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13 September, 2021

Mobile Dating App Development: Cost, Features, and Requirements

Online dating is a great, modern way to communicate with other people and find your soulmate. There are plenty of solutions to complete this task, but there’s always an empty niche to fill. Here’s a complete guide to the process of creating a successful online dating solution.

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

Creating a dating application in 2021 may seem a little bit out of date. The market already has several major players like Tinder, Badoo, or Bumble, not even talking about hundreds of small-scale and niche apps. However, since the market continues to grow, you may still wonder how to create your own dating app. This query is reasonable: Despite a lot of participants and competitors, the market is on the rise.

There is no surprise in this trend. Online dating has already become widely popular among people around the world. They install mobile apps, register on websites and eventually go on dates. Some users find long-term partners, some are just having fun. People find online dating services extremely convenient since it allows you to know something about a person before an actual date.

Dating apps hit the new wave of popularity during the pandemic. It’s a nice way to meet new people (even not for dating) and keep yourself in touch with society while staying inside.

Let’s dive into the process of creating a successful, user-friendly dating application.

How dating apps work

Let’s begin with an explanation of how the main processes in an average dating app are organized.

When a user opens an app for the first time, they appear on a fancy onboarding screen that describes what the app is about and what it can do. It’s better not to miss this stage, since it plays a big part in keeping the user’s attention and providing some quick instruction about your app.

The new user should then create a profile, which will indicate their gender, age, sexuality, location, and several interests so that the matching algorithm can find an ideal match. Next, they upload several photos and verify the profile with a selfie if needed.

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Now the fun begins. The user reaches the main screen, where they can choose people they like and find matches. Usually, this process is organized in the form of swiping: You swipe left when you think it’s not your person and you swipe right when you are sure you may have something in common.

There are several ways to build a matching algorithm:

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  • Location-based. The main idea of this method is clear. It uses your location and the location of other users to find you a match who is in the closest location to you. Since you have more chances to go on a date with someone from a neighbor street than from a neighbor continent. Implementing GPS elements into a dating application will make it possible to show users from a close-range area to each other. It’s an essential part of a dating app, so you should think about implementing it too. 

  • Mathematical algorithm. This is a quantitative method of matching users. It’s based on a simple questionnaire that the app gives them before the first usage. When all the questions are answered, the app analyzes them and suggests other users with similar answers. Usually, it counts the percentage of compatible answers to match two people together.

  • Behavior-based. It may happen that users don’t answer all the questions correctly or honestly, this algorithm can save the day. It analyzes the user’s activity (what profiles they swipe left and right) and starts offering them people with more suitable profiles according to it. 

The matching algorithm is one of the most decisive factors for dividing dating apps into categories.

Types of dating applications

There are several types of dating apps available for users:

  • Geographical vicinity apps. These apps use the location-based algorithm to find matches for people. Badoo is really fond of this feature and has a separate screen for nearby matches.

  • Matching algorithm apps. They use either mathematical or behavior-based algorithms for organizing this process. Such apps compare the new profiles with the old ones and form a list of possible matches based on profiles’ compatibility. That’s how eHarmony works.

  • Niche dating apps. Aside from matching algorithms, the specific purpose of the app also makes it stand out. These apps are made for specific groups of people. Anything can become a uniting feature. For example, EliteSingles targets highly educated people of 30-55 years who want to find a long-term partner. Another interesting app is DateMyPet that connects single people who are pet owners.

https://images.ctfassets.net/0nm5vlv2ad7a/4RsbWvfw36sTETFwivGImw/d3e29853fffa6fab8a896f99d7c55964/DateMyPet.png

Market overview

From the moment the first dating app appeared, this niche introduced a vast range of possibilities for business growth. The dating app market is flourishing, and we’re ready to prove it.

Popular dating apps

We’ve already mentioned that this business area has several representatives with outstanding performance. Here they are:

Tinder

This app is so firmly stuck in people’s minds that Tinder became one of the first associations with the concept of “online dating.” The app appeared in 2012 and its popularity skyrocketed right away. In the beginning, it was launched only on iOS but was shortly released on Android. Now, Tinder is used by 57 million people worldwide across all platforms.

How and why did Tinder earn such favor? The first thing that comes to mind is design. The Swiping feature became Tinder’s signature and from then it appears in almost every post-Tinder app. Swiping left or right doesn’t take a lot of effort and can turn into a fun game. It’s intuitive and entertaining, which attracts people.

Also, the integrations with Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify come extremely in handy: The information from your profiles is shown on Tinder’s page, so users can know more about you before deciding to swipe.

Badoo

Badoo was launched one year before Tinder and immediately was predicted to rock the market. That is exactly what happened: In the year of launch, the app made $100 million in revenue and gathered about 130 million users. As for 2021, Badoo acquired over 400 million users approximately the world.

Sure, there are features that made Badoo likable for so many people. Besides swiping, Badoo allows you to search through people near you. Another function that attracts users is the ability to send messages to whoever you want, not only matches. It’s not as frightening as it seems since users can send only two messages to non-matches.

Happn

When Tinder and Badoo focus on swiping, but Happn chose a different approach. Instead of showing to you everyone, it remembers the users who were near you during the day. If another user walks by or sits near you in a coffee shop, they’ll appear on your app.

Despite the fact that it’s free and offers an unlimited number of likes, Happn has been hugely criticized because this method of matching people can encourage stalking. If you want to implement such a feature, be sure your target audience will tolerate it.

https://images.ctfassets.net/0nm5vlv2ad7a/2bL7s6IoRNxvhqS1bQC8OV/4abbb5d1e9df5c34fba4f459722dd1af/happn.png

Hinge

Hinge is a unique dating app because it has an unexpected goal for a mobile app. As its slogan says, it’s designed to be deleted. The main goal of the app is to connect people not just for a few dates but for long-lasting relationships. It’s a great solution for those who are tired of one-off dates and want to find a person with whom they can spend their happiest moments.

The app’s popularity is growing rapidly, especially in the US, the UK, and Australia. It’s LGBTQ-friendly and allows everyone to look for a person according to their own personality.

https://images.ctfassets.net/0nm5vlv2ad7a/jUfqx81BpIwkxRRZkBtEY/b75e36a1071ce6e5775861b3af7853d4/hinge.png

Bumble

This app was launched in 2014 and has become another success on the market. It’s not just a dating app, but instead, it has grown into a full-scale social network. Besides finding a date, a user can seek a friend or even a business partner. All users are verified, so there are no scams or fake profiles. Additionally, as with Tinder, you can promote your account in order to get more views and matches.

https://images.ctfassets.net/0nm5vlv2ad7a/g15lG4GUl59wLoVjRPKph/d43fb9dadc017156f40c7078bad0e976/Bumble.png

Impressive statistics

The above-mentioned apps play a huge part in the numbers we’re going to discuss. 

Because “it’s all about money,” let’s take a look at how much money dating apps earn today. In 2020, the global revenue of dating apps passed the $3 billion mark. It’s almost three times higher than in 2015, and the number is projected to reach $5.71 billion by 2025. This shows that users are willing to install and pay for mobile dating apps.

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The number of users matters, too. Last year, 270 million people kept dating apps on their devices. If we compare that figure to previous years, we can see a strong upward trend.

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The pandemic and global lockdown brought a drastic change to the industry. For example, the most popular market player, Tinder, states that swiping among Gen Z users increased by 39% during the first lockdown. Besides, all dating apps became more concerned about their users’ health: They started publishing “Stay home” posts in their social network profiles and showing health care announcements on a swiping screen. Also, they supported their users with online concerts and remote dating advice.

The market state of dating apps sounds good, but what actual benefit can they bring to the world? Why do people like them?

The benefits of dating apps 

Several aspects benefit users all over the world and address their needs in regard to online dating:

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  • Speed and convenience

Mobile dating apps are more convenient than websites, and certainly, they’re must faster than the old-fashioned ways of dating. An app empowers users with the ability to check profiles right away and choose people who are most compatible with them. Thanks to dating apps, a user can search for a partner whenever they want.

  • Introvert-friendly

Not every person is ready to approach others to ask them out or even just talk to them. So, this is where dating apps come in handy. An online mediator can help overcome shyness and encourage communication. There’s no in-person interaction at the beginning, so it’s easier to chat.

  • Location search

It isn’t necessary to look for a soulmate far, far away when you can find an interesting person within your city. The geolocation feature helps with that.

  • Limited connections

It isn’t very enticing to get hundreds of messages from people one doesn’t know. That’s why most dating apps allow communication only between matches. You should have a mutual feeling in order to start texting one another. Besides, if the dialogue goes the wrong way, you can delete a person from matches and stop messages from them.

  • All people are equal

People of all professions, religions, genders, and cultures sign up in dating apps. So, the chance of meeting an interesting person online is extremely high. You may even find someone you’d otherwise never have a chance to meet. More opportunities to choose from mean more opportunities to find your heart's desire.

The best dating app features

So, we know why you should build a dating app, and it’s time to write down what the app should include. You’ll want the audience to appreciate its appearance and utility, right? So, here are the best options to implement in an online dating solution:

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  • Registration and login: It’s a must-have feature of any application that involves the creation of a user profile. New users should have several options for signing up: a phone number, an email, or social media like Facebook or Instagram. 

  • User profile customization: Once the user has signed up, it’s time to create a profile. A typical user profile consists of a few photos, name, age, a small bio, and a link to social media (generally, it’s Instagram). 

  • Verification: To avoid scams and fake profiles, you should think about implementing a verification system. Badoo, for example, uses selfies for it.

  • Matching: When the profile is done, the fun begins. At this point, the user can start finding a soulmate. The most common way to organize it is by swiping, either left for “no” or right for “yes.” All the matching algorithms you can use for your app are described above.

  • In-app messaging: When the match is made, the participants should get to know each other. The best way to organize it is to implement text, but audio messaging can be a strong addition. It helps users prepare for an actual date or change their minds.

  • Push notifications: People will want to know if there’s a new match or if someone has sent a message. Notifications should be manageable too, because users will want to receive only certain notifications or turn them off entirely.

  • Undoing mistakes: Sometimes a finger may slip and someone can accidentally go left or right. Giving users the ability to fix such mistakes will make your application more appealing to users.

The feature list is set, and now it’s time to embark on the development process.

How to make your dating app

The strategy of creating a perfect dating app looks fairly simple, but the design process requires effort and expertise from everyone involved. Use the following steps, and the end product will be an ideal match for the users.

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Step 1. Get to know your target audience

The target audience is the basis of every dating application. You’ll want to understand what that audience wants so that every need can be answered successfully. 

Diverse criteria are involved in defining a target audience. There are demographic factors: gender, age, location, education, ethnicity, employment, income level, race, and even marital status. Another side is psychometric. It includes mental abilities, knowledge level, personality traits, attitudes, and values. Collectively, these characteristics influence the final look of your product.

Ultimately, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What does your typical user look like?

  • What are your users’ interests?

  • What do they do during their free time?

  • What are their impressions in regard to online dating?

  • What are their dating preferences?

Once this step is complete, turn your attention toward your competitors.

Step 2. Analyze what the market already offers

We’ve already mentioned several big players that occupy a large market share. However, they aren’t the only ones to compete against. There are tens and hundreds of dating apps that cover almost every possible area and aspect. To stand apart from the rest, you should have a strong competitive advantage. Study your competitors. Determine their strong points and their weaknesses. That way, you’ll know which market needs should be satisfied.

Step 3. Find a suitable agency

This step may look easy because there’s a wide array of possible partners for your project. Don’t be fooled, though. There are many factors to consider when choosing a team for the development of your dating app:

  • The level of expertise

  • The company’s policies

  • Experience in your area of interest

  • Location

  • Hourly rate

  • Time difference

  • Reviews from previous clients

The above information will help you create a portrait of your prospective partner and decide whether you want to work with them.

Step 4. Develop and launch an MVP

A minimum viable product, or MVP, is a great way to test the water before the big release. It’s essential, too, because the market is the only power that can validate your idea. You may think the dating solution you offer is perfect, but the audience may feel otherwise. An MVP will reduce development costs and time by collecting initial feedback from users.

Step 5. Collect feedback and scale up

The MVP is out, and the first users have registered with your dating app. Now is the time for active listening, intense bug-fixing, and gradual scaling-up. Listen carefully to what your users say. Each and every bug they report should be fixed, and the additional functions they need the most should be implemented. When the audience sees that you respect their requests, your base of loyal users will increase.

The dating app interface: Tips to keep in mind

A general development strategy is vital, but here are some points that will help your dating app look gorgeous:

  • Naming matters. The name of your app should be catchy and memorable so that users will reach for it first.

  • The logo matters a lot, too. You’ll never mistake Tinder’s flame or Badoo’s heart for anything else. Give serious thought to your design.

  • Make it simple. The best interface is the one that is self-explanatory. Don’t overload the screens with superfluous elements.

  • Choose appropriate colors. Depending on your target audience, you should opt for the color palette they immediately associate with love and romance.

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Dating apps have several general templates for icon arrangement and meanings. Stick to them, and users won’t be confused.

The dating app’s architecture

If we look under the hood of a typical mobile dating app, we’ll see a complicated structure that consists of many parts. When they work together seamlessly, the user has a more pleasant experience. 

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The right architecture includes all the necessary features and facilitates easy management.

The dating app’s requirements and tech stack

We’ve jotted down all the features needed and highlighted the architectural elements. Let’s look at the tech stack for your dating app project.

  • Languages: Java, Kotlin, Swift

  • Frameworks: Node.js, Next.js

  • Database: PostgreSQL, MongoDB

  • Cloud storage: Amazon S3

  • Payment gateway: Braintree, PayPal, Stripe

  • Chats: Twilio

  • Search: Elasticsearch

  • Geolocation: Google Maps

  • Backend: C#, MySQL, Swagger, AWS

This tech stack can be modified according to your business needs and technical specifications.

How much does it cost to develop a dating app?

The creation of a dating app consists of several stages that require significant expertise. So, it can be a challenge to estimate the development costs. Many factors will influence the final budget, including the product specifications, team composition, hourly rate, and tech stack.

Here’s an approximate time estimate for a cross-platform dating application:

  • Project manager: 180 hours

  • Backend engineer: 410 hours

  • iOS engineer: 640 hours

  • Android engineer: 640 hours

Given an average hourly rate of $50, the cost of building a dating app will be approximately $90,000. It’s cheaper to build for one platform, but the addition of a web version will consume more of your budget.

Feel free to contact us for more detailed information.

How to monetize a dating app

Because the costs of creating a mobile dating app can be so high, you need to think about covering them beforehand. Here are the ways you can make money from a dating app: 

Subscription

This is the approach used by Tinder and Badoo. When free users pay for a subscription, their accounts become premium and they gain new functionality: unlimited swipes, the ability to see who liked you, ad-free usage, account boosting, and gifts. Subscription is the most efficient way for a dating app to pay off.

Advertisements

It costs money to place ads inside an app. So, use it as an opportunity and allow ads in your dating application. You can show users relevant offers from cafes, bars, or shops that promote your partners. Alternatively, you can choose affiliate programs on your launch platforms. They’ll show the ads they consider relevant and pay you for it.

In-app purchases

Gifts and account boosts can’t be part of a subscription, but they can be offered separately. Moreover, you can create unique sticker packs and emojis to enhance your messaging. 

Our experience 

Our team has first-hand experience in the construction of dating service apps. For example, 7pm Thursday is an iOS mobile dating app that essentially has only video content. When creating a profile, a user uploads a short introductory video, after which they can look at other users’ videos and swipe left or right. At 7 pm on Thursday, a video calling session is activated, allowing matches to talk to each other in real-time. 

https://images.ctfassets.net/0nm5vlv2ad7a/5vXwWVTqeTuEYRubMRXqEI/624b957b112c5e2f8b598110b92c3b52/7pm_Thursday.png

The app is LGBTQ+-friendly as part of its guiding principle: Love is love. When new users start the app, they sign a pledge to be kind, respectful, and honest. This corresponds to the main idea of 7pm Thursday: to connect people.

Closing thoughts 

Many people try to find their other half and use various means to do so. Online dating is the latest, most technology-advanced way to go about it. Despite several game-changers that are already active in the market, a new player has abundant prospects for success. If you answer the needs of your target audience, your application will receive a warm welcome from those who seek love.

✓ You may also like:

How to Create an Instant Messaging App: Beginner’s Guide

How to Make a Social Media App: Tech stack, Features, and Costs

How to Make Your Own Video Calling App and Become the Leader of the Market

How to Build a Podcast App: The Ultimate Guide for Startups

💞 Is online dating relevant?

Yes, it’s as relevant as ever. The pandemic caused people to lock up at home, but as a result, there was skyrocketing popularity in dating services.

💞 How does an online dating app work?

As a user, you register in an app, create your profile, match with people and start communicating.

💞 What features should I include in a dating app?

A typical feature set for a dating app includes registration, profile customization, verification, matching algorithm, messaging, and push notifications.

💞 How much does it cost to build a dating app?

The average cost of a mobile dating app is approximately $90,000.

Tags
How-to
Mobile development
Online dating

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