Bryant Peng
Published in

Bryant Peng

Thoughts on Tinder

A design critique


Until recently, I’d never used Tinder seriously. I always admired it from a distance; it made a lot of bold design decisions, from its signature card stack to the unconventional green heart.

A few days ago, one of my friends was trying out Coffee Meets Bagel (abbr. CMB). I found a lot of its features really clever, and realized I couldn’t put it off anymore — it was time to fulfill my obligation as both a single millennial and a product designer to break down the hottest dating app in the world.


Right off the bat, you’re asked to login with Facebook. After you connect, it drops you straight into the arena.

There’s no tutorial. Tinder wants to throw you into the fun as quickly as possible, and for the most part I agree with this decision. I do wish that there were some sort of swiping indicator, like the floating circle that Carousel uses. Yes, ‘left swipe’ and ‘right swipe’ have entered the general vocabulary, but it’s lazy design to rely on that.

Carousel uses both text and visual cues.

Really though, there’s no tutorial. Because Tinder makes you dive right in, it never tells you to fill out your profile or do any number of things that help your card get right-swiped. Like other parts of the app, you just have to Figure It Out™, which I’m convinced is Tinder’s design philosophy. This doesn’t have to be complicated; something as simple as a pop-up reminder (CMB does this really well) would go a long way.

Things I Like

  • Like I said before, the card stack (so swipeable!) and the green heart.
  • The fluid navigation bar. I love that when you scroll to the left or right, the icons shift accordingly.
  • It’s both evil and insanely smart how they dangle the rewind button in your face. First time using the app: “Oh cool, a rewind button. I don’t need it right now, but it’s nice to have.” Later, after accidentally left-swiping: “Damn it, she looked really cute. Wait, isn’t there a rewind button?

BAM, hit ‘em with the sell while they’re still feeling the FOMO. Not quite a dark pattern, but definitely in the realm of sneaky sales tactics.

UX Improvements

  • Swipe down to dismiss profile — Let’s say you come across a profile that interests you. You tap on the card, and it expands to the fullscreen view. Can you return to the card view by swiping down? No? Why not? The precedent for ‘swipe down to dismiss’ has been long been established by Facebook, Twitter, and even Apple’s stock apps. On iPhone, Tinder’s down arrow button implies this behavior because that’s how it works in the Music app. Before I found out that single tap worked, I had to reach all the way over to the top-left corner — aka the worst spot on the screen for right-handed people, aka still pretty awkward for left-handed people, aka especially when phone screens keep getting bigger. I guarantee that there are people who haven’t figured it out yet, and maybe never will. But we shouldn’t have to Figure It Out™, that’s what designers are for.
  • Automatic slideshow — If someone has multiple photos, why doesn’t the card automatically cycle through them? This is a small but useful tweak for when you’re feeling particularly lazy. Plus, it’s pretty cheap in terms of development.
  • Upload from Camera Roll — If I want to add a photo to my Tinder profile, I have to upload it to Facebook first. If I don’t want my Facebook friends to see it, I’m SOL. Sure, there’s the trick to upload photos set to ‘Only Me’ and tag yourself in them, but it’s not well-known to most people. Why not allow Camera Roll uploads? If it’s because of ads or dick pics, forcing someone to use Facebook photos isn’t going to stop them if they’re highly-motivated.

Feature Requests

  • Group dates — With an influx of apps like Doublz and Grouper, it’s clear that some people need a little social support. If Tinder had a co-op mode, they could draw users who would otherwise be intimidated by the stigma around online dating.
  • ‘Just friends’ — Although Tinder isn’t marketed as a dating app (it’s under ‘Lifestyle’ in the App Store), most people see it as one. At the same time, I saw plenty of bios with something like “Just looking for friends!” While I get that Tinder’s trying to toy the line between flirty and friendly, I think it can do a little more filtering to help everyone get what they want. You can already set your gender preferences to men, women, or both; why not introduce relationship preferences like ‘Just Friends’, ‘Just Dates’, and ‘Anything Goes’?
  • Group dates + ‘Just friends’ — Going out on a limb here, but what about combining these two to get something like Squad?
  • Social media sharing — When a conversation goes well, it usually migrates to text or social media. In the latter case, it’s low-hanging fruit to have a button for sharing your Twitter/Kik/Snapchat, especially if they’re hard to type. With deep linking, this is even better.
  • Play matchmaker — If you come across someone you’re not into but is totally your friend’s type, it’d be cool if you could ‘rebound’ their card. Swipe down could be a good mapping for this if it’s not being reserved for something else.
  • Like/Nope stats — Ever wonder what the ratio of right to left swipes on your totally kidding, this might be the worst idea ever.
  • Read receipts — Full disclosure, this one’s more from personal bias than any kind of analysis. I’m a big fan of read receipts, I think they make texting just a little more honest and straightforward. Obviously, not everyone may agree with this.
  • Hard reset — Is your feed looking more robot than human? Do you regret left-swiping that one guy or gal? Whatever the case may be, it’d be nice to press reset and start over. As Tinder starts to monetize more, they should consider making this a Pro feature or its own IAP because there’s definitely a demand for this.

Note: Some of these ideas are clearly more ‘out there’ than others, and might take away from the focus of the app. As Tinder matures it’ll have to introduce new features regardless, but it’s a valid concern to keep in mind.

Little Things

  • Profile tips — One thing Coffee Meets Bagel does pretty well is provide in-app advice on how to improve your profile. Tinder, on the other hand, throws you into the jungle without any guidance. The result? Profiles with no bio, only one picture, bad pictures, only one bad picture, or worst of all, only group pictures. Adding a few timely reminders would go a long way towards improving profile quality. Maybe even a separate ‘Tips’ section (again, see CMB).
  • Filter by last active — The ‘Active’ section on a profile is really useful for, well, seeing how active someone is. Being able to set a range in your Discovery Preferences — say, between “Active just now” and “Active 30 minutes ago” — might be handy in certain use cases.

Other Notes

  • People often criticize Tinder for prioritizing quantity over quality, but it’s a strategy that works. The dopamine and validation from getting a match is what makes the app so addicting — not how good the match actually is. IMO this is great for hooking users in the short-term, but not as much for long-term retention.
  • Why is there an ellipse button on user profiles when the only option is Report? My guess is that they’re reserving space for future additions, but if Report is the only thing planned then this seems unnecessary.

Closing Thoughts

Tinder keeps it pretty simple. It’s well-designed for the most part, but I do think there are a few things they can improve here and there to reach that golden level of polish.

bryant peng📄 medium🐦 twitter👔 linkedin




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Bryant Peng

Bryant Peng

Free UX help for Ukraine donations. Let’s talk:

More from Medium

The problem you are having in your workplace: New Grad Edition

Deception Tips Video 85 — Blushing

A pandemic diary: The colors that give me the blues

CDC graphic showing Covid community levels in Atlanta rising.

Research-backed reasons for why messaging interoperability should include group chats and stickers