Despite the widespread use of online dating sites over the past five years – Pew Research said that one in 10 Americans had tried online dating – studies suggest that users still get very frustrated with the online dating process. Many people quit after a short while, finding the process unsatisfactory.
Let’s look at some of the reasons user experience can be substandard, and what dating sites can do to improve it.
1. Incomplete profiles
Most dating sites are rife with partially-completed profiles, typically showing one fairly good, or often terribly bad, photo, with very little information about the person, and next to nothing written in their bio.
Just as disappointing are profiles with a handful of poor photos, and a bio as plain and boring as the weather report.
Users can get frustrated if they are matched day in and day out with people whose profiles are like this. There is almost nothing to go on, so no wonder they don’t contact them.
And the people setting up these profiles get frustrated by the low response rate to the number of messages they send out. It’s simple. Users have no time to get into elaborate emailing on the site, requesting more personal info, seeking more recent photos to try and get to know the person, so they often move on to the next one.
What can be done? Maybe if sites took a leaf out of LinkedIn’s book, with regards to their professional profile-rating system, and adapted it to the dating profile requirements, things could be much better.
The strength of your profile could be rated by the number and the quality of photos uploaded – after all, the photos are all moderated. The quality of the photos could be graded by how clear they are, and how visible the user is.
Completing all this information would give your profile a higher rating. Your bio could even be rated by how often or not you use common words and expressions. This could use the same text-recognition technology used to detect plagiarism. Profile ads could also be rated by their length – with a suggested length given – so if you don’t write enough, or write too much, you get a low rating.
This way, users could be matched by the strength of their profiles, in addition to the usual matching criteria.
2. Ignored messages
“Was it something I said?” Users get increasingly frustrated and disappointed if they don’t get many replies to their messages from a great number of users, and secondly if their in-site conversation abruptly comes to a halt. Can we blame them if they send message after message trying to find out why? Not really.
What can dating sites do in the above cases? How about a small multiple choice list of answers?
The user can tick the one of their choice, which is an infinitely more humane way to give someone the cold shoulder. Below are some examples:
- “This user does not wish to engage in conversation.”
- “This user’s priorities have changed.”
- “This user no longer wishes to engage in further conversation.”
- “This user’s preferences have changed.”
This way the recipient will have some kind of clarity, and can move on more easily.
3. Limited options of in-site communication
Sometimes a photo and a handful of messages are not enough for singles to know whether they want to meet one another.
Both voice and body language can be crucial in determining attractiveness.
At least one dating site has experimented with a video-posting feature. Users can post a five minute video of themselves onto the site, where they reply to questions they pick from a short questionnaire. Not a bad idea altogether, but many singles will likely feel self-conscious talking into the camera by themselves.
However IM-ing and in-site emailing does not give you enough information, and for many, going on a date without enough assurance of attraction could mean time and money wasted. Bad first dates are stressful. And rumour has it; they tend to be the norm rather than the exception. Therefore many users have resorted to switching over their communication straight away to video chat, most typically Skype.
User experience could most certainly be enhanced if there would be means of in-site video chatting.
Of course these extra features might mean serious investment for any dating site. Dating sites are aware of how important it is to get a real feel for the other person. One way of them taking charge in this respect is event organising. And we commend them for that.
By Laura Gub, from Brand You.
For more dating-related articles, or for help with your online dating profiles, contact Laura here.