to handle all the data. That’s expensive.  

Remember, users access dating apps through their phones. You don’t want to force users to fill out a 50 question quiz before they get started. That doesn’t mean you can’t. 

Let’s say collecting data is an important feature for your app. Start by asking your UX designers how to create a dating app with a questionnaire that doesn’t hurt the user journey.

start a dating website eharmony example

How to Create a Dating App with a Behavioral Matching Algorithm

If you use Tinder, you may notice that some profiles now boast Spotify playlists and extra photos from Instagram. That may indicate that Tinder’s code now uses a behavior matching algorithm. 

A behavior matching algorithm pulls on user behavior outside the environment of the app to match profiles. For example, Roger and Craig have 3 friends in common on Facebook. Perhaps Roger will find Craig’s profile more relevant than Steve’s – zero friends in common. 

You could pull information from Spotify, social media, or anywhere else online. All you have to do is figure out how to create a dating app that integrates with outside platforms. 

 PROS OF INTEGRATION

  • The difference between a data-based and behavioral algorithm? You’re collecting subjective information from users. Megan is going to listen to Icona Pop because she loves it and that’s it. 
  • You can match people who are passionate about a particular thing. Plus, you can give users an opportunity to add more images – e.g., via Instagram integration. It adds an extra element to your basic matching parameters.

CONS OF INTEGRATION

  • The most obvious – you’re limiting who can use your app if you make such information mandatory for matching. While you can argue most people have Facebook, you are excluding those who don’t. 
  • Even if all your users have Facebook, they may not want to integrate it with their dating app. For UX, it’s important to give users the ability to opt-out of social integration.
  • Let’s say everyone is opting into integration. Now, your app still requires you to gather and analyze large data sets for your matching algorithms to work. That means hiring data scientists. That means spending money.
tinder code spotify integration example

Pro Tip: You may also want to consider how to create a dating app with a recommender system. A sort of “if Kathy liked Julia, then she might like Mary” system. The algorithm can pair users with profiles based on previous likes and profile similarities. 

Want to learn more about how recommender systems work? Not sure how to go about building a recommender system for your dating app? We’ve got you covered! Check out our full guide: An Introduction to Recommender Systems (+9 Easy Examples)

Step 4: How to Create a Dating App MVP and Hire Programmers for Your Project

Now, it’s time to hire programmers and build your MVP. 

But what if you’re a non-technical person? How do you get started?

“I’m an architect by trade and have zero background in technology. Reach out to a mentor or find someone that’s built an app. I’ve learned that it’s important to have some sort of tech expertise supporting you on any level when you don’t have any idea what you’re doing. I ended up getting a CTO. He’s able to have the conversations I still don’t feel confident with to this day.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheekd

The bottom line? You need someone with a technical background. If that’s not you, here are some options: 

  • Hire a CTO
  • Find a Mentor
  • Hire a Software Development Company

You need a technical person to: 

  • Hire and manage technical people. 
  • Make technical decisions for your app.
  • Make sure the technical aspects of the project are on track. 
  • Keep the project within budget and timeline constraints. 

When considering how to create a dating app a typical technical decision might be:

Do I create an iOS app, an Android app or both? Or do I create a hybrid app?

how to create a dating app ios andriod react native

Your next task is to find a team to develop your app. You’ll need both UX designers and mobile app developers. It’s important to get the right team from the beginning.

“You’ve got to make sure that out of the gate you find a talented tech team. That involves UX too because each step costs so much money. You’ve got to stay on it from the very beginning. Word of mouth and first-hand recommendations are the absolute best way to find a good team.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheekd

There are several options when you’re considering how to create a dating app tech team. Now, you may be tempted to hire a large, in-house tech team from the beginning. But there are problems with that approach. Not only is it expensive, but it also doesn’t give you much wiggle room when you need to pivot.

“Spending a ton of capital to build a huge tech team is a core theme for Silicon Valley startups. I think it’s a mistake. You’re going to pivot often. So, until you have product market fit, you need to be flexible. So, you want a partner who can flex with you. Wait until you have a viable product to build an internal team.”

Aaron Hurst, Founder of Imperative and Taproot Foundation

Other choices include: 

  • Freelancers
  • Software Development Company

PROS OF HIRING FREELANCERS

The benefit of hiring freelancers is that you can hire someone in Timbuktu if you’d like. Your talent pool is now the entire world. You don’t have to worry about finding talented, local people. 

Plus, you don’t have to worry about providing fancy office space with a dog, bean bags, and a fancy coffee maker. Everyone works from home. 

CONS OF HIRING FREELANCERS

The one downside to hiring freelancers? You’re still hiring individual programmers to do your work. It’s hard to tell if the people you’re hiring know how to create a dating app. And you may lose the flexibility you’ll need to pivot. 

You also lose a bit of control over the project. You can’t directly manage your people. Plus, you may not feel the full trust and comfort you would if a company was handling the work for you.

PROS OF HIRING A SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

The benefit of hiring a software development company? You don’t have to learn how to create a dating app at all because they will do it for you.

You’re hiring a team of expert programmers, designers, and consultants. Plus, a good company can act as your CTO while designing and building your app. It’s a one-stop-shop solution.

CONS OF HIRING A SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

You may not need a whole team of people dedicated to your project. You may also not have the budget to spend on outsourcing. It’s a good idea to shop around and make sure you’re getting quality for your money.

Regardless, you need to make sure you’re hiring the right people. And that rings true whether you’re running a recruitment process or selecting a tech partner to build for you. 

how to make a dating app hiring a programmer

“Do some serious due diligence on who builds your app. It’s like surgery. Once you go in, someone else isn’t going to be able to just fix mistakes. I had three different developers working on a website and something wasn’t working. It took someone else to say that the thing was so wrecked that it’s going to cost more to fix it than to start over.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheekd

Final Steps – How to Create a Dating App MVP, Testing, and Building Community

So, once you’ve got your team, what’s next?

If you’ve done everything the article has suggested so far, it’s time to give your project to the programmers. They will create a product (MVP) that has all the necessary features so you can start testing your app. You’ll start by Alpha testing the product with the team to make sure things work. And then you’ll move to Beta testing. 

For Beta testing, you will want a group of guinea pigs from outside your company. It’s a good idea to have the group ready once your MVP is ready to go. Think about where your future users spend their time. Go there. Build community. 

create a dating app testing stage

When considering how to create a dating app community, it can be as simple as asking people to use your app. You may also want to leverage social media and other online hangouts. If you want to launch in a specific location, you may want to throw a party or host an event. Your only limit is your imagination.

“I initially thought that building the app was the hardest part. But getting people on the app was even more challenging. We wanted the app to take off in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so that was our first localized target community. So, we held our launch party at the Brooklyn Brewery. I joined a team of interns and we handed out Cheekd branded, “FREE BEER” cards (the official invite) for days before outside the Bedford L train stop in Williamsburg. On the night of the party, there were 100 people standing in line. It was a good start to community building for the app.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheek
tinder clone community building

Pro Tip: Your CTO or mentor doesn’t need to be someone you hire. Instead, you can hire a software development company to act as your virtual CTO. They can help you make technical decisions, talk with investors, AND build your dating app. It’s a complete solution. 

Are you a non-technical person? Not sure how to create a dating app from scratch? Not sure how to hire programmers for your project? We’ve got you covered! Check out our full guide: How to Hire a Programmer for a Startup in 6 Easy Steps

Step 5: How to Launch Your Dating App and Monitor for Product Market Fit

Once you have your MVP, it’s time to launch. But that’s only the beginning.

cheekd proximity dating app launch

After launch, you collect user feedback. Then you implement that feedback, improving and changing your app. Then you collect more user feedback. Forever and ever, amen. It’s an ongoing, never-ending process.

At some point, you may realize that you don’t have the product market fit you hoped for with your original idea. So, you pivot. 

You may find a major flaw in your original design or idea and have to change how your app works. For example, when Cheekd was deciding how to create a dating app, they began with Bluetooth technology that had a 30 ft proximity limit. 

But they were having trouble getting enough people on the app.

“Our challenge was getting enough people in a 30 ft radius on the app. We solved the problem by opening the radius a little. If you can’t find somebody within 30 ft, you can find them in 100.”

Lori Cheek, CEO and Founder, Cheek
cheekd proximity dating app mvp

The idea is to gradually add features to your app as you gain traction and money. Your MVP is the first iteration, but it is never your final product. Launching your app is far from your final step. From there on out – it’s test, change, test, pivot – wash, rinse, repeat.

Step 6: How to Create a Dating App Monetization Strategy

You’re probably going to spend quite a bit of money building your app. Developing apps isn’t cheap. So, how do you get a return on your investment? 

To start, there are a few ways to monetize your dating app: 

  • Freemium Model
  • Premium Model
  • Subscription Model
  • Advertising 
  • In-App Purchases
  • Offline Purchases

Now, the important thing to note here is that you can mix and match these options. They are not mutually exclusive. So, how do you choose the best cocktail for your app? 

Let’s take a look at each option. 

How to Create a Dating App on a Freemium Model

To start, you’ll probably want to offer a free version of your app – the “freemium” model. 

But how does that make you money? 

Here’s the thing. Your first task after launch is to make sure there are plenty of users on your app. If you don’t have users, you have no offer. You’re setting up dates after all.

Most dating apps have a free version that they offer users. Here are some examples:

  • Tinder
  • Bumble
  • OkCupid
  • Plenty of Fish
  • Hinge
  • Grindr
  • Her
  • Happen
  • Hater

And the list goes on…

The point? People like free stuff. We all know that. And offering a free service from the beginning is how you get people to use your app. All the big boys do it. 

how to create a dating app bumble example

Next step? Learning how to create a dating app that makes money. Here are some ideas:

  • Advertising
  • In-app Purchasing
  • Offline Purchasing

While the basic functionality is free, users have to pay for the good stuff. Get creative here. 

How does Tinder make money?

Tinder offers users the opportunity to buy “Super Likes.” When you’re using Tinder for free, you get one Super Like a day. To get more, you have to pay for the feature.

If you’re not familiar with Tinder, here’s how Super Likes work: 

You only know that another user on Tinder likes you if you match. Super Likes show another user that you like them BEFORE you match. 

When you Super Like someone, your profile gets a blue frame and the user can see that you REALLY like them. That way Peggy pays more attention. She’s more inclined to swipe because she’s flattered. Peggy will see your profile. Peggy will pay attention.

But what if you really like Barbara and Grace too? You want to Super Like them too, but you can’t because you only have one shot per day. Well, pay up, Tinder Jack. 

Now, that’s all well and good. But what if you’ve just launched your MVP and you don’t have an idea for a premium feature yet? You still have advertising.

How to Create a Dating App with Natural Advertising

Advertising is the number one easiest way to monetize your app in the beginning. You say you have ads for sale. People buy them. You put them in the app. Users see them.

how to start a dating site eharmony ux design

People aren’t buying your ads? Go the way of Google Ads – it’s free until someone clicks it. Offer free samples to companies with a high chance of a conversion. For example, your app is for dog lovers? Offer free, local ads to all the puppy parlors, pet hotels, or dog walkers in town.

You will still need your design team and developers to build an advertising feature into your MVP to deliver ads to users. They will make sure you’re delivering native ads with a natural, in-app placement that doesn’t disrupt the user experience.

But when you’re at the MVP stage and premium features aren’t an option yet, advertising might be the minimum viable monetization option for your dating app. 

how does tinder make money native ad

Later, you’ll want to figure out how to create a dating app that targets ads you sell. 

The reason why Facebook and Google make so much money off ad revenue is that they have so much user data. Advertisers know that Facebook is going to show their ads to their exact target groups.

Once you have enough users on your app, you will have a ton of data too. And you can leverage that data to serve highly targeted ads to your users. 

That’s where the money is.

In the long run, you’ll need to invest in data analytics and machine learning professionals. But it will only increase ad spend.  

Until then, ask your developers to code for an advertising feature. Have your UX designer place the ads in the app. And have your UI designer make a pretty template for ads. 

How to Create a Dating App on a Premium Model

So, you’ve launched your MVP, gathered feedback, and are ready to add or improve features. Here’s where you can consider jumping to a premium monetization model.

grinder dating app in app purchasing

Basically, a premium model takes your freemium model to the next level. The model allows paying customers to unlock special features. To figure out what people will pay for – listen. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Are you getting feedback about features that already exist but need improvement? 
  • Are you getting feedback about features that users think should exist but don’t?
  • Is there any feature that you could limit or expand without sacrificing functionality?
  • For features that need improvement – is it necessary or a luxury?
  • What frustrates or delights your users? Can you put a price tag on it?

The idea is to augment your free offer by learning how to create a dating app with desirable paid options. Here are some examples of dating apps that offer paid, premium features:

  • Tinder – Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold
  • Bumble – Bumble Boost
  • OkCupid – A-list
  • Grindr – Grindr Xtra
how does tinder make money premium model

One common premium feature is the ability to see who liked you. Tinder and Bumble both charge a fee for a sneak peek at matches crushing on you. Many offer ad-free experiences at the premium level, Grindr and OkCupid included. Other premium features include:

  • Unlimited Swiping
  • Profile Boosts
  • Rematching
  • Extended Match Periods (Bumble)
  • Proximity Waivers 
  • Read Receipts for Messaging   

The sky’s the limit. The key is to listen to user feedback to see what people really want from your dating app.

How to Create a Dating App on a Subscription Model

Once you have a ton of users on your app, you can consider adopting a pay-to-play or subscription model. There are a few apps that already make users pay: 

  • eHarmony
  • Match
  • Elite Singles
  • Ashley Madison (Men Pay)

Notice the examples are sparse and include sites like eHarmony and Match – some of the oldest dating websites on the market. Services like Elite Singles sell based on exclusivity. If your target customer is Average Joe, you may not get away with charging per month. 

how to create a dating app match example

Subscription models work well when you’re selling point is something so unique people are willing to pay for it. 

For eHarmony and Match, the secret sauce is their advanced matching algorithms based on science and love potions. For Elite Singles, it’s their exclusive user base. For Ashley Madison, it’s discretion? 

Basically, before you choose a subscription model make sure you have a strong user base. Make sure they’re flush with cash. And make sure you’ve got goods people are willing to buy. Otherwise, your customers are just going to go straight back to free, old Tinder.

How to Create a Dating App with In-app Purchasing

When you do start charging money for services, you’ve just added in-app purchasing as an app feature. That means you need to be ready to serve features like frictionless payments. You’ll need to talk to your developers about adding necessary features.

Next, you need to come up with something to sell. Now, it could be premium features as previously described. But it could also be gifts or other real-world items. 

Perhaps you want to allow users to send flowers or chocolates? 

tinder clone example of in app purchasing
UX/UI by Iterators Digital

In that case, you’ve just added an on-demand element to your app. Among other things, you’ll need to reach out to vendors, apply unit economics, and organize logistics to make deliveries. If you’re not sure how to go about all that, read our on demand app article for in-depth advice.

How to Create a Dating App with Offline Purchasing

Finally, you could consider offering offline services. Think offline bookings for restaurants, movie tickets, or cabs. 

Again, the sky’s the limit. One example is the Hinge and OpenTable partnership. The dating app and online restaurant booker joined forces last year to create a new feature. 

tinder clone example of in app booking feature
UX/UI by Iterators Digital

The new feature allows Hinge users to fill out a simple questionnaire. They then receive personalized recommendations for dates. Users can then book a restaurant for their date through the app.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to create a dating app, it’s time to sharpen your arrows and play cupid. You’ll just want to be sure to remember three things. 

First, invest in research and design from the beginning. Second, create a sleek MVP with just enough features to gather user feedback. Third, hire a talented tech team.   

When love is a battlefield, you want to be sure that the odds are in your favor from the start. Learning how to create a dating app is about making sure that your investments are solid.

1 Comment

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the article. 🙂 Now, let’s start the discussion.

1. What’s the most important thing to keep in mind during design and development stages?

2. How did you get people on your dating app?

3. What dating app monetization strategies worked best from your experience?

As always, we’d love to know what you think! Just leave us a comment. Also, let us know if you have any questions. We’d be more than happy to answer them for you!

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