“1 out of 5 relationships start online”
It’s written in bold letters when you visit Match.com. You can’t miss it. The point to be noted is not as much about the tagline, as it is about the statistics. The fact ‘1 out of 5 relationships begin online’ can be leveraged by others to create similar online dating services.
Recently Match.com celebrated its 20th anniversary. Do you know what happens when a dating website turns 20? It becomes.. popular?.. busy?… rich?… Well, all of that- but most importantly it becomes mature.
There is a lot you can learn from websites like Match.com or eHarmony. They’ve mastered a lot over the years and have added features based on research and user feedback. All you have to do now, is use their experience as inputs for your dating website on WordPress.
How to Create a Dating Website on WordPress
Dating websites are primarily membership based social networking websites.
A dating website could be compared to Facebook (a social networking website). You have the same elements- user profiles, private messaging, likes, advanced search, and the like. An additional feature you’d have to add is paid membership. With paid membership you can charge users a fee for additional services.
So, a similar website on WordPress would have to be a combination of two major plugins- a social networking plugin and a membership plugin.
I’m not saying you wouldn’t need any other plugin. But these two would be the most important. To give you a fair view of the features which would be a part of a dating website, I have created a list.
This list contains a breakdown of elements on a dating website and the WordPress plugins you’d need to provide each feature.
#1 Paid Membership
To monetize your dating website, you’ll need a WordPress membership plugin. A membership plugin restricts access to content based on a membership level. You’ll surely need site-wide membership to begin.
A site-wide membership restricts the entire site’s content to unsubscribed members. You could set-up a free or paid site-wide membership. But a piece of advice here, would be to set u free site-wide membership- to lure in members. And you could then charge members for special services. (Do make sure that you add a ‘Rules & Regulations’ on the membership page to restrict member age group to 18+).
Any WordPress membership plugin you choose would provide you tiered membership, but a plugin I would recommend is Paid Membership Pro.
Paid Membership Pro and its add-ons are free (with paid support), it’s easy to use, provides great documentation and integrates easily with WooCommerce.
#2 Member Profile Creation
Profiles are a very important element on a dating website. WordPress by default creates a profile for every user. So you’re sorted there. But you’ll need to add custom profiles, to allow members to add additional information.
For example, by default the name, email id, username are a part of the WordPress user profile. But for fields such as ‘Likes’, ‘Dislikes’, ‘Hobbies’– which are expected on a dating website, you’ll have to use a plugin to extend user profile fields.
You’ll need this member profile to be part of a social network, and a plugin which will allow for that, is BuddyPress.
#3 Private Messaging
With BuddyPress you’ll have private messaging as well. BuddyPress provides a private inbox for each member, using which members can exchange private messages using the username, and avoiding the need of an email id.
The Chat plugin by WPMU DEV can be used to add a live chat functionality on your WordPress dating website, and works seamlessly with BuddyPress. The chat status notification is added in a member’s friend list, to give them a visual notification of member availability.
#4 Private Calling
Match.com provides a MatchPhone service for premium members. It’s a pretty cool service. Once members subscribe for the service, they can text or call each other anonymously, using phone numbers generated by the website.
Now, I know there isn’t a WordPress plugin which helps you do this, but I’m sure there are several qualified WordPress developers which can help you create this functionality if you need it on your dating website. And here’s a hint, if you’re planning on using the BuddyPress plugin, you’ll need to search for a BuddyPress expert.
#5 Advanced Search
When it comes to dating, the process begins with finding the right person. And for that, your dating website needs a solid search functionality. The default WordPress search functionality certainly won’t do. What you need is an advanced search functionality which works with your social networking plugin, or one which uses the extra profile fields to filter members.
Ideally the search plugin should allow members to filter fellow member profiles using tags, or keywords. Optionally there could be specific fields using which a member could filter data, such as location, age group and so on.
The search functionality should not just be able to list members based on a exact keyword match, but should also be able to suggest member profiles based on a similar match.
#6 Premium Matchmaking Service
Now, your entire website is in fact a matchmaking service. But a premium matchmaking service would involve dealing with an individual client’s need. This service would include the use of an elaborate form to input a member’s desired candidate profile, with weighted parameters to narrow down an ideal match.
To create the form you’ll need a form builder plugin like Gravity Forms. Based on the fields you include in your form, and the weights provided, a custom algorithm would need to be built for your dating website.
Well, those were the most important features that you’d certainly have to provide on a dating website like Match.com. It goes without saying your website would need to be responsive, and a social sign-up and login option could be a great addition too.
If you’re looking for additional features over and above the ones I’ve stated, I’d like to hear them. So do make sure to leave your thoughts and comments in the comment section below! 🙂