Digital Dating and Design: Analysis of Hinge

I think it’s safe to say that dating of the 21st century has been more or less defined by apps and websites. The exciting part about this, is that dating is now under the influence of product designers. I’ve been using dating apps for the last 5 years with no real opinion about them until I stumbled upon Hinge’s re-design. I remember using Hinge back in 2013 and hating it — the concept was just weird… But opening the app again this year, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t just a well designed app, it showed me the possibilities of design and how it could come into play for something like love and real connections. So here it is, my very opinionated and quick, analysis of Hinge.

Profiles

Compared to Tinder, Hinge probably doesn’t have as many users. Their first launch was a total wreck and I’m sure there are many more people like me who wrote them off 3 years ago and never bothered to look back. However, Hinge cleverly managed to solve this issue by giving people the ability to match twice before disappearing from each other’s feed forever. I can “x” someone, but if they “like” one of my photos they’ll still show up in my “likes you” tab. I see this as a second chance. Hey, you didn’t like me, but now that you know I like you, does that change your mind? No, not really…but you know what, I definitely looked at your profile again, and it certainly makes me feel “busier” on the app.

Hinge makes it’s money, like most dating apps, through premium accounts. They will limit the number of people you can “like” a day, and when you reach that limit, you get a message over the profile of an attractive person. This new potential basically acts as an ad for Hinge and sells the premium account for them. What if I never come across this profile again? You start to build all sorts of stories about “shots missed” and before you know it — you’ve bought yourself a month of Hinge.

They’ve really nailed the profiles thing. People are now given creative license to create something for themselves. It’s no longer just 1–6 pictures and a short bio (that most people don’t even use..shame on you). But with Hinge you are forced to upload 6 photos, answer 3 questions about yourself, and include a few other basic bits of information. So why is this so great? 1) It weeds out all the weirdos and creeps — the people who are trying to hide who they are or advertise something stupid. 2) People make fewer snap judgements. Users can now show their personalities in so many unique ways. I’ve come across profiles that have “themes” (if you will).

Shirt game, STRONG.
Not a particularly funny theme, but you get the idea.

People can also caption their photos with quirky answers to questions.

And while not all of them are great — if you come across enough good ones you’ll start to become curious on what other people create. Before you know it, you’re giving chances to guys you would’ve swiped left on in Bumble or Tinder.

They’ve also done their research. They figured out the top “deal breakers” for single millennials and put them upfront for users to see; things like religious views, whether they drink or do drugs, etc. This improves the quality of each match and you’re saved the burden of going on a date with an attractive guy only to realize it would never work out because they want kids and you don’t.

Messaging

Have you ever read a text and forgotten to reply because you got distracted? Yeah, we’ve all been there. If you do that on Hinge though, they still show that you haven’t responded. GENIUS!

“Your turn” stays there until you’ve responded, even if you’ve opened the message.

Why haven’t other messaging apps figured this out yet?? I almost want to move all my friends to Hinge so I can text them through there.

If you find this annoying, they also give you the option to “hide” a match instead of “unmatching” or “removing” them from your list. This third level of status is useful, but not harsh. It keeps the pleasant user experience going and lets you declutter your list.

Another thing I love about the messaging on Hinge is the color scheme. Despite dating app ubiquity, it’s still somewhat of an awkward thing to be using it in public. The color scheme is similar enough to iMessage that to someone far away it wouldn’t seem like a dating app, but different enough that from the user’s perspective to know it’s Hinge (I have no idea how this looks or compares to normal messaging on Android).

System

Hinge allows two types of daters to exist; the seeker and the sought. Basically you can be actively seeking and “liking” profiles, or you can sit back and go through a list of people that have “liked” your profile. I think this is a good representation of IRL daters and how they translated that into the app is pretty on point.

Conclusion

With all that said and done, I have yet to meet someone on Hinge. But this write up isn’t about what a great product it is, it’s about how well designed it is. Good design is not a cosmic force that can find you true love, but it can make an online dating experience a little less terrible.