Dating App Development: What Does It Take to Build an App Like Tinder, Badoo, Happn

In this article, we talk about why dating apps are so popular today and how to go about entering this high-demand market. We’ll have a look at the stages of developing a dating app and tell you how to build a dating app like Tinder, Badoo, and Happn.

It’s 2022, and looking for romantic relationships online is so common that forecasters predict the number of active dating services users to reach 413 million by the end of the year.

The diversity of online dating venues has reached an unbelievable scale: By mid-2018, the World Wide Web hosted almost 8,000 dating websites. Whatever kind of romantic relationship you seek, there’s a website or an app for that.

Yet despite the market seeming oversaturated, demand is still high, and niche dating apps are flourishing. How can you start a dating app business of your own and what should you expect on the way to create your own dating app? Find some answers below.

Analyze how to make a dating app geared towards success

Analysis is an integral part of starting any business, online or otherwise. It allows you to understand the concept of your application and evaluate the idea: Do people even need what you’re offering? Is there demand for another Tinder clone, or should you aim for something different? In addition, you’ll be able to identify your target audience, their needs, and the specific features they want.

Here are some numbers for the US market, in case you’re wondering whether making your own dating app is worth the investment:

  • 49 million Americans have used a dating website or app at least once
  • 66% of dating app users have gone on a date with a person they met online
  • 20% of couples in the US met online
  • 22% of couples who married in the US in 2020 — met via a dating service
  • $1.8 billion per year in US online dating industry revenue

[Source: Dating Advice]

According to Statista, worldwide revenue for the dating industry might reach $8.96 billion by the end of 2022. That’s a big incentive to create dating apps.

Business analysis is about finding trends, defining your target audience, and more. And as you go about developing your dating app, you’ll need all the data to be accurate and up-to-date.

Read more: How to Make a Betting App. Sports Betting App Development

Do market and competitor research

Do market and competitor research

When you set out to make your own dating app, you’ll surely analyze the biggest names in the industry and learn what good things they offer.

Tinder is well-known and loved for its swiping — so much that “swiping” became a synonym for using dating apps. The service was also a pioneer in multiple features now widely used in the industry.

Badoo and Bumble — services now under the same ownership of Bumble, Inc. — offer catfishing protection with their “selfie-on-the-spot” feature.

These above are the services everyone has heard of or tried. For new dating services, though, it’s usually a good idea to start with a niche. This way, your business will get the chance to stand out without a behemoth like Tinder completely overshadowing it.

What kind of niche dating app can you create? You can choose locations where no major players took roots, or you can think of a unique value proposition, build a dating app for a specific group of users.

Read also: Why UX Writing is Important and Why You Need It

Dating app for LGBTQ+

While queer people can use Tinder, Bumble, and the likes just like straight people, with the ways of society it’s not surprising that many will choose a dating app created solely for LGBTQ+ instead. And where there is demand, there will be supply.

The first examples of dating services in this niche that come to mind are, of course, Grindr and Her — dating apps for LGBTQ+ (but mostly gay men) and for lesbian and queer women, respectively. However, there are more options to explore in this niche.

Dating app for pet lovers

A dating service called DateMyPet offers pet lovers an opportunity to find a match who won’t ever object to their faithful fluffy (or not so fluffy) companion. It’s a valid business idea — a breakup over a pet is not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, studies show that 86% of people place their pets higher on their priority list than a potential lover.

Read also: How to build Airbnb service animals

Dating app for one-night stands

There are, of course, people interested in casual hookups. There are apps for them as well. TapDat is not just a clever name but an app where one can find one-night stands with similar tastes in the bedroom. Because, you know, consent is important, even more so when things get kinky. So find yourself someone who’s into the same things.

Dating app with unusual approach

Happn takes a unique approach to dating apps altogether: it shows users people they walked past or sat near in a bus. Sort of like old-fashioned meet-cute but with consent involved — the feature only works if both parties are on the app and have location sharing enabled.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. And who knows, you might come up with a completely new but very much needed dating app idea. Read also the guide on how to create a nightlife event app.

Prototyping, testing, getting feedback

Prototyping dating app

Once you evaluate your idea and conduct business analysis and market research, you can start to create prototypes for dating mobile app development. We advise making a low-fidelity prototype first. This allows you to understand all cause and effect relationships between buttons and windows. A low-fidelity prototype can also help you estimate development costs and the resources you need.

Read futher: How to Make an App Like Asana Rebel

The next stage is to create a medium-fidelity prototype. This kind of prototypes features UI design drafts but is usually in black-and-white. This step is necessary to make a UX design for your product, then test wireframes and create a map of changes.

The final stage of prototyping is a high-fidelity prototype. These prototypes have more refined UI and UX and are created for conducting crowd tests. Crowd tests provide you with feedback from your target audience and help your developers find bugs to fix at the early stages of development.

Further reading: Cost to Design an App in 2022: Guide on Mobile App Designing Costs

Key dating app features to include

Dating app features

The following is an analysis of the main features a dating app like Tinder needs. We’ve updated this article with the latest trends.

Onboarding

Onboarding is a necessary feature to have as it shows your dating app users what actions they need or might perform on the app. Granted, it should be succinct — too long an onboarding bores users and is also a sign that your UX might be a bit too cluttered or complicated. And the key characteristic for an onboarding is that it needs to be engaging. When making a dating app, an interactive onboarding might be a good idea.

Authentication

Since dating is a private affair, it’s important to make app authentication secure. Your dating app developers can offer you several options, for example, two-step authentication with a code sent to email, or a fingerprint scanner, or a PIN.

Profile

Profile is the face of users in a dating app so it needs to be as sophisticated as possible. Depending on the kind of dating app you’re building, it might need more than two gender options, options to state political views, or simply fields to add any particularities a person is looking for in a partner. What any kind of dating app needs is the option to upload high-quality photos, though. Keep this in mind when you choose servers and hosting for your app.

Discover people

People sign up for a Tinder-like app because they want to meet others. Generally, when people are looking for relationships, they want to find someone they can meet without too much trouble, meaning people living in the same city or at least the same state. While it’s possible to simply use the location a user indicates in their profile, it’s recommended to integrate geolocation features. With access to a phone’s GPS, an app can find people who are nearby and list possible matches by proximity.

Matching

The heart of any dating app, matching is the functionality to filter users your dating app shows to other users. Matching algorithms differ greatly: some only employ location data, others access users’ profiles for likes and dislikes.

Some advanced dating apps integrate machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) engines to learn the user’s preferences based on profiles they like and ignore. With time, the profiles a person receives in their suggestions become more and more tailored to what they’ve liked before.

AI in dating app

Choose your fighter, so to speak, and take this choice into account when you select your dating app developers.

Matches and chats

Once a match is made, it’s time to communicate. That’s what we use dating apps for, after all. Here are the features your app will need:

  • View a user’s matches
  • View a matched user’s profile
  • Chat
  • Video calls
  • Upload media in chats*

*To protect users, consider implementing image analysis to warn users that a photo their match uploaded might be inappropriate.

Security enhancing features

As useful and interesting as it may be, there’s no denying that online dating has opened new methods for harassment. Although the majority of people won’t have a bad opinion of someone who uses an online dating service today, there are other ways to cause inconvenience. That’s why most dating apps don’t show users’ full names and discourage users from sharing their address or any kind of identifying data.

When you’re starting a dating app, think about data protection — especially if you provide sign-up via Facebook page. Consider also adding a feature to restrict showing messages on lock screen or only showing the app name or a sender’s name without message contents.

Another security-related feature is profile verification. You can add a selfie-on-the-spot feature at sign-up and a face recognition system to match photos a user uploaded to that selfie. This way, you can add a security level against catfishing to your dating app.

Push notifications

It’s not polite to make someone who approached you wait too long for a reply. In terms of dating, a missed like or swipe can result in that special person finding someone else. Implementing push notifications in a dating app is a must.

Payments

If you plan to monetize your dating app via in-app purchases (e.g. Tinder-like unlimited swipes for a price), you’ll need to integrate a payment gateway. Do keep in mind that app stores require a 30% fee for any in-app purchases.

Settings

This is an essential part of nearly every mobile application, dating apps included:

  • View info about the app, terms, and conditions
  • Contact support and get help via the contact center
  • Set up filters and notifications
  • Link an account to social media pages
  • Delete a user account

Admin panel

You will need to monitor and moderate your app. An admin panel will provide you with access to your dating app’s analytics, an ability to weed out fraudulent profiles and harassers (if you offer reporting feature to your users), and ways to manage payments, hold events, and more.

Dating mobile app tech stack

When you look for dating app developers, it’s important to check if they’re experienced in technologies necessary to build a dating app. Here is the list of technology developers might use.

iOS app

  • Programming languages: Swift, Objective-C
  • Frameworks: SwiftUI, UI Kit

Android app

  • Programming languages: Kotlin, Java
  • Frameworks: Android Jetpack, Coroutines

Web-based app

  • Programming languages: JavaScript, HTML, CSS
  • Frameworks: Angular, Vue.js

Backend

The backend/server side will be the same for all apps.

  • Frameworks: Ruby on Rails
  • Database: PostgreSQL, MongoDB
  • Cloud storage: Amazon S3, Azure, Google Cloud
  • Web servers: Apache, Nginx
  • Push notifications: Firebase
  • Geolocation: W3C, Google Location Services
  • Social integrations: Facebook SDK, Twitter SDK, Instagram SDK, etc.
  • Payments: Stripe, PayPal, Braintree
  • Chats: Twilio API
  • Machine learning: Amazon ML, Rapid AI

Dating app design best practices

Dating app design best practices

When you think about how to design a dating app, it’s important to take into account the emotional part of dating as an activity. When emotions come into play, the user experience should be as intuitive as possible. The fewer actions users need to perform to achieve their goal the better.

Take swiping, for example. There’s no making it simpler than that, really. Take this approach to as many actions as possible to create an engaging and joyful experience for users.

As for the user interface in dating apps, it should picture the essence of your app with colors, texts, and visual elements. Don’t limit yourself to pink and red, though: these days, love can be expressed in any color.

Take yellow of Bumble as an example — it’s warm and joyous, hinting at happy relationships. Black-and-white is an always stylish combination that can be read as sexy and kinky. Green and blue are everything new, as new relationships and a start of new love.

Any color can be made to mean love. The important thing is how you use them.

We would also like to stress that a lot of dating app design can be improved with proper language. Words play an essential role in emotional design, probably more so than colors. That’s why when you build a dating app, pay attention to the tone of voice and chosen words.

Dive deeper: Why UX writing is important and why you need it

How much does it cost to develop a dating app like Tinder?

cost to make an app like Tinder

The cost to make a dating app like Tinder or Badoo will depend on a number of factors:

  • The platforms you want your app to run on: iOS, Android, or maybe both
  • The number and complexity of features you’re planning to implement

Here’s a rough time estimate for the basic features listed above:

Feature Hours
Discovery and idea validation 60
Market research 80
UI/UX research and prototyping 180+
Development:
Onboarding 159+
Profile 160+
Discover people ~151
Matching 80+
Matches/chats 140+
Security features ~54
Admin panel 160
Push notifications ~39
Settings ~63
Testing 240

A custom iOS dating app will take 1566 hours or longer to develop. The cost to make an app like Tinder for iOS will, therefore, begin at about $70,470. Developing a second app for Android will cost you an additional $38,000 or so.

You can read more about the cost to make an app or contact us for a custom quote.

Challenges of dating application development

As it is with everything, creating a dating app has its hidden pitfalls. An experienced development team will be able to foresee and recognize most such pitfalls, but we nonetheless want to highlight here some of them.

Data security

Despite not hosting any legally defined sensitive data (full names, addresses, health data), dating apps can still be a sort of hazard to their users.

The nature of dating apps itself is to blame here: at some point or another people can share with their matches very specific information that can be used against them in the future. It can be as simple as text about private preferences, or it can be sharing photos not intended for the wide audience.

For any responsible service provider it would be a matter of reputation to offer as much protection to this kind of data as possible.

What can you do?

You can, on the tech side, forbid users to take screenshots or save photos to their devices, or at least warn users that their match took a screenshot/saved a photo. You can also encrypt communication and allow users to delete conversations for both sides if they feel threatened.

Authentication should also be secure, as we’ve mentioned before: a fingerprint scanner, a PIN, or two-step authentication would be a good decision to keep users’ secrets.

User safety

It’s not a secret that not all dating app users are honest or have good intentions. While pondering how to develop a dating app, take into consideration features that will offer more safety to users. Here are some examples:

  • Selfie on-the-spot to verify users’ photos and help battle catfishing
  • Image analysis to restrict unsolicited photos
  • Functionality to share a person’s profile with a trusted friend when users go on a date offline
  • One-tap alarm to notify someone that a user feels unsafe during any stage of communication online or offline
  • A bot that will call a user when prompted to provide ways to leave the date early without alerting their date

Marketing

Marketing

Any app needs users, and building a network isn’t an easy task, especially when strong competition is present. Even if yours is a completely unique app, you’ll need to place it out there and do something for it to be noticed. There are multiple options for new app marketing:

  • Landing pages
  • Email newsletters
  • Blog
  • Social media presence
  • Social media and app store advertising
  • Influencers
  • Thematic publications
  • Referrals

When you go over how to start a dating app and make plans, factor in marketing efforts; this includes investment of both time and money, and possibly hiring specialists.

More on the topic: How to Market an App Successfully

Dating App Development: Final thoughts

People find their soulmates in different ways, and using dating apps is one of them. As time passes, dating applications are becoming more and more trustworthy, secure, and fool-proof. We may be suspicious of new startups at first glance, but if they turn out to be handy, then happily-in-love users will keep the fire burning. The more ideas there are that keep people falling for each other, the better our world might eventually become.

Dating market continues to grow despite lockdowns and economic swings, which is a sure sign that starting a dating app business has solid chances to succeed, if done right.

We hope this article has brought you useful insights into dating mobile app development. If you’d like to know more, Mind Studios will happily offer you a free consultation to discuss your dating app idea.