With a unique user experience, Tinder changed the world of online dating and introduced a gesture that has become the standard and staple for organizing and sorting lists. Now Tinder is trying to get 50 million active users to start paying.
Tinder launches ‘Tinder Plus’ - A Tinder review
What has the Tinder Experience brought to the world?
Or in other words, what chord does Tinder’s user experience strike that makes it such an addictive mainstream epidemic?
1. Simple and Reliable
Up until two years ago, app users didn’t usually have to sign up via Facebook alone. Let alone dating apps, where users were afraid to publish their picture and reveal their true identity. Tinder went for broke when it chose to require its users to register via Facebook. This enabled reference to mutual friends and made it much harder to create a fake profile or conceal one’s true information. This courageous decision stood the test of time, instilling a sense of credibility and confidence among users.
Tinder did not require additional information besides access to Facebook and created a quick and easy sign-up process, unlike traditional dating sites that encouraged filling out elaborate profiles reminiscent of an arduous job interview with a Human Resources rep.
2. A unique gesture for sorting lists - Like, Don’t like
Tinder’s great innovation is a new gesture that makes the selection process very easy. Swiping right means 'Like', and swiping left means 'Nope'. This new gesture, which quickly earned the term "Tinder sort" reflects the preference of quantity over quality. Profile reviews are much faster and more superficial than in previous generation dating sites. This new gesture and the precise Tinder interface create continuity. After each selection the app goes on bombarding the user with potential suitors. No more long, exhausting browsing through profiles across the website. The profiles come to the user, and all he/she has to do is choose between 'Like' or 'Nope'.
The experience of sorting the different profiles feels like a simple and pleasant game. The playfulness of the selection phase is reminiscent of the old school simple games we grew up on. A character runs automatically and all the user has to do is click the ‘jump’ key in time to avoid the obstacles.
3. Breaking the psychological barrier - Fear of rejection
After the selection phase, the interface displays only my matches. Thus, without us even noticing, Tinder almost entirely eliminated the biggest concern - rejection. Men (and women too) are afraid of taking the first step because they fear the other side will decline. Tinder has chosen to highlight the people who choose me, instead of those who turned me down. Meaning, there is rejection, but it’s hidden from the interface. Each user sorts dozens of potential partners in a simple and intuitive manner. The user barely remembers all those who didn’t match with him/her and focuses on those who did. Unlike the older generation of dating sites, where users had to see the same people again and again who may have rejected them in the past or simply ignored their request. Tinder doesn’t even allow users to go back to view or change the selection.
Only once there’s a match is it possible to send a private message. At this point, the fear of rejection diminishes because I know the other side is interested in me.
Make me a ‘Tinder’ app
I’ve noticed several wanted ads saying something like "Android developer wanted for creating an app like Tinder" or descriptions in Apple’s app store that read "you can sort photo albums in a Tinder sort method".
Every user experience designer dreams of setting a new and simple standard that is usable in common everyday activity. A good example of that is the 2-finger pinch gesture for minimizing/enlarging images. This came into being with the first touch screens that supported multi-touch, and has become a natural gesture in all touch screens worldwide. My 3-year-old nephews grew up with this standard and can’t understand why this gesture doesn’t work with the living room TV too. Today, the Tinder swipes, right and left, ‘keep or throw’, seems logical and natural as a selection gesture. Basically, you are sorting the items to the right or the left. The act of throwing an item outside the screen is an example of Skeuomorphism – a gesture that mimics a functional action from the physical world. Think how many times a day you sort things in the ‘keep or throw, ‘yes or no’, ‘left or right’ method. When we organize our paperwork or mail, choose vegetables at the supermarket, or try to move through a crowded club.
Follow the money
Tinder has shown rapid growth early on. Tinder likes to measure its success by the number of matches the app generated. In mid-2014 they passed the billion-matches threshold and by the end of 2014 the number reportedly reached over 2 billion. Recently it was leaked that Tinder passed the3-billion-match benchmark and has over 17,000 'Like' or ‘Nope’ swipes per second. The average usage time is very impressive too: On average, a user logs on to the app 11 times a day and spends 7 to 9 minutes each time. This is undoubtedly an impressive figure, especially since apps are fiercely competing over the users’ attention and doing whatever they can to keep them logged on for a few seconds longer.
In the coming days the company will launch two new features as part of the 'Tinder Plus’ package. A monthly payment service that allows users to undo a selection they mistakenly made; and the Passport service, which lets users search for matches any place in the world without actually being there. The beta version will launch in Germany, Brazil, and England and its final price has yet to be set. Various online sources have suggested that it will cost $20 per month.
Recently many new apps have been offering complementary services to Tinder (Matchmaker, Tools for tinder, Tinder Liker etc.). These new apps let you 'Like' a large number of users at the click of a button or even anyone in your area in order to find out who 'Liked' you; go back to users you already chose; and choose a geographic location like in Tinder Plus. These apps are free, but show ads at the bottom of the screen. The user experience isn’t seamless and doesn’t come close to the Tinder experience. I'm not so sure Tinder’s main target audience, young people and students who select partners based on appearance, will rush to pay $20 per month for services they can get elsewhere.
Will it work?
This is a classic case where the price of a good user experience is put to the test. In terms of the quality and number of user, there’s no difference between Tinder and the new complementary apps. After all, it’s the same original Tinder user base.
Assuming the new app indeed works functionally, do you think people would pay for the user experience only? This is definitely a true test for the power of user interfaces that’s worth following. My bet is that $20 is not a realistic fee. I have no idea what rabbits are patiently waiting in Tinder's hat, but they’ll have to justify the price with a much richer and much more impressive list of features.