Sep 27, 2016 · 6 min read

Meet the new Hinge

In November 2015, a team of 20 decided to take a successful mainstream product, rebuild it from the ground up and create something completely new. The below details how Hinge built a refuge from swipe culture for those looking to escape the dating apocalypse and find something real.

PART 1: Facing the Facts.

Last September, Vanity Fair published an article titled Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse.” Penned by Nancy Jo Sales, the piece explored an empty hook-up culture driven by the proliferation of free dating apps. Sales painted a lonely world, where apathetic singles practiced competitive ambivalence and avoided “catching feelings” like a plague. Where they addictively swiped, chasing only the thrill of their next match. Where romance had died and a detached indifference replaced it. A world where everyone swiped, but rarely connected.

“A world where everyone swiped, but rarely connected.”

While some apps defended themselves, we at Hinge couldn’t help but feel she had hit a nerve.

The mission at Hinge had always been to create relationships — but somewhere along the way we started contributing to superficial swipe culture. When we asked, our community agreed: Hinge was the most relationship-oriented of the free apps, but it just wasn’t different enough.

Outside, Hinge continued to grow exponentially. Inside, we knew something had to change.

PART 2: Rebuilding for Relationships.

So our team set out to build something better. We wanted to create an antidote to detached swiping and endless choices. But to do it successfully, we had to understand our community and data more deeply than we ever had before.

Distilling the problem.

We had to figure out what exactly about Hinge was broken. So we launched HingeLabs, our first user-led research division to communicate directly with our community. Our goal was to create an open dialogue with our users to better understand what they did and did not like about the app. Through dozens of surveys and data analysis, here’s what we learned:

  • Our users were matching, but not truly connecting. Our users were swiping a lot — but only 15% of matches were turning into actual conversations. This pointed to a broader trend of mindless swiping for either entertainment or validation.
  • Hinge was the best for relationships, but it wasn’t enough. On a 1–10 (hook-up to relationship) scale, Hinge was considered the most relationship-oriented app at a 7. When asked what they were looking for, 70% of users wanted something even more serious than Hinge.

The hole in the market.

We immersed ourselves in the broader dating space. We looked at competitor designs, advertising, growth and more. We surveyed and focus grouped our community about their perception and usage of other online dating sites and apps. We even tried them all ourselves! Check out our findings: www.thedatingapocalypse.com

A Match.com for the next generation.

Our team determined there truly was a hole in the market. There was no modern dating experience for people seeking real relationships.

With clunky web based products like Match.com still incorporating screen names, and apps like Tinder letting everyone join regardless of intentions, we knew our community was craving a better, more relationship-oriented experience — and we believed we could deliver.

PART 3: Introducing the Relationship App.

We were over mindless swiping and endless games that resulted in more dead ends than relationships. Our community was too. So we redesigned and rebranded Hinge for people who want more. For people who want to escape the games and find something real. Here’s what to expect:

No Swiping Games. Instead of “hot or not” swiping and racking up matches, people engage with the rich stories on your profile for more human conversations. It’s like Instagram profiles for dating and in beta testing has driven 5X the conversations.

$7 Monthly Membership Fee. We’re curating an invested community of people who want more than mindless games. $7 is less than your monthly Netflix or Spotify subscription, and nowhere near the cost of eHarmony ($60/month) or Match.com ($42/month). But it’s enough to make sure everyone is on the same page and not just using Hinge for entertainment.

See below for individual screenshots

PART 4: Proof and Pudding.

In beta testing, the new Hinge has proven to be a 10X better experience for those seeking real connections. It has exceeded our expectations.

  • On average, 2X as many people are connecting.
  • 5X as many connections turn into two-way conversations.
  • 7X as many connections turn into phone numbers exchanged.

PART 5: What’s Next.

Expect more features that support our mission statement:

“Inspired by love and guided by authenticity, we create meaningful connections among those bold enough to seek real relationships.”

Additional updates we’re working on include:

  • Richer Profiles. Get a fuller sense of someone’s personality: video, personality profiles, etc.
  • Discovery 2.0. Actively search for new people based on shared friends, interests, or experiences.
  • Deeper Connections. Improvements to the way you connect with people and take things offline.

PART 6: More About Hinge.

About the Founder

Justin McLeod is founder and CEO of Hinge, the relationship app that helps you discover new people through friends. He grew up in Louisville, KY and studied at Colgate University. After a few years in management consulting, Justin attended Harvard Business School and decided to follow his passion for connecting people. He founded Hinge in February 2011 and launched the previous version of the app, legacy Hinge, in February 2013. As a romantic and protagonist of a real life love story, Justin was upset by the negative swipe culture free dating apps had created. So in October 2016, he relaunched Hinge as the first members-only community for relationship-seeking millennials.

Justin McLeod, founder & CEO at Hinge

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