Should you create a dating app in 2022? It seems like there is enough choice on the market already. However, the success of Tinder and Badoo make entrepreneurs interested in building dating apps.

Most popular dating apps worldwide as of May 2021, by number of monthly downloads (in 1,000s) worldwide as of May 2021, by number of monthly downloads (in 1,000s)

A huge audience (millions of apps users worldwide) spends about 2 hours per day in the app. These apps have proven their profitability and demand among users. Especially during a pandemic when we all experienced a lack of social communication and tried to fix it online.

Building a dating app from scratch can’t be easy. You will need to complete a long list of tasks: from allocating resources to hiring a development team and going through all app development stages.

Before starting the development process, you should do several things:

  • Understand the targeted audience;
  • Define what features to include;
  • Select the matching algorithm to use;
  • Analyze competitors.

With these things in mind, we can say approximately how hard it will be to create a dating app and how much it will cost.

Why dating apps are so popular?

People find it easier and less stressful to meet online, what they can do in dating apps. Applications allow users to look at each other’s profiles and evaluate the received information before taking action.

A large number of apps available doesn’t scare users away either. They are willing to pay and buy premium plans if the dating app offers a more extensive database and great functionality.

At the same time, developers and entrepreneurs create new solutions and fill stores with new options.

What is more, the niche of online dating attracts the audience who are primary users of smartphones and can pay. Thus, they generate good revenue. Only in 2021, dating apps received over $5 billion globally. No wonder businesses want to enter the market.

Considering the ongoing pandemic, lack of time to go out, and addiction to online activities, the popularity of dating apps will continue to grow. If you decide to take a spot in the niche, prepare well and be ready to compete.

Dating App Development

The development process requires good preparation. Before creating an actual dating application, start with some key steps.

Target audience

Start with learning your target audience — who your future users will be?

To segment the audience, you can use psychometrics and demographics.

Demographics will help create an average user persona, while psychographics will guide you towards the matching algorithm and making smooth matches.

First, identify demographic characteristics. Usually, they include age, gender, family status, education, occupation, location. This basic information can be entered by the app users while creating the app's account.

Psychographics measure the following:

  • Personality traits;
  • Interests;
  • Lifestyle;
  • Opinions;
  • Values.

Personality profiling will help you understand how users behave and why they do so. You can create effective marketing campaigns and focus on the more personalized experience within the user-app interaction using this data.

To collect this data, conduct polls and surveys, analyze competitors' audiences, do research. The more you know about your potential customers, the better experience you can deliver.

Dating apps algorithms: best practices

The core functionality of any dating app is profile matching. To get more accurate matches, you need to understand how these algorithms work.

All apps can be divided into four main groups based on matching techniques:

  • Location-based;
  • Calculation-based (mathematical algorithm);
  • Behavior analysis;
  • Advanced: implementation of AI and AR.

Location-based. Most dating apps use geodata for matchings. Users are allowed to set distance limits, so the app could show profiles of people located in the vicinity. The location works here as a starting point. Those close to you appear on your list. By analyzing general info (age, photos, interests) placed on the profile, the user decides whether to proceed with likes/swipes or further communication.

Calculation-based. This algorithm uses people's answers and calculates compatibility percentages to create better matches. Calculations are based on users' information in their profiles or through surveys.

The mathematical algorithm could be imperfect as people tend to misrepresent their personalities, trying to be the better version. So instead, it is recommended to use behavior analysis.

Behavior analysis. Here, you analyze all the data about the app user — social networks, playlists, pages visited, etc. This type is a bit expensive as it requires implementing Big Data solutions.

Advanced: Ai and AR. Matching algorithms can use AI and AR. In this case, matching recommendations in the dating app are based on complex data analysis. It may include facial recognition, biological data. AI-based algorithms will provide more accurate matching and recommendations.

Many suggest it is better to concentrate on the niche like location or interests. So the algorithms will be using one type of data to build matches.

Your dating app's potential matchings can be based on likes — well-liked profiles will appear to more users. It is a simple system to develop as long as it doesn't require any personal data and complex analysis.

Competitor analysis

Look at your competitors: what features their apps have, what feedback users leave, what is good and wrong about the app? It will help you understand how to approach the app development and what feature set to include.

Let's have a look at Tinder.

Tinder offers location-based matching algorithms. But it also pays attention to how much time the user spends in the app. The more you use the app, the more data it collects and knows your preferences to connect you with potential matches faster.

Tinder also ranks profiles on the number of likes they get. Users who attract the most attention will be highly visible on the app.

For example, Bumble is another dating app that also offers swipe functionality. But unlike Tinder, it allows only women to message first. Moreover, matches disappear if no one messages within the first 24 hours after matching. Also, everyone you see on the app was active within the last 30 days, meaning there is no chance you'll cross over an inactive account.

As you see, besides standard algorithms, you can integrate different unique functionality and build your matching mechanism.

Feature-set you should include in the app

After you define the algorithm, you can select the standard features the app should have. There are some basic features all dating apps have.

  1. Sign-in — with this feature, users begin interaction with apps. To provide them with a better user experience, include login via popular sources such as e-mail, social networks, or phone number.
  2. Geolocation — geodata is one of the most significant features in dating apps. The primary selection of the profiles for matches is based on the users' location. Your task here is to create as flexible geo settings as possible. For example, allow users to control when the app can access their location, let them specify the distance to discover by potential matches, offer them geolocation managing.
  3. User profiles — another critical feature that can't be excluded. Through profile pages, users should create a good presentation of them. The user profile should allow people to showcase photos and videos, and some basic questions highlight their interests. It is the audience's primary tool to attract other's attention on the dating app.
  4. Matching mechanism — whether swiping or liking, this is how app users start to interact with each other. Make this function clear, so people can easily understand what they are required to do: swipe right, double-tap, click like an icon, or anything else. 
  5. Private chat — enable communication in your dating app. For a better and more satisfying user experience, you can let users send not only messages but media (gifs, stickers). You can connect video calls or audio messages to make communication more alive.
  6. Notifications — don't let users miss out on their dating life. App audience must receive timely notifications about the activity. But it is more important to allow them to adjust notifications settings: enable and disable them, select the types of activities to be notified about.
  7. Payment gateways — these are essential to generate revenue. If users are ready to spend money inside the dating app, let them make it conveniently through online payments.

Besides these basic features, there are some functionalities that are often missed during development.

Think about security. People will share lots of personal information on the app, so implement verification. We highly recommend using multi-factor authentication instead of passwords.

Next, review the profiles cards. Commonly they do not contain a lot of information, so give users the ability to expand them.

It will be a great addition to letting users undo the like put by mistake. Most of the apps don't have this feature or offer it on a paid basis. Including this in your application can become your competitive advantage.

And offer more searching filters, except age, gender, and location. Dating app users will appreciate it, as it helps to set more accurate preferences.

Technology Stack

After creating a clear idea of what your dating app will look like, you can switch to the development part.

The challenging process here is finding and hiring a reliable and professional team. Not to mention you need to have resources to pay for their job. If you plan to hire a development team, take time to learn as much as you can about candidates: look at their portfolio, check professional experience, analyze the terms of work and estimated deadline.

Another option is having an in-house development team or individual developers. If so, it will require fewer expenses but more time to build a dating app.

In both cases, you should understand the tech stack that is preferable for development nowadays:

  • Programming languages: Swift for iOS, Kotlin for Android;
  • Database: PostgreSQL, MySQL;
  • IDE: Xcode 11+, latest Android Studio;
  • Web server: Nginx, Apache;
  • Cloud storage: Amazon S3, Heroku, Rackspace;
  • Social authorization: Facebook SDK, Twitter SDK, Google+ SDK, Instagram SDK
  • Payment gateway: Stripe, PayPal
  • General utilities: Optimizely, Twilio, Google Maps, Google Analytics.

The essential components of your app will be powerful servers, secure databases, and APIs, as you will be storing a lot of data and collecting it through different services.

How much money do you need to develop a dating app?

Internet sources share different estimates, and the total price for dating app development varies between $50,000-150,000. Sounds like a lot of money.

The reason for such a huge cost is that there are at least five development stages you need to invest in:

  • Business and marketing analysis;
  • Project management;
  • UI and UX design;
  • Development and testing;
  • Maintenance.

At each stage, you'll spend at least a couple of thousands of dollars. Each step involves different professionals who need to be paid. Consider the average development timeline of three months and the developer's average pay rate around $40 per hour, which already adds up to $20,000.

Development cost is affected by the app complexity. Of course, if you decide to go with basic functionality and a simple interface, you can significantly reduce the price. But the outcomes will be the same.

That's why it is always better to plan everything precisely and clearly understand whether you are ready to allocate such resources.

Monetization strategy

And last but not least — monetization. All investments, if spent correctly, can be returned. The main question here: how do you want to generate revenue with your app?

Among popular and effective ways to generate profits are:

  • Paid ads;
  • Subscription plans;
  • In-app purchases;
  • Premium feature upgrades.

Tinder is an excellent example of using paid ads and premium feature upgrades. Premium plans greatly expand the app's functionality, ensuring app users didn't waste their money and generating revenue for you.

Final thoughts

The one thing we know for sure, dating apps are here to stay. Creating another one is a potentially promising and profitable idea. The demand is rising, and that is exactly what you need.

Remember to come up with a fresh concept, identify your targeted audience and prepare a promotional strategy. If you are not willing to pay $40,000 for app development, explore no-code. No-code platforms and AppMaster.io, in particular, will cost much less and still give high-quality results. AppMaster.io offers automatically generated backend, PostgreSQL supported database, API functionality, allows creating native applications. Try it and make the first version of your app in several weeks.