How to Create a Dating App & How Much It Costs

Over 20 million matches a day. That is 40+ million people meeting with a perspective for further relationship. These numbers make online dating tools the primary way of meeting people. A reasonable follow-up to that fact is the question: what is the best way to meet online? Is it a specific website, social media, or an app? The numbers we provided belong exclusively to the mobile dating applications, with a huge chunk in the big T.

So with the demand as high as it is and the marked as unsaturated with viral apps as it is, can there be a place for entrepreneurs and for startup owners to wedge in the industry, and perhaps, make it? If you are determined to take a shot in the industry, let’s figure out how to make a dating app and how much does it cost to develop a dating app?

Today, if you own a smartphone, you’re carrying a 24/7 singles bar in your pocket.”

Aziz Ansari, comedian

What People Expect From Dating Apps

One of the reasons why online the dating concept became so popular is the fact that you can screen people before you go out with them. Back in the day, people used to be complete mysteries and it took a personal meeting experience to decipher them. Being a special concern for women, safety is the highest priority expectation. The ability to get some insights on a person’s background through some sort of validation might be your future dating app’s forte.

Another thing to consider is the value of the application. Apart from the obvious matching, your dating app development has to present a clear and valuable solution to the user problems. The reason why a dating app UX is unique and viral is the effectiveness and ease of usage. Like any of the location-based apps, dating apps present opportunities in the moment. A person you might like and who might like you can slip away from your radar forever. This creates urgency and the often-frowned-upon addiction to swiping left and right.

Whatever the outcome, you are destined to gain personal growth and learn more about yourself. An amazing piece by John Fischer called “Tragedy, Swipe Left” is there to demonstrate the entire spectrum of experiences dating apps give.

So, in a nutshell, this is what people expect from a dating app after they install it:

  • Safety.
  • Matches.
  • Convenience.

How To Build An App Like Tinder

Tinder is a free dating app for iPhone and Android that almost single-handedly built the public perception of dating apps. The previous experiences with dating websites and apps required a constant involvement, which in the face of rejections, was extremely annoying. Tinder changed it all by only using physical proximity as a profile pitch factor and the swiping logic where right swipe says “Yes” and the left one says “No” in which case you won’t be seeing that profile anymore, thus saving you some unrequited outbreaks of love.

Tinder uses Facebook for authorization and profile screening, which is a smart choice due to Facebook’s ubiquitous presence and the culture of social media. Most people are good at spotting fake and impostrous accounts which makes Tinder pass the first validation in terms of security. As for being a usable solution to the problem of finding a partner, the numbers speak for the app: 10 000 000 000 matches (that’s 10 billion, Carl). All this makes building a dating app like Tinder extremely tempting.

Tinder Feature Analysis

Any dating app development cost depends directly on the type of features it showcases. Tinder’s signature method relies on the geolocation service. All the UX is based on the urgency to test the waters in whatever environment life puts you. Once you and your potential match are located in one space, the app starts analyzing common interests, mutual connections, etc.

How to Create a Dating App & How Much It Costs | Shakuro

Monetization

The almost religious commitment some people have for dating apps, spending close to 2 hours a day on them, means there has to be a financial outlook on dating apps. However, an app has to be free and accessible in order to beat the competition, so the lucrative opportunity on the surface is put aside that way.

Premium Accounts

In reality, people are only willing to pay for tangible goods or experiences. Being on a dating app alone does not guarantee anything, which might potentially leave customers unsatisfied. One of the ways to get profit is offering some sort of premium features, like Tinder Plus, but again it deviates from the original purpose of the dating app. Perhaps, the most obvious option here is providing paid profile boosts to increase your chances of being swiped right.

In-App Ads

So without any viable monetization schemes in app’s performance part, one of the remaining options is advertising. Some project owners are willing to sacrifice their UX in order to make money off advertising, providing paid ad-free versions. With competition as diverse as it is in the dating app game, you wouldn’t want to break your design by annoying ads.

Promotion

A much better way to incorporate advertising is using the relevant content. You can offer deals from businesses operating within the dating sphere of life. Coffee shops, jewelry stores, couple-related services and special offers, etc. You can utilize tokens to buy gifts for people. Your app can distribute information and tickets to various events and thus, get exposure as well as commitment fees. Whichever opportunity to monetize your dating app occurs, it has to be considered in terms of applicability.

The general practice remains the same, make your app perfect in all aspects and the acknowledgment will follow. The viral status is an ultimate money magnet. After all, you can sell the app and move on to your next project with a huge feather in the startup cap.

Tinder’s Technology Stack

A visual simplicity of Tinder is the reflection of the massive work developers of different technologies have done. On top of the flagship app, the Tinder package includes a website and an API. Like any other complex solution incorporating massive amounts of user data, Tinder’s performance is its main asset and it has to be implemented using the best technologies available.

Now, the following information does not guarantee you a Tinder clone as building a dating app requires more than just the stack, the list of APIs, and even pieces of obfuscated source code. It is more about the perception of tasks the app helps solve and the precise knowledge of technologies capable of doing that. You can’t specifically look to hire dating apps developers as with all due respect, dating apps are not as unique as games for instance, where you can train specifically to only work in the gaming industry. Instead, the general proficiency in mobile and DB technologies can provide a cohesive development team capable of building a successful dating app.

Android/iOS mobile app stack:

  • Swift
  • Objective C
  • Java
  • Ruby/Cucumber
  • Rubymotion

Backend/API stack:

  • Node.js
  • JavaScript
  • HTML5
  • Elasticsearch
  • MongoDB
  • Redis
  • AWS
  • Python
  • Bash scripting
  • Mapbox
  • GoDaddy SSL

Website stack:

  • jQuery
  • Node.js
  • Nginx

Dating App UI Design

The application interface is the most visual part of the experience. Part of the success Tinder had right away was in the effortless actions related to the usually difficult ideas. Tinder turned the process of making a pass into a natural and easy thing, like swiping through photos. The real-life experience has to be the core concept of a dating app design. It can’t be taking you away from each other by being too complex, instead, it has to lead you to the ultimate goal, that is go out in person!

How to Create a Dating App & How Much It Costs | Shakuro

Image credit: Dribbble

Subconsciously, this is an extremely awarding scenario, as you only get the positive outcome notifications. The design has to reflect this side of the app and turn it into a home-ish safe environment, kind of inviting people into the romantic mood.

Keeping it simple in design and functionality can help users get hooked on the purpose-driven experience of a dating app, instead of being another time killer or confidence builder. Some major companies invested in Tinder (not so) clones and failed because in their pursuit to beat Tinder, they saturated them with alien functionality and drew people into the different field. Too much customization and integrations inevitably water down the natural experience.

How to Create a Dating App & How Much It Costs | Shakuro

Image credit: Dribbble

Dating App Development Cost & Time

With an approximate technology stack, feature breakdown, dating app design principles, and a bunch of examples that are out there, you can create a dating app that might reinvent the experience, beat Tinder, and even help yourself find the better half. Now from the fun part let’s move on to numbers. Any app startup is a business by itself or in the making, so things like development price and time limits need to be specified right away.

The unvarnished truth is you’ll have to stack up a serious budget if you are committing to making a dating app like Tinder. The architecture of a native/cross-platform/hybrid app requires a complex technological solution and may build up at great lengths. Some of the components lay the base of the app performance and are inevitably more expensive and time-consuming. The core of a project is the mobile app.

Dating App Development Timescale

  • The basic one-platform version might take up to 1 000 hours to develop.
  • Building a backend is another 300+ hours.
  • Application UI/UX design – nearly 100 hours.
  • Testing and pre-launch – around 50 hours.

Dating App Development Direct Costs

The cost of a dating app development relies directly on the hourly rates of the developers you hire. You can either hire a bunch of freelancers and coordinate/sync their work, hire a local development team, or go full Jedi and dominate development outsourcing.

  • Freelancers – from $10/hour.
  • In-house development team – up to $150/hour.
  • Outsourced development team – around $50/hour.

In an estimated period of 1450 hours for a single-platform application, let’s take an outsourced rate of $50/hour. That leaves us with a bill of $72 500. Outsourcing development is a flexible approach which without a significant loss of quality and time might reduce the cost by up to 50%. Conversely, if you are looking to hire a local development team, you are likely to double the costs for the same output.

About 70% of a project development timeline is consumed by native/cross-platform/hybrid application development and backend deployment. 20% for UI/UX design and 10% for QA. In absolute figures that is:

Application development:

  • iOS – $45 000.
  • Android – $40 000.
  • Cross-platform/hybrid – $90 000.

Backend development:

  • iOS/Android – $10 000.
  • Cross-platform – $10 000.

UI/UX Design:

  • iOS – $5 000.
  • Android – $5 000.
  • Cross-platform/hybrid – $10 000.

QA engineering:

  • iOS – $4 000.
  • Android – $4 000.
  • Cross-platform/hybrid – $8 000.

Total cost:

  • iOS dating app development – $64 000.
  • Android dating app development – $59 000.
  • Cross-platform/hybrid dating app development – $118 000.

These approximate calculations take us to the main question after the decision to make a dating app – what are the expenses? For a Tinder-like application with basic features, similar design, and functionality patterns, you can consider:

  • $55 000 as a starting point for a basic dating app;
  • up to $70 000 for a single-platform app;
  • from $100 000 for a cross-platform or hybrid app with premium features;

If The Shoe Fits, Wear It

With all the above, dating apps are definitely trending and there seem to be no decline as we have already settled in on our mobile phones is the way to meet people. Facebook is working on the Tinder-ish functionality, called “Discover People”. The demand being out there requires extra work from designers and developers in terms of creating a more robust yet simple experience.

If you are determined to test the grounds as a dating app startup, we recommend hiring a competent outsourced development agency with an in-house design team, prolific back-end developers, sharp mobile dev team, and the experience in building complicated and beautiful apps at a decent cost.

We are just that. Our experience in building socializing apps is enough to be functionally ready to take on a dating app, not to mention the passion we have for this exciting journey. Now let’s build Tinder’s greatest rival!