7 Principles to Create Dating App that Rocks



In 2016 the annual revenue from the online dating industry was worth more than $2.2 billion. According to Statistic Brain research, 15% of U.S. adults and 25% of millennials report they have used online dating sites or mobile apps. So there’s no surprise why the number of dating apps continues to increase in geometric progression.

The same stats claim that an average dating service user spends about $243 per year. And there are only 10% of users who leave within the first three months. Moreover, most people who use a dating app are not brand loyal and are likely to use several different apps simultaneously.

The market is rapidly growing, but investors aren’t eager to take risks on dating startups since the majority of them is nothing else but another Tinder. So how to create a hot dating app people would love? And how not to become another ‘copy-paste’ app?

We have analyzed the most popular applications on the market and picked out 7 main principles of their success. The usage of those will definitely help you to create a dating app that rocks!


1. Base on Specific Audience, Not the Market Trend

It is extremely difficult, but I would rather say – impossible, to compete with dating giants like Tinder. The only way to succeed is to follow a niche dating practice. Nowadays everybody is looking for the personal approach. So even people who go in for popular dating apps might be interested in trying yours.

Take a look at The League, the dating app for career-oriented young people who follow the motto ‘date intelligently’. The main concept is that people tend to date those from their own social circles and with similar interests. The user profile is only visible for those who meet the preferences. The app makes research via social media and creates users bios. So The League claims, ‘you’ll never have to wonder if that Harvard hottie is too good to be true’.

 the league

Wink.ms is positioning itself as a flirting app for couples. The app seems to be created to provide users with that special excitement that makes dating apps so engaging. Wink offers self-destructing photos that disappear within ten seconds, the ability to set challenges for a partner and reward for their completion. pure

While most dating apps try not to be identified with hookups, Pure is a complete opposite dating app example. Its main idea is that many dating app users are actually looking for hookups. The invitation-only app markets itself as ‘Uber for dates’, and offers to its users no profiles, no continuous message exchanges and anonymity. They simply create a date request, specify time and location. If no one responds, then date request is erased within an hour.


2. Matchmaking that Meets the Preferences

The matching process is crucial for dating app users. In real life, people prefer various ways to meet potential partners, the same way their preferences differ in online dating.

There are 49% of those who choose physical characteristics as the most important factor. Those users commonly prefer the apps with facial recognition-based matching algorithms. Currently, there is no dating app that uses face recognition technologies, but enthusiasts have recently created a bot for the Tinder app that builds facial models based on user likes and dislikes and then follows these patterns to search for matches.

64% of users find common interests as the most important factor in finding the right candidate. The apps preferable for them use survey-based matching algorithms when users provide information about themselves. The matches are suggested based on shared hobbies, interests, and life goals, what provides quality instead of quantity. Psychologists claim that people are tired of being overwhelmed by numerous available choices, so they would rather prefer to choose from few matches that have been carefully selected for them.

Those who are into real life dating format definitely would prefer geolocation matching apps. The potential matches are based on geographic proximity, what brings real world back into dating apps. French startup Happn has a location-based system that lets users know when they come across with each other.  In that case, you will never miss another app user that is sitting at the same café.

As Happn’s CEO Didier Rappaport told TechCrunch: ‘The newsfeed personalization is really important. It’s based on real life and this is key. It could be people you’ve crossed paths with and that you really wanted to see on Happn, it could also be someone you came across 44 times because you live in the same area’.



3. Filters – Always Not Enough

Another essential feature of a dating app that will provide relevant matches for users is a set of filters. Usually, those filters are based on simple characteristics like age, hair color, height, ethnicity, hobbies and interests. For the app with a twist, you should better add some special filter. For example, if you create a dating app for hipster-millennials, they can choose a partner with the same favorite coffee beverage taste. If the target users are creative people and art-lovers, they can find a date going to the same exhibition or party. Keep in mind that personalized filters increase user respond better than typical surveys.


4. Integration with Social Media

The hookup nature of dating services often scares people away. Users don’t want to be harassed by some creepy or simply annoying dudes. In this case, dating app users can benefit from social network integration: they don’t need to share much of personal data and will be only matched with acquaintances or 2nd-degree friends.

For, example, a new Facebook-integrated Hinge app lets people connect with other users only based on liked photos, place of living and studying, personal interests and mutual friends. Hinge positions itself as “Tinder for thinking people”. Their users feel more secure to meet up with someone: having mutual friends ensures that a new date isn’t a total weirdo. Moreover, because of that kind of connection, people tend to behave their best.


Another dating app Down gives the user a chance to let their Facebook friends know that they would like to get more intimately acquainted. The best thing is that Down avoids any awkwardness as the user would only find out that someone thinks they are hot if they feel the same.

As opposed to the previous examples, The League app requires both Facebook and LinkedIn integration with another purpose. It is used to protect users’ privacy and block him/her from coworkers, business connections and Facebook friends. So they will never feel ashamed or be confused running into each other on the dating platform.


5. Female-Friendly and Stalker-Free App

10% of dating app users are sex-offenders, says Statistic Brain. Weird and offensive messages, fake profiles and pictures, not enough privacy – all that discourages women from using dating apps. Taking into account that female users are a part of audience that is the hardest to grow organically, it is better to treat them specifically.

Let’s take a closer look at The Grade and Antidate. These apps prevent their female users from being harassed by letting them make the first move or by getting rid of profiles without real personal details.

Siren lets women control who can see them in the app. From there, users can correspond. Wyldfire app has even stricter rules as men can only join by invitation from women. This way all men on the app have a “vouched for” type status by the women who let them join.



6. Make Users Stay Longer and Check the App More Often

Some dating apps do great job engaging their users and not letting them leave for hours. Tinder with its easy swipe mechanic makes looking through matches almost addictive! But there are other ways to make your audience go back to your app again and again.

To increase the retention it is not enough to use the push notification only. A good idea would be to make daily or weekly suggestions of people a user might like, report of new photos posted or any other activity on profiles of user’s interest.

Dating app features similar to Snapchat-stories principle encourage users to actively engage with an app. Tinder’s Moments – where new photos appear just for twenty-four hours – motivate to add new content every day and regularly check for updates.

Bumble makes users regularly visit the app too. That’s because they have only 24 hours to start a chat with the match before the connection disappears from her feed.



7. Choose the Most Suitable Monetization Model

To avoid a situation of struggling to earn revenue from your dating apps, choose the most appropriate monetization model that will meet your users’ preferences.

Subscription obligates users to pay a fee for using the app for a certain period of time: week, month, 3-6 months or a year. Offer a free trial for new users and attractive rates for a long term subscription.

Free apps with premium plans allow users pay a fee to unlock additional features. Tinder and Bumble are good examples of how you can motivate more users to go premium by choosing a crucial feature. For instance, Tinder “undo” feature allows a user to return to the previously swiped profile. Bumble premium makes it possible to extend the match twice so that female user can see it for another 24-hours. If your audience is into free apps and services, use in-app purchases for monetization. Users can buy in-app currency, presents, icons, stickers, e-cards etc. Or simply use in-app ads and generate money by selling space to third-party companies.


It’s hard to get noticed on the crowded dating app market, but still, using those 7 principles you are able to create a unique and trendy app that will grab the hearts of users who are tired of creepy Tinter-like apps. Hopefully, we can see enough dating startups that open new niches on the highly competitive market.

In case you would like to build your own dating app, we’d be happy to consult you and help to develop apps for iOS and Android. Just send us a note!

By Anna Muzychko