What UX Designers Can Learn From Tinder

Posted on June 22, 2017 | Updated on March 1, 2021

When you think of Tinder, your immediate thought might reflect a place meant for people to hook up. Or maybe a place where with a single touch you can swipe right for the chance to meet new people. However, UX designers can learn a lot by studying what Tinder does well. The dating app receives recognition for its cutting edge design and branding techniques.

As of 2016, over 1 million people paid for Tinder’s premium level of service. Overall, they have grown to more than 50 million users around the world, some taking advantage of the free features only. That success is from more than solely creative marketing — something Tinder does well — but from an easy-to-use, intuitive design.

Take a look at what you can learn from Tinder’s design success:

1. Understanding Your Target Demographic

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An important aspect of UX design is understanding your audience. Since Tinder aims toward a younger crowd, that is their target demographic. Younger people are technologically savvy. In fact, some of them are more comfortable with technology than human interaction.

Old dating services require a lot of interaction between the user and those running the site. You also have to do some chit chat with potential dates. Tinder keeps things simple; you aren’t outright interacting with others. This allows the younger crowd to start things casually with a simple swipe at first.

Tinder’s users don’t like to wait between periods of contact – such as having to check an inbox and wait for responses.

What You Can Learn: People want an instant or automated response. Set your website or app up in a way that triggers responses within minutes. The faster, the better.

2. Socially Safe

In a world where people judge by appearance on a regular basis, you might think Tinder could pose harmful risks. After all, you are saying yes or no based solely on the person’s profile picture.

However, the other person remains unaware of your vote toward them, much less if you said yes or no. A match only occurs when both parties vote yes.

Tinder co-founder Sean Rad told Fast Company, “It’s important to understand that when you’re designing a product for mobile, the behavior for mobile — and the rules and expectations for users — are very different than on the web.”

What You Can Learn: Users want to feel accepted on any site or app they use. Protect them from any public ridicule, and they will feel safe enough to use your site or app time and time again.

3. Make Signups Easy

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All of the other matchmaking services require a lot of information to sign up. The idea was that these dating apps would better match you the more they knew about you. Tinder came in and made signing up as simple as possible.

Imagine you’re in the target demographic we talked about earlier. You don’t have a lot of time to fill out a lengthy form, but you’re mildly curious about singles near you. You can imagine which platform you might use for dating.

What You Can Learn: Make things as simple as possible for your users. If you make things too complicated, require lengthy signups or put in too many steps, then they will go somewhere that involves less time and effort.

4. Filter out Bots

Tinder requires you have a Facebook account to sign up. This makes signing up simple (see #3), but it also filters out bots trying to sign up for spam purposes.

Unlike similar apps trying to grab as many signups as possible, Tinder focuses on actual real people. The easiest way to ensure people are real is to require a Facebook account. While a few fakes ones might make it through, the majority are real people.

What You Can Learn: Understand your target demographic and find where they hang out. Once you’ve uncovered that information, it’s simple to figure out integrating various social media platforms within your site.

5. Track and Change

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Tinder uses API to track user activities and makes changes accordingly. They also track before adding new features and pay attention to what users say about the app. Tinder uses this to determine future shifts. Still, functionality is at the core of what they do. Careful consideration goes into the addition of any new feature.

Without tracking, you are making educated guesses at best. Until features run through the lens of an actual user, it’s impossible to know how useful it will be. But you also need to be careful — Tinder’s API contains info about its users, and other apps have started to capitalize on this opening.

What You Can Learn: Track the use of different features, read through reviews of your company and ask for feedback through polls or questionnaires. Sometimes the best ideas for improvement and growth come from customer input.

UX Designers can learn a lot from the success of Tinder. The company has grown quite quickly since its birth in 2012. In five years, they’ve added tens of millions of users and are bringing in millions of dollars in profit.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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