The search for true love, companionship, or even just a good time, can be complicated. It's no wonder that we've turned to technology. The growth of online dating platforms has been nothing short of explosive since the mid 1990s, when online dating platforms began to emerge. It's done nothing but surge since then.
Online Dating Trends
In 2005, the Pew Research Center asked survey respondents if they thought online dating was "a good way to meet people," and 44 percent said they thought it was. By 2015 that number had jumped to 59 percent. Negative views of online dating dropped as well. While 29 percent of people thought those who used online dating sites were "desperate" in 2005, in 2015 that number had dropped to 23 percent.
"There was a stigma around online dating back in 2001 and 2002, and I was really only meeting men on blind dates at that point, so I thought I'd give online dating a shot," said Trae Bodge, a writer and media personality who met her husband through online dating. "I tried a couple of sites, but ended up meeting the man who was to be my husband on a site that isn't around anymore. I liked the site because it was small and catered to people who liked literature and the arts... Because of the stigma of online dating, my now husband and I were very careful about who we told about how we met. It was almost embarrassing to tell people. When I talk to single people today, online dating is simply one of the ways people meet each other. There is no embarrassment."
Now that more people feel comfortable with online dating as a concept, they are left with the difficult task of choosing the right platform or service for them - and there are plenty to choose from. There are thousands of websites and apps devoted to dating and matching, all vying for a piece of a very big business.
"In early 2017, online dating became a $3 billion dollar industry," according to Hayley Matthews, editor-in-chief at DatingAdvice.com. "Yeah, billion. It's a pretty big deal. Dating services, half of which are dating apps or websites, employed around 9,500 people worldwide and have collectively seen an annual growth rate of +5.3% in the past five years."
Online Dating Sites: Features to Look For
Online dating definitely isn't a one-size-fits-all business. There are different sites for different people. Some are geared toward the development of long-term relationships, while others are favored by those who are mainly looking to date and hook up. Some cater to members of specific religious groups, while others appeal to to people around specific interests. Regardless of the branding, there are a number of common features that can make a dating site succeed or fail, and we looked at all of them.
Cost: Most online dating sites have some type of free membership, but these are generally quite limited and designed to incentivize you to sign up for a paid plan. For example, in some cases you'll learn that someone is interested in you but you won't be able to see who until you start paying. So we looked at those costs.
Usability/Design: Some sites are fairly simple to set up and the design is very straightforward. Others are more layered and complex.
Searchability & Matching: At the end of the day, a dating site is only as good as its ability to find someone with whom you click. We looked at user satisfaction.
Privacy: In the dating world, the ability to be disappear can be very important. Privacy and security are vital.