Creating an online dating app that manages to engage is probably one of the biggest challenges you will face. Your dating app is highly unlikely to dethrone Tinder, but it may not. You can create a successful dating app that caters to a specific area, location or type of audience.

CometChat has helped several companies create dating apps with integrated in-app chat, so we've created a guide for developers thinking about creating a new dating app in a competitive market.

However, before the dating app development stage of your dating app, there are several critical stages to go through, including market research, analyzing user behavior, and understanding exactly what kind of competition you're up against.

To inform you about how to prepare a dating app project, this guide will provide you with all the information you need. We'll start with an overview of the dating apps currently on the market, then dive into some considerations before you decide to create your own. We'll outline the important features, project lifecycle, and costs involved in developing your own dating app.

The 3 Best Dating Apps

As online dating has grown in popularity over the past decade, there are hundreds of dating apps on the market. To name a few, here are the most famous dating apps in wide use today, along with their awards:

1. Tinder: $40 billion

Tinder is by far the most popular, and it's not even close to being dethroned anytime soon. Because it's so popular, Tinder has made it easier to use, gamified dating with a swipe feature, and given users more control.

2. Bumble: $14 billion

In second place is Bumble, which learned from feedback from women using Tinder, some of whom were overwhelmed with incoming messages. Bumble gives women more control over their experience by letting them start the conversation first.

3. Badoo: $10 billion

Badoo actually started as a game, social search and quiz app on Facebook long before Tinder and Bumble. After Facebook threatened to audit them, Badoo spun off into a separate Tinder-like app.

Different types of dating apps

Dating apps come in all shapes and forms, with different formats, features and user experiences. Some apps, like Tinder, are designed for a broad audience and others are designed for a niche audience. For example, Tastebuds is a dating app for music lovers.

Some types of apps are predominantly web-based, such as Match, eHarmony, and OkCupid. People looking for a serious relationship naturally gravitate to websites because they would sit down at their desktop or laptop and browse profiles before striking up a conversation with a potential partner.

Other types of apps are mobile and use a swipe feature that is intended for a wider audience. Other apps include in-app games that "spice things up" for people who want to try something new in hopes of finding the love of their life.

Dating App Trends

When we talk about trends in dating app usage, the biggest elephant in the room is that we're coming out of a global pandemic and lockdown (hopefully!). So what is happening on earth and what are the rising generations doing?

Younger generations who don't know what life was like before the internet are increasingly integrating technology and social media into their dating lives. "A lot of people today are more familiar with communicating through technology than face-to-face, so that can remove some of the barriers," explained Jason Funk, a student at BYU.

Based on user feedback, the dating apps that work best are simple and easy to use. But some users "are dissatisfied with 'mindless' swiping features, and because of widespread lockdowns and social distancing, people have developed different expectations and greater needs from dating apps," said Tian Wetzler, editorial manager at Adjust. These trends have pushed Tinder and Bumble to create more integrated user experiences, including social events and meeting new people, not just dating.

The life cycle of a development project in 7 phases

To fully appreciate the amount of time, money, and resources that go into creating a dating app, let's take a look at what goes into developing a dating app from start to finish and after the app has been released to the user base.

1. Market analysis

As mentioned earlier in this guide, it is important to devote enough time and resources to careful planning and market research of competing apps in order to develop a dating app that users want.

2. Project management

An app development project has many moving parts and multiple stakeholders, so there is a clear need for a project manager to spearhead the entire effort and steer the development process in the right direction as originally intended.

3. Design

Building a dating app isn't just about writing lines of code, it's also about design that helps create intuitive user interfaces to create the best possible user experience. Therefore, it is necessary to allocate funds from the application project budget not only to developers but also to designers.

4. Development

As it is the "meat" of the project, the development will obviously take a significant portion of the time and resources of the entire project life cycle. There are different approaches to development — popular ones today include agile development, sprint cycles, and the like.

5. Quality assurance

While there is no such thing as a bug-free app, a lot of care and effort needs to be put into ensuring that the app is secure, resistant to most cyber-attacks, and works as it should without compromising personal data. Also, the application should consume only the resources necessary to perform and scale well without wasting memory, bandwidth, and server resources.

6. Starting the application

The big day comes when you have a finished product ready to release to your eager user base who can't wait to meet their dream match with your dating app. This can be the most exciting and nerve-wracking part of the entire process. If you've planned ahead by preparing your launch on demand from the iOS App Store or Android Google Play along with your team's marketing campaign, your dating app launch should go smoothly.

7. Maintenance after start-up

Once launched into your user base, your work isn't done. At this point, you move into the post-launch maintenance phase of the project lifecycle. Based on user feedback, you will always be fixing bugs, improving existing features, adding new features, and looking for ways to further monetize your app. Rather than a static product, your dating app becomes a living, breathing organism that constantly evolves with your user base.