How to Create a Dating App: 7 Steps to Fit Any Design

6 min read Darryn Campbell on Mar 25, 2024
How to Build a Dating App- Steps to Fit Any Design.jpg

Dating apps have changed the way we meet people and we’re proud to power some of the world’s best online dating applications.

Have you been curious how to create a popular dating app from scratch? We are here for you.  Though the destination is the same for these apps (a first date!), the journey for each is unique and innovative. There are common underlying technologies for dating app development, a dating app UI and dating app design, and in this post, we’ll talk about the major technologies and designs for creating a dating app.  Before we dive in, let’s start with expectations. 

What Features Do Users expect when you create a dating app?

Log In  

Obviously, users will expect a safe log in method to protect their personal data and account information. Some dating apps (like Tinder) use information from social media (using an API) for an easier login method.


You can get creative here with your dating app design, make it your own and include what information you think your users will find most interesting. Generally, this includes a name, pictures, and interests. 


Ideally, most users would like to be able to find matches in areas that are close to them. We’ll get a little deeper into how to develop this dating app feature later in the article. 


Users can find fellow users by a variety of criteria. Some common options include location-based, interests, age, and gender.


There are a lot of options for matching algorithms when you create a dating app. Tinder uses geographic location, and of course the classic swipe left/right.  Other ideas include matching people based on interests, age, and reasons for joining the dating app.


Building the chat function is an essential function for dating apps and there are lots of ways to do it. You can start off based on matching, or allow users to view social profiles before initiating the chat. Some apps only allow one party to initiate the chat. The possibilities are endless.  No matter what you decide, there is one basic framework, which is why we’re here. So, without further ado, here are seven steps for building a dating app. 

Building Dating App Chat

Dating App APIs and Infrastructure

The most important part of creating any dating application is the chat. After all, this is where the magic truly happens. You need to ensure a seamless and secure messaging experience for your users, and this requires three parts:

  • Dating App User Experience - is your interface beautiful and easy to operate?

  • Dating App Messaging APIs - what features have you built into your chat feed?

  • Dating App Messaging Infrastructure - how do you send and receive messages between users?

How to Create the Dating App User Interface

This could literally go an infinite amount of ways. But in a nutshell, you must understand your target audience and determine:

  1. How will your user base discover other potential matches (swipe right!)

  2. How will users connect with other user profiles

  3. How will users chat with other users

How to Build Dating App Messaging APIs

Messaging APIs for dating apps enable you to build both the core features and the bells and whistles.  Core features include being able to create dating chatrooms and send/receive messages in real time, see the online/offline status of users in the chat, typing indicators to see when people are typing, unread message count, and emojis (so many emojis). If you’re building the dating app from scratch, you’re responsible for building each one of these core features yourself. If you’re using a chat service provider or chat SDK, their messaging APIs will most likely include a number of plugins for adding these features. So the amount of work you put in is up to you! Beyond core chat features, there are a number of ways you can set your chat apart from the rest.

  • Programmability is increasingly becoming a core differentiator for certain chat service providers. 

What is programmability? In a nutshell, programmability is the ability to make your chat app “event-driven”, meaning that you have complete control what happens to a message between when it is sent, and when it is received. This could be adding business logic, alerts, triggering a 3rd party application, or mutating the message in-flight.

  • You can also bring geolocation and chatbots directly into the chat feed. Say a user asks “where should we meet?” This can trigger a chatbot to assist in making recommendations based on the conversation. From there, the chatbot can deliver a map with real-time updates in the chat feed, leveling up the experience for the chatters.

  • Lastly, you can customize your app to thwart trolls, the romance killers. Using content moderation APIs, your chat app can analyze and filter profanity or explicit images before they reach the end user.

How to Design Dating App Messaging Infrastructure / Backend

From a messaging standpoint, the other component is the backend infrastructure, the means of sending real-time messages.  In its most basic sense, the backend of your dating app, or infrastructure, should be able to send and receive small messages at real-time speed. Expanding on that, at scale, your infrastructure needs to be globally redundant to ensure that your app performs no matter where your users are located. There’s a reason Tinder works as seamlessly in Paris as it does in Chattanooga. Security is also essential. You need to ensure that your users information, and the messages they are sending, are safe from end-to-end. There’s a couple of ways you can ensure that the infrastructure you choose is secure at the network, message, channel, user, and key level, spanning multiple categories.  Here they are:

  • Encryption: Point-to-point network TLS encryption and end-to-end message AES encryption.

  • Authorization: Granular read and write access control with optional TTLs and the ability to revoke permissions.

  • Attack Prevention Measures: Ensure that there are no inbound open ports, and all connections to the infrastructure are outbound from the client. Should have intelligent data center routing to thwart regional attacks.

Mapping APIs for Your Dating App Infrastructure

Mapping APIs, like Mapbox, Google Maps or Esri, allow you to build custom maps and integrate geolocation functionality into web and mobile apps. From a UI perspective, you can embed beautiful maps with textures, illustrations, custom markers, and more. However,  functionality is equally important for dating applications. Mapping APIs allow you to build core features into your app, like geocoding, geohashing and proximity awareness. This is how daters can set their ‘radius’ to a defined area, and connect with other daters based on geolocation. Seems simple, but it can actually be very challenging. Using a mapping API with nearby connections capabilities is a great place to start. Nearby connections allows users to discover users and exchange data (chat) with them. This takes the burden of developing your own proximity aware system, allowing the API that’s integrated with your maps to do the heavy lifting while creating a seamless experience for your end users. 

Building Your Dating App Matching Algorithm

You’ll also have to figure out how you’re going to connect your daters, and that is done through your matchmaking algorithm. It could be as simple as connecting users based on mutual interests, mutual friends, city of residence, or any other inputted data. We’ve written a tutorial on matchmaking (for gaming), but the design pattern is similar. You can check that tutorial out, but for reference, here are the quick steps:

  • Adding a “Find Match” Button and A Header

  • Using the PubNub here_now() API

  • Finding a Match

How to Create a Dating App Registration and Authentication

And last but certainly not least, registering users, and ensuring they are who they say they are. The first option for registration is the classic method - using their personal email and password to create an account and login in. This option is okay, but definitely not the best option, as anyone can simply create an email address, and there’s a good chance your users aren’t who they say they are. Using social network APIs for user authorization and authentication is significantly better, especially for building a dating app, for two reasons:

  1. A better chance they are who they say they are

  2. You can use their profile data to better match users

Launch your app

After your mobile app development is complete, it is time for your development team to launch to the app store

Final Thoughts: How to Create a Dating App

Well, for one, get building! Dating apps are a $2.5 billion business in the U.S. We can definitely help you out on the messaging side of things, and point you in the right direction for the other key components. Reach us here, we’d love to chat!  

More Resources on Building a Dating App: