August 18, 2021
This post was originally published on July 12th on Mindspark's Greenbook Channel, The UX Factor.
If you have ever seen Aladdin, you may recall that the genie (voiced by the beloved Robin Williams) offers up three wishes once released from its lamp, claiming to be able to do anything asked of him. However, it was made clear that although the genie had remarkable powers and could make any wish come true, the genie was not able to fulfill wishes if he was asked to “make people fall in love”, as this was seen as a violation of the rules. Something as attractive and inviting as love surely cannot be created at the snap of a finger.
Although, it certainly can be curated, perhaps even made possible by the swipe of a finger… as a matter of fact, curated connections are exactly what makes applications such as Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, and Hinge so popular. In a sense, the allure of finding love is still kept as a surprise, one swipe, and profile at a time. Users can help set parameters around the people they are about to “meet” or “match with”, thus, allowing for a more personalized pursuit of a partner. At the same time, this can be done without needing to be in direct social settings and helps remove some of the societal or social pressures that come along with initially meeting someone at a coffee shop or lounge. Some would argue that this method counteracts the true process of finding a partner, while others find it to be a much more convenient and less time restrictive method.
Regardless of how you perceive it, we should not underestimate the challenges associated with facilitating companionship, nor should we devalue how much deep knowledge and passion is needed to create a love-centered user experience. After all, if a genie is not able to help us find love, we should at least take a second to appreciate the humans who have. Or, at least, made it easier for us.
If you were born before the 2000s, there is a good chance that you just sang that header in Tina Turner’s voice – which you should have, if you ask me. Of course, what makes this line so widely known (whether you sang it or not) is that it relates to the ever-allusive and attractive concept of love.
As human beings, we recognize the concepts of love, such as partnership, companionship, and interaction as vital in our daily lives. This is true whether we see it in the media, offer it to our pets, or share it with our partners and family. Nonetheless, we live in a time where Zoom calls have become the primary source of human interaction. The usage of dating apps skyrocketed among those stuck at home and those who are far too busy to frequent social outings. All in the name of love, of course. In fact, Tinder broke 3 million swipes in a single day in March of 2021. No small feat.
At the same time, conversations between “matched” users increased by 42%, with conversations lasting 32% longer. Competitors in this space have also seen mass surges, as the dating app OkCupid had a 700% increase! Surprised by these numbers? I am sure you are! Everyone is looking for love. For some, 2020 proposed the perfect opportunity for just that! Now, think about this: if it wasn’t for dating apps, how many people would have lost out on some much-needed human interaction? There is not just a want, there is a need. Talking about added value…
The brilliance behind the success of online dating apps and platforms goes well beyond the “looks” or “profile details” of each user. Of course, the physical appearance of others is certainly a factor in attraction, alongside their interest, song preferences, or favorite books. However, there are key ingredients that make the mass adoption of these platforms possible.
For one, we must credit the specific interface of each app. These designs are created in a way to summarize key information in an immediate fashion, making “getting to know people” as easy as ever. Everything from their age, location, height, workplace, hobbies is made blatantly obvious, giving the user instant feedback on whether or not they want to “meet” their next date. The ability to swipe yes or no, also makes moving on to the next, new potential match almost addictive – loaded with anticipation and facilitated by the ease of use.
If you’ve used some of these apps, you will know that the next right swipe (which is a like) could mean your next match. There’s a good chance that if you like someone’s profile on Tinder or Bumble, you are just hoping that after you’ve swiped, you will get that “You have a new match!” message. Again, this is by design! Once you are accustomed to the app, the left or right swipe is almost second nature, quite similar to the effect of scrolling on say Instagram or TikTok. We have all been victims of the mindless social media scroll before – don’t lie! The UX research and UI work that is embedded in these apps are extensive, strategic, and extremely precise. We must acknowledge it, but more importantly, we must also respect it.
In case you didn’t know, behind every great dating app is a collection of psychologists, relationship scientists, and behavioral scientists who have made it their life’s work to do the impossible: curate love. There is a reason why dating apps offer up addictive tendencies, which is something that Jonathan Bedeen, Tinder co-founder, relies on. Jonathan understood that there is a psychological influence associated with Tinder. During an interview with CNBC, he was quoted saying “When we get a match, the brain delivers a heady hit of dopamine, a feel-good chemical activated when we achieve an uncertain outcome — and that hit of dopamine is extremely enjoyable.“ Dopamine plays a key role in the way we feel pleasure and joy, thus, Tinder has found a way to trigger these feelings, in turn, making us come back for more!
From a bird’s eye view, this is truly a remarkable industry, based on a solid bedrock of science, curiosity, and convenience. It is human nature to seek out love and companionship, whether through a swipe at a picture or a run-in at a coffee shop. Not only have these platforms tapped into that need, but dating apps have also taken what is known as a mix of the most exciting and exhausting tasks on the face of the planet, and simplified it.
Finding love has never been easy, but yet, it can be simple. Is it a little vain? Sure. A tiny bit judgemental? Of course! But, does it make our lives better? Yes, it does. If there is one area in which you should be allowed to be a tiny bit vain, slightly judgmental, and a tad picky, would it not be love? Would it not be vital to do this with the person you might spend the rest of your life with? I’d think so. You?