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How to Build an Online Dating App Like Tinder

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Yuri Musienko
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Featured image for How to Build an Online Dating App Like Tinder

Even if you have never used the dating services, you probably heard about Tinder. This app has become extremely popular thanks to a simple, but at the same time ingenious approach to the attention of users: you’re looking at random photos of people, and if you like someone, you swipe right, if not, swipe left. With the match of liking, users have the opportunity to socialize and go on a date.

This solution removed the problem of first contact, when people, if they want to meet with someone, have to be the first to make contact, risking immediately or very quickly getting a refusal for one reason or another (which is unpleasant and negatively affects self-esteem). In Tinder, there is no such problem, because users initially know that they like each other. Moreover, if they swiped someone and didn’t get a mutual swipe, then no one will ever know.

How to Build an App Like Tinder chat

If users like each other in Tinder, they have the opportunity to chat. Source of the image
Thanks to this algorithm, Tinder achieved a great success:
  • 60 million registered users, 5 of whom pay for premium account: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold;
  • profit of the Match Group (Tinder owners) exceeded $ 450 million in 2018 (20% more than forecast);
  • the app is available in 190 countries and supports 40 languages.

However, as the experience of Badoo, Happn, Mico and other dating app shows, this market is still full of space. And if you want to create your own, similar to Tinder, app and do everything right, you can grab a tidbit of this market. Our article will help you with it.

Success factors of dating apps

Before you start creating your own Tinder, you need to analyze the market. It will help answer key questions:
  1. What is the target audience?
  2. How to fill the app with feedback form of the real people?
  3. What to do in various unpleasant situations?
  4. How to make money on dating apps?
  5. How to achieve long-term success?

Target audience

When creating dating apps, you have two ways: to bet on a large market or a small niche. Tinder took the first way, as he had the opportunity thanks to a new matching algorithm. If you have an idea or technology that will help to stand out in the market and quickly achieve popularity - do the same.

But if you don’t have such feature, create a niche project. A large market is in a state of superaturation by large players, because of which it will be quite difficult to achieve success there, especially if you do not have a lot of money or an information resource. While it is much easier and more profitable to win a separate niche - ROI is bigger.

How to Build an App Like Tinder OurTime

OurTime is a dating app for people aged 50+ is a good example of a niche project. Source of the image

If a user likes a certain category of people (for example, wealthy people, residents of a particular country or region, mature women, and even pilots), he will enjoy using the service tailored to his tastes with great pleasure and enthusiasm. For example, if user is gay, he is more likely to look for a service where he will not be offered acquaintance with heterosexuals or women.

Examples of niche projects:

  1. Chance and Chappy are gay apps.
  2. Wonder Lesbian - for lesbian.
  3. Pure - who needs only sex.
  4. 3nder - Tinder, but for three.
  5. Real Black Love (RBL) - for afroamericans;
  6. Bristlr - for bearded men and their fans.
  7. WingMan - for meeting pilots.
There are also uncommon projects like SaladMatch, where users are looking for each other by their favorite salad, or Equestrian Cupid, which is aimed at fans of the equestrian sport. And if the first option is a joke from the Just Salad New York fast-food restaurant, then the second is a full-fledged serious decision.

How to Build an App Like Tinder SaladMatch

SaladMatch is a dating app designed to promote Just Salad restaurant. Source of the image

It is also worth to note the Twindog app, where people are offered to look for other people from photographs of their furry pets, and elite Luxy is a service targeted at rich people. These projects show that a niche can be anything. The main thing is that there are many such people, and they want to get to know each other.

How to Build an App Like Tinder Luxy

Luxy is a search service for wealthy partners. Source of the image

First user problem

The main problem of the new dating services is the user base. An app can have a stunning design, an ideal interface and functionality, but if there are few profiles there, this is a failure, because people won’t communicate with anyone, and therefore they will not register and use the app.

How can a new application recruit 1000 first profiles:

  1. Partnership with existing service. Many popular dating sites offer affiliate programs, changing the user’s profile database to traffic and a portion of the profit.
  2. Targeting a small audience. If you make a bet on a small city or a rather narrow niche at the start, you can quickly collect a few thousand real-life profiles with minimal expenses for marketing promotion.
  3. Viral marketing mechanisms. Despite the fact, that Tinder is often mentioned in films, TV shows and mass media, users still very rarely share links (recommendations) to the dating services, considering it to be something shameful and dishonor. But this can be circumvented by relying not on your target audience, but on third-party people and the media. So did Pure when they advertised their app “for sex only”.
  4. Traffic through advertising. Expensive, but effective. Attract popular bloggers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and use targeted ads.
Often, new dating services use fake profiles and chatbots to create the appearance of the popularity of the app. This is not worth doing, because bots are easy to detect, and when it happens, the app will get a very bad reputation, which you can hardly fix.

Application policy

It is better to involve lawyers in this matter since an incorrectly drafted application policy can cause big problems. For example, if you come across a situation where fraudsters use your site to trick money from other users (typical practice on most dating services). Or if your app will be used to offer paid services of an intimate nature.

How to Build an App Like Tinder policy

The Tinder application policy describes all aspects of user interaction, the rights and obligations of the parties. Source of the image

Keep it in mind when creating an app similar to Tinder, and protect yourself in advance from the effects of similar and other negative scenarios. For a basis, you can take the "Tinder's Terms of Service" or another similar service and adjust them for your project.

In addition, it is worth thinking about how to deal with (screen out) such categories of users:

  • mentally ill and uncontrollable people;
  • racists, sexists, fascists and others like them;
  • stalkers, spammers and fraudsters.

Usually, such people are fought with the help of registration through social networks and ban on the basis of appeals and complaints of other people. This should be described in detail in the application policy, otherwise, there may be problems with claims from both parties.

Monetization of the project

Paid subscriptions

Users pay once a certain time 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 implemented two such subscriptions: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. They expand the capabilities of the participants (for example, more likes and super likes, as well as increasing the maximum distance) and add new ones (for example, cancelling the last like).

How to Build an App Like Tinder Gold

Additional Tinder Gold subscription features. Source of the image


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 beautiful emoticons or GIFs in messages. Unlike the subscription model, the freemium model involves a one-time payment, which gives you constant access to all the features of the app.

Advertising and announcements

It is considered the best way to monetize dating apps, provided that advertising is correctly implemented and does not interfere with users. In Tinder, the cost of advertisements is $ 5,000.

Gifts and outside service

Some services offer users to express their liking with the help of “virtual” cards, flowers, chocolates, teddy bears or colorful animations (fireworks, supernova, etc.).

«Burning out» 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 app, this is the number that will allow users to constantly meet new people.

If there are not enough people, an “audience burnout” will occur (or “base burnout”): you know everyone, you have communicated or met everyone, and you have no one to communicate with anymore, that is, no more reasons to use this application. It often happens in services oriented to a very narrow niche or a small city.

In order to avoid this, it is necessary the user base is either constantly replenished, or initially was 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 (agglomerations) or very large niches.

Required app functionality

The above factors are not the only things to look for when creating an app similar to Tinder. No less important is the set of functions and tools of the dating app, since they affect the convenience and reliability of the service, as well as the speed and cost of its development.

How to Build an App Like Tinder Main functions

Main functions and tools of the Tinder. Source of the image

Authorization and user profile

To create an app similar to Tinder, you must use an authorization mechanism through social networks: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is necessary so that users can verify the authenticity of the photo and age. And this is also necessary for the service in order to ban it in the event of inadequate behavior of the participant and make the re-registration as difficult as possible.

How to Build an App Like Tinder The registration process

The registration process in Tinder through Facebook. Source of the image

Usually, such registration is performed using the open protocol OAuth (or its equivalent) so that the system fills in the fact of authorization and binding to the social network account, but doesn't record the login and password of the social network account.

Other registration methods are done via a phone number or email. If you use these approaches, then users will have less confidence in the system, since it will not be possible to verify the authenticity of the data: photos, age, region, and so on. Age is very important, as users need to know if another user has come of age.

User profiles

Just after registration, users need to be navigated to the "Profile" section. Here, new members must indicate their age, location, interests and describe themselves briefly. That is, specify the information that other users will see.

How to Build an App Like Tinder Example

Example of completed profiles in Tinder. Source of the image
When implementing a profile, remember these things:
  • the focus should be on a photo that can be uploaded from a device, a social network or done using a camera;
  • the text box should be small - up to 1000 characters;
  • here should be a link to the social network and the ability to write a message if the profile is viewed by another user.

User location

Tinder is a dating app based on user location. That is, system participants can search by location (for example, within a radius of 50 km), and the system will show them the profiles of all people who are close to them.

Detection settings

In Tinder, you can configure the settings for detection of other users (or yourself for other users) by age, gender, and maximum distance. In the free version, the maximum distance is 10 miles.

How to Build an App Like Tinder

Tinder detection radius setting. Source of the image 1 and image 2

Search and swipe

This is the main feature of Tinder, which helps to bring people together with minimal effort for both parties. It is implemented extremely simply: look at the photo, and if you like the person, swipe the photo to the right, if not, to the left. In 2015, Tinder introduced the ability to make Super Like (swipe up).

How to Build an App Like Tinder Swipe

Tinder Swipe Scheme. Source of the image

Match and chat

If users expressed mutual liking (they liked each other), then the system records the match and opens up the opportunity for them to communicate in real time. If liking disappears for one reason or another, the user can be blocked.

Integration with social networks

Users can integrate Snapchat and Instagram accounts with their Tinder profiles. View users in social networks should open after a match of likings.

Push notifications

With this feature, you can ensure the involvement of users, as they immediately learn about the new match or message. Thanks to this, participants will be able to communicate in real time.

Unique features

If you plan to create not just another copy of Tinder, but something unique, then you have to think about adding a few additional useful features to stand out among competitors. For example, these functions can be:
  1. Advanced AI algorithms. With the help of deep neural networks and big data, you can create a self-learning algorithm that will more effectively match users, increasing the likelihood of mutual liking.
  2. Spam filters. You can create a system that will notify people if they have received the same messages as other users.
  3. DNA matching algorithms. The point is that the immune systems of some people may be incompatible with each other. In this case, the formation of a pair is undesirable since it can lead to the appearance of children with poor immunity or a tendency to attack the cells of their own organism. And vice versa.
It is better not to use algorithms that match the appearance, such as the shape of a face, skull, or fingerprints. Since this is antiscientific misconceptions, the use of which can lead to lawsuits.

The cost of an app similar to Tinder

If you intend to create an app similar to Tinder, then you will need a development team (on staff or on outsourcing), which will most likely include:
  • 1 project manager;
  • 2 developers for Android and 2 for iOS;
  • 2 backend developers;
  • 1-2 QA engineers.

In this case, the production process will take from 1000 to 25,000 hours and cost between 55 and 110 thousand dollars, depending on the platform and set of functions.

How to Build an App Like Tinder price

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