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Growth.Design Case Study #018

How Tinder Converts 8% Of Singles Into Customers In Less Than 15 Minutes 

Story Duration: 7 min

Last month, I was having a casual drink with my friend... (pre-pandemic!)

Until I asked for an update on her dating life...

Wrong question.

It sucks... And dating apps are horrible... 

I deleted all of them!

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I had to see for myself what was wrong with dating apps...

So I downloaded Tinder*

*Never used it before!

Later that night...


Hmm... A lot of text to start!

It's a missed opportunity
because you only need the "Be yourself" introduction.

The rest could come later...

Be Mindful of Space 

During the onboarding, users are immersed in a new world they don't know anything about, and that can be overwhelming.

Each word/element should earn its place on the screen by adding clear value for this precise moment.

1UX Studio, Three guiding questions of screen design (2019)

Moving on...

And why aren't there images of people to prime me for what's to come?

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3 simple steps! Maybe you're thinking:

Why not regroup them on one screen?

Less steps... right?

Minimize Task Perception

The first thing users do when they see a new form is estimating how much time is required to complete it.1

Separating fields in different steps eases the user's perception of how hard it is to complete.

Making the whole process look easy!

1Smashing Magazine, What makes an effective form (2018)
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Oh... That's a lot of choices.

 Some I don't even know about!

But this is a great example of inclusivity.

Especially for a dating app, it can avoid a lot of confusion!


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Hmm... They know I'm a straight man—

—so why ask what I want to see?

Definitely a step that can be optimized here!


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Keeping the "task perception" low and adding a little guidance...

Here's one solution:

Bridge the gap

There are a lot of steps between "Add Photos" and successfully adding photos.

To help users get where they want to be, you need to "bridge" the gap:


Remove all obstacles or questions users might have before they leave!1

1Samuel Hulick, Product People, Mind the Gap! (2017)


The "big commitment".

But compared to the other ones, this step looks intimidating: 

1) 🧩 Placeholders: Do I need to add 9 photos? 

2) 📊 No Guidelines: Tinder has tons of data about what works best, why not guide users?

This could be improved...

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Uh... Already in?

No description? Nothing about what I'm looking for?

Persona-based Onboarding

If you want successful users, you need to understand why they came to you.

Generic goals won't cut it. Knowing the precise intent can generate a 10% activation lift.1

Start from the end goal,2 and craft a personalized path for your users. 

1Clearbit, How Canva changes their first product experience based on user intent (2018)
2Dan Ariely, Dating & Relationships (4:00) - Talks at Google (2015)

Labor Illusion = Trust Increase

People trust & value results more when they obtain them after a carefully crafted delay (even if the delay isn't real).1

Sometimes it's better to slow things down to communicate effort.2

The travel booking app Kayak does this really well, showing users where they're searching the best deals increasing user's confidence in the results.

1Gartner, Using Behavioral Economics to Track Human Behavior (2015)
2Growth.Design, Your App Might Be Too Fast (2020)

Also, they missed an opportunity to make me feel like this person was carefully picked for me!

Especially when you meet someone new.

If the goals are different... You're in for an awkward moment!

Tinder could simply add one step

Still excited to get going!

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Sweet! Quick tutorial of what I can do here... 

Let's see {TAP}

After touching the photo...

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After looking at a few pictures...

Let's find out!


Soo... I won't lie for a first time user, it feels a bit like elementary school...

I can quickly imagine how Tinder's default behavior puts the focus on pictures.

(i.e., on physical attraction)

Not that it's bad... but it's a very poor indicator of how 2 people will get along.

Probably one reason why my friend deleted her dating apps!

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Wow! Great upsell...

Plus, it's personalized towards that specific job of "Getting Brooklyn back!"

Progressive Disclosure

It consists of showing only a few features initially, and then slowly adding options as users become better.1

It's very powerful because it keeps simplicity for new users and brings power to advanced users.

1NN Group, Progressive Disclosure (2006)

Slowly getting up to speed with the swiping gesture...

Niiice! Adding features as I get familiar with the app... Bravo.

Let's see what it does—

1) 🗣Social Proof: With the "Most Popular" tag.

2) 📉Descending Price Anchor: Starting with the highest plan on the left.

3) 🚧Removing the "Buy" barrier: Replacing it with a more innocent word: Continue.

And discounts! But no thanks...

They also use 3 proven conversion techniques.

Can you spot them?

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2 new features unlocked! 

Boost to get more matches? Sure... {TAP}

Oh... I have to pay.

I'm confused, is this a feature to by-pass their algorithm flaws?

So more people can see your profile

Swiping a bit more...

—Isn't this the whole point of the app? 

...Seems like a stretch!

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Did I miss a match?

A few swipes later...

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Oohhh... I see what you did there!

Making me feel good about myself and...

...then tempting me to buy the "Gold" version to see who liked me... {TAP}

It's still a great upgrade for those who want to save time.

Plus, since the photos are blurred, your imagination can run wild!

Curiosity Gap

Gaps cause pain.

When we want to know something but can’t, it’s like having an itch that we need to scratch.

To take away the pain, we need to fill the knowledge gap.1

1Chip & Dan Heath, Made to stick (2007)

Not cheap! And that's actually the 3rd upsell in 15 minutes... 

No wonder they made $1.2B last year.

The next morning...

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Haha! But seriously...

Isn't it weird that I can't remember who I swiped right last night?

And... Why not add a "curiosity gap" to this notification?

Let's see...{TAP}

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Woah... That's a lot of red!

I understand it's the brand color, but they'll soon need a more mature UI system to allow for more flexibility.

...So who is Keely? {TAP}

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For some reason, I expected more...

1) 🤷‍♂️Lack of info: I still only have pictures to help me understand who this person is...

2) 🥶 Ice breakers are hard: Why not suggest topics or questions to start with? (and bridge the Gap)

All in all, it's a dry start...



The fact that Keely didn't start the conversation when we matched... is a good indicator that it's not easy!

This gave me an idea...

1) 🧨 The Spark: Give an easy way to connect with questions designed to start a meaningful/fun discussion to actually learn something about the person.

2) 🎥 Quick Intro: Incentivize people to say "hi" by video. 


So you can save precious hours in your quest.

You can learn a LOT just by hearing someone talk...

Psych Level

Customer Journey

Tinder has cleverly divided the profile steps to make it look easy! However, they missed an opportunity at the photo stage to help users. 

The end of the profiling didn't live up to expectations; No intent captured and no feeling of personalized results.

Quickly realizing that Tinder's default behavior puts the sole focus on physical attraction. That shopping feeling can't get you really far.

Finally, the matching experience fell short too. This is supposed to be the big Aha!-moment, yet users are left without any help.

Nonetheless, they have great "jobs-to-be-done" upgrades. Especially when it can save you time!

One last thing for you...

💰 How to Convert More Users

Get this free one-pager containing:

  • CHECKLIST: 6 golden rules to create a great freemium experience
  • INSIGHTS: All of the 7 psychological & UX insights covered here (with screenshots!)
  • BONUS: 3 growth experiment ideas

Yes, I Want My Cheatsheet!

Let's look at the key moments in Tinder's experience...

Matching Experience


If you learn something your retweets are welcomed!

Just click the image to do so:


You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #018:
"Tinder Monetization"