Dating apps exploded in popularity in the last couple of years. Mobile startups like Tinder or Grindr created a revolution in online dating. They not only revolutionized the dating front, but they set new trends on the mobile design front, through UI features such as the well known Tinder Swipe. Mobile app development cost got much cheaper in the last years. In this article, we analyze how much does it cost to make an app like Tinder or Grindr. There are multiple approaches, so let’s jump right into it.
If you can take a look at Tinder’s statistics here, you will find this mobile application has achieved remarkable achievements such as 10 million active daily users. This market is still quite new, and the demand for developing dating apps is surging, since there are many entrepreneurs and individuals trying to emulate Tinder’s early success. Of course, the most important issue in mobile app development is still money.
In this article, we will analyze how much it costs to make an app like Tinder, built entirely from scratch. We cover all the design and development expenses and we estimate the timeframe as well. While the result might look shocking at first, there are valuable other alternatives, such as a fully functional Tinder template, which can save you many months and many thousands of dollars.
We are not going to dive into the analysis of specific detailed features (we already covered those on our blog) but we’ll give you a high-level overview and help you to estimate the concrete costs. Besides, to be able to determine the total price of such an app, you need to consider a suitable hourly rate of your development team you’d hire. It will depend on many factors that the price per hour will range from $20 to $150 for a decent mobile developer.
1. What Roles Do You Need To Make An App Like Tinder or Grinder?
In order to build a fully fledged mobile application, in general, you need at the very least a few crucial skills: design, development and product management. We are going to assume that everyone is highly specialized and that you can hire different roles for each aspect of your new startup.
The product manager needs to determine the complexity of the application and the main features. With today’s competition, your app can’t just have a “chat” and “display images” features, it must have other factors to be more prominent. He/she also needs to flexibly adjust the project according to users needs.
A product manager’s role spreads widely past project management. They are in charge of market research, talking to potential users, collecting feedback and addressing this feedback with a long-term product vision.
A product manager also coordinates all the roles involved in the project, making sure everything gets delivered on time and with high-quality.
If your budget is large enough, you can hire a BA (business analytics) to analyze the requirements clearly and carefully. Otherwise, your PM or testers can also be in charge of this role.
Estimated Time for Product Management: 100 hours
The design of a dating app is the most important feature for success. The user interface dictates whether users will see your product valuable or not. Consumer apps, in general, should be centered around design and user interactions.
For a dating app, obviously, you need to follow the modern trends, in terms of design, such as the Tinder Swipe for matching new dates. Don’t get left behind by missing such core features. Unless you have new groundbreaking ideas (you mostly like don’t!), go with what works already. Experimenting with new design ideas will be necessary eventually, but because it would take additional time and cost, you can leave that for later, once your app is already successful and you have the resources for extra investments. In general, designers can rely on the user experiences from Tinder or Grindr, to find inspiration when designing your mobile app.
There are about ~30 screens that need to be designed (in Sketch), for the minimum viable product (swiping, matching, chat, profile, settings, login, registration, walkthrough, etc). For each screen, you will probably want at least 2-3 design explorations. After you land on a design that is satisfying, you’ll still need to make design polishes here and there, so all these add up.
Estimated Time for Prototyping and Design: 200 hours
Developing the server infrastructure to support all the features for a dating app is probably the most expensive investment. This is definitely the more complex part of the whole app development process because the main features of dating apps such as user management, chatting, and notifications are all processed on the backend side.
From our experience, the backend is also the place that handles the other business code, including authentication, information validation, sending notifications and SMS, etc. And although there are database frameworks such as Mongo DB or NoSQL and some other tools that make development a lot easier, it still takes a lot of effort. From the above analysis, we can see how important the backend is and therefore the cost for this part will also be higher than designers or testers. Why? Well, developers are the most expensive.
However, in the early stages, we recommend that you should save as much money as possible. You can build apps based on free services like Firebase, to save time and money. This is actually what we did with our Dating App Template, to avoid writing our infrastructure from scratch. If your app explodes in popularity and reaches a stable number of paying users, switching to better backend service might be justified later.
Even if you go with Firebase, there is still a lot of backend work involved, like setting up certificates for push notifications, implementing the Facebook Login with Firebase, writing cloud functions for matching, etc, so the need for at least on backend developer is still there.
Estimate Time for Backend Development: 250 hours
iOS Developer (and Android Developer)
If the backend is the infrastructure supporting the heavy lifting for your app, the frontend is its heart. The mobile app is the most important part of your future business – it’s the product. Users only use the mobile app, and everything else is abstracted out from them. An iOS (or Android) app is the highest priority for you, so keep a high-quality bar when it comes to mobile development. Creating a stellar user experience, with a minimum number of bugs, will be the main factor determining the success of the app.
Mobile developers are extremely expensive. Especially those doing native development, such as Swift or Kotlin. We highly recommend you to go with a native language and avoid using cross-platform frameworks, such as React Native or Flutter – they have a poor UI, with laggy animations, which will throw your users off. All the successful apps in the App Store are native.
If you can’t afford to pay two different developers for iOS and Android, our recommendation is to only launch on iOS, to validate your product. Once you know your product is successful on iOS, you can hire someone to go ahead and create the Android app.
Estimated Time for iOS Development: 500 hours
Testing is the final milestone in the application development process. Testing happens at the last stage, right before publishing your app to the App Store. For this part, in addition to things like catching bugs, regression tests, testers can also coordinate with QA or PM to solve business-related problems.
If you are constraint by your budget, our recommendation is to ask all the other hires (designers, developers, you) to do the testing themselves. In this way, you save a lot of time and money.
In our analysis of how much does it cost to make an app like Tinder or Grindr, we are going to assume you are indeed budget-constraint and you won’t hire any testers so the testing cost will be zero.
2. How Much Does It Cost to Make an App like Tinder or Grindr?
To build a dating app, you need all the roles we listed above. There are a few options, but they don’t affect the cost:
- Hire each role individually (as employees or freelancers)
- Hire a mobile app development outsourcing company
- Hire a full stack experienced developer (who can do design too)
Summing everything up, your costs will depend on how much experience the hired people have. It also depends on whether you hire locally or from abroad. Usually, the salaries for overseas developers and designers are much lower, but you need to be very careful with the quality of the work, as well as the timezone difference. It’s always a trade-off.
We have 1050 hours worth of work, needed to develop a fully fledged minimum viable product for a dating mobile app. We assume we only launch the iOS version. Let’s do our math based on 3 different experience ranges:
- Junior/Overseas Hires ($20/hour): TOTAL COST – $21.000
- Intermediate Hires ($50/hour): TOTAL COST: $52.500
- Experienced Hires ($100/hour): TOTAL COST: $105.000
Yep, you must be ready for a heavy budget. If it was cheap, everyone would do it. Of course, these costs can fluctuate up or down, but this should give you a rough idea of what it takes to build a mobile dating app with standard features. This is the reason why most of the people who start a tech startup either have initial investors or have founders that are technical and can replace one of the expensive roles (e.g. designer or developer).
3. Do You Want to Save $105.000?
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Our designers and developers are ultra-experienced, experts in mobile app development, having worked for reputable Silicon Valley companies such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
You can buy our iOS Dating App, to literally save $105.000. Not only you save a huge amount of money, but you can also skip the line by saving 6 months (1050 hours!) of insanely hard work. You can get your mobile app up and running in minutes, without having to deal with employees, freelancers, deadlines, product documents, design iterations, bug fixing, testing, server costs, etc.
4. Conclusion – How Much Does It Cost To Make an App?
Now you have a high-level overview of the financial range for building a complete dating mobile app. Obviously, when you have plenty of financial resources, you can build your own backend, or design your own UI, but those will only increase the price. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of how much does it cost to make an app like Tinder.
Even though the cost of app development lowered significantly in the past years, developing a mobile app is still pretty pricey. Depending on how experienced the people you hire are, making an app like Tinder or Grindr can cost anywhere between $20.000 and $105.000. And it can take anywhere between 6 months and 1 year of product development. That’s a lot of money and a lot of time.
Time is money in business, and taking the risk of delaying your app launch by one year, only to reinvent the wheel, is a stupid business decision. Your competition is already on the App Store. Lower your cost and launch your app today, by buying our dating app.
Thank you for reading. Looking forward to your feedback, and please spread the word by sharing this article, if you’ve enjoyed it. Cheers!