How to make a dating app like Tinder, and what are the costs?

How to make a dating app and what are the costs?

If you dream about your startup but don’t know where to start, you can choose something timeless like creating a dating application. It is unlikely that people will stop communicating with each other in the next 1000 years, but ways of communicating may change. Once upon a time, people got to know each other offline; later, there were special websites. Now, with the popularity of apps, came Tinder, Badoo, and Bumble, familiar to many. The point is that you don’t have to create something exceptionally unique, but you can add some unique functionality to something already existing.

In this article, we will tell you how to make a dating app and what features to add, as well as what the price of creating a dating app is and where to find the team to develop one.

Key reason to make a dating app

It is unlikely that our society will take a step back and use apps and gadgets less. This is confirmed by statistics predicting the growth of the number of apps until 2024. According to the digital market forecast, the number of online dating services users in the segment of casual dating is expected to reach 70.0 million worldwide in 2024.

The latest Tinder stats is the key reason to make a dating app
That’s how Tinder’s audience has been growing during the last few years

Yes, apps for online dating became especially popular in the days of the pandemic, and you may think that in safer times, people would return to their pre-pandemic habits. But the truth is that since society has already appreciated the convenience of apps — they will not refuse them. So, make no mistake, now is the best time to figure out how to make a dating app and consider dating app development as a valuable business idea.

What types of dating services exist?

Dating applications allow users to view photos, check profile descriptions, have a chat, and call each other. The functionality of dating apps helps users find the right person thanks to segmenting people by age, location, interests, and even political views. Regardless of the format, dating services can be divided into several types. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Geolocation-based. Tinder, the most popular dating app, is the key example of an app using a geolocation-based search method. This mechanism uses the user’s smartphone location to find potential matches in a specific radius. Users can decide to accept or reject the match offered by the app based on the minimum information and photos provided by other users of the app. This gives the user a pool of potential dates in the area, making it a popular choice for those who prefer meeting in real life to online conversations.

Questionnaire-based. Services that use this type of matchmaking offer a more reasonable approach to searching for a suitable partner. It is pioneered by such dating applications as eHarmony and OkCupid. They require users to fill out detailed questionnaires that are used to analyze personality traits. After the analysis, the app matches users with similar character traits to increase the likelihood of compatibility.

Interest-based. This search method caters to a group with specific interests or from a specific niche. This can be a dating application specifically for farmers, music lovers, or gluten-free people. What exits us most about them is funny app names. For instance, an app for dog owners is called Tindog, while the app for bacon lovers is called Sizzl.

Replication of a dating website. Some dating services that started as websites, like Match.com, simply scaled down their platforms to fit mobile screens. They provide identical functionality and capabilities as their web counterparts, although in a more condensed and accessible format. This approach allows companies to maintain consistency across platforms while reaching a wider audience who prefer using mobile devices and providing great user experience.

Matches are made in heaven, and perfect dating apps at Ronas IT. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to develop your dating service.

Key features to include in the MVP of a dating application

After choosing the type of service you want to offer, the next primary step involves identifying the key features for your Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is a lean version of the app with core functionalities. Here are the fundamental features required to build an effective dating app MVP:

Authentication

The first step for a user is to sign up. To ensure a balance between user convenience and security, include options for signing up via social media platforms like Facebook, Google, or email. Implementing strong authentication protocols also helps to protect app user’s data and eliminate the risk of fake profiles.

User Profile

Each user should have a profile that captures basic details such as name, age, gender, interests, photos, etc. This feature can be built with more complexity depending on the type of dating service. More sophisticated profiles may include an ’about me’ section, preferences for potential partners, hobbies and interests, etc.

Messenger with features for texting and sending photos

The more flexibility your mobile app offers for communication, the less likely users are to move to other platforms. To improve the messaging experience, consider implementing GIFs, symbols, stickers, or video calls for more advanced communication.

Text may be enough for a simple conversation the first time you chat, but it’s limited to forming more intimate relationships. While making a dating app, consider adding some file-sharing features to allow users to engage in more interesting conversations.

Push-notifications

After surfing the dating application’s space, the user waits for a reply message from the person they like. In order not to miss this moment, it is important to add a notification system so the user can get information about the interactions with their profile or response to the message. Plus, notifications affect the user’s engagement with the app.

Push notifications can raise user retention. Consider setting them up while making a dating app
Push-notifications can raise user retention rate by 3 times

Selection algorithm

Don’t forget about the feed to show potential matches. This feed could be based on geolocation or shared interests, depending on your service type. The users can browse through these profiles and express interest by ’liking’ or ’disliking’ them. An app can be focused on information based on a person’s digital footprint.

Add selection algorithms based on digital footprint while making a dating app
Information about social networks, search history, YouTube playlists, and visited pages can be called a digital footprint

Monetization features

Finally, think of ways to generate revenue from your app. These could include advertisements, subscription-based models for premium features, or in-app purchases.

Additional features you can consider adding

Gamification

In the process of creating a dating app, think about adding gamification as it increases user engagement. With the help of gamification, you can expand your user base and make your dating application interesting. Users can participate in various competitions and earn points. For example, you can give matching profiles an opportunity to participate in a competition where they have to say what they like and what they don’t like.

Facial recognition for finding lookalikes

Using AI facial recognition technology, you can get people to find a partner who looks like the person they want. Users can upload a photo of a celebrity, a public figure, or even their ex, and the app will display look-alikes.

Support messages

The search for love can sometimes give us not the best emotions. Wouldn’t it be nice if our apps reminded us from time to time that we’re doing well and won’t be alone forever? Or send us a reminder to take a break, enjoy real life, and talk to someone offline.

Alternative search

Not all people want to search for a partner based on profile photos — some consider this approach superficial. In this case, blurring the photos may be one of the possible solutions. At the beginning, the photo of the match is blurry, but the longer the conversation lasts, the clearer the photo of the person becomes. That’s what the S’more app does.

People believed in zodiac signs and mysterious connections long before psychological compatibility and matching algorithms. So based on them, the matchmaking feature is definitely something you can use while creating your own Tinder alternative!

If you already have a unique dating app idea — feel free to get in touch!

Don’t forget about security while making a dating app

In the process of dating app development, it’s crucial to take care of user safety, because it is always a big concern. You can add signing up through a social network in your app, so it increases the chance that the provided data can be trusted. That’s why it’s worth setting up the option of signing up via social media like Facebook or Instagram. To avoid reputation-threatening problems, implement a multi-step verification system.

How do dating applications make money?

The monetization model is another aspect you have to think about while making a dating app. The strategy you choose affects development, as it requires the appropriate features and admin interface to support it. It also determines how much money you can get from future users. That’s why you should decide on this before you start dating app development. The most common monetization strategies are based on in-app advertising, selling premium plans, and various packages like icons, stickers, seasonal offers, etc.

Don’t forget to add in-app purchases while making your own dating app
Most dating applications are free or partially free

Freemium is when a paid user gets access to a set of additional features and advanced functionality. This increases user loyalty and helps distribute the product. Other ways to monetize your app using this model include virtual gifts or increasing your partner’s reach.

Another way to make money is to use advertising. Ads appear in the app while it’s in use, and money is earned when a user views or clicks on those ads. This is how Tinder makes money.

Below are what popular dating applications use:

  • Tinder plus provides paid features such as unlocking "unlimited likes" and "restrictions on rewinding and swiping to the right".
  • Pure adds some paid content and only seven free attempts per night are available for new users; if they want more, they have to pay.
  • OkCupid paid features include account enhancements, information on who has liked whom, additional search filters, invisibility mode, and more.

How to start making a dating app?

The process of dating app development is more than just creating cool design and functionality. There’s much to be done before this process starts. Here are a few crucial steps to take before embarking on the app development journey:

1. Analyzing the market and target audience

Assess the existing market, including your potential competitors, their strengths and shortcomings. Try to pinpoint a unique selling point (USP) that can distinguish your app from others on the market.

Understand who your app is for. What age group, interests, or lifestyles does your app cater to? What are their expectations from a dating app? What is lacking in current apps that you can offer in yours?

2. Finding app developers

To start dating app development, you will need a team of specialists who can handle the it at different stages that include UI/UX design, coding, and maintenance. There are two main approaches to hiring that you can implement.

First of all, you can recruit an in-house team. This approach will be especially suitable for you if you have a tech co-founder who can establish clear requiements towards the candidates and the app. With an in-house team you will always have hands to improve you app, fix bugs, and enhance the app.

However, this approach can bring you a few challenges: you will have to handle recruiting yourself, you won’t be able to stop the app development if the startup runs out of resources, also you will have to manager the entire development process on your own.

Alternatively, you can enlist the help of a third-party software development team. This path is particularly suitable for you if your expertise lies outside of the tech realm but you have a clear vision for your app. The third-party team, usually under contract, will possess specialization and experience that can accelerate the dating app development process. Moreover, they often offer project management services, freeing you from monitoring the day-to-day development tasks.

Nevertheless, outsourcing has its challenges. You may encounter cultural and communication barriers if your app developer located in a different country or time zone. Furthermore, adapting to sudden changes or fixing bugs immediately may not always be possible due to their other client commitments. And of course, maintaining a clear alignment between your vision and the third-party team’s development can be challenging and requires proactive communication.

If you ever decide to follow this dev path, you can find third-party software development team on web resources like Clutch and Goodfirms.

Key steps in dating app development process

As we have already mentioned, app development usually consists of several main steps. Now we’d love to discuss all of them and highlight hw our team handles wok within each of these stage. During the 16 years on the market, we have worked out ou own workflow that proved to be effective. We want to share our thoughts about the it with you, so you could avoid potential risks and common pitfalls.

Discovery phase

This stage involves outlining and refining the list of app features, estimating the timeline and costs. Careful pre-development planning leads to fluent communication and understanding between the startupper and the software development team, reducing reworks and unnecessary costs.

Without a thoroughly refined list of features before dating app development starts, the task of achieving common understanding becomes strenuous and might lead to repeating already completed work, thereby prolonging and escalating the cost of the overall process.

UI/UX design

Our team addresses the UI/UX design by initially creating mind maps that reflect all the basic features of the app. Following this, a design concept is created to echo visual style. This concept is approved with the customer to ensure alignment with their vision.

These components then turn into a fully-fledged design, which is again validated by the customer, creating an iterative process that guarantees customer satisfaction with the final design, avoiding the need for remakes during the coding stage. This approach to design helps us to save time and provide user experience for app uses.

Coding

At this stage of software development, engineers bring the app to life by creating code utilizing suitable technologies. Following the coding stage, rigorous quality assurance testing takes place to identify and eliminate any bugs and ensure a smooth release to the store. Particularly for online dating apps which are primarily intended for mobile use, we usually advise our clients to opt for a cross-platform app.

A cross-platform app is a type of mobile app that can run on multiple operating systems, eliminating the need for separate iOS and Android app development. Our team works with React Native, which allows us to save time and money while still delivering a high-quality user experience on both platforms.

Release to the stores

This final stage involves the release of the app into the world, and we help you in deploying it to Google Play and App Store. Depending on the reviewing policy of each store, the time required may vary, but we facilitate the process and handle any technicalities.

Maintanance

Once the initial version of the app for online dating is launched, our work doesn’t stop there. We persistently refine and enhance the application based on user feedback, and promptly rectify any technical glitches that may appear. This evolving process guarantees the continual improvement of the application, grounded on genuine user preferences.

If you’re planning to collaborate with a third-party IT team for your app development, it’s crucial to find out in advance if they offer post-release maintenance. You should always ensure that selected team provides continued support and maintenance, enabling your app to mature and align seamlessly with your business progress.

How much does it cost to make a dating app?

It’s important to note that the cost of the dating app development depends on several factors that include the app complexity, location of the chosen dating app developer, the technology you choose to develop your app with and many many others. The survey run by Clutch shows that the typical price for mobile app development project in 2023 fall somewhere between $10,000–$49,999.

However, another survey of Goodfirms shows that it would cost about $102,688 to create a full analog of Tinder. Luckily, startuppers usually don’t need a full analog of Tinder, they only need an MVP that can be developed within $10,000–$49,999 range.

At the beginning of this article, we already mentioned that you need a unique idea to make a dating app. But it can take years to come up with a unique dating app. We recommend the minimal viable product (MVP) and minimum lovable product (MLP) approaches to start with. Both approaches focus on creating a minimal product and getting it to market. So, by prioritizing the features, you reduce your development time and budget — as a result, you reach the market faster and get feedback from your first users.

Here’s the list of features that we recommend including in the MVP of the dating app.

  1. Authentication
  2. User profile
  3. Notifications and logout
  4. Chat with texts and photos
  5. Feed formed by location or matched interests
  6. Monetization features

To add, you will need an admin panel to manage the app. It would be more convenient to develop a web version. If we were to make a dating app, we would use React Native for MVP of a mobile app as it allows reaching a wider audience and Laravel for an admin panel. In this case, design and development can cost $45,000–50,000.

To sum up

In conclusion, the realm of dating apps is experiencing a remarkable boom, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic when virtual connections have become more important than ever.

By bringing your unique idea to life, you can contribute to this evolving digital love and friendship revolution. Diving into dating app development may sound like a tall order, but with meticulous planning, strategic implementation, and a reliable tech partner, it is entirely doable.

If you would like to develop an app like Tinder — feel free to get in touch!

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