Swiping for love may sound easy, but that doesn’t mean it works.
Hinge, a popular dating app, has decided to ditch the addictive and pervasive swipe-to-like functionality popularized by Tinder.
On Tuesday, Hinge is introducing its newly redesigned app, which is optimized to help people find relationships — not just hookups. Most notably, that means no more swiping.
Profile pages have also been rethought: In addition to photos, they’ll do more to highlight people’s interests and experiences. There’s also now a monthly membership fee of $7, which separates Hinge from the hordes of free dating apps.
Existing users, however, will get three free months to test life outside of the “Dating Apocalypse.” That’s a term Hinge borrowed from reporter Nancy Jo Sales’ widely read article last summer in Vanity Fair on hookup culture and dating apps. In it, she depicts a wild west of dating, where hooking up with someone is as easy as ordering food online. And sexually explicit texts and photos are practically to be expected.
According to an internal Hinge study, 54% of its singles felt lonely after swiping on apps.
Hinge cofounder Justin McLeod said he was growing dissatisfied with the number of Hinge connections that actually turned into conversations — and so were Hinge’s users. 70% of its users said they wanted an app that produced more serious relationships.
In late 2015, Hinge introduced a new feature — a timer on matches — to see if that helped. But there were just marginal gains, said McLeod, who cofounded the app in 2011.
According to StartApp, a company that helps understand mobile user behavior within social apps, just 7% of matches who connect on swiping apps actually engage in conversations.
By design, swiping apps aren’t really conducive to helping people connect IRL, according to McLeod.
For one, upon opening the app, users are presented with new matches. That encourages them to keep swiping instead of sparking up conversations with people they’ve already connected with.
“Something has to change — and it’s not just a feature,” McLeod told CNNMoney.
According to Ben Bechar, a consultant who helps companies optimize their online communities for social engagement, creating more context about a person does help encourage more meaningful conversation.
“[With swiping apps], you’re making a decision based almost purely on physical data about a person,” said Bechar. “The higher the quality of interactions and the more likely they are to happen, the higher the chance of the relationship.”
Moreover, creating a paid service will automatically weed out those who aren’t interested in a relationship. “Anything that’s not $0 is treated very, very differently,” said Bechar.
CNNMoney (New York) First published October 11, 2016: 9:00 AM ET