How to Build Dating Website: Step By Step Guide

Look at the couples around you. These days more and more people find their significant other online. Stats suggest that almost 40% of Americans date someone they met on a dating site or an app, while other countries show the same trends (more below!). The rising popularity of such products creates a demand for newer solutions, better algorithms, and more profitable business models.

In this article, we uncover dating website development 101. Explore how to build a dating website, successful examples, demand across the globe, and must-have features for dating website users. Let's dive in!

Reading time: 11 minutes

Table of contents

Key takeaways 

    • The key to successful dating web development is to find a balance between what you want to see in the MVP and what you can afford with your budget. 
    • Typically a dating website costs $94 150 to design, develop, test and deploy.
    • Key features that any dating website should have are user profiles, a matching algorithm, notifications, chats, geolocation, payment options and social media integration.

What is a dating website and how did it start

A dating website is an online platform for people to meet their potential partners. The idea has been around for decades: back in the day, people used to publish marriage ads in newspapers.

A photo of a newspaper ad

Some local newspapers still publish marriage ads

The first attempt to use computer technology to match people happened in the 1960s when MIT, Stanford, and the University of Iowa students simultaneously experimented with IBM machines to analyze questionnaires and find dance partners for participants. 

The search for a romantic partner moved to the online field in the early 1990s, when the first dating websites started to emerge. was the first online dating site. The company was founded in 1993 and the web page was launched in 1995, beginning the era of digital dating services.

Since then, the online dating industry has gone through a boom, and many alternative dating websites have been launched, such as Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, Hinge, and others. These platforms started offering more than just a romantic match, for example, Bumble also helps users find friends and expand their social circles.

5 common types of dating apps and websites

There are over 1,500 apps and websites on the online dating market. This number might seem overwhelming at first, but in reality, all these solutions are similar in functionality and can be broken down into 5 key categories:

1. Platforms for everyone. As the title of this category says, anyone can sign up for this dating site and use the app to start connecting with people.

Examples: Tinder, Hinge.

2. Interests-based platforms. These dating apps and websites help people find their match based on interests and preferences. For example, music taste or hobbies.

Examples: Tastebuds, POM, Bumble BFF.

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3. Platforms for celebrities. Want to go out with Pedro Pascal or Selena Gomez? Celebrity dating apps are where most famous people find a match. 

Example: Raya.

4. Religion-based platforms. Online dating can be challenging for users who want partners of a specific religious background. Luckily, there are many solutions on the market.

Examples: Christian Mingle, Muzz.

Screenshots of Muzz screens

Muzz, an app that helps single Muslims find a match, is available in 14 languages

5. Political views-based platforms. For people who want their partners to share the same political views, online dating can be tough. “Who did you vote for in the last election?” is not the greatest conversation opener, so people use certain niche dating apps instead to make sure to talk to like-minded users.

Example: The Right Stuff.

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2 examples of popular dating sites

There are many solutions on the dating website market, but, in this article, we want to give you 2 successful examples to study in more depth, before you decide to make a dating website.


OkCupid is a U.S. dating site that is available to users globally. It was launched in 2004 by a few Harvard students, and the app version followed in 2013. The main feature of OkCupid is a user questionnaire that creates a basis for the matching algorithm. Each user needs to answer anywhere between 50 and 100 questions in order to view suggested matches and start exploring the connections. When the user is answering a question, they can give their own answer, filter by the answers they would like to see from partners, and highlight the level of importance of the question.

A screenshot of the OkCupid questionnaire

OkCupid has over 4000 in its database to survey users

Now OkCupid is owned by Match Group which also owns, Hinge, Tinder, and other popular online dating platforms. So the market is fairly monopolized by this group and most of the products are realistically the same in their core.

This website is a pioneer of online dating that has been on the market for close to 30 years. To this day, the core functionality is very simple: a user creates a profile, adds personal information, such as location, interests, and partner preferences, and then browses the selection of profiles and chooses matches. has a matching algorithm, but the main goal of it is to narrow down a pool of potential partners based on preferences users choose in their profile. 

In 2014, launched a mobile version, however, the dating website is still popular among users. Every month, it sees over 20 million users, which is far more visits than any competitor website has.

Why and where are dating websites relevant today

Numbers speak louder than words, so let’s just review statistics of online dating usage in different countries to understand the demand and main trends.

The United States

Almost 3 in 10 adults in the United States have used a dating site or app before to look for love and companionship. Tinder, Match, Bumble, and OkCupid are the 4 most popular online dating services people use.


Over 60% of Australians use dating apps or websites and one in four has met their current partner online. Australian users are not opposed to the idea of paying for the search of a connection: the average revenue per user is around $15.65.


Online dating services in European countries have over 65 million users, 10 million of which are paying for premium features and subscriptions. However, the market has its own unique solutions and characteristics. For example, in Germany, the industry is represented by platforms that focus on serious relationships and compatibility, such as Parship and ElitePartner.

The United Arab Emirates

Online matchmaking and dating industry is emerging in the UAE, but there are some serious players in the market. The most popular dating apps are Tinder, Badoo, Happn, and Muslima. Statistics show that UAE users are more willing to pay for premium services than customers in other countries: the average revenue per user is valued at around US$35 to $50.

See also  The Ultimate Guide to Dating App Development

4 things to consider before developing a dating website

Before you create a dating website, there are several important decisions to make. They will ultimately impact your chances to succeed and grow. Here are 4 of the things you need to decide on:

Target audience research. The online dating market is saturated, so you should know your audience very well before you build a dating website. Make sure you understand who your target users are, their needs, and what channels you can use to let them know about your product. 

The expertise of your development team. Make sure your development partner has relevant cases in their portfolio. Dating apps, social networks, or other online peer-to-peer services indicate that they have relevant experience to create a dating website.

Monetization model. Consider in advance how your product will make money and your dating website promotion strategy. We guarantee that investors would want to know the answers to these questions.

Essential features. The key is to find a balance between what you want to see in the MVP and what you can afford with your budget. When you have an experienced team to create a dating website, it is not a complex task. The specialists will help you choose the key must-have features and stay within desired costs.

7 essential features for a dating website

Starting a dating website and need to pick must-have functionality for your product? Here are 7 key features that users will need:

1. User profiles

Let’s face it: a profile is like a resume. After a 5-second glance, the user will know if they want to know more or move on to the next candidate. A good dating website should let users present their interests and quirks in an easy-to-create and eye-catching profile. Make sure users can upload those family photos and fishing selfies, jot down their interests, and let potential matches know what they are looking for in a partner.

A screenshot of the Match webpage user profile page

2. Matching algorithm 

A smart matching algorithm is at the core of a successful dating platform. Swipe left or right, browse those profiles, sift through their interests, or play their favorite songs — each app finds its own way to help users find a perfect match. Find your approach to digital matchmaking and make sure it goes along with what a target audience wants and expects.

A screenshot of the Penguin Dating app

For Penguin Dating, we designed a short and fun multiple-choice questionnaire and created a compatibility algorithm that matches profiles with similar answers

3. Push or email notifications

How are users going to know when someone swipes right on them or sends them a funny and sweet first message? Web browser push and email notifications alert users when there’s action on your dating profile. Especially with websites, make sure you help users stay up-to-date on recent activity and add a web notification API.

4. Chatting functionality 

Once users find someone they click with, let them send messages or even voice clips. A good dating website should have a seamless chat functionality, that lets users exchange conversation starters, text messages, gifs, voice memos, and any other communication elements that will help digital romance flow.

OkCupid chat screen

OkCupid chat is simple but it covers the basics

5. Geolocation

For many people distance is a dealbreaker, therefore your users should know if their potential match is across the street or across the globe. Geolocation helps discover matches nearby and makes it easier to plan that coffee date or evaluate if this connection can get serious. Web apps use geolocation APIs to access location data from user devices and display it on their profile.

Screenshots of interface has a location-based feature that allows users to see they have crossed paths with their connections in real life

6. Payment services

Real love might see beyond money, but dating services need to make a profit in order to survive and grow. Dating websites usually offer different paid features and monthly subscriptions, which include extended location search, super likes, profile visitors, and others. Any service should offer smooth and secure checkout options to get those benefits and connect with more users.

Screenshot of OkCupid’s subscription prices in 2023

OkCupid offers monthly subscriptions of different tiers

7. Social media integration 

An Instagram feed can say a lot about a person and social media integration lets users showcase their online personality seamlessly. Let your users link their Instagram or share their latest tweets to give your potential matches a deeper dive into their personality.

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How to create a dating website: step-by-step guide 

When you build a dating website, whether with an in-house team or outsourced developers, the workflow will look pretty much the same. There are 8 steps that everyone will follow: 

1. Come up with an idea and validate it

If you’re a startup owner, it is your responsibility to create a valuable idea that matches the needs of target audiences and then validate it. Survey potential users, create a landing page or no-code app, but verify that the idea is worth investing money into before moving further.

2. Decide on the business model and monetization strategy

Make a plan of how your dating site will make a profit and grow further. Monetization strategy is the second thing investors will look at after your pitch deck, to decide if your idea is worth their time and capital. Make sure your chosen business model and monetization plans are bulletproof and consider the competition in the online dating market.

3. Find developers

Decide on a collaboration model you prefer and a type of contract with a software partner. You can outsource, outstaff your dating website development, or give it out to several freelancers. They can be paid on a time & materials (T&M) basis or charge a fixed rate for the whole project upfront. There is no one-size-fits-all in this field — choose what works for you and suits your requirements and expectations.

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4. Shortlist features for MVP

Pick key features for your dating website, considering what functionality users are used to and what’s considered a golden standard on the market. Luckily, the online dating industry is vast and diverse, and there are many examples to study and consider when you build your own dating solution.

5. Think about branding and marketing strategy 

While the developers are creating your dating site, you can focus on brand identity and marketing strategy for your final product. At this point, you should already choose the name and buy the domain. At the next step, UI/UX designers will help create a visual identity of the website and put together a UI kit, but you need to give them something for starters. Gather references from other websites you like, create your brand description and voice, and write your mission and vision to establish a consistent theme for your company.

6. Create UI/UX design

UI/UX designers will take all relevant materials from you, map the user journey, identify main points, and start working on a design concept. Once you approve the aesthetic you want to go for, the designers will create mock-up screens and visualize your app on Figma. From this step forward, you will already have something to show to potential investors and users.

7. Build a dating website

While you work on investments, promo strategy, and user reach, the development team will write code for your dating website, run tests in different environments, and deploy the solution to the server. SEO specialists will join forces to optimize web pages for search engines and help your startup with visibility and searchability.

8. Launch and promote your dating website

As the last step, launch your MVP to the market and test your dating website with real users. But remember, the process of creating an online dating platform doesn’t end when you hit “Publish the website.” You need to market it to the right audience and make sure your product has a flow of new, interesting, and relevant people. Will you use a website that only has 30 user profiles of people in other cities from you? You know the answer.

The cost to develop a dating website

MVP is a tricky stage where the scope of the project can change on a whim. While you develop the solution, new online dating features can become relevant and you might want to add them too.

Let’s try to average out and review costs to build an online dating website from an idea to a launched MVP.

Disclaimer: The estimation is provided by Purrweb and can vary, depending on the team’s hourly rate, location, and contract type. This is how much time it will take us to build a dating website on average.

Stage Scope Timeline Costs
Project planning Plan the scope of the project and assign main tasks. 1 week Free ☺️
UI/UX design Map users’ journey, create interface concept, and present it to you 120 hours $6 600
Development Work on architecture and the interface on both client and server-side 1200 hours $72 400
QA Testing Search for bugs and fix them before the release 60 hours $1 500
Project management Manage the development process and control deadlines 390 hours (throughout the project) $13 650

Typically a dating website costs $94 150 and requires 1380 hours of work to design, develop, test and deploy.

To sum up

Online dating is a lucrative field with many innovative and versatile solutions on the market. To get ahead of the competition and ensure the stability of your solution, choose a developer wisely.

In this article, we covered the basics of online dating development: talked about what makes dating sites work, looked at successful examples, and reviewed a step-by-step guide on how to make your own. 

As we wrap up this guide, keep in mind that despite the tough competition, the online dating world is always looking for innovation. Most websites and apps are owned by the same companies and have been around for decades. With some creativity and a solid idea, you can find your niche and create an in-demand dating site that helps people find love.

Our experience 

Our Purrweb team developed over 300+ successful projects, from the ideation stage to MVP and full-product launch. We have experience and expertise in different industries, as we’ve already created a web and mobile app for online therapy sessions in the United Kingdom, an app to party with friends, and a web app to track health metrics

Developing a dating website is straightforward for us, because we have experience developing the Penguin Dating app and other dating-related projects. Get in touch with us today to receive a free estimation for your dating site.

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